Tongans use many different "home remedies" to fix injuries and ailments from broken bones to burns and scrapes; from the common cold and flu to migraine headaches to sore muscles and joints. Growing up I can think of several different occasions where these "home remedies" where used on myself and my siblings. Many times, I thought they were completely ridiculous, but our Tongan Elders swore by these remedies.
One time my older brother Sateki, was skateboarding down a very steep hill, behind my grandparents' house and he hit a rock and flew off the board. He landed on his back and slid several feet before grinding to a halt, sustaining serious road rash injuries to his shoulders and back. We rushed him to our grandmother's house and immediately she pulls out a stick of butter, and begins generously applying the butter all over my brothers' roadrashed back. He screamed out in pain, but obediently allowed my grandmother to finish the application of the entire stick of butter. Later in life, as we grow and learn about injuries and how the body heals itself during traumatic injury, I learned that applying generous amounts of butter directly onto an open wound, such as road rash, is exactly would you should never do! My grandma is so funny!
Many of us have horror stories of dislocating a joint such as a hip or shoulder, or spraining an ankle or knee. The Tongan remedy for this is to be taken to a trained individual such as a chiropractor or other joint specialist, but not really trained in a traditional chiropractor school; more of a talent or specific knowledge passed on from one generation to the next. These Tongan massage therapists fota or "massage" the affected or injured areas and cause a great deal of pain to the individual. I will say, I was a skeptic of this practice at first, until I saw first-hand, someone with sore joints and muscles walk out of the session pain free.
Anyway, the Tongan "home remedy" I seem to have remembered the most from my own childhood, is the remedy used to cure upset stomach, and the stomach flu. As a child, I can remember coughing so bad that I would begin to vomit. When I would have food poisoning or the stomach flu, I can remember the same remedy being applied to help cure this as well. A Super Big Gulp of Sprite! Yes, I can remember staying home from school because I was vomiting the night before, and my mother buying me my very own Super Big Gulp of Sprite, and it was made known, that this Sprite was only for me and no one else was allowed to touch it! I'm not sure if the carbonation or the lemon-lime flavor actually cures upset stomach, but for some reason it always helped me feel better. I can remember feeling special knowing that the Super Big Gulp in the fridge was only mine. I felt special staying home from school, watching cartoons sippin' on this magical elixir.
Now that I have kids of my own, I see myself using some of these "home remedies" with my kids. Although I haven't used a stick of butter on my children's open wounds yet, I have run to the store in the middle of the night, on several occasions to buy my kids a Super Big Gulp of Sprite. I sit them on the couch with a warm blanket around them, turn the TV to the Cartoon Network and make sure everyone in the house knows, the Sprite in the fridge is only for the sick kid. I make them feel special, like my mom did to me, and within a day, the vomiting stops, and which ever ailment they were suffering from is completely gone. This is the widely used, but largely unknown Medicinal use of Sprite. J