An Ingenious “Remedio”

One topic that is always of interest to expats in Mexico, are the various cures and “health warnings” that our Mexican friends suggest to us.

Our loved ones will look at us with wide eyes and say things such as, “Don’t take a shower now! Since you just got all wet in the rain you’ll get sick from the shower!” or “Don’t eat an avocado, you just got mad. It’ll make your stomach hurt.”

We look at them, mouths hanging open, and see that they are quite serious. We must quickly close our mouths before our feet go right in. (Then, to be honest, we always tell our expat friends all about it… and… (**shhh** Don’t tell anyone.) we laugh.

I have more on this topic in my book, but my blog today focuses on a home remedy that I think beats the pants off of my own culture’s options.

I got the flu. A bad flu. Make that THE FLU.  After an unbelievable number of days with said flu, my left tonsil swelled up to the size of a tangerine. And it hurt.  I had a fever, despite taking ibuprofen, and I was toying with the idea of going to a doctor for antibiotics.

My lovely Mexican husband sprang into action. He called my mother-in-law, of course.

Guess what she suggested? Warming tomatillos on the comal… and holding one against the painful area.  I wasn’t sure how this would help, but we tried it.

It was lovely. The warm, smooth skin of the tomatillo radiated into my painful tonsil from the outside in and I sighed in comfort.

So my tonsil was (is) still so bad that the tomatillos went on and off the comal like old fashioned irons on the wood stove on pressing day.  I warmed the painful area all morning long.  Once he learned not to heat them so much that the skin broke, my husband was able to make each tomatillo last for hours. One skin broke, but who cares? It was still better than a soggy rag on my neck and clothes.

Of course, this is just a hot compress, but it’s a DRY one, that stays warm a lot longer than a wet rag.  The tomatillos never get clammy. They just drop to body temperature, and back onto the heat they go.

Here’s an Americanization of the remedy: we started using a toaster oven set at 200 degrees Fahrenheit. It made it easier to avoid splitting the skins.

Well, now that you’ve read it here on home-sweet-mexico, you don’t have to wait until you retire in Mexico to try it. Tomatillos are available in most northern grocery stores (or you could just use tomatoes, if you are willing to part with hundreds, maybe thousands of years of practical experience).

Of course, I hope you never have to get to know either of your tonsils as I have.

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