I posted a comment in response to T.OC’s post Secret Chinese Medicine for Fevers recently.

Basically it is a fever remedy that involved making a rice flour, egg white and water dough to wrap around, and thereby cool, a fevered child. (Presumably you simply scale up the volume to deal with an adult.)

My guess is it will be as effective in cooling the child as towelling down with a damp towel. Or better yet, the correct dosage of Paracetamol (Tylenol/acetaminophen).

But the act of making the dough and fussing over wrapping it around a sick child carries with it a greater “effort of love”. That makes both the mother and the child feel better.

Human attention is probably valued the most by all of us in times of illness and distress. The rice flour dough definitely has more “attention value” than a white pill, and thus greater psychosomatic placebo value.

This reminded me of cake mixes. Cake mixes usually require two additional ingredients to work – water and an egg. But technologically, we have been able to dry and powder eggs successfully for decades now. So why not simply put powered egg into the dry mix in the first place?

Apparently this is what manufacturers did in the first place. All that a busy parent needed to add was water. But for some reason sales were not great.

As it turned out, parents who are already feeling guilty about not baking a cake from scratch felt even worse at providing something made from a box with some water.

So manufacturers removed the powered egg.

An egg is easy to come by, easy to work with, comes readily imbued with “nutrition”. There is a greater effort of love in adding an egg to the mix, than just adding plain water. And so cake mixes were much better receiver by busy parents.