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Friday, March 17, 2017

Beliefs in Human Health and Witchcraft

Written by: David Werner et al.

Everywhere on earth people use home remedies in ailment treatment. In some places, the older or traditional ways of healing have been passed down from parents to children for hundreds of years.

Many home remedies have great value. Others have less. And some may be risky or harmful. Home remedies, like modern medicines, must be used with caution.

Home cures that help
For many sicknesses, time-tested home remedies work as well as modern medicines or even better. They are often cheaper. And in some cases, they are safer.

For example, many of the herbal teas people use for home treatment of coughs and colds do more good and cause fewer problems than cough syrups and strong medicines some doctors prescribe.

Also, teas, rice – water or sweetened drinks many mothers give to babies with diarrhoea are often safer and do more good than any modern medicine. What matters most is that a baby with diarrhoea gets plenty of liquids.

The limitations of Home remedies
Some diseases are helped by home remedies. Others can be treated better with modern medicine. This is true for most serious infections. Sicknesses like pneumonia, tetanus, tuberculosis, appendicitis, diseases caused by sexual contact, fever after childbirth, HIV/AIDS etc. should be treated with modern medicine as soon as possible.

For these diseases, do not lose time trying to treat them first with home remedies only. For example, there are home remedies used by some against snakebite. In one place certain leaves are believed to be effective. In other places a special ‘black-stone’ is popular.

Fortunately, in many cases of snakebite, the snake was not poisonous, or, if it was, then little or no poison was injected through the fangs, and the person would have been all right anyway. The person gets better. The home remedy appears to have worked.

However, it is well known that some do die from snakebite, and it is usually better to go quickly to a centre where antivenin can be given if it is needed before it is too late.

It is sometimes hard to be sure which home remedies work well and which do not. More careful studies are needed. For this reason:

It is often safer to treat very serious illnesses with modern medicines – following the advice of a physician if possible.

Old Ways and New
Some modern ways of meeting health needs work better than old ones. But at times the older, traditional ways are best. For example, traditional ways of caring for children or old people are often kinder and work better than some newer, less personal ways.

Not many years ago everyone thought that mother’s milk was the best food for a young baby. They were right! Then the big companies that make canned and artificial milk began to tell mothers that bottle feeding was better. This is not true, but many mothers believed them and started to bottle feed their babies. As a result, thousands of babies have suffered and died needlessly from infection or hunger.

Breast Milk remains the Best!

Respect your people’s traditions and build on them.

Beliefs that can make people well
Some home remedies have a direct effect on the body. Others seem to work only because people believe in them.

The healing power of belief can be very strong.

For example, I once saw a man who suffered from a very bad headache. To cure him, a woman gave him a small piece of sweet potato. She told him it was a strong painkiller. He believed her and the pain went away quickly.

Clearly, it was his faith in her treatment, and not the sweet potato, that made him feel better.

Many home remedies work this way. They help largely because people have faith in them. For this reason, they are especially useful to cure illnesses that are partly in people’s minds or those caused in part by a person’s beliefs, worries, or fears.

Medicines used in this way are called ‘placebos’, which means ‘things to please’. Quite often cough medicines, ‘tonics’ and pain relievers are really placebos. They help to comfort and reassure, and the patient would not be happy without them, even though the problem might well have got better by itself.

Prayer vs. Medicine
Some people believe that prayer should replace all dependence on medicines. The body which God has given us has great powers of self – healing, particularly when we live our lives as he intended. Many receive comfort and healing through the power of prayers, whether privately at home, or in places of worship or houses of healing.

When anxiety is overcome, fear of evil spirits cast out and temperate lifestyle adopted, the person becomes more relaxed, happy and healthy.

But we live in a world where accidents happen, and where all kinds of hazards may affect the lives of anyone, however good and God-fearing. We should be thankful for effective medicines, and life-saving operations. They are Gods gifts to us too and can be the answer to our prayers.

Health and Witchcraft
The power of belief can help heal people. But it can also harm them. If a person believes strongly enough that something will hurt him, his own fear can make him sick. Thus many things do harm only because people believe they are harmful. This includes believing false ideas such as Witchcraft, leading to needless sufferings.

If a person believes strongly enough that someone has the power to harm him, he may actually become ill. Anyone who believes he is bewitched or has been given ‘juju’ is really the victim of his own fears.

Hysteria is a medical condition caused by a sudden fright a person has had, or by witchcraft, black magic, or evil spirit. A person with hysteria is very nervous and afraid. He may collapse, shake, behave strangely, not able to sleep, lose weight, or even die.

A witch has no power over other people, except for her ability to make them believe that she has. For this reason:
It is Impossible to bewitch a person
who does not believe in witchcraft
Some people think that they are ‘bewitched’ when they have strange or frightening illnesses (such as tumours of the abdomen or a mental attack). Such sicknesses have nothing to do with witchcraft or black magic. Their causes are natural.

Do not waste your money at ‘magic centres’ that claim to cure witchcraft. And do not seek protection from or revenge against a witch, because it will not solve anything. If you are seriously ill, go for medical help.

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