Is Ji Shi Teng 鸡屎藤 (a Chinese fever vine herb) able to ward off evil spirits? According to the older generation (like my mum and some of my older relatives), they all truly believe so! I first came across this Ji Shi Teng via listening to Mr Zhou’s Ghost Stories podcast on 13th May 2022.
Mr Zhou mentioned that his neighbour’s child was crying for ages so his mum went over to help out her neighbour. No matter how hard they tried to soothe the child, nothing could be done. So the elderly believed that it must be evil spirits surrounding the baby and ‘they’ were trying to scare the baby. Hence, someone instructed her (Mr Zhou’s mum, who took him along with her) to look for Ji Shi Teng. Then a small portion of the plant was placed near the baby’s pillow/toy (inside the yao lan/baby hammock). This plant gave out an awful smell and within a few hours, the baby stopped crying. It was said that due to the smell, this plant was able to ward off evil spirits. Do you believe this superstition? I do know that I can smell it from afar (bought it from fresh) and it was quite a strong woody smell!
My mum mentioned to me that my younger cousin used to cry for many hours of the day. She was not ill and didn’t have colic. Her mum was told by her elderly mum to find Ji Shi Teng. She then wrapped a small portion of the plant vines around my cousin’s limbs (her wrists and ankles). Soon after, my cousin did not cry any more. Do you think this was a coincidence or do the plants have a special power?
My mum said that once the plants dropped off from the child, the plant should never be worn back. Always get a fresh one to wrap the child for protection.
This is an example of how it was supposed to wrap on an ankle, according to my mum, demonstrated by myself.
Back in the 80s and 90s, Ji Shi Teng, a climber plant can be found in many undeveloped green places in Singapore. It was grown freely and many knowledgeable people (older generation elderly) will know where to find it and how to use it. Some people will use the Ji Shi Teng to grind into liquid form to add into their Kuih (Chinese steamed cakes) like how people use pandan leaves to make pandan extract or coconut to make a kaya-flavoured paste. They said this herb was good for the body. My aunty told me that some people will boil it in a big pot of water to help relieve pain from arthritis by bathing with the water. There are so many uses for this Chinese herb. Please remember that I am not an expert on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), so ask an expert before proceeding to use it.
As for these days, if you are looking for Ji Shi Teng, you can buy it fresh or dried from Chinatown TCM shops, in Singapore, if you know how to use it!
Do you know how to identify Ji Shi Teng? According to my mum, it is a climber plant and it has two leaves on each stem. To be honest, I would have no clue even if I saw it with my own eyes. It is not easy to identify. What do you think of this herb? Do you believe it will ward off evil spirits?