From Lemongrass to Ivermectin: Ethnomedical Management of Chagas Disease in Tropical Bolivia.
Chagas disease is a neglected tropical disease; the only viable drugs are outdated and produce frequent side effects, and the overwhelming majority of cases are undiagnosed and untreated. Globally, people encounter numerous impediments to accessing biomedical treatment for Chagas disease. However, little is known about how people with Chagas disease manage their health outside the biomedical system. In this article, I discuss knowledge of ethnomedical treatments among marginalized patients in an endemic area of Bolivia. I interviewed 68 patients, 63 (93%) of whom had positive diagnoses for Chagas disease. Participants free listed 66 ethnomedical remedies either for Chagas disease (n=39) or its cardiac symptoms. Participants stressed the accessibility of ethnomedical remedies in contrast to the multiple barriers to accessing biomedical treatment. Far from eroding in the face of globalization and sociopolitical marginalization, ethnomedical knowledge in the study area is dynamic and flexible, communicated through various channels.