My grandmother was a pediatrician most of her life. As you may have read from my other articles, I like to use her life experiences and thoughts on certain parts of my blog topics. It really gives a different and realistic perspective because she has been through the nomad lifestyle as a child, then during her student years Mongolia had developed under the Soviet regime, and in her later years Mongolia had set independence and transformed into a democratic society. So anyway, she had graduated medical school in Leningrad and worked as a pediatric doctor, so her viewpoints on medicine and remedies is very by the book.
However, during her lifetime, and all that she has experienced in medical field, she can’t help but accept and sometimes marvel at some of the traditional remedies and treatments that nomadic Mongolians do.
She quotes, “At the end of the 60s, a lot of children with skin allergies like eczema, rashes and hives began to seek treatment. In nomadic lifestyle, allergies was something that was unheard of. But today everyone seems to be allergic to something. I think it’s the quality of the food we consume, the air we breathe and overall the environment that we live in now. Especially children, are now born with allergies of some sort.
The worst of such allergies is the reaction to dairy products. The whole body develops a rash that is barely treatable with the strongest of steroid creams. With unbearable itching, the rashes become infected and start oozing. Such rashes all over the body especially for small children and babies is a very difficult sight.
There was word of mouth that putting on the child’s mother’s urine on the rashes cures the itching. I didn’t believe it at first. In medical field, such thing is unsanitary and not scientifically proven. But I have experienced the miracle of it first-hand on 3 single occasions. On one occasion it was my coworker’s grandchild that had such skin condition and asked me for help, in which case I advised this method, after they have tried every single other treatment. It had to be the morning urine, as it’s the most concentrated with acids and minerals.
My father used to say, if you have a mother you will never get sick from poisoning or die from fever.
As a medical doctor I believed that such remedies do work, no matter how crazy it may seem. Urine is just liquid that is no longer needed to be absorbed by the body. What urine contains is nothing spectacular or miraculous, it’s a very generic immune substance.
In nomad livelihood there was no access or knowledge of modern medicine, so when one has a high fever, they used to drink their mother’s urine. Also there was common knowledge of certain herbs and plants that grew in the grasslands that treated common illnesses. If you have a headache, you boiled gentian grass and drank it, if you have a stomach ache drink boiled burnet, when you have high blood pressure putting edelweiss in your shoes to relieve the pressure etc.,
Such medical knowledge was known among the herdsmen and nomadic families, and has been passed down for generations probably over thousands of years, and passed on by word of mouth.
Traditional remedy practitioners didn’t exist, such medical treatments were never made publicly available and was usually connected with religion. There used to be a religious folk medicine school I think it was called “Maramba” that was dedicated to preparing monks from when they’re 5,6 years old in the art of herbal and natural remedies based on astrological theories combined with medicinal theories, I think today it might the “Mamba Datsan” monastery north of Sansar district. Religious rituals and remedies were taboo and was heavily suppressed until the 1970s, where people gradually began to know more about it and spread the news.
Is there any interesting or weird Mongolian folk remedies you’ve heard?