Casa Verde is a sick house this week; almost everyone has come down with some form of ailment. From parasites to bacterial infections or just the common cold, it’s safe to say that the plethora of pills, rubs and rehydration sachets we all packed into our luggage 9 weeks ago have now come in handy. The expense of doctors and medicines has given us all cause to be grateful for the usefulness of the NHS (and our current medical insurance), and a little understanding of why traditional medicine is still a huge part of Nicaraguan culture. It’s common in Nicaragua for locals to forego a trip to the doctor altogether. A visit to the pharmacy can supply antibiotics over the counter –at a cost- but often for those in need the cost is too high and they can only afford one or two pills. Barely enough to fight any infection properly.
In many of the gardens and farms across Nicaragua the knowledge of traditional medicine is grown. Leaves, flowers and buds to cure every ailment from headaches to toothaches to fevers. In San Lucas, our group was tasked with helping with the creation of a new traditional medicine pharmacy, to help the local medicine woman sell her wares and the local indigenous community have access to medicines. As well as sharing a little knowledge of home remedies of our own (personally, I always swear by some hot water, lemon, honey and ginger), we were taught about the spiritual side of healing in Nicaragua. We were treated to an energy “massage”, to sort out our flow with the universe –which according to our medicine woman guide is as important to healing as the various herbs and spices. It may not be medicine as we know it; it may not even be the homeopathy we have come to see as an almost alternative medicine for some afflictions but it’s a practice which has been around in Nicaragua far longer than hospitals. From my experience here, it’s a practice which in some cases is very effective – for those suffering cuts or scabbing of some form I’ve learned that paste made from Vaseline and garlic works a treat, but smells awful.
By Natalie Deans