Herbal medicine practitioners such as root doctors, conjurers and curanderos in African-American and Latino history have always been and are important people in promoting health and well-being. Many natural healers of various traditions believe that treating the underlying cause of the problem will relieve symptoms.
An herbal medicine practitioner works in much the same way as a biomedical doctor. He or she is an expert in:
- How the human body works
- Various diseases
- Herbal medicine and pharmaceutical medicine
Expect your visit to be similar to a biomedical appointment
- You will discuss what is bothering you
- The practitioner will perform a physical examination
- He or she may prescribe treatment and discuss a follow up appointment
African-American folk medicine
Various healers in the African-American tradition such as herbalists, root doctors or conjurers might be called upon to prescribe herbs and/or food to restore physical, mental and spiritual health and well-being. Diseases are generally labeled as natural or unnatural. Natural causes include things such as temperature that might cause an imbalance in the body. Unnatural causes of disease are more spiritual in nature, including acts of evil spirits or acts of God. Treatment of an illness depends on whether the cause is natural or unnatural.
Latino folk medicine
Similar to the African-American healing tradition, Latino folk medicine also uses spiritual healing, herbal treatments and food in order to restore physical, psychological and spiritual health. Causes of disease are linked to imbalances in temperature, diet and emotional state. Curanderos, mediunudades, owners of bótanicas and other practitioners can provide herbal treatments for these ailments.
Also known as "natural medicine" or "nature cure," naturopathy believes in the power of the body to heal itself. When the body is not well, naturopathy tries to uncover the reasons behind the disruption of its natural, healthy state. According to this type of healing, illness can be caused by poor diet, poor sleeping habits, poor exercise habits, emotional and physical stress, negative attitudes and pollution.
This practice of healing believes that "like cures like." Homeopaths (healers who practice homeopathy) treat patients with substances such as herbs and minerals whose effects are similar to the symptoms of the patient. For example, in order to treat malaria, cinchona bark is used because the effects of the bark are similar to malaria symptoms in healthy individuals.