There’s a whole load of things which make people sick in Poland that don’t make people sick elsewhere. I swear I’ve only heard these things here and maybe they’re real and maybe they’re not but I’m skeptical. Perhaps we can get a doctor to weigh in? Anyone? So let’s talk about polish health myths
The dreaded przeciąg. A very scary thing for Poles. Nothing in Poland is more dangerous than the wind. Neck hurt? Draft. Head hurts? Przeciąg. Every time you get sick practically everyone questions whether you slept with the window open. When I’m at my parents-in-law’s and it’s hot as hell inside their apartment, we can’t open the window because the wind might make the kids sick. It doesn’t matter if it’s -5 or 30 degrees outside. Or someone has problems with their back because they were sweaty and the wind blew on their back? Huh? Who else finds this strange? There must be truth to it since it’s so universal. Even the nurses at the hospital were worried about it. I got a breast infection while breastfeeding and the midwife said it could have been from a draft… Also old people are always telling me to put a hat on my baby indoors when its 30 degrees because there could be a przeciąg… boże drogi. But seriously, I half started believing this because people talk about it so much.
Air conditioning and the quick change in temperature.
I come from Florida where AC is ubiquitous so getting sick from it is just not possible. People here are always saying that the AC at work or even in their cars made them sick. I used to believe this was a myth but nowadays when I go home my throat hurts the whole time, but that might be because my mom keeps it a cool 19 degrees all year. But this goes along with the changing of temps making you sick. It’s funny to me because in the summer when someone gets ill, it was for sure because they went from inside, where there’s AC, to outside where it’s warm. However, no one claims this as a problem in winter when the same situation occurs, just in the reverse. What’s the difference? who knows.
The skin of peppers or tomatoes sticking to your stomach.
This is otherwise known as food poisoning or a stomach virus everywhere else in the world. I eat peppers and tomatoes all the time with skin on them and I don’t have this problem. I recently had a stomach thing and this was the conclusion my whole family came to. Apparently it’s a thing! Where does this myth come from and is there truth to it?
Not wearing a hat.
Does not wearing a hat outdoors when it’s under 10 degrees really make you sick or is it just a comfort thing? Who knows but if you don’t wear a hat in Poland when it’s cold and you get sick then that was definitely the reason. Same with not wearing socks or slippers. It wasn’t because you came in contact with a bacteria or something. Nah.
Not covering yourself with a blanket when you lie down.
My mother-in-law swears you’ll get sick if you don’t. I think it’s a load of bull but she’s fully convinced.
The best possible remedies for illnesses:
Something which is cool is that a lot of Poles will use some home remedies to try and treat themselves instead of only taking medicine, although I’m sure there’s a lot of that as well. Anyway I also like home remedies but these particular few seem to be most popular here:
Tea with lemon and honey. If you’re any kind of sick then this is apparently a panacea – all you need to get healthy. Granted I think it helps you feel better but it’s not a miracle drug.
Steam inhalations. I’d never done these before moving to Poland but I’d seen them in old cartoons and things a few times. I don’t know if it really works but I usually feel better after – kind of like when you feel refreshed after the sauna.
Garlic. Poles truly believe in the healing powers of garlic. There’s even a mixture of garlic, milk and honey, which I think sounds okropne but seems to be widely used.
Lemon balm tea (melisa for the Poles). Stressed? Drink this and everything will be ok. It’s like whenever you feel upset someone offers to make you lemon balm and assumes it will make it all better. But it does have a calming effect, I agree.
Can you think of any other similar health beliefs which are a little iffy? I tried thinking of American ones but I couldn’t think of any. Probably it would help to have an outsider’s perspective! Let me know what you think in the comments!