During the recent flu outbreak, the demand for Chinese herbal medicine increased tremendously. In New York, the traditional Chinese medicine Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa has become a wildly popular remedy for treating coughs. Otherwise known as Nin Jiom loquat sore throat syrup, the price of a 300 ml bottle increased nearly 10-fold in recent weeks, and is being sold online for as much as US$70. The product has been the talk of the advertisement, arts, and entertainment circles in New York City.
The remedy’s popularity in New York began when an architect and design professor, Alex Schweder, started promoting it. He said that he had been coughing for 10 days with no improvement. His girlfriend recommended that he take Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa. After taking the loquat syrup, his condition improved in only 15 minutes. Alex was astonished by the effect of the product and recommended it to other people. Soon, the loquat syrup became a hot topic among New Yorkers.
Alex revealed that his girlfriend, Oberon Sinclair, knew about the herbal remedy from when she lived in Hong Kong 30 years ago.
Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa originated from Beijing during the Qing Dynasty. There was a story of a magistrate, Yang Xiaolian, who was caring for his mother. She suffered from a respiratory illness for many years. Xiaolian relentlessly visited several physicians, but failed to find a cure for her cough.
One day, he heard of a famous physician, Ye Tianshi. Xiaolian then traveled for thousands of miles crossing mountains and rivers to ask Ye Tianshi to treat his mother. Ye Tianshi, after a careful diagnosis, found that the mother’s illness was due to long years of exhaustion brought on by hard labor, and said that it could not be cured by the usual treatments. Tianshi used his ancestral secret formula to treat Mrs. Yang, and she was finally cured of her illness.
Mrs. Yang passed away at the age of 84, but before her death, she told her son to produce the medicine and distribute it to as many people as possible.
In order to commemorate his mother and Ye Tianshi’s kindness, Xiaolan named the medicine Nian Ci An, which in Chinese means “Temple in Memory of Mother.” He followed Tianshi’s secret formula, using more than 10 types of precious herbs and other ingredients, including chuanbei, campanulaceae, loquat, and pure honey, and refining them into a syrup. During his lifetime, Xiaolan donated the medicine to many people.
After the Yang descendants moved to Hong Kong, the Mandarin name Nian Ci An became Nin Jiom (Cantonese) and the secret formula was entrusted to Xie Zhao Bang, who first set up a factory called Nin Jiom Medicine Manufactory (H.K.) Ltd. in Hong Kong in 1946, followed by another in Taiwan in 1961. They continue to sell the product around the world today.
Translated by Chua BC