Turmeric, She Wrote

It all started innocuously enough. DSC02220

A bite, from a mosquito or ant.

Not a big deal.

Then the spot turned red, redder and beet red.

It morphed into something that I did not like.

With a line of red and blotchy bruises to boot.

Then it was something to care about.

(But lacking the exhibitionist gene, I’m keeping shots of the mark to myself!)

Like many expats in Bali do, I went the natural remedy route.

First I applied tea tree oil.

Nothing happened.

Then I went for coconut oil.

Still nothing. What next?

I went for an overnight dab of minyak bokashi – oil that’s done lots of good before.

Day after day (ok, not so many days), I watched and waited.

Still nothing.

Time to call in the troops.

Which, in my case, meant my German-born naturopath.

I email PM at her clinic ‘down south.’

I attach a photo. (nope, still no photo for you folks 😉

What is this and what should I do?

turmericShe replies: That doesnt look good. I would try Turmeric and Papaya leaves, but if it doesnt get better in two/ three days, please go to a Doctor.

I’m grateful for her vote of confidence in nature’s bounty.

In this instance, like many others, I hold off on going to a doctor.

That’s because I live in Bali – and I prefer to go the herbal route whenever possible.

I send a message to Ayu: I need turmeric and papaya leaves. Where can I find them?

There is a lot of turmeric under the stove.

Later that evening, she meets me in front of the Bali Buda food-mart.

She hands me a large plastic bag stuffed with stupendously large, dark green papaya leaves.papaya leaves

From my neighbor’s garden, Ayu says.

I head home. Or, in this case, my lab.

While boiling the leaves, I chop turmeric root.

I blend everything (with a little water) until it turns to paste.

I make enough to last at least a few days.

My hands are yellow. The blender’s turned yellow, along with the knife, the cutting board and a bowl.

Ayu, what to do??!!                                        

Lying in bed, I’m surrounded by a towel, tissues, plastic bags, rubber bands – and the smelly paste that I cake onto the strawberry red spot.

I barely move all night long. The following nights too.

Then, one morning, I awake and peel off the cakey smelly pasty mess.

The bruises are gone.

The thin red line is gone.

My skin is smooth and untarnished once again.

I attribute much of my body’s healing to the papaya leaves and turmeric.

But I knew enough to add a secret ingredient to the mix, one that doesn’t grow in Bali’s bountiful gardens, forests and jungles.

The power of belief.


  1. Yes nature has all that we need if we know where to find it and what to do with it 🙂
    I look forward to reading more of your life in beautiful Bali, I’m pretty much enchanted with the place and it’s on my bucket list to visit.

    Jen 🙂

  2. So glad all went well for you. Growing up in South Africa, we also used a lot of natural healing for bites and stings. Papaya has wonderful healing and digestive properties. Next time, bite back! (Joke)

  3. As you know well Amit, in the tropics, small things can quickly turn into big scary things. Like you, I’m not one of those people who run to the doctor for every small thing, but it’s good to know that they’re there for emergencies. Chemistry hasn’t been around that long and for millennia natural medicine was the only medicine. I’m glad your treatment worked out well. ~James

    1. Yes, it’s awesome, Steve.. but now I’ve discovered an even more awesome herb – and its healing properties: Temulawak. Yowza! I’ve been taking a heaping spoonful every day, the past few days and it’s uber-potent!! No idea still what it was, but it’s mostly gone.. yet threatening to resurface once in awhile. Mysterious… 😉

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