It’s always a treat for me to visit a Chinese pharmacy nowadays. Although I grew up taking herbs, nowadays I walk in with a little thrill because I can call myself an herbalist and write my own prescriptions.
My husband nicknamed the place Hogwarts, and as Harry Potter analogies ran rampant at my school, this nickname stuck.
As you can see from the pictures he took, it is a place frozen in time. They still use a hand scale with tiny weights and a metal plate hanging off some sort of bone. The process is called jua yao, which literally translates to “grab medicine”, because the pharmacy staff has to go and grab each herb from wherever it is stored (usually in a bank of drawers spanning the wall). Watch this YouTube video taken at a Chinese pharmacy in Beijing (starts at 0:15) to see what I mean.
In the meantime, I am off to find some alcohol to make the trauma and tendon liniment I bought the herbs for. Looking forward to seeing if an Asian girl asking for two gallons of vodka at a liquor store gets any notable reactions…
(Photo by Jordan de Guzman)