Sweet Lily Bulbs Congee from Unfamiliarchina.com

Beating the flu with pears, cups and lily bulb congee

Only days after I passed my last board exam, my body decided to take a vacation. It succumbed to the flu and forced its stubborn host to lie on the couch for a few days with an adorably fluffy dog and watch TV. And nap. And watch more TV.

As colds go, this one was by far one of the mildest. There were symptoms that waxed and waned – fatigue, fever, congestion, cough – but nothing that lying down to rest could not improve. I also got a chance to try first hand some of the remedies I’ve been recommending to patients.

  • Pears – The cough-busting, lung-moistening wonder of the produce aisle. As luck would have it, I’d bought a half-dozen Asian pears from the supermarket last weekend.  Every time I got hungry for a snack, I’d reach for one of these. Refreshing and perfect.
  • Cupping – Two of my best investments in self-care has to be the cupping set and my heat lamp. I had my husband cup my neck and shoulders one night, went straight to bed, and felt much better the next day.
Bai He 百 合 is sweet and slightly bitter.

Congee is my favorite comfort food when I’m sick. (Thank God for the “porridge” setting on our Zojirushi rice cooker.) That and rou song (dried shredded pork) is all I want to eat when I’m feeling under the weather. I remembered that I stocked up on bai he from last year’s cold when I was trying to get over a lingering cough. This herb is part of meals in Chinese kitchens – commonly used in soups, stir-fry and, yes, congee. So I rinsed a handful and threw it in the pot. Its sweet, slightly bitter flavor adds a tangy and surprising bite to the otherwise bland porridge. I was coughing a lot less than I usually do when I’m sick.

The key remedy, though, was rest. I can’t remember the last time I spent this much time lying down. I’m sure the warm puppy has therapeutic benefits that defy explanation too.

Bai He photo from: http://chinese.herbs.webs-sg.com/articles_9.html