Home » LIFESTYLE » Ayran for dehydration, Rosemary for memory loss and Raki – a cure for almost everything!  Know your Turkish folk remedies?
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Ayran for dehydration, Rosemary for memory loss and Raki – a cure for almost everything!  Know your Turkish folk remedies?

Ayran for dehydration, Rosemary for memory loss and Raki – a cure for almost everything!  Know your Turkish folk remedies?

How well do you know your Turkish folk medicine? As a change from our normal Fethiye news and Turkey property blogs we thought we would explore the wonderful (and sometimes weird) world of Turkish housewife remedies.

The blog was sparked by a conversation in the Oceanwide Properties office where I commented that my local doctor suggested giving Ayran (a popular salty, yogurt drink) to my 2 year old toddler with a sickness bug. Believe it or not, it did work and certainly helped rehydrate him. The doctor also added it was a great remedy for hangovers (not that I had one at the time!). From there we found out that a colleague’s Turkish in-laws insisted on rubbing her young son with a mix of cinnamon and salt then bathing him to help fend off bad body odour. Selda’s grandmother, it transpired, also has an old wives cure for almost any ailment, all made from local ingredients, herbs, brews and spices either grown herself, or available from the local spice shops or Fethiye open market.

So what do you know about traditional Turkish remedies? Any alternative medicine should of course be treated with caution, and proper medical advice should always be taken, but every country has its own traditional medicines – and also their own quirky cures for all manner of illnesses. Turkey is certainly no exception. Folk medicine has played a part in Turkish culture for centuries, the “kocakari ilaclari” (old wives remedies) passed down through generations, just as it appears Selda has learnt many alternative cures from her Grandmother.

So what are the most notable cures?

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Well a little Google threw up lots of Turkish oddball treatments like eating a pigeon eggs for 40 days helps asthma, rubbing a mix of fresh garlic and herbs on your head cures baldness and burning eggshells and breathing in the fumes stops a nosebleed. Then there’s the ubiquitous blend of fruits, nuts and spices known as Turkish Viagra claimed to increase prowess and longevity, and the traditional drink Raki said to help toothache, clear your nose and help the common cold no end if drunk neat, without water.

Then there are the ones that seem harmless enough. Apparently placing slices of lemon on your forehead helps a migraine or headache and a spoonful of honey eases a sore throat. A dribble of olive oil in the ear clears earwax, bathing in barley water helps rheumatism and grated onion on a sprained ankle soothes the pain.

Turkish yogurt also features heavily in home treatments. Not only does it a generous layer ease sunburn and help yeast infections, it also helps an upset stomach or food poisoning, especially if you mix it with a little garlic. If this doesn’t shift the sickness try a warm cup of mint and lemon tea, supposedly great for relieving nausea and helping you recover from the flu.

Brews are high on the folk medicine agenda. For high blood pressure, depression, sleep deprivation and anxiety drink either linden (ihlamur), camomile (papatya) or Lemon Balm (Melissa) tea. To treat hot flushes & digestive problems, sage (ada) or oregano (kekik) tea is the answer. To help fight cancer a cup of nettle (isirgan) tea a day, before breakfast on an empty stomach, is suggested. And, to help memory loss pop a sprig of rosemary in some hot water and drink once a day….just remember to keep it up for at least two weeks!

To cool down, freshen up and also prevent the pesky mozzies attacking, use Turkish lemon cologne. To take away the itch, pop a little alcohol on it…gin and raki in particular is said to work wonders. Failing that rub around the area with something silver. Another popular cologne is rose water, this is said to relieve stress and also rid you of blackheads. And if dandruff is your concern, use Bittim soap (olive oil and pistachio) as you would a shampoo.

The list is endless, many interesting folk cures left unmentioned. Do you know of any worth a mention? Speak to any Turk or ex-pat that has lived in Turkey for some time and I am sure they would have many suggestions for the list!

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