XIII. STOMACH AND INTESTINES
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Stomach upsets, tripako minak
A certain confusion between intestines and stomach was common, because everything in the abdomen, including the bowels, were considered as a unit.
The people surveyed also reported that the cures could be complementary. Thus, for example, camomile or another herbal tea, fasting for a period of time and following a diet can be used to treat stomach upsets. The people surveyed sometimes mixed up some conditions with others: indigestion, feeling bloated, heartburn… In other cases, the distinction is clear between constipation and diarrhoea or between poor digestion and stomach ulcer.
Some people mentioned that stomach disorders cause sadness.
In some locations, they explained that people need to look after their stomachs as it is the source of health (Busturia-B) or because “it is not a good thing to have stomach problems” (Amézaga de Zuya-A).
In Abadiano (B), when someone suffers stomach upsets it is because they have eaten too much or because the food didn’t sit well with them, the expression “Jana bidean gelditu” is used, in other words, that the food is stuck along the way. In Gorozika (B), they explained that the main consequences of the digestive disorders is problems with bowel evacuation, obreu ezina. In Tiebas (N), they pointed out that there are more stomach upsets today “due to the muck they eat”.
We also mention groin hernia, etena, in this introduction to stomach and intestine disorders because it was usually considered to be as a lump that appeared in the abdominal region without it having an independent attribution. Furthermore, remedies for it were not reported, but sometimes the well-known truss supports were worn to contain the hernia and at other times there was no other option than to resort to surgery.
Vomiting, gomitua, goitikoa, oka
Types of vomiting
The most common reason for vomiting is due to some sort of the problems with the digestive system, as the result of stomach ache or a meal not sitting well with them, and consists of bringing up what was in the stomach. Along with gastric vomiting, the surveys included biliary colic. Colic is known in Donibane-Lohitzune (L) as erraietakoa and sabela.
In Lekunberri (N), biliary vomiting is associated with liver problems that result in bile being expelled through the mouth; in Obanos (N) they pointed out that a yellowish or greenish liquid is expelled and the expression used in those cases is “they have had a liver spasm” and in Oñati (G) it is extended to people with gallbladder problems who vomit up bile in the morning.
Other reasons for bringing up bile are also given. Thus in Amézaga de Zuya (A), the people surveyed explained that headaches and colic, sometimes, lead to heavy vomiting when they “even bring up bile” and they said in Durango (B) and in Aoiz (N) that people can feel car sick or nauseous when they are ill and they bring up bile as their stomach is empty. In Elgoibar (G), they said that the vomiting when people are fasting is bile, bilixa.
A third group of vomiting referred to in the surveys is when people vomit blood. In Apodaca and Moreda (A), it is commonly thought that there is usually a serious reason for it. In Mendiola, Ribera Alta (A); Durango (B) and Beasain (G), they considered it alarming and said that it can be a symptom of consumption or tuberculosis, whose symptoms including bloody phlegm. In Ribera Alta, they added that heavy and continuous vomiting used to be a symptom of typhus. They also reported other possible causes such as internal bleeding (Muskiz-B, Hondarribia-G, Murchante-N) or the consequence of having an ulcer (Bidegoian, Elgoibar-G; Tiebas-N).
In Bernedo (A), Durango (B), Hondarribia (G) and Aoiz (N), the people surveyed said that diarrhoea is usually caused from eating contaminated food; in Bernedo and Hondarribia, they also put it down to excessive eating.
In Durango and Aoiz, they attributed it to getting chilled; in Beasain (G), they explained that it is not advisable to get cold when getting up in the morning and in Moreda (A) to get a chill in the pit of the stomach or have very cold drinks. In Viana (N), they said that water should not be drunk after eating fruit to avoid getting diarrhoea. In Aoiz, they also put it down to viral infections, i.e., epidemics. In Durango, they explained that it can also be caused from taking certain medicines.
In Allo (N), it was attributed in the past to excessive heat and to precarious living conditions. The older people surveyed recalled with horror the summers of the first decades of the 20th century as 20-30 children would die from dehydration and diarrhoea in the “dog days of Mary Magdalene’s Day”, which were 10 days either side of that feast day, which is marked on 22 July.
In Murchante (N), they explained that when a baby had diarrhoea, it was usually put down to the mother’s milk being bad or poor.
Constipation, estomago(ko) sikua / lehorra
In some of the surveyed places, a distinction is made between constipation and its remedies, and the laxatives used pre-emptively that the people interviewed said are less common. Thus, in Ribera Alta (A), it was reported that laxatives as a preventive measure were only used for children and in Astigarraga (G), they said that when used pre-emptively, they are thought to be “cleaning the inside”.
In several of our surveys, they explained that constipation was not as common a problem as today. In Carranza (B), they said that even though they did not usually eat vegetables and fruit consumption was seasonal, beans were a pulse that was an essential part of the daily diet. In Telleriarte (G), they also explained that anyone who often eats pulses, as was the general case in the past, have hardly any problems with constipation. In Hondarribia (G), they also pointed out that there was hardly any constipation in the past because bread was less processed and healthier. On the other hand, some of the people surveyed said that the lack and little variety of food meant more people suffered from constipation in the past.
In Moreda (A), constipation was put down to a died of dry meals that caused it, such as rice, grilled meat, quince cheese, bananas…. There is the belief that more women are affected than men and it leads to piles. In Arrasate (G), they recommend that anyone suffering from constipation should avoid certain foods, including white bread, milk, white flour, meat, white rice and cheese.
In Muskiz (B), the people surveyed gave some recommendations to alleviate the problem of constipation, such as defecating at the same time and in the same place, and avoid wearing tight clothes around the stomach, which is something that happens more frequently with women than men.