We’ve all been through it. Food poisoning, diarrhea, indigestion… Asia and stomach problems go hand in hand, especially if you’re coming from the West.
There is nothing wrong with Chinese food, but, you know, sometimes the meat was too spicy and your stomach was too fragile to handle it. Don’t be ashamed. It happens to everyone.
We’ve picked the most useful tips, tested by our team, on how to keep your stomach healthy.
Hot water. Hot water is the miracle placebo cure in China for whatever ails ou – let hot-water cure you. Embarrassing itchiness? Hot water. Stomach ache? Hot water. Bubonic plague? Hot water. The weird thing is, it really does help. Unless that’s just the placebo effect talking. In which case, we’d rather not know, thanks.
DIY Acupuncture. Pinch the webbing between the thumb and forefinger. Hold it for one minute. Right or left hand – doesn’t matter. Feel any better now?
Herbs. Do you know those small street shops with the weird trays of herbs and dry flowers? That’s the one you need. Ask the owner (lǎobǎn) for 元宝草 (yuánbǎocǎo) or 地锦草 (dìjǐncǎo). Put some seeds into the cup, pour in the miracle placebo cure (hot water), wait until it cools. Enjoy slowly and responsibly.
Or you can get ginger root. It can be purchased in any supermarket or vegetable shop. The procedure is the same as with herbs, pour in the miracle placebo cure and drink. You could mix it with a tea bag to make it more palatable, but make sure it’s a mild tea or you might just make your stomach problem worse.
None of that working for you? Weird. Okay, time to step it up a bit. (Note: you should always check with your doctor before taking any new medication, just in case you have an allergy)
Drugstore. Walk right in and announce loudly to the pharmacist “我的肚子不舒服” (wǒ de dùzi bùshūfū – “I have stomach problems”) and she’ll probably offer you Chinese traditional medicine, which can be helpful, but mostly as preventative medicine, and it takes a while before you feel the effects.
If you prefer fast-acting Western medicines, ask her for 西药 (xīyào) or pills containing the active ingredient Smectitum dioctaedricum. We recommend writing it down and comparing it to the text on the back of the package.
Painkillers. 止痛药 (zhǐtòngyào). Go for it.
Hospital. If the things are going really bad, go to the local hospital or a hospital specializing in stomach problems:
Shanghai Jiāodàfùshǔ Rénjì Yīyuàn
Address: 浦东区浦建路160号 Pudong district, 160 Pǔjiàn Road
Fùdàn Dàxuéfùshǔ Shànghǎi Zhōngshān Yīyuàn
Address: 徐汇区枫林路180号, Xuhui district, 180 Fēnglín Road
Shanghai Jiāodàfùshǔ Ruìjīn Yīyuàn
Address: 上海市黄浦区瑞金二路197号, Huangpu district, 197 Ruìjīn Èr Road;
黄浦区徐家汇路573号, Huangpu district, 573 Xújiāhuì Road.
The reception desk tells the same sentence “我的肚子不舒服” , so the staff can point you to the proper department.
And if things are going really really badly and you can’t get out of bed, call 120 from your phone. Make sure it isn’t a hangover first, the ambulance guys are busy people who are dangerously overstretched as it is.
How to prevent stomach problems in the first place
Your first stomach problem experience in China will definitely inspire you to make sure it’s your last. Here’re just a few ways to keep you away from the pharmacy and the doctors:
– Wash your hands before and after meals
– Wash fruits and vegetables before you eat them
– Avoid those restaurants. You know the ones. You can usually tell just by looking
– Avoid food that’s too spicy and oily (good luck)
– Avoid street food. Yeah, we know. Sorry.
– Did we mention you should drink hot water?