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?