Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Traditional potions

Opposite the Hanuman offices on Street 310 here in Phnom Penh, is a traditional medicine shop that produces various potions and pills on site. I often see a group of women sorting pills, pellets, tablets, herbs, roots, or just about anything into packets or drying the medicines in the sun on the pavement, as you can see above. These particular pills were a gorgeous violet colour when I spotted them at midday today and on closer inspection, were the size of a pea, rock-hard and artificially coloured. The shop owner, part of the famous Tep Leap traditional medicine chain of shops, told me the pills are used to alleviate problems with male constipation, though I couldn't work out why men and women might have different pills for this ailment. Though I know absolutely nothing about it, this fascinating form of medicine has its roots firmly in Asia and modern drugs have been developed from some of the herbs, trees and scrubs used for centuries by local inhabitants who swear by these remedies.

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