Tortillas and Healing Powers


The informant is my aunt from my mother’s side of the family. She is a second generation American citizen and is the oldest of six children. After high school, she paid her own way through college and supported herself at the same time. As a result of her hard work, she has worked as an RN for almost 30 years at LA County Hospital. 


When I was a child we weren’t very fortunate and did not have very much money. As a result, when we got sick we relied mostly on home remedies that Grandma had learned from her mom to cure whatever symptoms we had. One that I vividly remember is when we would get fevers, Grandma would take a tortilla and place it on our tummy. She said that it would draw the fever away from our heads and move towards the tortilla. So any time any of us had a fever there was no doubt that there was a tortilla resting on our bellies working to take the fever away from our heads. It never really worked but Grandma was really persistent about doing it.


I wonder if at any point this worked for my grandma considering how often she did it to relieve my aunt and her siblings of their fever. Did she really think it was going to work or was it something like a placebo effect? I’m sure this type of folklore is a version of multiplicity and variation. I’m sure other cultures have their forms of home remedies that seem quite ridiculous. But with the rise of modern medicine practices like these are slowly but surley being lost.