As a physician who sees many Latino patients
regularly, it is important to understand your patients alternative choices
for medicine in order to treat them more effectively. This webpage will
give you an understanding of botanicas which may be useful in treating
your Latino patients.
First, a brief history...
Since the beginning of time, plants and herbs
have been used to treat illnesses and heal a variety of ailments. The
knowledge of which plants and herbs healed certain illnesses was often
kept by a particular person in the society.
In America, this person became known as a
Curandero/a and they practiced the art of folk healing known as
Curanderismo. "This tradition evolved when the Spanish brought
their Judeo-Christian religious beliefs to the New World and these
eventually merged with Indian herbal lore" (Garza 32).
Similarly, the Aztecs of Mexico showed the
Spaniards which plants had healing properties and how to use them. Soon,
the Spaniards began to record the names of the plants and their uses.
Today, many houses have remedies
caseros (house-hold remedies) that people use to treat illnesses
they may encounter. The term complementary or alternative medicine has
even been coined for people who seek alternative avenues of
The Botanica is created...
Because Curanderismo is still widely
practiced today and herbs are still used for treatment, a place where
Latinos could go needed to be created. Therefore, Botanicas began to
emerge in many Latino communities and are used in a variety of ways.
Botanicas "are a combination of spiritual
resource center, folk pharmacy, metaphysical purveyor, and
bookstore servicing physical, psychological, religious, and spiritual
needs, botanicas provide information, tools, supplies, and sometimes
additional services" (Espinosa 57).
Simply put, botanicas are available to anyone
looking for basic remedies to spiritual consultations.