Indigenous Medicine is alive and well in Costa Rica

I first heard of Don Candido, a Bri Bri indigenous medicine man when I was down in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica in February 2010. After returning home, I did some on-line investigation and decided we would contact him when we returned in July. You see my son, Timothy, has had uncontrolled seizures for years, and if that isn’t enough, the medications he has been on for ages, are  now destroying his bones!

In addition to this, Tim has an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) which causes him to “pick.” He is covered in scars from earlier pickings and always bleeding due to this obsessive behavior.  Socially it’s a killer, if nothing else.  Tim had been on meds for OCD for years with little improvement, and was now under the care of a very talented psychiatrist but still the problem persisted.  So you can see,  traditional medicine wasn’t working – and we were desperate for another answer!

So here we were in Costa Rica face-to-face with the well-respected, Don Candido, the last of a long line of indigenous medicine men.   To us, the surroundings  were straight out of National Geographic — dirt floor, thatched roof, primitive tools.  A couple of large banana leaves on the ground served as the examination table,  and after using nothing  more than pressure points, Candido gave us his findings and took Tim on as his patient.  He explained that Tim’s seizures had a very strong hold on him and he did not have a “fast” fix — his herbal medicines could be very powerful but he needed to move slowly, so as to do no harm.

In the land surrounding the medicine hut  grow more than 1500 different plants and herbs  in his botanical garden.  Candido uses the knowledge and wisdom, handed down to him from previous healers, to diagnose and provide healing to those in need.  We found Don Candido to be a delightful man who cares deeply for people, and uses his skills to bring healing and balance back to their lives.

Timoteo (as he was called in Spanish) received treatment twice a week from Candido.  He was given herbal drinks and freshly made salves from the botantical garden.  We weren’t prepared to spend more than 6 weeks under Don Candido’s care, as we had obligations back home, but during that time, Tim experienced a total healing from his OCD picking.  One day during our stay, Tim just announced that something very strange had happened — his body no longer “called” to him; his desire to pick had died!  Here it is 5 months later and still Tim has had no reoccurance in picking!  In regards to his seizures,  he has gone from 3-6 a day to 3 a week!   He reports that even his seizures feel different.

This experience left me feeling very grateful but, at the same time, very sad.  Why isn’t the rest of the world curious, if not anxious, to learn from indigenous healers,  like Candido?  Why is the  medical profession so threatened by alternative approaches?  How can they so quickly disregard the possible benefits of non-traditional approaches?  How can we allow indigenous knowledge to die out?   The apparent “god-complex” that exists in our country is appalling, and it shames me to think of the loss this attitude will cost.

We remain hopeful that with continued treatment, Tim will be cured of his seizures, so we will be returning to Costa Rica.  Don Candido doesn’t practice “magic,” his healing is based on knowledge and skill that has been handed down over 5000 years.  We feel blessed to be among those treated by him.

Indigenous medicine still lives, but for how long?


About dbdaze

Currently spending much of my time contemplating the remainder of my life ... realizing the importance of dreams that are fulfilled, support of those closest to you, and the value in downsizing and living with less.
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15 Responses to Indigenous Medicine is alive and well in Costa Rica

  1. Pingback: Joe MolinariA Day with the Don » Joe Molinari

  2. carla says:

    Great story! I live in Costa Rica and are very interested in contacting Don Candido do you have a phone number? Or some directions on how to find him in Puerto Viejo (I know the zone well)
    Blessings to you and your family!

  3. Prisca says:

    Hi! My name is Prisca, and I stumbled upon this as I was searching for more info on Costa Rican indigenous medicine. This is great!! Thank you so much for sharing. When I was in Puerto Viejo (by Limon) last year, a local told me about an herbalist nearby, but I didn’t have time to go see him. I’m practicing Traditional Chinese Medicine, so I’m really interested in other traditional medical practices. If you don’t mind me asking, how did you find Don Candido? Were you Puerto Viejo de Talamanca? or the other one? Thank you.

    • dbdaze says:

      Hi Prisca! Yes, Don Candido is in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca. We only accidentally, through a casual conversation, learned of him during our first visit in February 2010. When we decided to return for a longer period of time in July of that year, I had already done some searching and discovered a local couple, Nanci and Barry Stevens from The Bridge, who offered to set up an initial meeting with Candido after we arrived. Candido is very interested in other non-traditional therapies and practices and would be delighted to meet with you. If you need to make contact with Candido, you can email Nanci Stevens . Up until fairly recently, Candido had a website with information but I notice it is no longer available. I think this might be due to difficulty with internet service.

      • Prisca says:

        That sounds fabulous!! When you have a chance, will you forward me Nancy’s e-mail? Thanks. Also, your post was over a year ago… how is your son doing these days?

      • dbdaze says:

        Sorry about that …. I meant to include Nanci’s email address the first time!

        In regards to my son, his picking has never returned! That in itself is a true miracle! Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to stay long enough for a complete treatment for his seizures. Candido was clear from the start that he would need about 6 months of continued treatment.

      • Prisca says:

        that’s great!! have you considered other alternative medicine? TCM can help 🙂 thanks for passing along nancy’s e-mail.

  4. Doug Adams says:

    Traditional slash/drug and holistic/homeopathic medicine were equal with each other as far as treatment until about 1900. Andrew Carnegie and a few other industrialists saw the potential in the pharmaceutical business. They built medical schools that, in their teachings, totally discredited any medicine that could not be patented. They created the AMA which is nothing more than the police arm of the pharmaceutical companies to keep doctors in check. If any doctor stated that they could cure something such as cancer, they lost their license and were discredited as a quack.
    Today, cancer is a hugh industry. Conventional medicine is one of the few fields where there really has been no new therapies in the last 100 years! We were able to go to the moon but medicine has not advanced. The only interest by the medical/pharmaceutical industry is to keep you alive as long as possible without curing you just to make money.
    Thank God for people like Don Candido.

  5. LindaLou says:

    I fell in love with alternative medicine 12 years ago. I absolutely believe in a whole body approach and just cringe at western medicine’s hold on our culture. I work in a western medicine saturated field, and it’s just a job for me; my passion is in alternative medicine! I’m so glad you and your family found this man, Debbie!! Our nation has gone down the tubes in so many ways, and although there is a place and a time for surgery and drugs, the alternatives, I believe are WAY more in line with the God of creation and healing that I know!!

    Love you!

  6. dbdaze says:

    Alternative medical treatment is often seen as a form of “quackery” — it’s unfortunate that insurance companies don’t cover most of these either. Folks need to know their options.

  7. theresa says:

    I know it works Debbie. Same thing happened to Reina. We saw doc Weaver in Texas. He would work on Reina sftarting at her feet and working to her head… siezures,her left eye staightened out and no limp. He told us there is a area in the stomach that closes up and that contributes to her siezures. When we saw him we were doing hospital runs every 6 weeks. After we met the doc she did not have another one. We moved and she was back to the hospital every 6 weeks. Doc said nobody believed in these diif. approaches but they DO work as we both have seen. I’m so glad Tim is doing better.

  8. dbdaze says:

    Actually, Don Candido is very concerned with the passing down of both his medicinal knowledge, and the culture of the Bribri indigenous people. It is his passionate belief that neither should die with him. His son, Enrique, works and studies with his father at every opportunity and Candido holds regular cultural experiences for the younger members of the tribe. The Bribri people have a marginal economy at best, living very simply. With much hard work and continual saving, they recently were able to purchase a piece of land and have begun the moving of their medicinal garden. It is their hope to establish a more adequate “healing center.”

  9. Deidra says:

    He sure is amazing! Why isn’t he training someone to take his place when he is gone?

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