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Table 4 Definitions of supernatural diseases in the Saraguro community

From: Traditional medicine applied by the Saraguro yachakkuna: a preliminary approach to the use of sacred and psychoactive plant species in the southern region of Ecuador





A disease that is produced by unpleasant experiences, accidents, violent episodes, or moments of distress that produce an emotional impact on the patient.

Nervousness, lack of appetite, sleep loss.

Vaho de agua

This disease occurs when the person is exposed to water mist, for example, when crossing a bridge. People who have been beaten or injured or women who have recently given birth are more susceptible to this disease.

Severe pain in the extremities, wounds, or strokes that arise from time to time.

Mal aire

A disease caused by strong winds experienced while the person walks down a hill, by contact with cold air when the person leaves a sheltered place, or when a person walks through cemeteries or places where there are hidden treasures.

Dizziness, headache, vomiting, stomach pain. The patient suffers body deterioration.

Mal hecho

This disease is caused by damage that a person intentionally inflicts on another individual. The diseases that are manifested are organic and psychological, emphasizing envy and jealousy.

The patient suffers personal misfortunes, accidents, death of loved ones, and financial losses. This leads to depression.


This disease is the so-called mal de ojo. It is caused by a person directed a forceful gaze toward someone else. In this case, the disease occurs without maliciousness. Otherwise, shuka occurs with bad intention.

Fainting, nervousness, pale face, headache, sadness, behavioral, and personality changes. Children are more prone to this disease.