BOLIVIA: PEOPLE RETURNING TO TRADITIONAL MEDICINE
Bolivians are turning to traditional medicine as a natural alternative to its modern counterpart.
In the interior of the country, modern doctors are few and far between, and drinks made from herbs and plant extract are the only cure for ailments.
A clinic in Tiwanaku, 105 kilometres (60 miles) from the capital La Paz, is teaching students the art of traditional medicine as the demand for experts in the field continues to rise dramatically.
The street markets in the altiplano (high Andean plateau) of Bolivia serve as the surgery for stalls selling drinks made from herb and plant extracts.
Indians and peasants who live in the sparsely populated interior of the country have long relied on such medicines.
Today the demand for these traditional cures is greater than ever.
The high price of modern medicines, and the lack of doctors in the interior, has meant that more people are turning to the natural alternative.
In the community of Huancollo in Tiwanaku, 150 kilometres (90 miles) from the capital La Paz, a centre has been set up to teach students the art of traditional medicine.
It also acts as a pharmacy and a help centre for those in need.
It was founded 14 years ago by a natural medicine expert and a music therapist.
“We have made many cures and carried out many treatments in the 14 years in which I have worked in this field. In these 14 years of service I have served my brothers with traditional medicine.”
SUPER CAPTION: Jorge Quispe, Natural Medicine Doctor
Over 120 students attend the centre.
A mixture of massage, therapy and herb extracts are used on patients who come with a variety of ailments.
It takes four years for a student to learn the art of traditional medicine.
The centre holds more than 100 recognized herbs which are picked from the altiplano that stretches as far as the eye can see around the centre.
The experts advise that plants should only be picked between 9 and 10 a.m. and 4 and 6 p-m in the afternoon when their properties are at their most potent.
Other areas taught at the centre include the healing properties of music.
For this boy, musicians draw on the spirits of their ancestors through a traditional song in order to cure him.
“Our ancestors have always had their traditional music which they used especially when they were worried or did not feel well, or felt nervous. When they listened to this type of music they would feel better, and more tranquil.”
SUPER CAPTION: Luis Choque, Music-Therapist
Patients at the centre are treated for ailments ranging from arthritis to rheumatism to the common cold.
For the equivalent cost of 10 U-S dollars, patients are treated for a whole day, and given a room for the night in which to rest.
For the students at the centre, a certificate from the Bolivian Society of Traditional Medicine will give them the right to travel to remote villages selling their expertise.
As the demand for a natural alternative continues to grow around the world, the teachings at Tiwanaku look likely to keep growing.
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