the elixirs of youth…

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So having survived the flu this past weekend, and gearing up for what is supposed to be an upcoming dengue fever outbreak, D and I are preparing ourselves for the worst.  But I’ve learned it really isn’t all about pharmacies and electrolyte replacement therapies here.  There are great natural treatments here to even maintain and promote health.  And best of all…they cost dimes and quarters!

Street 63 x Sihanouk Blvd - Phnom Penh's Coconut Alley!

Coconut Water

Also known as Duk Dong in Khmer, coconut water in Cambodia is not just a passing celebrity diet fab costing around $4 for less than 500mL.  All around the tropics, this clear liquid found inside coconuts is known for its multiple health benefits and will cost you 50 cents off the side of the road, or even free if you’re willing to climb a tree!

So what’s so great about coconut water?  Well, it’s basically acts like an electrolyte replacement therapy – with carbohydrates and sodium, potassium, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants; but a bit better! Coconut water is essentially the elixir of youth.  It cytokinins which minimize cell aging – especially in epithelial and connective tissue cells…keeping drinkers youthful and limber! And another random fact about coconut water?  It’s sterile and contains a substantial amount of sodium – so it can and has been used in replacement of IV-saline solution!

Carving a coconut on your own? Be careful!

Coconuts (dong in Khmer) can be found literally everywhere.  But if you’re looking to stock up, like we do on some occassions, I would head down to street 63, at Sihanouk Blvd – essentially Phnom Penh’s Sihanouk Alley, where coconuts of all shapes and sizes abound!  Literally piles and piles of them can be found on this street.  Or if you’re lucky you might even find a coconut salesman wandering down your street, dragging his wares with them.  Either way – this lovely elixir will cost you anywhere between 50-75 cents (2000-3000 Riels, very young coconuts are seen to have better health benefits and are therefore a bit pricier).

Squeezed and sweet!

Sugarcane Juice

Sugarcane Juice is my favourite afternoon sugar boost to combat that post-lunch malaise that sets in, especially when it gets really hot here.  Better than coffee sometimes!  But it’s also possesses a number of other health benefits in addition to fighting hypoglycemic lows!

Like coconut water, sugarcane possesses those antioxidants you need to fight those cancer-causing free radicals.  But moreover, those same antioxidants also help keep your insides young, by protecting the fat cells, like lipids, which surround your major organs, like the kidneys and heart, from cellular degradation.  Sugarcane juice is also useful when you’re fighting off the flu by replacing all of those electrolytes you’ll be sweating off mid-fever.  The Journal of Herbal Medicine and Toxicology says so too!  And I forgot to mention – it’s also incredibly sweet and yummy!

To get to the juice, you’ve got to squeeze it from the cane thanks to those scary monstrous presses that run around the streets of Phnom Penh.  Back home, sugarcane juice usually comes in an an evaporated syrupy version, but I definitely prefer the cold, fresh and natural version which is literally available everywhere in Phnom Penh.  You’ll see mobile and stationary sugarcane juicing carts in literally every neighbourhood, where sellers will juice the fruit right in front of you, pour it over ice and voila – sweet goodness all for 25 cents (1000 riels)!

Oh and I forgot one more major benefit for these amazing elixirs of youth and health….they are the best hangover cures too!  So if you’re going in for a heavy night – I’d seriously recommend having a coconut waiting for you at home right after!

All photos in this post, unless otherwise noted, by infinitiff.  Please do not reproduce or use without permission). And thanks to Wikipedia for all that useful info!


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