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CAMPOS-NAVARRO, Roberto. El empacho en Cuba: Aproximación histórica documental desde 1821 hasta 2009. Cuicuilco [online]. 2009, vol.16, n.46, pp.71-96. ISSN 0185-1659.

In spite of the biomedical hegemony and the intense medicalization that dominate individual and collective life in Cuba, certain areas of attention in traditional and domestic medicine still remain beyond the reach of this control. This is the case of the empacho. We are talking of a disease that is found throughout all of Latin America and has its own well defined etiological, epidemiological, clinical and therapeutic features. Based on a historical and documental investigation carried out in various libraries in Cuba and outside the island, as well as through internet, 31 primary sources were located, from which a description and an analysis of the empacho in Cuba from the XIX Century until today was constructed. The empacho is defined as an interruption of gastrointestinal movements that provokes indigestion caused by alimentational excess, the consumption of indigestible, insufficiently cooked food which can provoke an alteration of the digestive tract; it is found in patients of all ages, mostly in childhood. The patient shows an abdominal tumeration (a "small ball"), pain, loss of appetite, nausea, vomit, diarrhea, etc., and he or she is treated with infusion of medical plants, as well as with physical treatment (massage and pinching in the dorso-lumbar region) or religious treatment (measuring with tape and prayer). It is our conclusion that the empacho was, still is and will continue to be a relevant element in Cuban popular medicine.

Keywords : popular-traditional medicine; culture-bound syndromes; empacho.

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