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

Curanderismo, the Origins and Beliefs

Who is a Curandero?
Common Beliefs

Cuarnderismo is said to have been derived from six older practices of medicine (Trotter & Chavira, 1981)

1. Judeo-Christian religious beliefs, symbols and rituals

2.Arabic medicine (Combined with Greek Humoral medicine)

3.Medieval and European witchcraft

4.Native American herbal practices

5. Modern beliefs about spiritualism

6. Scientific medicine

Judeo-Christian Beliefs

"The basic structure of the medicinal practices used in curanderismo are rooted in the teachings of the bible. They have been combined with folk wisdom that produce the beliefs of illness and healing." (Trotter & Chavira 1981, 25).

The Bible has created the basic guideline of the healing power of the supernatural and remedies provided by the Earth's offerings: God's healing powers and plants for medicinal use.

Arabic and Greek Influence

The Arabic and Greek influence was derived during the age of the Spanish conquests.

From the Greek traditions Curanderismo adapted the Hippocratic doctrine of the four "humors"

1. Blood


3.Black bile

4.Yellow bile

Each humor had an association with temperature and humidity and wet

2.cold and wet

3.cold and dry

4. hot and dry


The belief in supernatural and or magical forces is reinforced through this premise. During the age of witch craft and sorcery curanderismo adapted the notions of a dual philosophy in magical and religious

1. Spirituality

2.Supernatural Ability

Native American influence

The Native American influence to curanderismo is in its index of herbal remedies. Curanderismo has used many of the herbal treatments experimented and used by Native American medicine.

Modern Spiritual beliefs

The ever changing context of spirituality combined with folk healing has shaped the frontiers of curanderismo. Spiritual beliefs that are more modern have helped immerse curanderismo into a more cultural and indigenous root based populace.

Scientific knowledge

Due to the scientific discoveries of the 20th and 21st centuries curanderismo has been exposed to a world in which more than one analysis of an illness exists and more than one possible treatment can be used. The duality of science of curandero beliefs have been intertwined and also coincide and are used as references to one another by many curandera/os.


Accessibility | Privacy | ASU Disclaimer This site was created by Fabian Valladolid in fulfillment of requirements for the course CSS 335: Latino Health Issues taught by Dr. Szkupinski Quiroga at Arizona State University, Spring 2005.