Romany medicine the system of healing used over centuries by gypsies has a range of therapies for cystitis. The system, preserved orally through centuries, has been purposefully ignored by all forms of medicine, yet where Romany medicine has been ob

In the case of cystitis, gypsies use either the tough little leaves of the wild cranberry (also known as the cowberry), or its close relative, the upland cranberry (or bearberry). One heaped teaspoon of the leaves is added to two cups of water and then boiled down to one cup (Planta Medica 18:1-25 1970; J Uriology, AE Sobota, 131 pp1013, 1016, 1984).

For fluid retention, gypsies expose sufferers to the rising smoke of smouldering juniper berries. Although an infusion made from juniper berries is an excellent diuretic, gypsies know that prolonged exposure can cause kidney infections and contractions in pregnant women. The smoke from juniper berries, which give off volatile oils, has a gentler diuretic effect (M Raida, “Zigeunermedizin”, reference as above). For resistant urinary tract infections, gypsies use a three day course of infusions of juniper berries (in non pregnant patients only) (Arzneimittel Foprschung, V May and G Willhun 28, 1-7, 1978). There is also evidence to suggest that it promotes interferon like (interferon is a protein which induces immunity to viruses) activity in cell culture and chicken embryos (Acta Pol Pharm, T Skwarek, 326:715-720, 1979).

To treat frequent urination, gypsies prescribe a tablespoon of dried yarrow with a teaspoon of arnica blossoms in half a litre of boiling water. This is allowed to draw for five minutes and then half of it drunk before bed. The rest of the mixture, slightly warmed, is then drunk the following morning on an empty stomach. Yarrow is believed to stimulate the body’s resistance to disease generally and is often used as a preventative medicine (H Wagner and A Proksch, Economic and Medicinal Plant Research, vol 1, London Academic Press, 1985).

For cystic catarrh or bladder inflammation, Romany medicine prescribes two handfuls of dried chopped black elder bark boiled in half a litre of water.

Leave to draw for 10 minutes, strain, and then drink the entire quantity in small cups throughout the day (Martindale 26th ed; Brit Phamacopoaeia (1934); Merck Index; Brit Herbal Pharmacopeia (1976) vol 1).

For weak bladders, spiny restharrow in pyelonephritis and the leaves of sugar beet are prescribed (RF Weiss, Herbal Medicine, Gothenburg; A B Arcanum, English translation 1988).

Harald Gaier is a registered naturopath, homoeopath and osteopath.

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