Methods of Extracting Needles and the Vomiting of Poison. Vol. 4, No. 10

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The Igbo concept for the first is ita ntutu or itaputa ntutu while the second is igboputa nsi. The former is the process of removing needles from the bodies of victims with the teeth whereas the later implies the process of vomiting poison from the throat with the use of a feather. They may sound mysterious or bizarre but they are familiar with most of our people. Etymologically, ita may imply to cut with the teeth. But then it is very different from ita aru (that is to bite). The later for example as a form of aggression, means inflicting wound with the teeth. The ita ntutu in our context is done for a good purpose. It is therapeutic. Since it is believed that the object of pain is inside the body, a slight cut has to be made before the needle can be pulled out but not as that of medical professionals. Here, the ntutu expert bites the patient slightly on the spot where the pain is severest and spits out a real needle, which he claims to be the very needle that is disturbing the patient. Though the pain of the bite could be painful like a sensation one would feel if a real needle were to be pulled out of one’s body, however, the sensation of pain which follows the bite is surpassed by the excitement that greets the spitting out of the needle, and the feeling that one is relieved of the object of pain. With the exception of bites, there are other convenient means of removing the needles from one’s body. Here the ntutu doctor hits the patient with his hand several times on those spots where the needles are believed to be located. Each hit is followed by a drop of a needle on the ground. Sometimes, the expert could use a closed fist, after which he opens his hand to reveal the needles that have supposedly, been removed from the body of his client through magical means. Apparently, the joy of the patient at the sight of the object of misery and death is unquantifiable and very therapeutic especially when the needles are given to him as souvenir to take home. The higher the number of needles, the severer the pain. Some of the needles are quite new indicating that the source of pain have just been implanted while those that are already old and rusty signify chronic pains. Far more importantly, the patient is given some bottles of herbal medicine to take home. The same procedure is applicable to the vomiting of poison. But unlike the former, the patient is given some cups of herbal medicine to take, and after a while, he or she is taken to the backyard where the vomiting process will take effect. There he or she is asked to kneel down with the two hands on the ground. A particular feather is inserted into his or her throat and immediately the patient starts to vomit until a dead or living insect like cockroach falls to the ground. Then the patient’s relative is either asked to bury it or to take it home as a testimony of recovery.
Following the above methods of extracting needles from the body and the vomiting of poison, it is worthy to note that there are mysterious procedures that the herbalist are yet to explain to us. Especially on the aspect of extracting needles. It is obvious that there is no necessary connection between the biting of the body and immediate removal of needles. Moreover, prior to the removal, further explanation is needed on how one could be inplanted with needles into the body. Well, one could easily abandon these complications with doubts if not that the patients testify to have been cured of his or her pains. Probably research on this could be possible by next edition

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