Foto: Oscar Ruiz
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The Kallawaya are an itinerant group of traditional healers living in the Andes of Bolivia. According to the UNESCO Safeguarding Project, the Kallawaya can be traced to the pre-Inca period. The Kallawaya performed brain surgery as early as 700 CE and knew how to effectively prevent and treat malaria with quinine before the Europeans.
Kallawaya doctors (médicos Kallawaya), are known as the naturopathic healers of Inca kings, and as keepers of science knowledge, principally the pharmaceutical properties of vegetables, animals and minerals. Most Kallawaya healers understand how to use 300 herbs, while specialists are familiar with 600 herbs. Kallawaya women are often midwives, treat gynecological disorders, and pediatric patients.