One of the other interns talked about a Chinese cold remedy in a recent blog post.
Apparently boiling Coca Cola, pigs feet and ginger together gives you just what you need to get over your common cold. - Gretchen in insert current city
This seemed like an intriguing concept, minus the pig foot. I was having trouble imagining a situation where a mostly uncooked pig foot in hot coke could make me feel better, rather than more sick. So I did a little googling. I couldn't find anything that listed coke, ginger, and pigs foot together, but ginger and coke seem to be a time honored Chinese cold medicine.
A post on You're Not From Around Here which explained a little more about the theory behind it.
Presumably the ginger is the real medicine, the coke is simply to help with the taste. (Apparently the phosphorus in the flat coke helps stimulate the appetite.) Add some lemon slices for a bit of vitamin c. Before the invention of coca-cola brown sugar mixed with water was used for sweetening the ginger broth.
I came down with a bit of a cold and decided to give it a try. (Just ginger, coke, and lemon.) The resulting hot drink is actually pretty good.
Medicine in China
Medicine in China seems to include a lot of strange homeopathic remedies. Over the years the reasoning behind them has been lost or misconstrued. Some of my fellow interns have gone to the hospital for various reasons and from the stories they tell it's no wonder that traditional Chinese Medicine is still so prevalent.
Lord willing, I'll continue to stay healthy for my remaining days in China. The hospital adventure is not an adventure I'd like to experience.