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November 2013

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Traditional Medicine in Cuba


Cuba Beyond the Beaches brings you an exciting workshop of non-Western medicine techniques, prescriptions and beliefs. Explore with us the use of acupuncture as a serious alternative to anaesthetic, the use of herbal resources as an everyday prescription, and the religious connections to spiritual healing.

This five day workshop is led by a Masters of Traditional Medicine, who is also a qualified Western-tradition medical doctor, and by various instructors who have been chosen for their particular skills. Your lecturer, Doctora Graciela has been in practice for 14 years. Her practice is part of a major policlinico in the city of Santiago. Her therapies are used alone or as an adjunct to Western medicine by the general practitioners and specialists attached to the clinic.


Day 1 – Arrival in Santiago.

You will be met and taken to your choice of accommodation. In Santiago we can arrange for you to stay in pleasant homestays which are licensed and inspected by the government, in a hostal which is a tiny hotel in a restored and renovated colonial or republic building, or in one of the major hotels.

Day 2 – Introduction to Traditional Medicine in Cuba

Morning lecture provides an overview of the Cuban healthcare system; the place of traditional medicine practioners within that system; and, the use of traditional techniques and prescriptions by Cuban practioners of Western medicine.

Lunch on an island in the bay

Interchange of practice experience by three medical professionals who use a variety of different techniques and skills, and who are part of the traditional/Western medicine system in Cuba.


Day 3 – Accupressure and Movement Therapies

A morning lecture and practicum of Accupressure. This technique is used to provide pain relief and can be taught for self-administration by patients. There will be ample opportunity to experience the application of the technique, and to learn with a live model.


Movement Therapy. Watch and experience a class of movement therapy provided for all ages. In a country where everyone seems to know how to dance, it is important to keep the practice of movement for older people to help them maintain their flexibility, and their muscular and skeletal strength.

Art Therapy. Children throughout Cuba’s school system have access to Art Classes as therapy for a range of behavioural and psychological problems. An instructor in Art Therapy will show examples of the work being done, and explain his role as a therapist.


Day 4 – Medicinal Plants and Energy Pyramids

An early start will take you to some of the larger medicinal plant gardens in and around the city. These gardens supply plant parts to traditional practioners and the traditional pharmacies of the city.

Visit to one of the several stores around the city which sell medicinal plant material for personal use.

A drive of about an hour will take you out of Santiago and along the desert-like coastal strip with its fields of sugar and yucca, its palms and tamarind trees, and its small villages. We will be visiting an artisan colony for lunch. Set amid tall trees this quiet community provides the perfect antidote to the busy city.

Afternoon visit to practioners with Energy Pyramids. These practioners use their skills not only for humans, but also the local animal population.


Day 5 – Homeopathy and Traditional Medicine for Animals

A morning lecture on the various homeopathic techniques including flower therapy, medicinal plants infusions, electro-magnetism, etc. You will have the opportunity to experience many of these techniques, and to hear of the research which supports their use.


Visit to a local veterinary clinic which uses homeopathic techniques for its animal patients


Day 6 – Colour Therapy and Spiritual Healing

A brief introduction to Colour Therapy and its uses with Traditional Medicine. Western research has validated the use of colours to stimulate or calm patients, workers, and shoppers. In Cuba more extensive and detailed use is made of colour as an alternative therapy.

An introduction to Santeria. Santeria is the major Afro-Cuban religion of Cuba, particularly of the Santiago area. A mixture of Yoruba and Spanish Catholic myths, it forms an intricate and integral part of the Cuban perspective, informing music, art, dance, and spiritual beliefs and practices. This introduction is designed to provide you with the basic information you need for understanding its role in Cuban culture and to follow the significance of some of its basic attributes. Santeria rituals include the use of many different plants, the significance of various of the most important will be explained.


The Santeria belief system is used by large portions of the Cuban population for spiritual and physical healing. A Santeria practitioner will take you through part of a healing ceremony.


Day 7 – Free day

Optional Tours and Classes:

  1. Beach trip and Farm visit – the beaches West of Santiago are the only real sand beaches along the southern current-swept shore. The trip includes a visit to one of the most lovely of these for breakfast and early morning swim. For lunch we visit a small holding in the lower foothills of the Sierras. Afternoon swim for those who can’t get enough of the azul water and white sand.
  2. Walking tour of Santiago in the company of an architect from the Office of the Conservador of the City. Lunch during the tour.
  3. History of Cuba – a survey of Cuban history from Pre-Columbian to Independence and/or Independence to Present, for each period you visit appropriate museums and historical sites. Lunch during the tour.
  4. Classes in various therapies and techniques will be offered should people be interested, lunch included.

Evening Traditional dinner with dance and music entertainment.


Day 8

Departure Day. A lecturer and other staff will be available for meetings or to take you through the craft stalls and galleries for small gifts to take home.

Prices for This Workshop:

2 people

4 people

6 people

Workshop Includes:

Accommodation – double occupancy

  • Homestays in Santiago generally with private bathroom, air conditioning and/or fan


  • ” All breakfasts, dinners and lunches for full tour days
  • Dinner with entertainment (Groups of 4 or more)


  • All transfers in Santiago
  • Air-conditioned transportation
  • Expert lecturers
  • Translator
  • All entrance fees
  • Tour co-ordinator
  • Security
  • Deposit $800.00 Canadian non-refundable

Not Included

  • Personal expenditures
  • Tips
  • Additional beverages

Workshop Groups

February 5th 2007

This workshop requires a minimum 6 people registered

Price – 800.00 Canadian/person double occupancy

  • Deposit $500.00 CAD – on booking. Deposit is non-refundable.
  • 90 days prior 50% of total
  • 60 days prior balance
  • Basic Cancellation and Medical coverage will be included – please note that those with special medical conditions or over 65 may be assessed an additional premium