Costa Rica Health Care – PEGA

Have you ever noticed anyone with bruises on their upper arms? If you have, you may have seen someone who has been treated recently for a stomach ache or intestinal problem. Costa Rica practices several non-traditional methods of health care along with traditional “western” medicine. One of the more unusual forms of treatment for gastrointestinal disorders is “pega.” This treatment involves deep, often painful, rubbing on certain areas of the body considered to be pressure/release points, such as the upper arms. The vigorous massaging of these points is believed to force movement and release of toxins within the body’s circulatory system, causing everything to begin flowing smoothly once again and affording relief to the person in distress. Once when I had a stomach ache (no doubt there are more definitive and correct words for my malady and its location, but I consider the stomach to be nearly everything a few inches above and below the belly button), a tica friend of mine ordered me to lie down on a large chest-type freezer in the kitchen of her restaurant. She started massaging my stomach, which was uncomfortable (have you ever tried to lie down on a freezer?) and painful (my stomach was very tender) and caused my “innards” to make all sorts of peculiar, rebellious noises. With her “hmms” and “uh-huhs” I assumed she was making a diagnosis and going to the heart of the problem. However, I couldn’t tolerate the discomfort and pain and aborted the treatment.  I may never know if pega works, but ask any tico and they’ll swear by it.


10 responses to “Costa Rica Health Care – PEGA

  1. I’m living in CR right now and am having the same problem. I went to get my pega cured yesterday by a wise woman that my Tica family recommended but still do not feel well. How can I explain to them that I believe I need a different kind of treatment, without offending them or coming across as ethnocentric?

    • Could you gently tell them you would like to supplement the pega treatment — just to speed things up? If you go to the pharmacy, the pharmacist can diagnose your illnes and prescribe something that might help. Oftentimes, the pharmacist will give you an injection right there in a tiny room. Good luck!!

  2. when I came home from C.R. I had pega…it lasted about a week to ten days. My friend stayed 3 more days in C.R. He had become sick with pega the same time as me. He went through the massage and was given some drink mixture too. He was better before I was. There were 9 others with us…they did not become sick with pega at all. One other thing thr whole time I was in C.R., my legs and ankles swelles to at least three times thier size…it was so weird. Once I got back to the U.S., the swelling went down quickly. I also was very bloated and within two days of my vacation, I did not fit into my pants either.

  3. I lived in Costa Rica for 4 months. The only time I ate something from a street vendor (a grape, I think), I got sick. Couldn’t go to the bathroom, nausea, couldn’t eat. The glands in my antecubitals (soft, inner portions of the elbows) were hard, tender and raised. As soon as my host mom saw this, she told me I had “La Pega”. I was seeing a physical therapist at the time, who my host mom insisted on showing my elbows to. He gave me a powder to take daily for a few days, and gave me the most painful, deep massage in my elbows. I almost ran out of the clinic because it hurt so bad. But I took the powder for the next 5 days or so, and I was cured. I thought perhaps I had a parasite?

    • Pega wouldn’t kill a parasite. Maybe the powder you received was a ground up form of the anti-parasite pills sold over the counter. I’m glad you got better quickly so you could enjoy the rest of your time in Costa Rica.

  4. Laurie Millette

    I’ve lived in CR for 18 months now and just got very sick. The doctors could not cure me. After 8 weeks of vomiting one day I was in the pharmacy to pick up yet something else the doctor had given me, when a stranger came up to me and asked me if we could pray together, absolutely I replied. The very next day a friend of mine came to my house and looked at me and said, I think you have PEGA. He himself knew how to cure it but told me it would be painful. I didn’t care as long as it worked. Yes it hurt but as he was rubbing my arms I could feel myself getting better. Then he gave me an alka seltzer to drink and told me that in one hour I would be about to eat again. I could believe it…8 weeks I couldn’t eat lost percent pounds or 38 kilos…now I’m eating everything in site again. Thanks William

  5. Laurie millette


    • So glad it worked for you. I never had pega — never needed it. The only times I had health problems in CR were a bout of food poisoning and a broken wrist (wet tile floors are extremely slippery — beware!). Be healthy!

  6. Laurie Millette

    Hi it’s me again…what I meant to say was that I lost down to 38 kilos…I will say I’m still living in CR and by the grace of god haven’t come back in contact with the PEGA again…LIVING IN PARADISE ✌💕🙏

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