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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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Nothing causes as much fright to the Brazilian as the incurable bite of this animal, which is constantly nearby. The few surgeons inside the country gave up almost entirely on treating snake bites and prefer to leave them to healers, who employ a secretive means of healing, so the people have much greater confidence in them than in any doctor, although not always with happy success. Colic and tightness in the limbs, irresistible tiredness, dizziness, vomiting, eye pain, burning back, blindness, bleeding from the eyes, mouth, nose and ears, sometimes violent haemoptysis, facial swelling, unconsciousness, complete weakness, anxiety, mortal anguish, trembling and seizures follow one another when the poisoning is complete and recent; and the patient, twenty-four hours after the rattlesnake bite, and even shorter in the time for the baby jararaca,

Bothrops jararaca

expires with the most terrible seizures, sometimes also with symptoms of hydrophobia, so that often the healer, who lives far away, though called in haste, arrives when nothing else can be done. If the poisoning has been less severe, and if the healer still finds it possible to intervene, then he begins by sucking on the wound, causes the patient to retire to a perfectly dark, sealed room, and treats him with a large amount of cooking from certain leaves and roots, taken internally, as well as poultices of the same leaves, applied on the bite. One of the most effective and most used means is the leaves and roots of a rubiacea (Chiococca anguifuga Mart.), known in the country under the name of black root or snake, and which, for its healing virtues, but especially for the penetrating and nauseating smell, bears great resemblance to polygala and valerian. The patient should take large amounts of decoction, and poultices of fresh leaves and crushed roots alternate with those of several other plants, for example the ampoule-forming wolf (Plumbago scandens L.), the picao (Bidens graveolens nob. E leucantha W.), Sant'Ana herb (Kuhnia arguta H.) and Spilanthes brasiliensis (1), often renewed.

When the use of black root produces strong vomiting, then there is hope of cure; Favorable symptoms are mostly abundant sweating and bowel movements. The use of these means persists without ceasing for many days until the patient, though extremely weakened, gradually recovers his natural form, which was almost always cadaverous. In the first days of poisoning, the healer does not leave the patient for a moment. In case of distress or fainting,

(I) Spilanthes brasiliensis - Watercress of Para, Brazilian Agri, Para Pepper, Gold Button (from Bahia). (Rev. Note, Inst. Hist. and Geogr. Bras.).

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