Strange Cures

Today for the 2015 Indie Travel Challenge we asked you:

NOv 26 question

One of the ways we gave you to answer is to talk about strange cures you’ve learned while traveling.  Strange doesn’t mean bad or ineffective, some of these cures you may have not heard before but may work wonders.  When you are traveling, don’t doubt the local medicine.  At the very least you’ll get some good stories from it.

Here are some ‘strange cures’ sent to us by some fellow travelers:


“My wife Larissa and I were snorkeling in the US Virgin Islands when I was bitten by a jelly fish. It was pretty painful in my side to the point it was hard to move. I stumbled back to our rental apartment when the caretaker there approached me yielding a large machete saying in his island patois, ‘I can fix that.” I flinched because I thought he was about to lance it or cut it out when he swung the machete down on an aloe plant that was next to me. He hacked the aloe leaf into pieces and told me to roast them in the oven and then apply them to the swollen area where I had been bitten. I did so and it worked. According to him the aloe sucks the venom from the body. I have no idea but I do know I felt better right away. Old-fashioned medicine is sometimes the best.” 

 – Michael Milne –


“My story is about a strange Chilean remedy for sunburn, something that pigmentally challenged people like me everywhere need to know:

And once again, I was burned. After roughly seven re-applications of sunscreen and sitting in the shade 80% of my time on the beach, I somehow managed to get burned. My legs and feet were bright pink and hot to the touch, turning white and immediately going back to pink when I pressed my cool fingers into them. I was supposed to be on Edisto Island for a few more days and knew that because of my condition I would be confined indoors for the rest of the time. Great.

Luckily for me–I’m dating a Chilean who is full of mystical and creative cures for all known and unknown ailments. I sat down on the couch, wrapped up in blankets, unable to stay warm.

“Poor baby,” he said. “You know what my grandmother used to do when I got sunburned?” I rolled my eyes, thinking it would be something obvious like applying aloe or ice. He walked away and brought back a tomato, sliced in half.

“Rub this all over it, it’ll help.” Say whaaaat? Doubtful, but willing to try anything to take away the pain, I followed his directions. I anxiously awaited the 30 minute mark so that I could tell him “I told you so” when it didn’t work. But after 30 minutes passed, I realized my skin was a little less hot, and felt so much better. “I think this is actually working!” I said to my own surprise.

I probably rubbed those tomato halves all over my skin for the next hour or so, and I’ll be darned if my sunburn wasn’t completely gone. And I mean GONE. It was like the tomato absorbed all the heat and redness from my skin. Thank you Chileans for your strange cures, I will never doubt you and your remedies again! Unless you want me to eat weird bugs–that’s where I draw the line.”

 – Mary Hood –


“My Dad is from the Seychelles and the islanders have all kinds of weird cures for disease. One of the strangest he told me about was for earache – apparently the key to the cure is to crack open a snail and pour the slime into your ear. I’ve not tried it. He hasn’t, as yet, confirmed if he did either…”

 – Laurence Norah – Finding the Universe



“Here’s a short “prevention is better than cure”: 

When travelling in Ukraine, we were told that the best way to avoid getting sick was to take cold showers. More specifically, to have a normal shower and finish it off with thirty seconds of freezing cold. We weren’t originally convinced but we’ve been trying it out, and it’s working so far!

We round off the morning routine by drying our hair thoroughly, since many a Spaniard has warned us that to leave the house with wet hair is a short cut to illness. This has apparently been confirmed by science, though I thought it was an old wives’ tale the first time I heard it: from the receptionist at a doctor’s surgery!”

 – Linda – Http://


“Here’s a story about finding a cure to the common cold while living in Japan:

There were a lot of difficult things about my two years as an English teacher in Japan, but the hardest was getting a head cold. Yes, people get colds around the world, but in Japan it’s different, because in Japan you’re not allowed to blow your nose. Well, you can, you just have to go to the tiny closet in the staff room to do so, because it’s rude to tend to your nose in public.

But one day after my fifth trip to the staff room closet, the art teacher smiled at me sympathetically and told me to follow her. We went downstairs to the secretary’s office, where she prepared me a hot cup of green tea. So kind!

But as I was about to take a sip, there was a flurry of Japanese and everyone in the office started rummaging through their lunch packs until Nakamura sensei triumphantly held up an umeboshi (pickled plum) with his chopsticks. They mashed the plum into the tea and while it tasted bizarre, it worked! The next day my sniffles were gone.

So now you know how to cure a common cold, you’re welcome. Well, as long as you have umeboshi on hand…”

 – Silvia Lawrence –


“Quark. The German Quark has the consistency and taste of greek yogurt and sour cream mixed together. When I was pregnant and had newborns my German doctor and midwife frequently recommended quark. Sometimes I had to eat it. Sometimes I had to put it on me. I ate it to help with pregnancy weight gain, pregnancy pain, and maybe water retention. When I was having pain associated with nursing, I had to cover my breast with it. Not sure how effective it was because I was trying a million things at one, but I generally felt better afterwards.”

 – Ann Belle –

german quark


“The most useful (and amazingly efficacious) cure I have ever learned about on the road is honey for burns, but that’s probably somewhat well-known. Eucalyptus is also well known, but I did have a rather unusual experience with its application in Peru. If this happens to fit in with your needs, here is the story surrounding that:

I had picked up a horrific cough while traveling in Peru. One morning at a home-stay on the island of Amantani in Lake Titicaca, I stood outside our host’s house helpless in the grip of another interminable coughing fit. He picked some moonya from his yard, a common herb in the high altitudes of Peru believed to assist the lungs, and gave it to me to rub in my hands and breathe in the fragrance. Then he picked two leaves of eucalyptus from a tree in his courtyard and started chewing them. I presumed he was eating a little snack for himself. He removed them from his mouth and abruptly slapped them on my temples. Taken aback at this man pasting his spit-laden leaves onto my face, I stood speechless for a moment while I worked it through in my head that he had just done something helpful instead of disgusting. The spit was merely the most ancient form of paste — the mechanism for affixing the eucalyptus to my temples, where the vapor, which had been released by the chewing, would assist my breathing. Who needs vapor rub and time-release capsules when your own teeth and spit can deliver!”

 – Shara Johnson –


“A Bulgarian woman who used to work with my dad, was once home sick from work. As she was on a call with my father, she asked him to hold on for a moment as her beer was boiling. “You’re boiling beer?”, my father asked, in surprise. Apparently, it’s custom in Bulgaria to drink boiled beer against all kinds of illnesses, particularly a cold. Since then my dad and other ex-colleagues of hers have been joking that Bulgarians boil everything and when I went to visit this woman in September for a tour around Bulgaria, my dad warned her not to give me any boiled beer.”

 – Sofie Couwenbergh – Wonderful Wanderings


These are some great non-traditional (to us) cures.  When I was in Bulgaria and got bronchitis an older woman told me, “Oh, you need eggs!”.  The younger, my aged  girl at my hostel told me “Eggs are believed to help all ailments.  Don’t be surprised to be told to eat eggs for everything from the common cold to broken bones.”  I did eat a lot of eggs that trip but I also discovered rakia was great for stopping my cough and making me not care I was sick!

Leave a Comment