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October 18, 2012 | 12:00 a.m. CST
Healing isn’t limited to what can be found in American drugstores, hospitals or doctor’s offices. Columbians from around the world describe common ethnic remedies that might be the international cure for your next illness.
For a sore throat and a cough, Natalya Linhardt of Natasha’s European Market says many of her customers buy marshmallow syrup — not the sticky s’mores kind but the kind from the flowers of a native European root — to take by the spoonful. The store also stocks Russian pictorial tea, which blends the marshmallow root with licorice root, garden thyme, rose hips and anise seeds to help with cold symptoms.
Kuang Chen, an employee at Hong Kong Market, knows many native Chinese herbal remedies for a sore throat and other cold symptoms. Lo han kuo is a brown round fruit the size of a small apple that comes in packages of three at the market. To use it as a remedy, clean it before boiling in hot water to make an herbal tea, soup or syrup. Another is Ge Xian Weng tea from southern China, which treats coughing. The tea is one of the store’s most trusted products, Chen says.
Sema Al-Douri, a teacher at the Islamic School of Columbia, concocts soup from scratch when her kids are feeling under the weather. She collects chicken bones and puts two or three heads of onion, garlic, red pepper and spices into a pressure cooker. She lets the ingredients simmer in the cooker with water for 40 minutes, drains the vegetables in a sieve and then adds rice or noodles. “You will get a very good extract and a nourishing broth,” Al-Douri says.
When they experience cold symptoms, the men in Al-Douri’s family bite into an onion like an apple. “You feel that your eyes and your nose are going to burst,” Al-Douri says. “And then your head is cleared, and soon you are healed.” According to Al-Douri, other Middle Eastern remedies include cinnamon for headaches and sage for indigestion.