Regina Cano

Healing plant seller. Photo: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES — Most all of us in Cuba feel like we’re “trained” to prescribe herbal or spiritual medicinal treatments, therefore all of us try to heal others with the best of intentions.

“If you eat a clove of garlic every morning, that pain in your bones is going to disappear.”

“Hey, you better take care of that cough! Look, take a little honey with a squeeze of lemon with a dash of rum. That’ll get rid of it and your throat discomfort.”

Maintaining the hope for optimal life and health compels us to seek and listen to all kinds of solutions to medical conditions in the search to discover more options than solely going to the doctor.

However, this has resulted in deaths from self-medication, where people take medications without consulting the appropriate experts.

The matter reached such a point that a TV program was created called “La dosis exacta” (The Exact Dose), which tries to convince people that every drug has a general effect on the body.

It conveys the message that before pursuing any treatment, people must take into account their symptoms and their general physiological condition, in addition to other medical conditions and their treatments that could conflict with the treatment in question.

I know a young woman who heard about different cures to her medical condition and pursued each of them:

– A contact healer in Centro Habana who charges 20 pesos even if you only bring a photo of the patient.

– Another one in Punta Brava who makes a template of your feet in a tuna (spiny leaf plant in the cactus family) that was placed outside to affect a cure.

– A medium, assisted by the spirit of a gypsy, who reads palms and determines the health condition you had, haves and will have (whether light or chronic illnesses, needing surgery, pregnancy, or whatever). This person would intervene “surgically” making incisions in plants as a curative or through aromatic substances that she would provide.

They are also Yerberos (medicinal plant sellers) who are an essential part of this group, in addition to “santeros” and spiritualists. Almost everyone who believes has a solution to the sufferings of the body.

Plus, there is a series of substances being tested by researchers, substances such as scorpion venom, Vimang (extracted from the bark of mango trees), Aloe Vera (having the same name as the plant that produces it), honey and an alcoholic substance (found on the Internet), and other herbalists prescriptions found anywhere across the country.

What this means is that — for better or worse — to provide solutions to our bodily complaints there’s never of lack of someone here in Cuba who will offer one.


Regina Cano

Regina Cano: I have lived my entire life in Havana, Cuba – the island from which I’ve still never left, and which I love. I was born on September 9, and my parents chose my name out of superstition, but my mother raised me outside the religion professed by her family. I studied accounting and finance at the University of Havana, a profession that I’m not engaged in for the time being, and that I substituted for doing crafts, some ceramics, and studying a little English and about painting. Ah! – concerning my picture: I identify with Rastafarian principles, but I am not one of them. I wear this cap from time to time, but I assure you I just didn't have a better picture.

2 thoughts on “Alternative Medical Treatments

  • Hello there. I would like to know if I could do a hair transplants in cuba, havana please?

  • the chinese export their traditional herbal medicines and there are other countries that do it too. i have never heard of cuban herbal medicines being exported. the markets would be the same ones as the chinese i suppose.

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