Saturday, September 14, 2019

If I Take Jungle Medicines, Why Do I Get Sick

Sickness has come up in conversation
Several times in the last year, people have asked why, if I've done all this Amazon medicine, have I gotten so sick. They question the bite by the bushmaster, the septic spider bite that opened sores all over my arms and legs; they ask about my hemorrhagic dengue fever, my exploded intestines, my two serious bouts with flesh eating bacteria.
The crux of the questions seems to be: "If you do all these Amazon medicines, why do you get so sick? Maybe they don't work and you are just kidding yourself."
It is a legitimate question.
The answer is two-fold. One, if you play in the jungle as I have, every year for 35 years for a couple of months or more, walking from the Ucayali to the Galvez, or the Rio Midi from Tamishako, or from Herrera to Angamos via the long route, and then spend a month more on each of 20 trips in the jungle, you will expose yourself to some things you cannot imagine. Yellow fever is the only typical disease from the area that I have not had. Malaria, to me, is just like a bad freaking flu. Normal dengue is normal. We don't count that as serious. Bot fly infestations in my private parts and legs is to be expected when I rebuild a boat and take it out for 31 days on the Yavari, the border between Brazil and Peru, and tie up on trees overhanging the river.
My answer is this: If I was not using the Amazon medicines in the jungle and here at home — I did sapo, frog sweat, also called kambo in Brazil twice in the last two days, for instance — I think any of those issues would have killed me. They are all mortal infirmities. The medicines have kept me alive and ticking. No, the jungle medicines did not ward off the diseases and bacteria and animal bites, but they allowed my body to cope with them without succumbing. That is the medicine value.

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