Sunday, February 3, 2008

What'd you say, Grandma? Sea beans cure hemorroids???

The theme at school this week was Enfermedades y Remedios (illnesses and remedies). We spent the week discussing common illnesses, symptoms, and cures. It was great! This culture (and most other Latin American cultures) is very big on home remedies and natural medicine, so our major homework assignment for the week was to visit the main source of natural remedies in the center of town and find out the cures for our assigned illnesses. My "illnesses" for the week were kidney troubles and skin fungus - nice!

So off I went to visit the vendors at Mercardo Central to ask how to cure kidney troubles and skin fungus. I ended up buying cola de caballo (horsetail plant), pelo de maiz (corn silk), cascara guapinol (bark of some tree), and some other plant that I can't remember right now... I am supossed to boil all of this and drink the juice 3 times a day for healthy kidneys. For skin fungus, I bought madero negro (some poisonous plant that I was strictly warned not to eat), another piece of bark, and rosemary... boil all of this together and soak your fungus area in it to kill the fungus in your skin. Interesting...

While I was at the market and I had a willing vendor, I decided to ask some other questions... What is this? What about headaches? etc... Two other missionary students went along to do their homework with me (strength/courage in numbers) and so we got serious about digging into this home remedy idea. Behind the counter was a plastic bag full of sea beans and we asked, "What do you do with those?" According to the vendor, if you keep two sea beans in your back pocket, you won't have trouble with hemorroids! Hmmm...

Lizbeth swears by the home remedy plan. She spent the week teaching us about the wonders of aloe (for chapped lips, for skin, for hair, drink it for overall good health, and also for hemorroids), how to use our lemon tree to make tea for various reasons, how to make a paste of ground coffee for cuts and burns, and our all time favorite - "Un poco de whiskey cada dia" (a little bit of whiskey every day). She's so cute! She even loaned me a book about each plant and about how to make MANY different home remedies.

At first, I thought that this was a little hard to swallow (no pun intended). Having a Health minor, I just wasn't ready to buy into all of this home remedy stuff. But upon further investigation, I see why some of it works. And the other stuff... I don't think it is hurting them, and there is a lot to be said for belief and faith in something - the placebo effect, so to speak. I'm about to live in a culture that highly regards this form of medicine and I need to learn as much as I can before I'm faced with it... knowledge is power.

Okay, so I'm going to go drink some warm milk (for insomnia), put some alcohol and vinegar in my ears (for swimmers ear), rub aloe all over my body (for moist skin), and sit on my sea beans :)