Interesting & unusual medicine or tonics or elixirs in China
October 25, 2007 4:19 PM   Subscribe

ChinaFilter: What are some interesting and unusual medicine or tonics or elixirs I can buy in China that is not readily available anywhere else?

I'm currently in Hangzhou and I want to know if there is anything interesting I can purchase. I'm wondering if there is any interesting tonics or potions or whatever that alleges to provide some personal benefit yet is relatively unknown or not proven by Western science. Could even be some strange device.

Mainly, I intend to send them back to Australia as gifts.

It can be ordinary. Doesn't have to actually work. Needs to be safe.

Suggestions please! Personal anecdotes also welcome.
posted by gttommy to Shopping (5 answers total)
 
Needs to be safe.

Yeah, here's the problem with fun little tonics and elixirs, etc of this variety, you have NO idea what is in them. I've lived in Asia and was constantly shocked how other expats would go to the Chinese Medicine guy and come back with all this stuff, didn't have a clue what was in it. And oddly they were always the same people that only wanted to eat organic and never took aspirin.

Also, it's particularly dangerous if you are on other medicines because a lot of herbal medicines can interact with them. And this is unlikely, they could contain "controlled substances".
posted by whoaali at 5:15 PM on October 25, 2007


I can't remember what the Chinese name for it is (FungYouJi comes to mind, I think I'm close but off... BaiHuaYou will get the white/clear variety), but I brought back "White Flower Oil", which is either green or white. It's essentially menthol, methinks, and maybe a little something extra. It's mosquito repellent, mosquito bite de-itcher, and a potent wake-you-upper/dehead-acher if you rub a little on your temples, forhead, and under your nose.

They're probably 3rmb a bottle, the bottles look cool, and my friends (particularly girls) liked them back a lot.
posted by trinarian at 7:12 PM on October 25, 2007


whoaali ____ and you have a pretty clear idea of what the laboratory-produced chemical compound(s) and their side effects do when you go the the Western doctor? Just 'cause you get a name on the label doesn't mean you know much about what it really is. I feel my liver likes me eating that crushed dried tree fungus from a remote mountain in Sichuan for a stomach ache than than the random pills or bottle of pink liquid chalk I took back home.


/derail
posted by trinarian at 7:21 PM on October 25, 2007


I'm sure there are thousands of possibilities, but the strangest Chinese medicinal tonic I ever tasted had Caterpillar fungus as the main supposedly active ingredient. It didn't kill me, so must be safe.
posted by sfenders at 9:04 PM on October 25, 2007


whoaali ____ and you have a pretty clear idea of what the laboratory-produced chemical compound(s) and their side effects do when you go the the Western doctor? Just 'cause you get a name on the label doesn't mean you know much about what it really is. I feel my liver likes me eating that crushed dried tree fungus from a remote mountain in Sichuan for a stomach ache than than the random pills or bottle of pink liquid chalk I took back home.


/derail


See that's kind of my point exactly, you have no guarantees even after double blind clinical studies are conducted that are then submitted for peer review and then the product itself is subjected to extensive quality control standards. And you may not really know what is in that medicine just because it has a label on it, but here's the thing you could find out. The only difference between Eastern and Western medicine is that one has been submitted to a rigorous scientific process to determine its safety and effectiveness and the other hasn't. I'll freely admit Western medicine isn't perfect and there are many problems in the process, but at least there is one.
posted by whoaali at 7:03 AM on October 26, 2007


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