Strange Alternative Medicines for Stomach Pain and Snake or Dog Bites
Have you experienced having a stomach pain that suddenly occurred for no reason at all? Or being bitten by a dog, snake or scorpion but for some reasons or another, you can’t go to a doctor?
Here are some unexplainable or strange alternative medicines which are indigenous to Philippine culture that people have used since recorded history and are surprisingly practiced by some until now. These alternative medicines may seem unique or even unexplainable but their potency leaves something to think about.
Condition: Bales or Usog
Researching for the English translation of bales or usog bore no result. So I am going to use these two words as they are. When someone meets an individual who has strong bales, he will feel that his stomach hurts immediately after being greeted by that particular person. This is especially true if the person who greeted him is hungry. The greeting may just be as simple as “Hello, you look pretty today!, “You smell good, “What a nice dress you have!” or any other similar remarks. After this encounter, the person who was greeted feels sick. He may experience headache, dizziness, and vomiting aside from severe stomach cramp. It is unexplainable but before being greeted, he was feeling well or he has no medical condition that should warrant the mentioned symptoms.
The person feeling sick should remember who greeted him earlier. He should go and ask who among them has strong bales. He should ask them one by one to put their (the ones who greeted him) fingers in their mouth so it will be wet with their saliva. The saliva-wet finger should be pressed by making a sign of the cross on the forehead, abdomen or navel of the one hurting. Surprisingly, once this alternative medicine practice is done the sickness of the afflicted person goes away immediately. I know this is true because I have witnessed many such cases as I was growing up in our province and now that I am teaching. Some of my students attest that they, too, experienced being bales and treated by this practice.
Now, if the said method cannot be used because the real person who caused the bales cannot be located, the next alternative medicine is to remove the upper clothes of the victim. This can be a t- shirt, polo or any clothing he was wearing when he was greeted and subsequently caused him to be sick. This particular piece of clothing is boiled. The water in which the cloth was boiled will be drunk by the sick person. After drinking, the sickness is said to go away.
The practice of wetting the navel, forehead or abdomen by a person’s saliva and eventually getting well cannot be explained by Science. It is not medically accepted since a saliva is not used as a remedy for any illness. What we know is that saliva is produced by our digestive system and has enzymes that perform different function. These enzymes help in breaking down the food that we eat. It also has anti-bacterial properties that fight bacteria in the mouth. But there is no link as to the effectiveness of saliva in curing a headache, dizziness, stomach ache or vomiting. The victim could be really having a stomach pain and just happened to occur after he was greeted. However, the number of cases like this cannot still be explained.
On the other hand, drinking the water where a person’s piece of clothing was boiled is also unhygienic. Even though the water was boiled, we are not sure if the bacteria or other micro-organisms present in the clothes that have been worn before boiling are totally killed.
Condition: Bites of snake, scorpion or dog
In some rural areas here in the Philippines, there are people who, when bitten by a dog or a snake go to a tawak person instead of going to the doctor. Again, there is no English translation for the word tawak so I am using it as it is. Magtatawak or the ones who cures through tawak can purportedly remove the venom injected by a snake, scorpion or dog.
The magtatawak will make an incision on the puncture caused by the pangs of the snake or dog. He will then recite an incantation or prayer. Then he sucks out the venom through his mouth or through a small carabao or deer horn which he uses in his tawak practice. He spits out the venom. He then places the carabao or deer horn on the wound which is believed to suck out the remaining venom. If the horn sticks to the wound, it means that there is still venom present in the body of the victim. It falls off after all the venom has been sucked. Afterwards, he applies a mix of herbal plants on the wound. Before applying this concoction, he chews them first and after he is satisfied with the potency of these medicinal plants, he then leaves it to cover the wound. He keeps on reciting his prayers while performing his healing task. After the ritual, it is believed that the person is now cured of the venom injected by snake, dog or scorpion bite.
Sucking the poison out of the victim’s body has long been a practice. But today it is not recommended as the person who sucks may ingest the venom. The carabao or deer horn used to remove the poison is hardly believable. How can a horn extract a poison on its own? The medicinal plants may heal the wound caused by the bite but it is doubtful if they have the ability to remove the poison out of the body.
With the advent of new medicine, anti-venom and anti-rabies have been developed to cure snake, dog and scorpion bites. These medicines are the recommended treatment for such kind of bites . Merely sucking it by a person or by a lifeless object like a carabao’s horn may put the life of the victim to risk.