Thursday, August 29, 2013

Bone Musk In The Workplace

I'm on the fourth week of my diet plan. If I hadn't looked at my calendar I would have guessed seven weeks. Despite the monotony and deprivation, it's going swimmingly. I'm finally flirting with the 199 mark I haven't seen in over two years. Which, coincidentally, was the last time I was on a diet kick.

I'm sure I would have passed the 200 pound milestone by now if I'd been working out solidly the whole time. But it seems I've been a victim of the fates conspiring against me. (I can't point my finger at myself, right?) First my lower back was giving me problems, then a bad cold laid me down for over a week. Now that my phlegm production is returning to a normal level, my back pain has flared up again.

This is where JB's Chinese surrogate Mom comes to the rescue. She gave me a packet containing some sort of Chinese herbal remedy and made me promise to try it. I would have preferred some Chinese oxycontin, but what's the harm in humoring a very nice person who is only offering to help?

I admit the package looks attractive, even if giving no clue to its content or intended purpose. If I ever get a tattoo, it'll look like this.

I was really hoping it would be tiger-scented.
Turning it over and reading the instructions on the back would be good preparation for visiting the Beijing airport. I'm able to make out that the packet contains adhesive patches which I'm supposed to slap over my owie. Okay.

I tear open the pack and the smell hits me in the face. It's like fish and gunpowder mixed with Vick's VapoRub. "Ewww!" JB grimmaced as he peeled off the backing paper and lined the patch up with the spot just above and slightly left-of-center of my ass crack.

Warm. And tingly. What's in this stuff?

A reasonable question. The kind of question a sane person would ask before adhering himself to a foreign substance. Finding the package unhelpful, I typed "zhuanggu shexian zhitonggao plaster" which, I assure you, is easier said than done. Okay, maybe not. It took Google 0.36 seconds to return 1,150 results.

Translation: Bones Musk Analgesic Cream

Active Ingredients:
  • Borneol
  • Camphor
  • Menthol
  • Rue
  • Methyl Salicylate
  • Artificial musk
  • Aconite (root)
  • Frankincense
  • Myrrh
  • Strychni
  • Clove (flower bud)
  • Cassia
  • Schizonepeta (aboveground parts)
  • Siler (root)
  • Herba gerami Periploca sepium (root bark)
  • Fragrant angelica (root)
  • Kaempferia galangal (rhizome)
  • Gotu Kola (whole plant)
  • Drynaria (rhizome)
  • Ginger
  • Extract of ruta graveolens
  • Belladonna

I recognize Frankincense and Myrrh from the Bible. This made me wonder, "Why would Jesus need medicinal herbs?" After pondering the theological ramifications momentarily, I continued scanning the list. I recognize Camphor, Menthol, Clove, Ginger, Belladonna...

Wait... Isn't belladonna poisonous? And what is Strychni? Could that be "strychnine"? Is that old woman trying to kill me? It was right about then that I realized my back was feeling better.

Sitting at work yesterday, a co-worker asked if I smelled VapoRub.

"Nope. Don't smell a thing."


  1. Tsk, artificial musk? I only let strange Chinese products containing real musk on my body.

    1. Considering the source, I'm impressed they have artificial musk. Why kill a deer just to harvest its scrotum? If only they could concoct artificial rhinoceros horn, artificial elephant tusk, fake shark fins and I could kick my leather fetish, the world will be a better place.

  2. maybe they just ground up Stevie Nicks albums. They can be annoying, but no lethal.

  3. The packaging looks like the discount version of Sex Panther cologne as seen in Anchorman: the Legend of Ron burgundy.