Alternative Healthcare in Ecuador
Sep 18, 2013
Medical tourism in is a trend that’s been gradually growing in popularity throughout Latin America… especially as these countries improve their medical infrastructure and become more popular for foreigners.
Ecuador is no exception to this trend (read more about healthcare in Ecuador HERE), and as word spreads about Ecuador’s popularity – both as an expat and vacation destination – so does it’s association with quality, affordable medical procedures.
But Ecuador has another ace up its sleeve in regards to healthcare… the Amazon. A hotbed for plants and berries that have been used in indigenous healing rituals for generations, the Amazon is believed to hold many secrets to healing even some of the worst diseases out there.
That being said, exploring the options of alternative medicine in Ecuador doesn’t mean you need to venture into the Amazon to find a shaman healer (although they do exist!). What it does mean, is that despite moving forward from an industrial point of view, Ecuador still has very deeply rooted indigenous and spiritual ties to it’s past. Holistic and alternative medicine is still widely practiced in this country.
If you’ve ever explored the ‘other side’ of healthcare, then you already know that there is no clear, consistent or widely accepted definition of alternative medicine. In Ecuador, the promotion of alternative medicine is understood to be the need for overall health and wellness allowing people to be in harmony with their surrounding environment. This can take the form of aromatherapy, laughter therapy, acupuncture, music therapy, homeopathy and in many areas of Ecuador, visiting a medicine man or woman.
Although finding a hospital in Ecuador’s large cities – such as Quito and Guayaquil – that provide traditional medicine alongside alternative medicine is difficult (or impossible), all major cities in Ecuador offer a variety of alternative clinics and centers in addition to well-equipped hospitals; they may just be in another area of the city, or outside of the city altogether. This leaves the decision up to the patient whether they choose to receive Western care or an alternate option, commonly referred to as Andean medicine.
The one exception to this is Riobamba’s Alternative Andean Hospital. Located in the city of Riobamba (approx. 3 hours from Guayaquil), this hospital is a private institution where Western and Andean medicine are practiced side by side.
Riobamba’s Alternative Andean Hospital opened its doors in 2002 and is a true testament to the benefits of alternative Andean medicine. It’s centrally located in the country and means that that folks (indigenous and non-indigenous) looking for alternative healing methods don’t have to travel to rural areas, aimlessly looking for a traditional healer.
This hospital is only one of a number of pioneering projects in Ecuador, bringing together different types of healthcare. The additional bonus to this specific hospital is that there are also Western-trained doctors in the same building. Interestingly, they are not opposed to sharing their space with the traditional healers… instead, they welcome it. Specifically with certain patients. For example, an indigenous patient who requires prescribed Western medication will be more likely to accept treatment with the accompaniment of a shaman’s advice and methods.
Alternative medicines have been around for many, many years and are prevalent in all cultures, but most people are looking for quick fixes and instant relief. No doubt about it, there are many that feel anything other then Western medicine is ineffective and a bunch of ‘hocus-pocus’. Aside from preventative measures – exercise, eating well, positive state of mind – medicine has been, and will continue to, fix us when we need it. It’s up to you which route you take… there is no right or wrong!
Regardless of which medical treatment you prefer, Ecuador can accommodate your health needs. But, consider this… when you live in a country that has a relaxed way of life, a year-round growing season for fruits and veggies, promotes walking over driving and boasts a coast rich in fresh seafood, you’re inevitably going to feel healthy and rejuvenated. This is what Ecuador’s coast can do for you! Not a bad trade-off…
You can discover Ecuador’s coast on a Discovery Weekend and see firsthand the beauty it possesses. Breathe the fresh, salty air, stroll along the warm, sandy beaches and explore the communities that call this beautiful coast home. This could be your future paradise, what are you waiting for?!