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Raif Esmerovi

Raif Esmerovi Struna or t he disease of the gizzard Keywords : bellybutton, belt, bla ck,

Struna or t he disease of the gizzard

Keywords: bellybutton, belt, bla ck, Bosnia, Bosniaks, curing, cup, dr.D ani , Edhe m, healing, hazel,

hands, Hazrat Fatima, Hidajeta,

folk medicine, formula, gizzard, glass, stomach,

stravarka, struna,

strunar, Sarajevo, Visoko, vacuu m, Velika Kladu a, Tuzla, tea, treatment, Mevlida , method, massage,

mizinac, Muhammad, Mramor, eludarica.

oil, patient, Raif Esmerovi , red, blue, Visoko, Vel ika Kladu a,

Raif Esmerovi Struna or t he disease of the gizzard Keywords : bellybutton, belt, bla ck,
  • n the southeastern Europe, e specially in
    I Bosnia and Herzegovina, a re cognizable cult of healing exists for ages, this cult is the basis of what we today call f olk medicine. Namely, humans of this region u sed things that surround him and through e mpirical experiences they developed way s to keep their health, not drawing a distin ct line between medicine and magic. A ctually, it never existed since anything tha t could help, whether only psychologically, w as welcome. Direct influence of religion brou ght continuous influence of folk med icine to the masses, where with minimal mo difications old

magical formulas were transform

ed in socially

acceptable forms and in s uch a manner they survived till today.

An ironic fact is that despi te the advancement of technology and medici ne people turn to primitive forms of heali ng, partially due to more expensive treatmen ts, but more likely because there is no soul i n modern medicine. Human beings cannot fun ction without a spiritual component and i ntimacy with nature which is deeply intertwine d in his entire existence. Actually, the m ore destruction we impose on nature, the mo re of an impulse to return to nature do we cr eate in us.

Raif Esmerovi Struna or t he disease of the gizzard Keywords : bellybutton, belt, bla ck,

Raif Esmerovi

Raif Esmerovi Folk healers Traditional medicine rests on the belief that individuals which practice it, folk

Folk healers

Traditional medicine rests on the belief that individuals which practice it, folk doctors, often possess certain supernatural capabilities or that their knowledge was inherited from predecessors a person which was initiated into the secrets of healing by a mystic ritual.

Among people there are stories of people which became shamans overnight, usually through an intervention of a higher force in their dream. During that event the sleeper received telepathically the gift of knowledge which mustn t be misused. According to stravarka anka from Velika Kladu a one night an unknown man and woman came into her room, clad in all white, they awoke her by pulling her toe. During that unusual encounter she received the gift of healing which she utilized until her death.

There is a belief among the folk that the gift of healing can be inherited but the only one qualified to inherit it is the mizinac i.e. the youngest child.youngest child.

Knowledge that stravarke, eludarice and herbalists possess is based on empirical experience and represents a mixture of herbalist and homeopathic knowledge loaded with magical and religious meaning. It is deeply tied to the cultural basis of the area in which it originated.

Though there is no precisely formulated rule the general opinion is that folk doctors achieve the best results after his fortieth year, which obviously alludes to god s messenger Muhammad S.A.V.S. which started receiving religious proclamation during those years of his life.

According to beliefs the power of healing can be gained through magic. When you see a black snail without a shell during spring (Limax cinereoniger), you should touch his horns three times usually with the index finger, but each time you should spit to the side. Later when someone seeks help from that person, it

will suffice that this person should stroke the ailing place three times and the ailment will disappear.

Nine hands

Each disease tied to the stomach raised suspicion that it was struna (gastroptosis) 1 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 2 . 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 3 .

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

  • 1 Among folk it is said that struna can be a traumatic shock for the organism due to which a patient literally shrivels in pain, he can t stretch out his legs and arms.

  • 2 There is a belief when a hungry man is running, when he is frightened, is lifting heavy things, or when he is fasting often, he can have his gizzard moved. Indicator of such a state is, pain in the stomach, and according to this symptom we categorize struna into the group where other gizzard ailments belong to: inflammation of the gizzard, possibly widening of the gizzard and even an ulcer of the gizzard.

  • 3 Strune are secret and known. Known struna is recognized by abrupt and strong pain in the gizzard. Secret struna is recognized by the fact that it lasts longer, pain is of a lesser intensity and a small lump on the stomach is formed. This lump can be everywhere on the abdomen, just not on the right side. Difficult struna should be cured immediately, if you are late the patient s health can be seriously endangered.

Raif Esmerovi Folk healers Traditional medicine rests on the belief that individuals which practice it, folk

Raif Esmerovi

Raif Esmerovi had to rely solely on empirical knowledge of their predecessors, which was often poor,

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.

Raif Esmerovi had to rely solely on empirical knowledge of their predecessors, which was often poor,

In folk medicine of BiH people that deal with curing of such issues are called eludarice (women) and eludari or strunar (men) 4 . According to their statements a displaced gizzard (strunjeni eludac), 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 , eludarica 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 eludarice 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:

kru na struna, ru na struna, mu ka struna,

4 Returning the gizzard to its place is not only an activity of women, but also of men, but according to people, there are only a few of those that perform it professionally. Traditionally, this skill is transferred in the family circle, from one person to another. Still today in Bosnia and Herzegovina there are famous families that cure gizzards, whose practice can be traced back for generations.

Raif Esmerovi had to rely solely on empirical knowledge of their predecessors, which was often poor,

Raif Esmerovi

Raif Esmerovi enska struna , vodena struna , sastava , etc. Kru na struna is cured

enska struna, vodena struna, sastava, etc.

Kru na 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.

Ru na struna is recognized by the diseased having bulging veins . It is cured by intensive hand massaging.

Mu ka 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.

enska 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.

How to detect a displaced gizzard

During the procedure of curing gizzard displacement according to eludarice and stravarke we can conclude that it takes place in three or four stages. The first goal is to detect the state of the diseased i.e. whether his issue is the product of a displaced gizzard. Without it there is no successful curing. It is necessary that the diseased lies on his back, his clothes is removed from the stomach, and eludarica places her middle finger into the belly button but in such a manner that her index finger and small finger are separated from it. For the first time the middle finger is placed in a horizontal position and the second time in a vertical, in order to feel the gizzard from both directions. Namely, if pulsating is felt on the bellybutton under the middle finger then the gizzard hasn t moved. If we re talking about struna then the pulsing is felt left or right, above or below from the bellybutton, i.e. under the index or small finger. Or no pulsing is felt. In that case it is suspected that the gizzard is stuck to the spine.

Similarly, examination can be done by touching the hand muscle, underneath the armpit or thumb, namely, if the pulse beats strongly in those placed then the person has issues with gizzard displacement. If a small circular mass is felt on the left hand of the diseased, between the thumb and index finger, certain eludarice categorize as a sure sign of struna. They gently massage the circular mass until it is broken down , which is the most important step in the healing process.

Raif Esmerovi enska struna , vodena struna , sastava , etc. Kru na struna is cured

Raif Esmerovi

Raif Esmerovi It is evident, according to folk healers, that the issue with the gizzard can
Raif Esmerovi It is evident, according to folk healers, that the issue with the gizzard can

It is evident, according to folk healers, that the issue with the gizzard can appear suddenly and aggressively, followed by great pains, or slowly and quietly, through a longer period, when it is necessary to carefully analyze the symptoms and set a correct diagnosis. Rarely, the pain in the gizzard is so strong that no further checkups are necessary since it is evident. In his ethnological work Cures and curing inhabitants of Mala Kladu a issued in the gazzet Behar in 1992 (Zagreb, numbers 1/2) dr. Husein D ani wrote:

When the gizzard (stomach) hurts, the person bends and contorts like handles of a strung basket, and in front of their eyes appear small light dots. When someone has frequent and strong gizzard pain we say that it has been moved, and that it can be an accident which can cause death.

In case the disease developed over a longer period of time, experienced eludarice can in large percentages, give evaluation of the diseased without any physical contact. Namely, according to empirical experience which the folk healers possess, lean persons yellow in the face as well as fat people with a pale face, which look bloated, suffer from struna. Each of them claim categorically that struna is not a disease that can be treated by official medicine and seeking cure with official doctors is a waste of time.

There is a whole slew of signs which can be used to suspect that an individual suffers from health issues which are caused by struna. eludi ar Edhem Me inovi from Fojnica mentions that the gizzard is a very important organ and if it is sick, other organs are also sick.

Struna can be obtained, he warns, if you stretch, rise suddenly, if you jump, if you lift something up, but one can get it also, as they say, of no accord, literally for no reason.

State of fear or shock due to an accident can also imply movement of the gizzard. Among Bosnian people it is believed that a person which is timid by nature, easily gets struna/gizzard displacement, such a person should keep a pebble called ustavljak in the vessel it uses for drinking water. This stone is the one which gets stuck between the branches of a tree once being tossed around. It is claimed that the most ideal tree for such an experiment is the Hawthorn tree (Crataegus) because of its mystical healing properties ascribed to it 5 .

5 For a man not to have stomach issues (gizzard) he should place his belt or piece of clothing or his hand in front of a salamander, so that he crosses the object.

Someone from the patients family catches a few live fish in a creek or river and brings them home in a vessel with water. The patient should gaze at the fish while they re alive. When the fish die, it is believed, he will be better and will be healed.

In Sarajevo beef spleen was used to cure struna, it was cut in half so that the patient would go between it, completely naked during a new moon.

Raif Esmerovi It is evident, according to folk healers, that the issue with the gizzard can

Raif Esmerovi

Raif Esmerovi Healing power of tea and honey From all of the above it is much

Healing power of tea and honey

From all of the above it is much clearer why among the folk, especially among eludarice, this organ is treated with a great dose of seriousness. Even today, when someone complains of stomach pain, we first suspect struna, which is a traditional diagnosis for all stomach illnesses. It is interesting to note that the among folk the gizzard was in the past called li ica, which comes from the Arabic word lukza, which experienced a linguistic adjustment through transcription in the Bosnian language. Modeled on numerous oriental words and phrases which came with the Ottoman occupators, this word had a similar faith and over time it was adjusted to the climate and dialect which resulted in a new pronunciation lu i ica, which transformed with subsequent transmutations into no i ica or li ica. Among the Bosnians which live in Sand ak, we notice preservation of old names, in this instance for stomach diseases, which are still called no i ica.

Whether accidentally or with a certain symbolism no ica as Antun Hangi claims in his anthological work about the life of Bosnian people is also the name used for scissors and sometimes thongs.

No i ica in Sand ak is the name of the disease which is recognized by the fact that a person can t eat, loses his appetite or vomits everything he eats. Curing is natural and based on a plant which has a mysterious name among the folk nauda . The plant is chopped thinly and mixed with honey which the diseased consumes three mornings in a row. With this utterance of magical formulas is often combined. Also, if the person has

stomach aces often, for unknown reasons, then it is recommended to him to drink tea made from peppermint (Mentha piperita L.). It is obvious that tea in this curing process, besides its medicinal properties, has a role to literally warm up the gizzard, while for the external part of the diseased persons stomach, after drinking tea, the process includes massaging it over steam and rubbing oil into the skin.

Teas are an important component of in the curing process of a displaced gizzard and they re almost a necessary part of therapy. Their content can be varied, whether we re talking about a couple of mixed dry or fresh ingredients or just one. Traditionally, among our folk tea was considered as a true cure, i.e. every therapy would begin by drinking it for a shorter or longer period, from three to 40 or 41 days.

Tea is after all a standard recommendation of every eludarica since its aroma and warmth besides healing properties, has relaxing properties and raises the body s temperature; due to shock caused by pain and cramps in the gizzard the body becomes cold and tense. Because of its therapeutic activity and belief that it speeds up the curing process depending on the region, various tea mixtures were recommended which had similar effects.

On the territory of eastern Bosnia eludarica at the end of a séance of gizzard movement recommends to the diseased to drink for a few days tea made out of calamints (Calamintha officinalis) 6 , savory (satureja) and

6 In Visoko it was believed that more men suffer from struna than women. It is caused by a cold, when a cold wind enters the stomach. It is cured in various ways, usually by hard liquor (rakija) which contains Artemisia, or a few pieces of horseradish (Amoracia rusticana) is placed inside rakija, and the patient drinks it every morning on an empty stomach. Similarly, whoever feels pain in ilica or o ilica needs to drink water in which was

Raif Esmerovi Healing power of tea and honey From all of the above it is much

Raif Esmerovi

Raif Esmerovi St. John s worth (Hypericum pefroratum). In the northwestern part of Bosnia, Una-Sana Canton,

St. John s worth (Hypericum pefroratum).

In the northwestern part of Bosnia, Una-Sana Canton, tea made out of quince twigs (Cydonia oblonga) is very respected, due to its mellow aroma and intensive red color, as well as its sedative activity on the stomach. Preparation of the tea is classic; a few fresh twigs of quince are placed in a vessel with water, boiled, and after a few minutes when the water turns red the procedure is finished. Similarly, tea can be made out of quince leaves.

Raif Esmerovi St. John s worth (Hypericum pefroratum). In the northwestern part of Bosnia, Una-Sana Canton,

Whether herbal or fruit in origin it is evident that teas are unavoidable auxiliary agents in practice of local folk healers. Besides these in use are mixtures of herbal origin which are combined with honey, ingredient for which it was claimed since the old days, it is a great friend of the stomach.

It is recorded in the archive of the National museum in Sarajevo (GZM) that in epa and Rogatica there is a cure for red struna or sastava, a honey based mixture out of the plant St. Benedict s herb (Geum urbanum) and honey. During the preparation of the cure it s root is used, which when cleaned thoroughly is minced into small pieces and mixed with minced garlic. Honey is added to this mixture and such a concoction is consumed by the diseased in small quantity each morning, on an empty stomach, until the pain subsides. In central Bosnia and parts of Herzegovina even

used for cooking fresh or dried pennyroyal (Mentha Pulegium).

today it is recommended to a person suffering from struna to take for 40 days honey mixed with minced rue (Ruta graveolens), in order to cure a moved gizzard.

Techniques for curing blue struna

As we know the gizzard belongs to abdominal organs for which it is claimed that they can be moved since they re located in a virtual space. The reasons for this, as we have seen, are numerous and the most common one is stress, therefore each of us have had our gizzards moved but most of us seek help only when strong pain appears. Until then it is usually tolerable, people try to rehabilitate or to soothe it with various pills. In certain cases the moved gizzard loses its original strength, it doesn t function properly for some time, then the person loses or gains weight and the medical issue becomes more apparent.

If the disease is detected on time i.e. if the gizzard is only slightly "strunio" (moved) then eludarica says to the diseased that he is suffering from blue struna. Water or blue struna, is as I mentioned, the closest form of disease which is cured with a magical procedure 7 , since the disorder is not outdated i.e. is discovered in a relatively short period from its inception and as such requires no great engagement. Every other struna (disease caused by movement of the gizzard) which crosses a certain time period is considered to be outdated and as the only possible way of curing it is through massages. Namely, according to eludarice most strune in the

7 It was believed that a person which had its gizzard moved should cross from one meadow to another by making a somersault over their head, this would cure them. Another way: a rooster is slaughtered and his heart is taken out, still warm, it is thrown over the house, where it falls a fire is lit on which the heart is roasted and is given to the diseased to eat.

Raif Esmerovi St. John s worth (Hypericum pefroratum). In the northwestern part of Bosnia, Una-Sana Canton,

Raif Esmerovi

Raif Esmerovi beginning are actually blue strune, but over time, due to unfavourable events, they changed

beginning are actually blue strune, but over time, due to unfavourable events, they changed their colour the state would worsen and would cause serious health issues.

In the first way of curing blue struna, eludarica would place a coffee cup on the bellybutton of the diseased, it would be turned upside down with a cotton tape placed over it, although other things can be used in order to firmly fix the cup, the tape would be tied behind the diseased person s back. It would be best for the diseased to keep the cup on his stomach overnight, in the morning they would check if the cup was stuck to the stomach. If not, the ritual would be repeated or other forms of curing would be undertaken. Because of the simplicity of the procedure the diseased can perform it himself, without the presence of eludarica.

If not undertaking a magical process of curing, the eludarica would warm up some water in a metal vessel, in which she can place a few pieces of bread and match flint, but is not necessary, and when water boils she pours it into a small pan or plate and in the middle of it she upturns the vessel 8 . If it is a water struna, eludarice claim, all of the water will go under the vessel, it is literally sucked inside 9 . While pouring out the hot water into the pan, eludarica repeats with a quiet voice three times in a row one of the magical formulas for curing such as this:

  • 8 Among Bosnian folk it is believed that healing using these techniques only a person ( eludarica) which has nafakali ruku (lucky hand) can perform successfully. To such a person, for this type of help usually a certain fee is given, this isn t considered to be pay, this money is gifted as a sign of respect to the lucky hand . For a person with a lucky hand it is claimed that such a person can cure moved gizzard at a distance, without any contact with the patient, performing a ritual with water which is usually used in curing plava struna.

  • 9 If water doesn t enter the vessel it is concluded that the patient doesn t have a moved gizzard. To be certain, ritual of water pouring is performed three times. Sometimes it occurs that the vessel draws all the water and releases it into the plate quickly. It is interpreted as the patient having prolonged difficulties with the gizzard.

Sun behind the forest, gizzard to his place, struna can go into the sea, where the ox doesn t roar, the rooster doesn t crow, the chicken doesn t cluck, with my prayer and god s will.


Sunce za goru, eludac na svoje mjesto, struna neka ide na more, gdje vol ne bu e, horoz ne pjeva, koka ne kaku e, s mojom basmom a bo ijom hazmom.

Primordial desire to harmonize forces of nature is ever present in all rituals of folk medicine, which is what we usually notice through other magical formulas.

eludarica erife Mujagi from Velika Kladu a, often uses the following formula:

Sun, moon and stars to their place and the gizzard of the diseased to its place, with my prayer and god s will.


Sunce, Mjesec i zvijezde na svoje mjesto a eludac bolesniku na svoje mjesto, s mojom basmom a bo ijom hazmom.

Mevlida Ba i stravarka and eludarica from Velika Kladu a (died in 1996), had a practice to leave the upturned vessel underneath a table for 24 hours.

The longer it stays the better it is for the diseased! she used to say.

It is considered that if the vessel is jumping

Raif Esmerovi beginning are actually blue strune, but over time, due to unfavourable events, they changed

Raif Esmerovi

Raif Esmerovi in the middle of the pan once upturned it is a sure-fire signal that

in the middle of the pan once upturned it is a sure-fire signal that the gizzard was moved. In this manner, as we can see the state of the diseased without any physical contact with him. Terms uvarivanje eldaca , salivanje eluca are directly tied with this method.

Raif Esmerovi in the middle of the pan once upturned it is a sure-fire signal that

uvarivanje eldaca

Sometimes the described rituals is combined with massages. The diseased would lie down on a bed and eludarica would place a vessel with water on the stove. While it slowly warmed up the diseased stomach would be massaged, he would then be wrapped with a cloth and would be left there to lie. eludarica would then perform the above mentioned ritual with pouring of hot water into a metal vessel.

Instead of hot water we could use cold water. Namely, the vessel with cold water would be quickly upturned on the bellybutton of the diseased by eludarica, she would press teh vessel so no water pours out, she would hold it for half an hour or an hour until the gizzard returns to its original place.

However, the described method of returning the slightly moved gizzard to its place with water is the most frequent one, it is not the only one of curing water struna. There are other methods. eludarica usually places her right thumb into the diseased person s

bellybutton she screws it three times (moves it into circle) following the sun , in order to activate blocked energy in that body part, she would then wrap the stomach with a blanket or wrap it, in order to warm it up, or she would tighten the left hand and he lies on it until it goes numb.


One of the predispositions which a folk healer must have for this type of treatment is warm hands. However, the reason for this is not just a more comfortable touch and easier relaxation for the patient but a clear indicator that a eludarica has a normal flow of energy inside of her body, which is why energy blockage will not occur.

But, despite this, we need to emphasise that often the massage is not pleasant for the diseased nor for eludarica since it requires a lot of physical strength in order to put back the gizzard by pressure and massage.

Namely, while a massage of the stomach requires softer movements, all other cardinal parts such as hands, back or shoulders must be treated more intensively.

Massaging can begin from the left hand, part between the thumb and index finger 10 , around the bellybutton; so that both hands are lightly pulled towards the bellybutton or the massage can begin from the spine to the lower back. Though it doesn t occur that often, eludarice claim that the gizzard can descend in the form of a small circular mass into the leg of the diseased, from where it needs to be massaged and moved back into place.

eludarica Hidajeta from Mramor close to Tuzla, explains this method as follows:

10 In Velika Kladu a struna (clicker) which is felt between the thumb and index finger is intensively massaged with the right hand until this ball disappears. All the while the first prayer of the Qur an is repeated.

Raif Esmerovi in the middle of the pan once upturned it is a sure-fire signal that

Raif Esmerovi

Raif Esmerovi - I massage with oils, beginning from the vein between the thumb and index

-I massage with oils, beginning from the vein between the thumb and index finger on the left hand, towards the shoulder, near the neck down the spine towards the small of the back. After the massage, the hand of the diseased is tied firmly above the elbow and he must lay on his side, bent knees and he needs to stay in this position for an hour. He mustn t eat anything for seven hours after this treatment.

Observing the procedure of eludarica Mevlida I noticed that after oiling up her hands she took the patient s left arm and between the thumb and index finger she started massaging the veins which are located between these fingers, up towards the muscle on the hand where she would finish making a tie with a cloth above the elbow, she would then bend that arm under the patient until it went numb. Pressing and massaging neck and back veins as well as those of the shoulder, Mevlida would return the gizzard towards the bellybutton. She would then take the patients arm again and would rub the vein between the fingers for fifteen minutes, after that the stomach would be massaged gently, until she would feel under her fingers that the gizzard had returned to its place. At the end of the session, in order to make sure that she did everything properly, she would take a cup of coffee and would place it, upturned, on the patient s bellybutton. If the cup sticks to the stomach, the healing process was successful, otherwise the entire procedure needs to be repeated.

It is recorded in the archives of the National museum in Sarajevo (GZM) that in Trep a (Pilju i i) there lived a eludarica Hanka Gari which people turned to for help. She would initially massage the patient down his back, from the collar bone towards the chest from the small of the back towards the gizzard in order to put it in its place. In the end she would take a clean rag and would make a circle out of it which she would place on the patient s bellybutton, over that she would put a belt out of cloth and tie it behind his back. The patient would wear it for a couple of days until the gizzard returned to its place. Her

daughter learned the technique of curing but wasn t as successful as her mother.

A similar procedure is described by doctor

  • D ani :

- When the gizzard is moved, then the eludarica puts it back into its place by intensively massaging the veins on the left hand from the fist up to the elbow. After that she massages the gizzard (stomach) around the bellybutton from right to left, until the pain subsides. Stomach is helped by cow butter and is wrapped in a warm flax rag, the patient then needs to stay put for two to three days. During that time he drinks copious amounts of plantains tea (Plantago) by making a mixture of three spoons of plant leaves with half a litter of water.

Another form of curing

According to eludarica Mevlida struna is represented in the form of a small ball, terms such as marble , hazel are used, however it is not easy to find it underneath the skin, even to an experienced folk doctor 11 .

This is why fumigation is performed: one takes a gourd full of hot water and is placed on the stomach of the diseased to relax soften that part of the stomach. It is believed that after that struna will be easier to find, and similarly it will return to its place more easily. Once that ligament or marble is found it is skillfully massaged by circular movements for it to lose its hard form. While doing this the patient can feel like vomiting. Later, Mevlida

11 Among the folk it is believed that struna usually appears among the people which had issues with their stomachs in childhood. This is why we can conclude that it equally affects children and adults.

Raif Esmerovi - I massage with oils, beginning from the vein between the thumb and index

Raif Esmerovi

Raif Esmerovi told me that the mentioned fumigation can be made with the help of hot

told me that the mentioned fumigation can be made with the help of hot oats (Avena sativa). Usually a half a kilogram of oats is used, it is covered with hot water, strained, the oats are placed on a rag which was previously warmed up on a stove, it is wrapped and placed on the patient s stomach.

Fumigation or so called treatment of the critical spot with heat serves a purpose of simpler identification of the ball (struna), in order to massage the correct place.

In Velika Kladu a while massaging a patient, a eludarica repeats a magical formula in which she calls on Hazrat Fatimah to come to her aid with her magical quill and to return the gizzard with its help. When she sees that she has succeeded eludarica takes a cup of coffee, blows inside of it, and utters a few magical formulas for curing. Then she takes some water in the cup, a bit of thread and burns it, with fast movements she places it in the cup and then upturns it on the patient s bellybutton. If the cup stays glued to the stomach, it means that she did everything correctly and the patient will recover.

According to established practice after a successful treatment eludarica recommends tea to the patient.

Mevlida had a custom of suggesting yarrow tea (Achillea millefolium) to anyone that contacted her for help, she claimed that it is the best cure for struna. Preparation of the tea is as follows; in cold water place a full spoon of minced dried herb, once the water boils she should be left to simmer for 5-6 minutes. It is then removed from the stove and as soon as it cools it is strained into a bottle and is regularly drunk on an empty stomach.

Hidajeta Mahmutovi from Mramor uses a traditional and well known method in BiH for curing the gizzard. She takes the soft part of

the bread, rolls it in a form of a ball, and places on the patient s bellybutton. She sticks three matches into the ball, lights them, and quickly covers them with a glass. As soon as the matches extinguish, a vacuum is created which slowly draws the stomach in the glass, the gizzard is thus moved back to its place.

Though there is no clear rule about practicing this method with the vacuum, i.e. each eludarica according to her own experience and opinion decides whether the patient will be exposed to this method or a massage. As I managed to find out the best effect is achieved if the patient is subject to the vacuum method (cup of coffee or a regular glass) after a massage, placing the vessel on the bellybutton the gizzard assumes an ideal position. The feeling that the vacuum creates is very pleasant and liberating.

It is important to note that vacuum and massage methods are not recommended to pregnant women, women during their cycle, people suffering from cancer, people which have high blood pressure, as well as diseased people suffering from an acute infection (i.e. high body temperature).

There are other techniques for restoring the gizzard which over time came about from the practice of our folk doctors but which remained recorded in our ethnographic literature.

These are some of them.

Folk doctors after establishing that a patient suffers from struna uses a narrow opening, usually from a glass bottle, in order to press the bellybutton and twist it slowly, the skin on the stomach would be gathered and under the opening he would make a small bulge. Then some soft wax is placed (on the bellybutton), he would affix it, tie a scarf or belt in that

Raif Esmerovi told me that the mentioned fumigation can be made with the help of hot

Raif Esmerovi

Raif Esmerovi place around the patient s stomach so that nothing can move. After that with

place around the patient s stomach so that nothing can move. After that with strong finger movements he would squeeze the tendons underneath the patient s armpit or muscles of the hand on which side the struna is located, after that with a soft cloth he would wrap the muscle and leave it like that for 24 hours.

It often occurred that it is tied strongly and the entire hand goes blue, however this was considered to be a good sign and successful healing. In the end the folk doctor would leave the patient lying on his right side, he would place his hands beside him, he would curl up his legs and his head would be placed on a flat surface without a pillow. If the healing process doesn t succeed the first time, the entire procedure needs to be repeated after 24 hours and success won t be missing.

Nothing will cure struna better than ashes sieved through a veil, mixed with vinegar into cookies, Bosnian stravarke claim, this needs to be placed on a hot oven top, in order to remove its coldness. The cookie is then placed on the patient s bellybutton after which it is tightly wrapped bellow the hips with a bandage from a male child not older than one year.

The patient lies on his back on the floor placing his arms next to him. Underneath his head a pillow is placed. On his soles a firm board is placed and it is struck a few times with a hammer or some other item by the eludarica, and due to such a pressure, allegedly, the gizzard returns to its place.

After the described treatments of the eludarica the patient is recommended to eat a fried egg on butter or oil. Additionally fried butter is recommended which the patient must force himself to drink, as much as a spoon can hold.

Some of the eludarice, aiming to check whether the process was successful, offer to the patient a cup of milk with an egg mixed inside of it, if the patient drinks it without throwing up everything is OK.

However, most of them don t agree with this procedure since it is not desirable to irritate the stomach in this sensitive time, one it has returned to its place, therefore for the following few days easy meals are recommended, lots of fruits and vegetables, minding that cucumbers and beans are not consumed. Similarly, the patient should avoid too much warm or cold beverages as well as spicy, fat or sour food.

Verem struna

Verem or pennyroyal (Mentha Pulegium) is known among the Bosnian folk as a famous and valued plant due to its medicinal properties. Its name from the Turkish language and means sorrow, despondency. This plant is considered to be the best cure for issues with the gizzard, improvement of digestion and intestines. Also, it is ideal for people suffering from depression,

nervousness, insomnia. People say: If you don t know what ails you (you re not sure in your diagnosis) drink tea from pennyroyal and

you will get better .

Describing folk practice of healing in Bosnia, Mijo ulji mentions a short but interesting part about struna in a completely novel way, claiming that struna can come about from anger, fights or depressive thoughts pennyroyal is tied as a knot in the gizzard.

Raif Esmerovi place around the patient s stomach so that nothing can move. After that with

Raif Esmerovi

Raif Esmerovi Author claims: The man feels pain in the gizzard. In the beginning he can

Author claims:

The man feels pain in the gizzard. In the beginning he can eat, though shortly he loses his appetite and motivation for anything, since if verem lasts longer it completely overwhelms the patient and wants to break him. In the end the person feels great weakness and infirmity, the worst feeling is inside the gizzard, which protrudes from the inside, near the left rib. A hard mass forms whose form is like a scab and its form is felt while passing your fingers over it. Under such influence the patient refuses to


eat and has no desire for anything, not even communication, there is no happiness in him, no desire for fun. It is cured in the following way: each morning on an empty stomach, as much as he can endure, he should press the bulge on his stomach. If he pushes it downward and it disappears, he should drink pennyroyal tea for a few mornings on an empty stomach and he will get better. If he doesn t push down the bulge, it is said that he won t live long, six months the most. Some are killed by verem in just a month, especially if the patient is of an angry temperament, and cannot be calmed down.

Bolesti i lijekovi po Bosni i Hercegovini, Ivan Zovko, GZM Sarajevo.

Narodna medicina i narodna vjerovanja, Radmila Filipovi -Fabijani , GZM Sarajevo. Narodna medicina u Vare u (Bosna), Mijo uli , GZM Sarajevo.

Velika Kladu a, 2017.

Author: Raif Esmerovi

Raif Esmerovi Author claims: The man feels pain in the gizzard. In the beginning he can