Getting sick is the worst thing that can happen while you are traveling. In Thailand, however, where a trip to the hospital can be quite expensive, doctors come as a last resort. Here, in the Land of Smiles, the first solution to any ailment is the home remedies that have been passed down from generation to generation. Looking into switching to some herbal Thai cures? Here are a few Thai home remedies every traveler should try.

Tiger balm

In My Big Fat Greek Wedding, the dad, Michael Constantine, believes Windex is the best home remedy. That’s probably because he hasn’t been to Asia and discovered the all-purpose home remedy: Tiger Balm. Made of camphor, a pain reliever, and menthol, that provides a cooling sensation, Tiger Balm is applied on the temples to relieve headaches, on the belly to relieve flatulence, on the chest (like Vicks Vapor Rub) to relieve chest congestions, and even under the nose to relieve sinusitis. It’s also used to massage sore spots to relieve muscle and joint pains, and it also takes away the itch from mosquito bites. Secretly, some parents even apply it under kids’ eyes to relieve them of insomnia.

Tom yum goong

Yes, you can find your cold remedy in any Thai menu. This iconic Thai soup, with its hot and sour mix of shrimp, galangal, cilantro, lemongrass, chili peppers, and kaffir lime leaves, is great for opening your sinuses. As an added benefit, a Japanese-Thai study in 2009 claims that a bowl of Tom Yum Goong has plenty of anti-oxidants and anti-cancer properties.

Thai ginger tea (galangal)

The one thing that can ruin your Thai adventure is an upset stomach. It is, however, quite common to get it on your first day in a new country. As a home remedy, the Thais recommend a concoction of 2 tablespoons of ginger root steeped in boiling water for 10 minutes and then sweetened with cane sugar or honey.

Boiled rice soup or congee

From the backpacker universe of Khao San Road to the Full Moon parties of Koh Phangan, waking up with an awful hangover is hard to avoid. The recommended Thai remedy is boiled rice soup or congee, a plain dish that is easy to hold down and a nice source of hydration that flushes away toxins.

Lemongrass

Another Thai remedy for stomachaches is lemongrass, and this root is famously filled with anti-bacterial properties. To prepare: seep in boiling water for 15 minutes to make some tea, or slice it and eat it if you can handle the strong taste.

Fah-talai-jone

Write it down. With such a complicated name, it may be hard to remember, but this Thai herbal remedy – that also comes in capsule form – can boost your immune system and help you fight infections. Now known as the protection from the type A H1N1 flu, it’s also used as a remedy for fever, diarrhea, sore throat, and UTIs.

Longan

Lychee’s runt of a little brother, this sweet fruit is a known to remedy sore throats and stomachaches. It also helps boost the immune system and wards away insomnia. As a Thai home remedy, pieces of dried longan are used to make tea. In northern Thailand, they also make longan honey tonic which they add to hot water and lime to cure sore throats.

Herbal inhalers

From opening the sinuses, unclogging nasal congestions, and alleviating headaches, dizziness and nausea, herbal inhalers loaded with menthol, lemongrass, turmeric, and camphor, are quite popular in Thailand. Better than coffee, a whiff from this cylindrical device, known to the Thais as ya-dom, can wake you up as you feel the mentholated aroma shoot up your nasal passages.

Share some of your thai home remedies

If you have been in Thailand long enough, perhaps you have your own herbal remedy to share. Leave us a comment.