Latino Medicine

Oh, what a beautiful day for some medical diversity. I am happy you are able to join me again to dive into the past and present views of medicine. This week we will be looking into the Latino tradition and comparing where medicine was and how far it has come. How exciting! I hope you enjoy!

Taking it back to traditions in Latino medicine

“In every culture and in every medical tradition before ours, healing was accomplished by moving energy.”

Albert Szent-Gyorgyi

Traditional Latino medicine can be seen in one of many ways. Often, we can compare it to other various traditions in the healthcare field. The Latino mindset thinks of illness as a trifecta of spiritual, emotional, and social state. Illness is present when there is an imbalance between the individual and the environment. Latinos also recognize that there is a physical state which can be the cause of an illness. What is unique to the physical state is that any type of imbalance is known as being too hot or too cold. I find this an interesting concept. This concept is a very intrinsic property and can often be open to many interpretations. However, there are clear cut definitions to what is a cold illness and what is a hot illness. A cold illness is a condition that is characterized by a low metabolic rate and vasoconstriction. A common example of this would be pneumonia. Hot illnesses on the other hand are characterized by their vasodilation and having a high metabolic rate. An example of this would be hypertension. Anyone want to guess how hot and cold illnesses are treated? Right! They are treated using the opposite concepts medicine. For treatment of a hot illness one would use a cold medicine and for treatment of a cold condition one would use a hot medicine.

With the simplicity of hot and cold illness, that is not the only thing that defines traditional latino medicine. Latinos and Hispanics are very religious and family oriented people so it is a given that this would be incorporated into their healthcare behaviors and beliefs. Many illness, know as folk illnesses, are health problems which are associated with a particular groups of individual and have some sort of religious overview. Do you think America has the same type of illness and we just aren’t aware of them? Just a little food for thought. Regardless of what type of care is taken upon a disease, Latinos like to have a visual component of God in order to understand and problem and potential cure. Other types of traditional Latino medicine/healthcare is herbal remedies (wonder where we have seen that before) as well as massage and other home remedies. Two individuals who played a critical role in traditional Latino healthcare is Curandeo Total and Doctor Naturalista. Curandeo Total is a lay healer that does not only focus on the body but also on the spiritual aspect of the disease. Doctor Naturalista simply prescribes natural remedies but does not pay mind to the potential spiritual aspect of the disease. So, in your opinion, which one would be better

Present day perspectives in Latino medicine

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always be where you’ve always been.”

T.D. Jakes

So you are probably asking yourself why I have lost my mind and put another example of modern Latino medicine in the present day section. Well I am glad that you question me so you may seen how high reliability Latino medicine today still has on traditional practice. Today we see more of an even mixture of tradition and modern medicine when it comes to healing illnesses. Quite frequently, Latinos will still use the traditional resources of herbal remedies as seen above as well as traditional healers such as the Curandeo Total or Doctor Naturalista. However, given the modern age that we live in it is hard not to find yourself at a doctors office or hospital for an itch or pain that just will not go away. That is okay. This is what we typically see now a days from the Latino group. They will pair prescription/over the counter medication with the healing measure they they already know in order to get their body back into balance.

The role of religiosity is still very prevalent and used in today’s society. Have you ever heard of Fatalism? Yeah, me either but I will tell you what it is. Fatalism is the view that Latinos and Hispanics have which says illness is God’s will or punishment which is a result of a sinful behavior. To this day this is a concept that plays a huge role in Hispanic culture. With this concept in mind you need to understand the different individuals who are available to pray to in order to heal. I will just give you a few examples. If a couple is suffering from infertility they may pray to St. Anne for healing. Another example is if someone is dying either the individual or the family members pray to St. Joseph for help. In the modern day, we ca often be blinded in to thinking the 20th century healthcare system is the only way to become healed when there are cultures all around us getting by just fine with their traditional ways.

So what do we have in common again?

“Harmony prevails if people of similar nature meet.”

Rig Veda

So here we are again comparing how the two are similar. I believe in one aspect that is pretty straight forward. Hispanics are the most prevalent groups that resides in America today. With that being said Latinos have all the access to healthcare that anyone does in America. However, Latinos still heavily rely on traditional practices to explain or heal conditions they have. From all that I have researched this is the main difference between the two cultures. However, there is something that separates Latinos from the modern medical care that they could have. There are medical barriers such as communication that is the biggest hindrance between those of Hispanic origin from getting the necessary medical treatment they need. Often the language barrier that is present can account for a condition that is perceived as less severe or expressing one disease but doctors perceiving it as another. There are other barriers such as long wait times and finical eligibility that also play a role but these factors can also be seen in individual who were born and raised in America. A lot of the medical barriers that are seen today can be seen from both ends of the spectrum when it comes to Americans and Latinos but Latinos have the shorter end of the stick.

What would you do if that was you in that situation? Would you stand up for what you know is right and get things like medical barriers eradicated? Why can’t you do it now? Just a little food for thought and something that you can ponder in before my next post. Thanks again for joining me and my wonderful world of medical diversity. Hope to see you next time!

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

Abraham Lincoln

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