Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Still got pain?...here’s a few more things to try.

Okay, so Maribel’s relief from the cupping therapy didn’t work…or at least didn’t last long. So she bought a plant called Rue (ruda). It is a plant I had never seen (or smelled before) before. The aroma is an attention getter. The Aztec Indians used to make a potion from the plant to cure many illnesses. In modern day Peru the leaves and stem are vigorously rubbed on the body as near as possible to where the ailment (whatever it may be) seems to be located. I did that last night. Our bed still smells like ruda as do my hands even after several washings and a shower. The plant did a great job of clearing our sinuses but didn’t touch Maribel’s pain. It’s time to call in the heavy artillery.

She is going to resort to a diagnostic procedure called ‘soba de cuy’. This procedure needs to be performed by a curandero (healer). The curandero rubs a live cuy (Guinea pig) over the afflicted person’s body while chanting prayers. There are three possible outcomes from this process. 1) the cuy could die immediately over the location of the problem. Say the animal breathed its last over the person’s liver. The curandero will open up the cuy and sure enough, the cuy will have a liver disease. 2) If the cuy doesn’t die the curandero may kill it anyway; open it up and look for some abnormality. 3) The curandero may let the cuy live and try to make a diagnosis from the animal’s actions.

When the cause of the illness or pain is determined, the curandero will prescribe the appropriate treatment, usually some herbal concoction and the avoidance of whatever caused the problem. Presumably the patient gets to keep and eat the cuy.

While it should be obvious (I hope) that I’m writing tongue-in-cheek about these practices, I want to emphasize that Peruvians have used these treatments and believed in them for many generations. When I point out to my friends in the USA that there is absolutely no credible clinical evidence that the supplements they buy from places like GNC work, the invariable response is, “Maybe so but I know my body and I know it works.” Tell a Peruvian that ‘soba de cuy’ is superstitious nonsense and you’ll get essentially the same response, along with a smile that seems to say ‘Maybe we know something that you don’t’. Maybe they do.

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