Drinking seawater: Users’ perspectives in La Ceja, Colombia

María Mercedes Arias Valencia, Wilmer Soler Terranova, Gustavo Arango Tamayo


Summary. Objective: describe the phenomenon of the usage of sea water in the municipality of La Ceja, Colombia. Methodology: Field work with ethnographic tools were applied for the analysis; 30 sea water dispensaries were visited and 76 interviews were conducted. The participants were from both sexes, all ages, diverse marital status and occupations. Results: The attributed effects go from ailments healing, doubtful or no efficacy, up to negative effects. Users attribute benefits in illnesses such as chronic gastrointestinal and respiratory problems, migraine, skin problems and varicose ulcers. There were representations of sea water like panacea and miracle; the sea is related to the origin of life and the salt is related to healing. Conclusions: Users employ it as health complement and as alternative to western medicine. Need as an incentive and also faith emerge with the logic of the phenomenon of drinking sea water. We call the attention of health institutions to have this and other phenomena in mind as well as their health implications.
Key words: collective health, Sea water, Qualitative research.

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Department of Family and Social Medicine
Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Montefiore Medical Center
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