What To Do When You Get Sick In The Jungle
Sometimes when travelling you get sick. I’d say almost always when you’re visiting the countryside or more remote areas in a country. Like here, in the Costa Rican jungle. Costa Rica is a clean and healthy country. Puerto Viejo also has amazing food and the overall cleanliness is high. Yet, coming here you will experience some stomach troubles: diarrhea, vomiting, pain, fever, or all of it. There is a little jungle bug that wants to clean your inside. I say: let her do it! Don’t fight it or you will feel worse. However, there are things you can do to ease the process and get well again. I’ve listed some of them here. First off, in this article I talk about parasites/stomach problems and not for instance dengue fever, which also is somewhat common around these areas.
1. Find a medicine woman/man or Shaman of the area who knows about the local plants and treatments. If you plan to stay for a while, I recommend doing this straight away so that in case of illness you know who to call for bush medicine.
2. Make sure you drink plenty or you will have to go to the hospital due to dehydration (if you’re the travel mate: make sure your friend drinks a lot)! I am talking about water, tea and coconut water- not coke! (this is nothing like the stomach problems you grew up with in Europe). The carbonic acid in sodas makes the stomach problems worse by adding a lot of air/gas to it, which you really don’t need more of. If you want sweet, I suggest making some sort of ice tea/warm herbal tea instead, or drink coconut water which also helps you stay hydrated. Chamomile is an acknowledged and widely used herb to treat various stomach/digestive problems and fever, among other things. You can find it in regular food stores all over the world. Make it a habit to always carry some with you.
3. Let it all come out. In the Caribbean tradition as well as for instance Ayurveda, the body and digestive system are to be kept clean or disease will occur. And in case of illnes, a washout or cleanse is necessary to heal.
Pills such as ibuprofen or Dimor only stop the symptoms- they don’t treat the problem. Avoid these as much as you can, unless you want it to get worse (or are on a bus).
4. When you want to start eating again, try some stomach stabilizing fruits like papaya and banana with cinnamon before moving on to rice. Papaya is a digestive agent and banana is a well-used plant to treat diarrhea. In addition, cinnamon is a wonderful herb used for many things, including digestive problems, nausea and vomiting.
5. If you’re sick for a long time and the bug doesn’t want to go away, consider seeing a doctor to get antibiotics. Chances are that your belly won’t be happy taking a lot of pills though. Antibiotics can cause fungal infections for instance. Furthermore, you might end up not getting rid of the bug at all but carry it with you back home and having to go through several rounds of antibiotics. No fun :/
And yes, this post came into existence due to some vomiting around the house. We are now eating again and I have received clear messages that I should stick to the purest food possible from now on. Like this bowl of brown rice boiled with turmeric and culantro, carrots, broccoli, avocado, lettuce and pejibaye.
Do you have any Being Sick On The Road stories? Or more suggestions on what to do when you are sick with a parasite? Please share in the comments below!