Other Folk Illnesses

Other folk illness are cólico, bílis, sereno, corajes<, and chipi. Cólico (or colic) illness is treated with a mild preparation of chamomile tea. Bilis is literally "bile" or "gall" which is felt to be suppressed anger souring one's disposition. It is a hot illness that is treated with a psychotherapeutic approach of encouraging the expression of one's emotions and the drinking of teas of bitter herbs such as "estafiate," or warm water. Similarly corajes are fits of rage. The treatment is counseling the individual to encourage self-control. Sereno is night dew, which permeates infants' diapers leading to chapping and diaper rash; the treatment is to keep the diapers indoors at night. They must be soft and dry before being placed on the infant. Chipi is a symptom complex of emotional and behavioral problems of children often associated with the arrival of a newborn in the family and weaning of the older child. Behavior modification is the treatment-the parents and family ignore destructive behavior and reward helpful activities. Another very common belief is that grinding of the teeth in children indicates the presence of intestinal worms. These would be treated with a purgative tea such as wormwood, or oregano; teas of star anise or chamomile can also be given.

Frio de la matriz is an illness suffered by post-partum women. Literally it means "coldness of the womb or the uterus" and is caused by insufficient rest after the delivery. Symptoms include pelvic congestion, menstrual irregularities and loss of libido-these may persist up to several years after delivery if the conditions is not treated. In traditional Hispanic folk beliefs, the pregnant women is attended by a partera or mid-wife at the time of delivery and afterwards. After delivery, the new mother is put to bed for 40 days. All household duties are assumed by her family or extended family. Her only responsibility is to feed her baby. One can quickly surmise that the incidence of frio de la matriz is quite wide-spread in this era of hospital deliveries and rapid mobilization of new mothers after birth. The traditional methods provide the opportunity for more intense bonding with the infant as well as the interaction with the rest of the family without additional responsibilities. The treatment of choice for frio is te de damiana; while it is not known if damiana has actual physical properties, the herb is widely used across the world as an aphrodisiac; it has no known toxicity.