This winter, rely on “Pei Pa Koa” (枇杷膏) to cure everything

Pai Pa Koa (枇杷膏)

“Pei Pa Koa,” a loquat-based herbal medicine, is the panacea of Asia. Created by a Qing Dynasty doctor at the request of a filial son for his ill mother, the very thick, dark brown syrup is produced in Hong Kong by “Nin Jiom” (whose name means something like “for my mother”).

Pei Pa Koa is often simply used as a remedy for coughs and sore throats. According to the package insert, it can also be used to: (1) improve temperament; (2) protect karaoke singing voices; (3) cure hangovers; (4) aid workaholics; and (5) enhance breathing in the elderly. The following photographs are from the current package insert:

We’ve had a bottle in our cupboard ever since we learned about the elixir in Zhuhai, China seven or eight years ago. I will personally testify that it does indeed ease a bad cough. Perhaps it also helps with the effects of horrid air pollution (although the package insert does not yet make this claim).

As a smog remedy, it’s simply dying to be made into a new cocktail for use in Shanghai’s ultra-hipster “speakeasies.” Care to dream up a drink recipe and name?

Pick up a bottle before your next KTV party in smoggy Shanghai, hazy Hong Kong or bleak Beijing. Now also available in single dose sachets!


More information on this miracle cure-all?
Official “Nin Jiom” website (includes cartoon origin story!)
Wikipedia entry on “Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa”
Buy it on Amazon (for an outrageously high price!)

13 responses to “This winter, rely on “Pei Pa Koa” (枇杷膏) to cure everything

  1. I remember the so-called ancient Chinese cold remedy of boiled Coca-Cola w/ ginger or lemon (as ancient as Coke can be). I couldn’t recall how effective that was but surely a lot more preferable to kids then other traditional herbal remedies which were terribly bitter. It might have a better chance to succeed in speakeaies.

    • Somewhere I’ve heard that hot Coca-Cola remedy before! Maybe my Chinese-Canadian friend spoke of her parents making it.

      Pei Pa Koa isn’t too bad, as it has a lot of honey in it to mask the other flavors.

      You’re use of the phrase “ancient Chinese” suddenly reminded me of that American Calgon commercial from the 1980s:

      • Ha! I remember that one as well. I think it started even earlier on TV like in the 70s. Funny I don’t recall ever seeing Calgon on the shelves of supermarkets. Wonder if they are still in business today.

  2. Aww, I went to Boulevard (one of the Shanghai Speakeasies) and I thought it was awesome. I’ll have to bring some of that pei pa koa to mix up some anti-smog cocktails, and then the whole expat population will suddenly be there.

      • Hey, I am back up and blogging again! I actually just took a photo of an advertisement for pei pa koa on the shanghai subway! But you have no photo comment capabilities on here. ARGH

      • Is that a thing? Photo comment capabilities? Because that would be rad. I was just trying to post a photo comment yesterday… Glad to hear your back to blogging! Will pop over!

  3. I recall taking this as a small child in Taiwan and thought it was the next best thing to eating candy. Took it again several months ago and preferred a wet dish rag over this. I think Dimetapp and Robitussun has ruined me.

  4. When I was small, I loved eating chilled Pei Pa Ko even when I wasn’t ill for its cool taste and sticky sweet texture. Nice to see the illustrations that comes with the packaging!

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