Common Latino/Hispanic Folk Illnesses
Illness is thought
to be caused by a number of things, including natural forces, supernatural forces,
and strong emotions which upset the body balance.
There are a number folks illnesses within traditional Hispanic culture. Also
sometimes referred to as culture-bound syndromes, folk illness describe the
origins of and appropriate treatments for certain maladies. The belief in folk
illnesses tends to decrease with acculturation, education and urban residence.
Natural Illnesses" inlcude
Aire de Oído
· Fullness or popping of ears
· Ear infection
Caída de Mollera - Fallen Fontanelle
Caída de la mollera or fallen fontanel is believed to be caused by a bump on the head or pulling the infant away too quickly from the breast or bottle. Symptoms may include depressed anterior fontanel, listlessness or excessive crying. Common treatments involve sucking on or placing soap foam on the fontanel or holding the baby upside down and slapping his or her feet. Fallen fontanel is a serious condition in an infant as it indicates severe dehydration. Would generally be diagnosed as dehydration. Is commonly thought to be caused by the child falling or being dropped or bounced, or by pulling the nipple out of the child's mouth too vigorously.
· Infant's inability to suck
· Loss of appetite
Treatment - pushing the palate back in place; holding the child upside down over a pan of water; and/or applying a poultice, usually of fresh soap shavings, to the depression.
Cólico - Colic
· Abdominal cramps
Treatment - manzanilla (chamomille) tea is often given.
Empacho - Blocked Intestine
Empacho is described as an obstruction in the stomach caused by a lump of food or gum lodged in the intestine. It is associated with eating too much or foods one does not like. Symptoms may include abdominal discomfort, constipation or diarrhea, bloating, vomiting. The blockage may be treated by stomach massage or purgatives.
· Indigestion/Upset stomach
· Migraine headaches
Treatment - Rubbing the stomach or pinching the back to dislodge the bolus of food. A purgative or tea may also be given.
Aire - Bad air
Mal de aire or Sereno refers to the harmful effects of bad air or night air which may be cold or damp. Symptoms may include cold or flu, cramps, headache, stiff neck, dizziness and are generally treated with herbal teas.
· Facial paralysis
· Twitching of facial muscles
Mal de Latido
· Fast or slow heartbeat
· Chest pain
· Pulsating of the stomach
or hechizo, meaning witchcraft or hex, refers to a witch's curse that may
result in bad health, miscarriage, bad luck, headache, anxiety, or depression.
Victims are treated with prayer and a purification ritual known as a barrida.
Mal de Ojo - Evil eye
Mal de ojo or evil eye most often affects vulnerable victims such as children. It is believed to be caused either intentionally or unintentionally by the stare of someone who envies or admires the victim without touching him or her. Symptoms may include insomnia, fever, headaches, vomiting, diarrhea. If the cause was unintentional, the person who initially stared at the victim may be asked to touch him or her to restore health. If unintentional, mal de ojo may be treated by ritual. URL: http://www.luckymojo.com/evileye.html
· Sudden reversal in physical or emotional well-being of an infant
Treatment - a limpia or cleansing, by sweeping the body with a raw, unbroken egg to extract the "heat"
Mal Puesto - Hex
· Unexplainable physical or emotional disorder
· Strange behavior
Susto - Fright/Shock.
Also known as "soul loss"
Susto is fear or shock caused by a frightening or upsetting incident that is believed to dislodge the victim's soul. Symptoms may include insomnia, irritability, diarrhea, depression, vomiting, lack of appetite, or miscarriage. The most common treatment is a purification ritual known as a barrida. The healer may also recommend herbal teas.
Treatment - done by a curandero, and involves "sweeping" and prayers.
Bilis - Bile in
· Upset stomach
· Migraine headaches
Tristeza - Sadness