One of the weirdest things I did during my breast cancer treatment was to put a pickled apricot in my belly button before every chemo session. It’s actually called Umeboshi, a Japanese pickled apricot, which can be bought in jars from health food shops. My friend Andrea who is an expert in Chinese healthcare explained that this would be effective in combatting nausea during the chemotherapy treatment. The navel is the centre of the body, and the properties of the Umeboshi balances its energies.
So how do you fit an apricot in your navel? Here’s how. You take out the stone of the apricot, and then wrap the Umeboshi in gauze and carefully place it in your belly button. Then tape it to secure it. You leave it in for as long as you feel necessary, so it could be 24 hours, or it could be five days. I generally took it out after five days, when the worst of the chemotherapy was over. The dressing itched slightly, and I always knew when I’d had enough.
So does it work? Well, I certainly didn’t suffer too badly from nausea. I was never sick, but I never had much of an appetite. The hospital wanted me to take anti-nausea medication, but I refused it. I’d just had enough, so even if by putting a pickled apricot in my belly button acted as a placebo, then I think it helped.