Mapuche medicine is the system of medical treatment historically used by the Mapuche people of southern Chile. It is essentially magical-religious in nature, believing disease to be caused by supernatural factors such as spells and curable by treatments based on rituals, thermal waters and herbs. Knowledge of medicinal herbs is one of the best-known elements of Mapuche medicine and is still used today. One of the most striking aspects of historical Mapuche medicine was the use of surgery as a treatment, which was developed to treat wounds and traumas suffered in the frequent battles between tribes. Fractures and dislocations of bones were treated by immobilising and covering the limbs with pastes and ointments made of medicinal herbs. As in Europe, the practice of the bloodletting was also commonplace and used as a treatment for many conditions. In Mapuche culture, it was done by making small cuts with a very sharp stone called a "guincubue" to draw blood, then covering the cut with an astringent or herbal mix. Bloodletting was also used by parents on children to make them lighter, more agile and more capable of working and fighting, as it was thought that their blood was salty and heavy. More information...

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