Arizona State University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Chicana and Chicano StudiesLatino Health Issues

Why Use a Botanica?

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Botanicas are important in the Latino community because they provide an alternative source of care for people who may not be able to seek medical care in a traditional Western setting.  This can be because of many different factors.  The following are several barriers to accessing healthcare for Latinos and may be why botanicas are widely used as an alternative.

Financial limitations

“Latinos are the most likely to be uninsured of all racial or ethnic groups: 33 percent of all Latinos compared to 14 percent of Whites and 20 percent of African Americans” (Molina et al. 41).  The costs for healthcare are a determining factor for many Latinos when weighing the decision to visit a physician.  Costs are also a concern because series of tests usually have to be completed before a diagnosis is made as well. 

Not only is lack of insurance a problem, but loss of pay from missing work for a doctors appointment is also a problem.  Many times, practitioners hold inconvenient office hours and people can not get off work.  The long waits encountered in doctor’s offices are also a drawback. 

A botanica solves both of these problems because, oftentimes, the costs are low to use all the services offered in the botanica, and they have extended hours that may include weekends without the long waits.

Language and Cultural Barriers

There are a small proportion of Latino physicians available for the many Spanish speaking patients in many communities.  This makes it difficult for a Latino patient to understand their physician and for the physician to understand the Latino patient’s culture and beliefs.  “As a result, cultural and linguistic barriers in the medical encounter may lead to poor communication, patient dissatisfaction, and poor compliance (to both medications and health-promotion and/or disease-prevention interventions)” (Molina et al. 68).

If the patients are dissatisfied, they may turn to alternative methods of healthcare.  The botanica is perfect for this, because it is a way to access a particular type of medical care that is more culturally appropriate and comfortable for Latinos.

The fact that botanicas are found in many neighborhoods in the United States, indicate that they are an important option for the Latino population.  For many, a botanica may be the only source of care and, for others, it may be a complement to “conventional health care” (Beloz and Chavez 542). 


Accessibility | Privacy | ASU Disclaimer This site was created by Jessica Blair in fulfillment of requirements for the course CSS 335: Latino Health Issues taught by Dr. Szkupinski Quiroga at Arizona State University, Spring 2007.