Mexican Medicine

by irms

This post is not about the swine flu. This about real illnesses and real people. Some of them live next to you, or in the shanty behind your house.  Some of them mow your lawn and clean your pool.  Some of them have fixed your cars with five-dollar parts from the “swap meet”.  Most of them are related to me.  This post is about Mexicans. In order to understand this post, you have to understand Mexican families.  We have rules.  They are never broken.

Growing up, we rarely went to the doctor.  Don’t ask me why.  My parents had rockin’ health insurance, so that wasn’t it.  We’re a very do-it-yourself breed, so that’s probably to blame.

Grandma & Logan

When you are young and (Mexican and) sick, you do whatever grandma tells you to do to remedy the problem.  It doesn’t matter how absurd it sounds, you just do it.  My grandma once told one of my many cousins to tape pennies to his temples to cure a headache.  He didn’t do it because he didn’t want to look like a fool. By the next day he had come down with a very severe, very public, case of the flu.  Not only has his embarrassment outlived his illness, but we’re pretty sure it’s because our grandma put the bad juju on him for not following instructions.  These are the kinds of things you get used to.  Grandma is the Queen, we are her worker bees.

These are just a couple of the things Grandma has taught me:

  • The stomach flu is cured with 7up and crackers.  The warmer the 7up, the better.
  • An upset stomach can also be tamed with hot water and a bit of sugar.  Let the sugar dissolve before drinking.
  • If you blow on an open cut, it will somehow hurt less.  Try it, it works.
  • If you have a sore throat, pour a mug of scalding hot water, toss a tablespoon of salt in it, and gargle with it as far down your throat as you can go without gagging.  No.  Better yet, gag a little.  It’ll do you some good.  You will burn your mouth.  Don’t worry too much about that, it heals fast.
  • Headaches are cured in a number of ways, but a lot of the remedy depends on where the headache is coming from.  Here are some things you should try:
    • Have someone tug on your hair.  You heard me.  Put your head on their lap, and let them tug on patches.  Let them tug hard enough to be uncomfortable, but not so hard as to tear out any hair.
    • Ask someone to rub your hands.  Particularly the webs between your fingers.
    • Get fresh air.  (This one is universal.  It doesn’t matter how sick you are, you still need to go outside at least once a day.)
  • Aloe vera is the miracle drug.  Next to marijuana, there is nothing better to help an ailing body.  Severed limb?  No problem, rub some aloe vera on it.  Mexican grandma’s have at least one plant in the yard at all times.  Don’t have one?  Ask mine, she always has extra.
  • Always touch the baby. Infants are prone to ojo.  You can give a baby ojo if you fail to touch the child when one is in your presence.  Believe me, you do not want the responsibility for that one.
  • If your body gets wet, you must also wet your head. Mexican children will never be seen playing in the pool with dry heads.  Parents are likely to be punished for allowing such a thing.
  • Colicy babies should be given salt.  I don’t know why, but it works.

There are some traditions that are just plain creepy and I’ve left them off.  Some things involve needles and such, or flesh wounds. There are others that are weird, but not creepy (like rolling an egg on a crying baby and cracking it in a glass of water).  I’ll leave it to my family to put them in the comments.