“No dog poop to make medicine”
From most points of view, dog poop seems absolutely useless. However, there are stories and even records in Donguibogam, the book “Principles and Practice of Eastern Medicine”, that dog poop was once used to cure pus-filled wounds and those who had been severely beaten. The book thoroughly covers the procedure, which is to burn dog poop until its outer surface turns black and the inside turns yellow. Then, the poop was placed in alcohol to drink. Donguibogam also talks about other petty animal parts, like chicken poop and pig organs, that were known to be effective for curing various types of pain.
It is quite amusing to imagine someone finding dog poop to drink with alcohol. However, the meaning is as enlightening as it is humorous. People often overlook petty objects; for example, a 100 won coin or an old broken mobile phone. However, these apparently useless objects magically vanish only when people need them. A 100 won coin is never in one’s pocket when one needs just such a coin to activate a department store cart. Old mobile phones buried somewhere deep inside the house, refuse to reveal themselves when one wants to trade them in for credit. A naughty friend who always makes visits to ask for help is never there to be asked for a favor in return. These are all examples of the general situation that the saying “No dog poop to make medicine” references.
These days, modern medicine finds itself with “no dog poop to make medicine.” Thanks to concern about the high rate of cancer and frequently broadcasted health programs, many ajummas are busy digging for herbs and fermenting them into an enzyme drink. Some people even give up their city lives to live in the mountains alongside the herbs. One of the most common weeds, the dandelion, contains essential nutrients, choline and silymarin that can help strengthen the stomach and protect the liver. The white dandelion is especially famous for elevating one’s immunity level, preventing fatal diseases like breast and liver cancer.
Weeds that have always been unwelcomed in fields are now important, but now people are having trouble finding them! Dandelions are much more rare. In a few decades, the Korean government might have to put up protection signs for weeds.