Home remedies from El SAlvador

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Since poverty limits access to modern medicine in El Salvador, many people of the countryside have been forced to find other solutions. El Salvador is a country of 7 million people with a modern capital city full of malls and Wi-Fi, like the United States. However, in some places outside the capital city it is a different story, as there is a lot of poverty in the countryside. It is in these places where you find many people who believe in the power of home remedies. In the capital city, most people go to the pharmacy when they get a headache, but in the rural areas only few can afford to pay for Tylenol. The people in El Salvador’s countryside may not be able to go to a pharmacy, but they have many tricks that have been passed on from generation to generation.
A popular home remedy for a headache uses a mixture of egg whites and coffee beans. This simple mixture is applied to the forehead. Karen, a very serious woman in her thirties, remembers using this simple mixture in her childhood. “Even though I didn’t like it, it was the best thing you could take for headaches.”
But this is not the only remedy for a headache. Eva Luz, a single mother of five, explained another form of curing a headache when egg whites are not available. “When my children get headaches I just cut a potato and put some alcohol on it and I put the potato on their head. This remedy always works,” she explained.
In some of the small towns you may not find a doctor, but you will find a “Sobador.” “El Sobador” is a person who performs special massages that are thought to have special powers. When a person goes to “El Sobador,” he cures them by touching their upper back. “El Sobador” can help for example if you lose your appetite. Karen stated that, “He just rubs your back and your appetite returns.” When Jose Luis, a gardener, sustained a fall that hurt his knee, he insisted on visiting “El Sobador” instead of a doctor.
Griselda, a funny outspoken young woman in her twenties, found a cure for her earache. She explained that, “no modern medicine works better than my home remedy.” Her home remedy consists of getting soil and mixing it with water to create mud. This mud paste is then applied to the ear. Griselda said, “This mixture is easy, affordable and it works.” This is not the only trick that she knows. When Griselda’s niece gets fever, her sister makes a special bath. This bath is made out of boiled water with eucalyptus, mango, guavas and orange leaves. She claims that this bath is effective for the fever.
In the countryside, superstitious people have found a home remedy for “mal de ojo” or the “bad eye.” A “bad eye” is believed to be a look that certain adults can make to little children. It is believed that this evil look can sicken a child. Karen explained how children get sick. “The kids start vomiting, and one eye gets smaller than the other.” Karen also mentioned that the remedy for that is for the mother to start carrying a child in her arms as soon as they suspect he may have the “mal de ojo.”
Home remedies have been developed through the experiences of many generations that passed along their tricks. Research shows that the mind is very powerful, so having faith in a home remedy surely helps its effectiveness. Research in UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute has documented the power of the mind in experiments with placebos, which are pills without any medicine component. “Between 30 - 60% of patients with illnesses ranging from arthritis to depression report a substantial improvement in their symptoms after receiving a placebo.”
But not only the mind is at work. Many home remedies have chemicals that are also found in medicine. For example, Karen’s remedy for a headache contains coffee. Studies show that coffee has caffeine, which helps with headaches. Therefore, it is not by coincidence that some types of medicines to cure headaches contain caffeine. So next time you have a headache and there is no Tylenol at home, you can always do what some Salvadorans do and use a home remedy.





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