Tag Archives: superstitions

folk illnesses

Have you heard of these Guatemalan folk illnesses? Search our “Word(s) of the Week” archives to see some of the definitions or have them all at your fingertips after you pick up your own copy of Understanding the Guatemalan Patient on Amazon.

folk illnesses (n.)

aire, cir, ciro, empacho, mal hecho, mal ojo, pérdida del alma, pujo, susto


f. a folk treatment with a candle and a glass which creates suction on the skin; often leaves a circular bruise; can be used to remove “aire”; also means flatus


m. a fright; as a folk illness it is sometimes treated with a ritual (see ensalmar) or salty water; thought to cause diabetes


v. ritual treatment of passing children through smoke by a curandero; see desahumar


m. in Mayan thought, an animal spirit that sometimes causes illness


f. moon; thought to affect the activity of parasites and position of babies before birth


adj. refers to certain foods which are thought to cause wound infections, such as eggs, fish, avocados and beans. Patients need to be taught about diet to avoid malnutrition and poor wound healing.


m. cheeks; according to superstition, babies’ cheeks are thought to sag if you stand them up.