Traditional use of the Andean flicker (Colaptes rupicola) as a galactagogue in the Peruvian Andes

  • Froemming S
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Abstract

This paper explores the use of the dried meat and feathers of the Andean Flicker (Colaptes rupicola) to increase the milk supply of nursing women and domestic animals in the Andes. The treatment is of preColumbian origin, but continues to be used in some areas, including the village in the southern Peruvian highlands where I do ethnographic research. I explore the factors giving rise to and sustaining the practice, relate it to other galactagogues used in the Andes and to the use of birds in ethnomedical and ethnoveterinary treatments in general, and situate it within the general tendency in the Andes and elsewhere to replicate human relations in the treatment of valuable livestock. The bird's use as a galactagogue appears to be motivated by both metaphorical associations and its perceived efficacy, and conceptually blends human and animal healthcare domains.

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Authors

  • Steve Froemming

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