XIV. LIVER, KIDNEY AND OTHER ENTRAILS
This chapter mainly considers liver and kidney conditions, along with jaundice, gallbladder and spleen diseases and the popular remedies used to cure them. In line with the general criterion of the research for studying the human body as people have generally approached it, heart disease is also included as the heart is an internal organ. The last section provides the data collected on dropsy and cancer, which are not abundant given the lack of knowledge about those illnesses, along with the folk remedies applied.
Liver diseases, gibelekoa
The leading causes given in the places surveyed for liver diseases include alcohol abuse, unhealthy food and eating too many eggs.
Jaundice, minoria, laruena
Causes of jaundice
Jaundice is commonly associated with liver disease or with that organ not working properly. In Pipaón and Obanos (N), it is also put down to gallbladder problems of versícula, as that gland was commonly called in Obanos; in Mendiola (A), they said that it is caused by liver disease or problems such as cirrhosis or hepatitis; in Apodaca (A), it is believed that it is to do with bile and in Arrastate (G), it was reported as being bile in the blood.
In Berganzo (A), they said that jaundice is caused because blood collects in the throat and chokes anyone suffering from it and can even lead to death. In Amorebieta-Etxano (B), some people surveyed told us that anyone with clean blood does not suffer liver disease and in Telleriarte (G), they stressed that as it is a blood problem, the blood should be cleansed as soon as possible.
In Moreda (A), catching or suffering from jaundice has been put down to be contaminated water since ancient times. The contamination comes from faeces coming into contact with the water. It is also said to come from eating raw vegetables that are contaminated and have not been washed or disinfected with a little bleach. In Gorozika (B), it is considered to be contagious and is said to come from worms in Astigarraga (G).
Gallbladder disease, behazunekoa
Causes of gallbladder ailments
It was found that no difference was make between gallbladder and liver diseases in people’s minds in some locations. The surveys reflected gallbladder stones as the most common problem with that organ, and they usually appear as painful colic. That was reported in Mendiola, Moreda (A); Durango (B); Telleriarte (G); Goizueta, Lekunberri, Murchante, San Martín de Unx and Viana (N); in Obanos (N), they put the stones down to the gallstones being dirty. In Goizueta, they said that the symptoms are indigestion and vomiting. In Murchante, the disease is considered to be a recent one and people did not suffer from it in the past.
In Telleriarte, they said that stone form in the gallbladder due to overeating vegetables and in Viana, that cabbage, oranges, strawberries and melon are harmful. In Mendiola and Moreda, they explained that high cholesterol is today known to be a factor and in Moreda, they also stressed the important role that age played; in Valdegovía (A) and Orozko (B), the people surveyed explained that the stones can be caused by fats and in Valdegovía from eating too much chocolate as well. In Beasain (G), routine gallbladder problems were put down to cold. In Oñati (G), it was believed that gallbladder ailments were more common in women.
Kidney diseases, giltzurrunetakoa
Ailments and names
In general, the most ailments reported are renal colic, cystitis, inflammation of the prostate and urinary incontinence in the elderly. They also mentioned having sugar in the urine (Agurain-A, Berastegi-G); blood in the urine (pixagorri in Donibane-Lohitzune-L), little urine output and albumin.
A very common condition is the urine infection known as cystitis that is characterised by frequently wanting to urinate and finding it difficult to do so, along with other symptoms including itching, cloudy urine sometimes mixed with blood (Mendiola-A); it also causes upsets and pain in the abdomen (Carranza-B).
Renal colic is the reason for the urine containing grit, stones and even blood. Pain in the ribs have sometime been associated with having kidney stones or the kidneys not working properly (Muskiz-B; Astigarraga, Elgoibar, Hondarribia-G; Arraioz, Murchante-N); also to liver (Muskiz), gallbladder (Bidegoian-G) ailments or even a condition related to the glands (Amézaga de Zuya-A).
Heart diseases, bihotzekoa
In the past, heart diseases were barely known in folk medicine and therefore there were few remedies. It would sometimes only be after a person had a heart attack when it was said that they had heart problems (Lekunberri-N), or it was not known why someone was exhausted and then they were found to have a heart condition (Moreda-A).
The surveyed locations all agreed that cancer was commonly unknown or there was little information about it, even though people suffered from it, until the 1940s and 1950s. Some people interviewed said that people would die without anyone knowing the cause and they were very likely to be down to cancer. In certain places, they said that only terminal patients or those with it at an advanced stage resort to folk medicine and healers for cancer.