Traditional Health Practices


Traditional Portuguese healers are called Curandeiras, which translates into good and evil. Curandeiras are strongly tied to their religion, (mostly Catholic), their beliefs, and a strong faith in God. They believe that they have a "gift from God". This gift is usually kept within the family and passed down from generation to generation. They ask the Lord to help them heal by giving them certain thoughts, feelings an"signs" of what to do and how to do it while they are healing someone. Curandeiras may be male or female, although most are female.

The Curadors are males that are experts at healing dislocated bones. They used resinous juice from rosin weed, oakum and eggs to make the cast material to set the bones.

 Curandeiras heal a variety of problems, both physical and emotional. Such things as oils, massage, water, salt and herbs are used as aids in the healing process.However, the most powerful source of the healing process comes through prayer and saying the rosary. Curandeiras do not seek monetary gifts for their healing. They strongly believe that they have a gift,

Bucho Verado ("turned stomach"). The Curandeiras treat this by massaging the abdomen with oil and placing ti leaves and bandages over the abdomen. This is done to cure and straighten the intestine so that a person can eat normally again. It is also done to relieve "pockets of gas" that irritate and cause distress. The leaves are removed after one day. If the leaves are parched, a cure is indicated.

"Displaced wishbones". These are problems with dislocated bones. To treat these,Curandeiras place a cup of water on the afflicted person's head and chant disease-specific prayers. The cup of water is observed to see if it boils. This aids in the diagnostic process. Then, the affected body part is manipulated to ease or end the pain.

Coobrant. This is a condition which may have some of the following symptoms: fatigue,excessive crying, depression and just "not feeling right". This malady is caused by negative thoughts directed toward you by someone who is jealous of you or your possessions. The person affected is treated three times, with prayers, rosaries and possibly massage. A belch during the third treatment indicates purging of the evil from within.

E-mail Sharon Moran, RN, CS, MPH

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Last Updated on Wednesday March 24,1999