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Tatyana Dzhambinova, About Traditional Medicine

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Terbish, Baasanjav 


Tatyana talks about traditional healing methods and medicinal objects, including herbs, snake’s skin, onion peel, cream, hair, hedgehog’s urine, copper sulphate, wolf’s bile, one’s mother’s clothing, and wool. She says the following: Kalmyks used what was available around them for treatment, including herbs and animals. One of them is the licorice which grows in the steppe. My mother told me that people collected its root, which is sweet in taste. We, children, gnawed this root. Let me tell you how Kalmyks treated coughs. Kalmyks were prone to tuberculosis because girls wore corsets that tightly wrapped their chest. Hence, any disease could develop into tuberculosis. People treated a cough with a drink made from a moss variety called ‘goose foot’. Snake’s skin was also used for this purpose, which serves as an absorbent. People also used onion peel. If a child had diarrhea, people boiled cream for a long time and gave a spoonful of it to the child. Although dairy products cannot stop diarrhea, boiled cream really helps. During childbirth, a woman who was giving birth had her hair cut, which was then burned. The ashes were smeared on the newborn’s umbilical cord which causes it to dry up. I heard from my cousin how to cure enuresis (a condition when a child cannot control urination) with a hedgehog’s urine. You take a hedgehog, wash its paws clean, and put it on a clean dish to collect its urine. A drop of urine was diluted with clean spring water with a ratio 1 to 20 and given to the child to drink. Maybe the urine has some kind of enzyme or maybe it just had a placebo effect. Many diseases were also treated with hunger or dieting. Other objects used in traditional medicine are copper sulphate and wolf’s bile. In the tradition of many nations, one’s mother’s clothing is considered sacred. People wrap their children in their mother’s clothing or protect themselves by wiping their faces with such clothing. There is also a method when you burn a piece of wool and make a sick person inhale it.



Healing, medicinal objects

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Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge

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