My Trip to a Chinese Herbalist Shop

The Chinese herbalist was both ancient and youthful at the same time, with deep pure clear eyes.

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Some years before a much older man than myself was repairing my roof. He walked with a decided limp – one leg was clearly shorter than the other. But otherwise this southern “Cracker” was both energetic and spry. During a break from his work I asked him what had happened. He explained,

“A couple of years earlier I fell off my ladder, crushing my left leg into my hip and lower back. The pain was unbearable, and all the pain pills in the world couldn’t make the pain go away. I just laid on my bed for months feeling drugged up and terrible. A friend recommended that I go to an acupuncturist. I gotta admit I thought it was strange. He stuck some needles in me, and a couple of weeks later all my pain was gone. Never to come back.”

Now it was my time to wince. My lower back was killing me, and there was no position I could find sitting, standing or lying down to make the pain go away. Out of sheer desperation I entered a rustic looking Chinese herbalist and acupuncture shop.

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The shelves were filled with the strangest items in bottles and bags.

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A sweet looking older Chinese woman greeted me,

“Are you American?”

I’m ‘mixed’, but it was easiest just to say ‘yes’.

“Are you married?”

When I replied that I wasn’t, she immediately pulled out a photo album filled with images of young Chinese girls.

“All of these beautiful girls will marry you, if you will bring them to America. This one cooks good. This one will give you lots of children. This one is already a doctor here in China. She will be a doctor in the United States when you take her there. She can support you.” This Asian woman continued, flipping through page after page of photos of young Chinese girls for me to consider as possibly my future wife.

An elderly Chinese gentleman stepped out from a rear room. I looked over at him. Pure white hair, but his face was also baby smooth. And his eyes – I’d never seen eyes so clear.

“He will see you now.”

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I sat down in front of this elderly doctor of Chinese medicine.

“Nǐ hǎo.” I said to him, which made him smile ear to ear, like a happy amused child.

“Hǎo.” he replied, still smiling with such deep inner innocence and mirth. I was mesmerized.

He said nothing further, but began to hold my hand, studying it. He stuck out his tongue in order to have me stick out mine. He looked at my facial skin tone, my eyes.

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The doctor then rose and walked over to his shelves filled with everything imaginable, but nothing I’d ever seen before.

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He perused through one container, then another. Removing an item here, something from there, placing everything he was gathering into a brown paper bag.

When he was done he left the room by returning to the rear of the store, entering into the back room from which he originally came. The Asian woman had me pay a minor sum for what was in the paper bag, and instructed me on how to make it into a tea, telling me to drink a cup in the morning and a cup in the evening every day for a week.

It seemed too simple. This was going to heal my killer back pain? But I did as I was told.

The first cup I made tasted like the most putrid concoction of horrid mess I could never have imagined. I found a bottle of honey and poured half the bottle into my still warm cup. The honey made what this doctor had given me barely bearable. But I did finish it. As well as the cup I made for myself that same evening. As well as both cups the next day.

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By the following day I was feeling better. Was I fooling myself? Could I be just simply getting used to the pain? No, I did some bends and stretches. Movements that would have had me both scream and cry and my eyes well into tears only a day before. It was incredible. Only two days drinking this horrifically awful tasting tea, and I was feeling completely healed.

Like a good boy, I finished drinking two cups of tea each day for the remainder of the week. And to this day I have never had that pain return. Ever.

Thank you ancient Chinese herbalist, with the most beautiful baby clear eyes I’ve ever seen in my life.

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I am feeling much much better now!

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