What Travelling Taught Me About Natural Medicine
Interlaken, Switzerland. Picture the prettiest postcard you can and jump into it. Beautiful mountains, crisp air. The problem? I was so sick I couldn’t breath it in. I had booked a shared room in a hostel but decided to take the hit and get myself a hotel room all by my lonesome so I wouldn’t infect anyone.
I wasn’t surprised I was sick. I had been travelling for a month already and shared dorms, long bus rides, indulgent food, and even more indulgent nights out can take it’s toll on the body. My throat was so sore and scratchy that I couldn’t say a word and more than anything, I was tired. The problem? In a few days I had to be in Italy to start training for working at summer camps with small Italian children.
After a night’s rest in a wayyy too nice for me hotel I headed off to a pharmacy. The pharmacist spoke some English and between my bad French and bad Italian and honestly, just the downtrodden look of me she got the idea.
The pharmacist went to a wall full of different bottles and mixed something into a spray bottle. She told me how to take it and I went back to my hotel to hope I could soon do something other than slowly die.
This stuff worked and it worked quick. In two days I was back to full capacity. I wondered what this magic spray was so I decided to look up the ingredients and honestly, I was shocked. The main ingredient was Arnica. A flower. Many of the other ingredients were plant based. Keep in mind that I went into a normal pharmacy, not a health food store.
I’m not ragging on health food stores. My mother was the queen of “have a cup of tea.” Stomachache? Ginger tea. Headache? Chamomile tea. Sore throat? Peppermint with honey. Just feeling in the pits? Twining’s Earl Gray. Not to say we didn’t have cold medicine or antacids, we did. It’s just tea was delivered first.
I always thought it was because my brother and I had a strong preference for going to our Grandparent’s hour and watching the Price is Right over going to school.
I think it really clicked when I was talking to a Swedish friend. I was complaining about how I had cramps and I was out of Advil and I was going to die in twenty seconds. She was baffled by the fact that the thing I reached for first was a painkiller and not a strong cup of chamomile tea.
Look, I’m not going to sit here and say you can cure cancer by eating peppers. Modern medicine is an amazing thing and doctors are incredible people who have dedicated themselves to a long, hard career that is getting more and more thankless. So yeah, if my cold lasts more than three days my butt’s in a doctor’s office. The first day?
Maybe my Mom was on to something. Peppermint tea and honey.