How many of you have trouble finding such basic health items such as vaseline, epsom salts, heating pads and others? Well, you’re in luck; part of my clinic’s major renovations this year has involved upgrading our pharmacy to provide a more Walgreens-style consumer-friendly service, and I’m happy to report that we now carry a lot more practical yet hard to find non-prescription items. Ricola cough drops, epsom salts, heating pads, Vaseline, salt water saline spray — all these and many other useful OTC items are now available all over Beijing. Here are my favorites:
Heating Pads from Japan. This is my favorite new product! Those of you with aches and pains are likely familiar with the very common Chinese skin patches, usually soaked in a mentholatum-type oil, which provide some relief to sore muscles. Those can be ok, but sometimes all you need is a good heating pad — and our Kobayashi heating pads, newly imported from Japan (i.e., good quality) work wonders for at least 15 hours. We docs here love them! I tried one on my lower back during a recent cold and loved that continuous warmth all day. Many women find great relief from their menstrual cramps by keeping one on their lower belly. And there’s no problem with skin rashes — they attach to your clothes, not your skin. Plus, they’re incredibly simple; you simply peel off the top and it warms up in 10 minutes.
Ricola sugar-free herbal cough drops. There are a lot of sore throat lozenges on the market, but my favorite was always Ricola, which has a nice assortment of sugar-free lozenges that have a refreshing taste along with their herbal mixture. They do just as good a job as other lozenges, which means they work ok but not great. My clinic pharmacist finally gave in to my pleading and found Ricola’s joint venture product, which we now stock in the pharmacy. All fans of Ricola can drop by any time and pick up a can.
Epsom salts. Otherwise known as magnesium sulfate salt, epsom salts are famous for decreasing swelling and aiding achy joints. You can throw in a few tablespoons into a bath to soothe your joints and muscles; into a foot soak to aid achy, cold feet; or in a sitz bath to take away hemorrhoid swelling and pain. I’ve previously mentioned the wonders of a warm foot soak machine in the winter.
Our pharmacy also has a few other OTC products that may be hard to find at local stores:
- Petroleum jelly (AKA Vaseline), very effective for the most serious cases of winter dry skin
- Medilac-S and Medilac-Vita, an excellent formulation of probiotics to help kids and adults during diarrhea, irritable bowel episodes, and other uses
- Salt water nasal sprays, for kids and adults, as a healthy way to clean the nose during the all-too-common bouts of colds and flu
- Mentholatum ointment (AKA Vicks VapoRub), to rub into those achy or cold muscles
All these and many others are available without prescription or doctor’s visits; just drop on in and say hello to one of our friendly pharmacists.