January 12, 2008

Peruvian Eastern Medicine Superstitions and Pseudoscience
Lima, Peru

I come from a household (and a country cultural) where ailments are resolved with prescription drugs, not with tea or words from a witchdoctor. This isn't always the right approach—viruses with drug resistances are never a good thing—but as the son of a nurse, I practice traditional 'Western Medicine', where non-holistic weapons are fought in the body's wars. I'm not saying it's the right approach, but it's the way I do things.

I'm naturally skeptical enough with doctors in developing countries as it is—their education and training has been tailored to their environment, and might be limited in breadth and depth as a result—and when I'm told that the gunk that's ailing one of my newborn son's eyes is being treated with drops of tea, I don't like it.

There seems to be a lot of this crap floating around in this country. Chamomile is touted here for more remedies than I can recall, and wonder if a lot of these beliefs have been guided by Peru's strong Asian population.

Japanese Peruvians (people of Japanese ancestry who were born in or immigrated to Peru), together with other East Asians, comprises approximately 3% of the total population. Estimated at over 800,000, they comprise the second largest ethnic Japanese population in Latin America after Brazil (2.2 million).

I've watched Tatiana's mother force a teaspoon of tea down her nose when she was suffering from allergies. I've watched a member of the family walk around the house with an outstretched arm of burning dried eucalyptus stems and leaves, because it "kills all the airborne viruses." I've listened to a doctor tell Tatiana to drink chicha morada for better breast milk, and watched her family feed her some variety of oatmeal because it apparently will do the same.

My reaction is often to shake my head privately. I bite my tongue in front of Aidric's pediatrician, because she's probably got decades of baby care under her belt, and I've got only hours. I have to accept her kooky ways, and trust that the tea she's telling the staff to smear into my son's eye will actually be beneficial for him.

I still don't buy into it though.

Comments:

Federico from argentina

January 16th, 2008

I think you are right, adn there are a lot things that are just plain stupid. But what its also true its that a lot of drugs that you buy to treat illness are just processed plant and using the plat directly you are just cutting out the middle man

CT_Bob

January 20th, 2008

Many of these home remedies do work. Many only make the user feel they are doing something useful. Many are harmful.

Which is which? Hard to tell. For most of the home remedies that work have a comercial product that works better, but not all.

Do you research, and bite your lip. If it is not dangerous, you might want to just let it slide.

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