A Retiring Attitude

 |  October 29, 2010

A lot of people choose Thailand as a place of retirement because of the very good and inexpensive medical treatment one can get here. And lately spa and herbal treatment centres have become a booming business. But what about treatment for those little nagging aches and pains and other bothersome physical problems that fall just below the level of needing to see a doctor? Thailand has some answers for them too.

For many of the little physical problems one encounters often, an itch here, an ache there, an irritating cough, stomach upset, instead of running to see a doctor, many people will simply go to their friendly local pharmacist.

Except for certain medications, the addicting ones in particular, most medications that in the west would require a doctor’s prescription can be bought over-the-counter here in Thailand. Describe the problem to the pharmacist and he or she will suggest a medication to treat it. They will usually tell you how to take it and what side effects to be aware of. That is okay when it comes to treating aches and pains but not such a great idea when using potentially dangerous drugs like antibiotics or steroidal medications. So it is best to use the pharmacist wisely and see a doctor for the serious stuff.

Folk remedies are also very popular in Thailand. The pungent Tiger Balm (yaa mong) is probably the most used medication in Asia. Invented back in the 1800s it is a combination of menthol and camphor. Its suggested uses include treatments for muscle pains, migraines, mosquito bites, cough, blocked sinuses, and stomach ache. It is often spread on liberally before one does any physical activity or sport. We have a jar in every room in the house.

Other folk-like medicines here include yaa thad, an elixir used to treat stomach upset and diarrhea. I dink it straight from the bottle. It is made of bicarbonate soda, rhubarb, oil of peppermint camphor, glycerin and the miracle ingredient 90% alcohol. If you are trying to ‘stay on the wagon’ you might want to avoid this one.

And let’s not forget yaa dom, the ubiquitous inhalers seen everywhere, used for everything from fainting spells, to head colds, to crowded buses, to dealing with bad news. No well prepared person would leave home without it.

Hugh’s advice for the month:
In Thailand, there are two types of drug stores. Level 1 are proper pharmacies, have prescription-type meds, and a pharmacist present. Level 2 carries more simple meds like stomach and cold remedies.

For further information about retiring to Thailand check out Hugh’s site www.retire2thailand.com.