Tag Archives: placebo effect

Sana Sana Colita de Rana

Text: “sana sana colita de rana”

“heal heal frog’s tail”


Informant: Whenever we got home when we were younger our mom would say “sana sana colita de rana”. Colita de rana is frog’s tail, it means heal heal frog’s tail, if it doesn’t heal today it shall heal tomorrow.

Informant: It’s um it’s kinda like not a really good luck thing, but when a young person gets hurt you know their crying and stuff so the mom says the magic potion thingy stuff so the kids stops crying and supposedly they heal faster. But it’s like I think it’s mostly like to make the kid shut up it’s a nice tradition thing, instead of saying oh you’ll get better, there’s a whole song to it and stuff so it’s like wow. It’s the “magic healing saying that your mom tells you”

Me: Is this saying a family tradition?

Informant: Yes and like no. A lot of people in Mexico use this. so it’s like passed down from generations I think. But it’s like a lot of people do it

Me: Would you personally consider it magic?

Informant: No, but I will add the placebo effect comes in

Context of Performance:

In-person conversation about things our parents would say when we were younger.

Personal Thoughts:

While “modern” medicine creates a clear distinction between the mind and the body, phenomena such as the placebo affect seem to call this distinction into question. This particular phrase – “sana sana colita de rana” – seems to play into the placebo effect. This phrase is merely words, it doesn’t physically tend to a child’s wounds. However, these words from a parent or trusted adult can comfort and soothe a child.

I’ve seen many memes on the parenting side of social media that joke that as long as a parent doesn’t act like they’ve been hurt, a child could be hit by a meteor and not cry. This particular piece of folklore seems to have a similar philosophy – a child will be ok if you comfort them with a magical healing little song.

Additional Notes:

As noted by the informant, this saying usually comes in song form, with an example linked below: