"I have heard some crazy things during my 10 years in Mexico, but what I heard today has to be the craziest."The above statement on my Facebook status may have been written in haste. And may be a slight exaggeration. But then again, maybe not.
Before I tell you what exactly it was that I heard, let me start by telling you that we are an asthmatic family. Hubby and I have suffered with asthma since childhood and the kiddies have varying degrees of asthma. Nick's being the worst and Hope's being non-existent here in Mexico.
Being raised by my Mexican grandparents, I remember traveling to San Luis, Sonora to visit a farmacia (pharmacy) in search of a cure for my ailments. (I suffered from both asthma and acne.) Back then, the pharmacist was very much like a doctor. He conducted a physical exam, asked about symptoms, then offered his diagnosis. Sometimes he prescribed traditional medicine and other times he suggested more exotic remedios.
Thanks to the pharmacist, my grandmother prepared every kind of tea, rubbed foul-smelling ointments and warm mud on my chest and back. The worst, I thought was having to eat a teaspoon of ground, dried rattlesnake every day to rid my face of acne. It was also supposed to help with my asthma. A sort of 2-for-1 deal. I'm just glad that Gramm drew the line at having to smear fresh deer or rabbit blood on my chest. (Shudder!)
When Hubby and I moved to Mexico, the remedios didn't end. The good thing was that they weren't forced upon us, they were merely suggestions.
I believe that some plants and herbs do have medicinal properties. I saw first hand how savila (aloe vera) erased any signs from my grandfather's face that he had suffered 3rd degree burns from an exploding radiator. But I don't believe in some of the "natural" remedies I have heard over the years.
Many were quite delicious, like roasted orange and red onion drizzled with honey. Miel de maguey (maguey honey) was also very sweet and soothing to my irritated throat. Cough syrup and homeopathic drops made from eucalyptus, tree sap and gordolobo (mullein?), while also delicious, did nothing to cure any of us of our asthma.
Even a Chihuahua puppy was suggested as a cure. It's believed that the asthma will somehow transmit itself to the dog, freeing and curing ourselves of the illness for good.
All this did was reassure me of my faith in modern medicine. There are just some illnesses that NEED modern medicine. None of the "alternative", "natural" or "homeopathic" medicine I have tried has ever done anything to alleviate my asthma.
This week Hubby, Nick and I were hit with a lower respiratory tract infection. (Happens EVERY September!) Thanks to speedy diagnosis and antibiotics we were only out of commission for a couple of days and are now feeling much better.
Today being Saturday, we were visited by our friendly neighborhood hierbero. He is an elderly man who sells dried plants and herbs, along with a variety of nuts (including cashews and macadamias) and candies for the kiddies. We rarely buy the plants and herbs, but Hubby decided to ask if he had something for our asthma. The man informed Hubby that he didn't have anything in his plastic paint bucket, that he used to transport his goods, but that he did have just the thing for us at home.
I thought he was going to return with te de abango. It hasn't helped me much in the past, but it does taste pretty darn good. I was not prepared for what he brought to my door. I stood in shock, with my jaw to the floor, staring at the tiny package that he presented to me.
What on earth is THAT??? The hierbero explained to both Hubby and me that these little things are Bofes de Zorrillo. Translation: Dried Skunk Lungs!!!
Wait...it gets better. (Or worse.)
You're not supposed to eat them. You're just supposed to make a tea. But whatever you do, DON'T boil the bofes. You're supposed to boil a cup of water and dunk a single lung three times in the boiling water, let it cool slightly, then drink it. I wonder...Has Andrew Zimmern ever drank Skunk Lung tea?
I'm going to be 36 years old in less than 2 weeks. I will try almost anything once. But there are just certain things that I refuse to submit myself or my children to. Like my grandmother years ago, I'm going to draw the line at dried skunk parts.