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Curanderismo

Related Terms

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Background

  • Curanderismo is a Mexican American healing tradition. It encompasses acupuncture and homeopathy among other alternative modalities. Its theory presumes that illnesses have both natural and supernatural sources; alleged supernatural sources include evil spirits and brujos (practitioners of magic, who may take the form of owls, coyotes, cats and turkeys). The word curanderismo is derived from the Spanish verb curar, which means "to treat," "to cure" or "to heal." Folk healers in this tradition are called curanderos.
  • This traditional healing system, blending Native American and Hispanic healing techniques, involves herbs, massage, diet, prayer, spiritual medicine, psychic healing and magic. It integrates beliefs from Aztec, Spanish, spiritualistic, homeopathic and modern, scientific medicine. It contains many elements based on experimental observation (observing the outcomes of specifically designed experiments) and encompasses some of the same scientific concepts and procedures as Western medicine, such as the use of herbal medicines for certain conditions. Although curanderismo is a based on traditional beliefs, it is still common in Hispanic-American communities in the southwestern United States, as well as many Latin American countries, Mexico and Peru.
  • Many believe that only curanderos can cure certain types of illnesses. In selecting a curandero, the preference is often to select one within the family or extended family if possible.
  • People seek help from a curandero for physiological, psychological and social maladjustments such as headache, gastrointestinal distress, back pain, and fever, as well as anxiety, irritability, fatigue, and depression. Even bad luck, marital dissension and illnesses caused by "loss of spirit" may be treated. Treatment may involve physical, spiritual and mental approaches. However, currently there are no available well-controlled clinical trials to support these claims.

Practice

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Theory/Evidence

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Safety

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.