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Gerel Shakeeva, Traditional Medicine

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Churyumova, Elvira 


In her childhood Gerel witnessed in Lagan' how sick people were cured with leeches that were collected from the local lake. In Gerel’s native village there is a hydrogen sulphate spring which is good for mosquito bites. But the spring is poisonous and many children in the village suffered from goiter. Gerel says melted butter was widely used in the treatment of many diseases. People smeared their hair with butter, massaged their ailing joints and drank butter with Kalmyk tea (which is believed to be good for breastfeeding mothers). Also, soup from mutton or wolf’s meat is believed to help to recuperate. People made a decoction from wormwood to cure alcoholism. Alcoholics were also treated with powdered lobster shell. When she was a child Gerel was frightened and had seizures. An old woman treated Gerel with a coin: she drew a line with the coin along Gerel’s arms and body, imitating a cutting movement. Another woman performed a ritual consisting of pouring melted lead into water. To cure Gerel’s seizure, healers also massaged her head and face. Gerel’s furunculosis was cured with sulphuric ointment made from various ingredients, including pig’s fat. Since traditional medicine helped her, Gerel has a respect for those who practice it.



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Sponsored by Arcadia Fund, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin.