Folk Medicine

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Folk Medicine: 

Folk Medicine Folk Diseases and Folk Remedies

What is Folk Medicine?: 

What is Folk Medicine? Folk Medicine is the healing that roots itself in the traditional practices of the culture or the society. It can best be described as being comprised of two different and interrelated subjects: Folk Diseases and Folk Remedies

The Four Common Folk Diseases: 

The Four Common Folk Diseases Evil Eye (or Ojo) Cause: Ojo occurs when a person with a “powerful” gaze looks at someone or something without touching them. Symptoms: Sudden high fever, vomiting, headache, fainting, and sometimes convulsions. In the case of objects, the object is either lost or broken. Diagnosis: Is done by passing a raw egg over the patient’s body and then cracking it. If the egg appears cooked, the patient suffers from Ojo. Prevention: Carry an Ojo de Venado (buck eye) amulet.


2. Empacho (or Tripida) Cause: Empacho occurs by eating soft food or difficult-to-digest substances. These substances supposedly “stick” to the stomach wall. Symptoms: Anorexia, stomach ache, vomiting, painful Diarrhea, and general abdominal fullness. Diagnosis: By a healer noting the symptoms and checking for direct abdominal tenderness. More positive diagnosis is made by rolling a chicken egg over the abdomen. If the egg appears to stick to a particular area, the patient is considered to suffer from Empacho.


3. Caida de Mollera (or Fallen Fontanel) Cause: Mollera Caida is commonly felt to be caused by maternal neglect. It is considered to be caused “mechanically” by having the nipple be pulled from the baby too suddenly and therefore causing a suction. Sometimes it is also attributed to a sudden jolt, bump or fall. Symptoms: Dehydration, crying, inability to achieve sufficient suction while nursing, fever, and diarrhea. Diagnosis: Noting the baby’s fontanel position in association with any of the more common symptoms.


4. Susto/Espanto (or Fright) Cause: Susto is supposed to be caused by a sudden frightening experience such as an accident, a fall, a sudden death, or supernatural experience (ghost apparitions). Susto is considered to be highly dangerous because it is causes the separation of the soul from the body. Symptoms: Nervousness, anorexia, insomnia, listlessness, involuntary muscle tics, and diarrhea. Diagnosis: Noting the symptoms and then correlating is to the viewing of a frightening experience. Prevention: When away from home carry a whole nutmeg.

What cures have you heard of for these diseases?: 

What cures have you heard of for these diseases?


Cures for the Four Common Folk Diseases Ojo: Have the perpetrator touch the person. When that isn’t an option, you should pass a fresh egg over the person’s body, and then broken into a bowl of water and covered by a cross of palm leaves, or straw; and put under the head of the patient’s bed. In the morning the egg is examined, and if it looks curdled, the patient is cured. Empacho: To cure Empacho you need to rub the patients stomach or back, and then pop the skin on the back. Sometimes teas are useful.


Cures (continued) Caida de Mollera: Pressing upwards on the soft palate with the thumb, sucking the anterior of the fontanel, holding the baby upside down over water with or without shaking, and other possibilities include applying raw egg, oil, or warm water to the fontanel. Susto: Oral remedies can include orange and chamomile teas, while the most effective (and common) treatment is the barrida. During the barrida, the patient is recounts the frightening experience while lying down on the floor. The healer sweeps the body with fresh herbs while reciting Christian prayers. This returns the soul.

Causes of Folk and Mainstream Diseases: 

Causes of Folk and Mainstream Diseases Natural causes: Injuries, physical decline, stress and virus/germs resulting in physiological changes which are scientifically unchallenged.  ·  Mystical causes: Karma, destiny, taboo, soul lost or putatively mediated conditions as a response to violations. ·  Supernatural causes: Gods, ancestors, spirits or ghosts who vengefully react to provocation. Magical causes: Sorcery and witchcraft with the intent to harm the victim.

Folk Remedies: 

Folk Remedies Depending on the perceived cause of the disease (or affliction), the folk group discovers remedies that directly impact the cause, not just the symptoms. Generally, this is where Folk Medicine and Mainstream Medicine come into conflict. Folk Remedies can include: Prayer Herbs Foods Lifestyle Changes

My grandma used to…: 

My grandma used to… This is how many of today’s commonly used folk remedies are passed down. For example, how many remedies can you think of for the common cold? Drink lots of fluids Eat Chicken Soup Drink Mint Tea Drink Echinacea Tea Gargle with Salt Water (for sore throats and cold symptoms) Eat lots of oranges (for the Vitamin C) Lather your chest with Vick’s and bundle up (congestion)

Links and Credits: 

Links and Credits Folk Remedy Links: Credits: Some information was gathered from Dr. Ari Kiev’s book “Curanderismo”; lectures by Dr. Nancy Neff (Baylor College of Medicine); and from Dr. Robert Trotter, PhD.

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