Jan 12, 2018

Nine hands

 Each disease tied to the stomach raised suspicion that it was struna (gastroptosis) i.e. that the gizzard moved out of its place due to some internal or external stimuli. Bosniac people see the gizzard as a very sensitive organ which is evidenced by numerous warnings about struna among which the most famous ones are that one should avoid sleeping on the stomach, flip over one’s head, jump from a height on an empty stomach or lift heavy things on an empty stomach. Also, the same goes for a person which accidentally hits his foot on something hard. In each of these cases the gizzard can move 29 cm in diameter, 12 cm upward below the ribs and 17 cm downward towards the spine. Most frequent symptom which occurs is pain in the gizzard or below the ribs.

Comparing opinions of physiotherapists which treat stomach issues as well as folk doctors we can notice that in numerous segments they’re alike. The only difference is that folk healers had to rely solely on empirical knowledge of their predecessors, which was often poor, while physiotherapists today have all medical knowledge at their disposal, especially anatomy, as well as x-ray scans.

Physiotherapists think that the stomach can be raised or lowered once it moves out of its place. Raised stomach is more frequent today, both among the young and the old of both sexes, the reason is pressure in the abdominal joint which occurred due: lifting heavy things or bending (gym, difficult manual labor), often and strong coughing, strong sneezing, pregnancy and birth, vomiting, obesity, punch in the stomach, stress, weakness of the diaphragm. Symptoms are: chest pain similar to a heart attack, bleeding of the gums, bad breath, bad digestion, great appetite, burping, nausea, hiccups, vomiting, heartburn.

It is known that strong abdominal muscles keep all the organs in their place like a wide belt. When they weaken and stretch, the organs lose their footing and slowly descend. Besides pregnancy, there are other reasons, such as messy eating habits, overeating, bad digestion, irregular stool, leanness. The gizzard descends often, as the largest abdominal organ which is often widened, and with it other abdominal organs. This is considered to be a descended gizzard. Symptoms are: feeling of fullness and weight, bad and slow digestion, burping, drowsiness, shoulder pain, nervousness, insomnia, constipation, hemorrhoids. The diseased is often nervous, he is afraid to eat and loses weight. An x-ray scan shows immediately an elongated and descended gizzard. Strength of the disorder doesn’t always follow the degree of the gizzard displacement, since people endure it differently.

In folk medicine of BiH people that deal with curing of such issues are called želudarice (women) and želudari or strunar (men). According to their statements a displaced gizzard (strunjeni želudac), is treated as a serious health issues with a potentially deadly epilogue. This is also evidenced by the folk belief according to which this disease manifests through nine forms, or so called “nine hands”, želudarica must be extremely skilled to detect each one and apply the corresponding method of healing. Each of the nine forms of this disease has a specific name and explanation such as: “blue struna”, “red struna”, “black struna” etc. However, it is necessary to mention that želudarice are not completely in harmony when it comes to determining names and diagnoses, therefore their opinions often match when speaking about “blue struna” since it is easiest to detect and cure. However by deduction of all of the available materials which I had at my disposal from the archive of the National museum in Sarajevo, but also individual discussions with folk healers, I managed to categorize their names well enough. Namely, what confuses most is that each struna has two names; the first way is based on a certain color and the second is a symbolic description such as body parts, according the sex, water or bread. Therefore the following names are used: krušna struna, ručna struna, muška struna, ženska struna, vodena struna, sastava, etc.

Krušna struna is cured in such a manner that the middle of the bread is taken out, a ball is made out of it in which three matches are placed, it is placed onto the bellybutton, matches are lit and covered with a glass.

Ručna struna is recognized by the diseased having “bulging veins”. It is cured by intensive hand massaging.

Muška struna is also known as “untied bellybutton (razvijeni pupak)” it is manifested by strong stomach pain, feeling of suffocation, blackness in front of the eyes. In men it can cause low sperm count.

Red struna is caused by worry, stress, anxiety, emotional issues. It is manifested by skinniness, vomiting, paleness and nausea. Gizzard in this instance is detected underneath the ribs, or is moved towards the heart, the only way to return it is by massages.

Black or difficult struna occurs when carrying load, sudden movements, inconsistent diet, during birth, sleep or some type of accident and is manifested through obesity, farts, bloating and pain, not only in the gizzard but also bowels. In black struna the gizzard moves towards the spine. In heavy struna pain between the shoulders occurs.

Ženska struna is a disease which, as the name implies, affects only women during pregnancy and child birth, but similarly it can cause temporary infertility so that a woman cannot achieve pregnancy. It is cured by massages and tying the hips with a cloth.