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What are Botanicas: A Brief History

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Metaphysical Beliefs

Why Use a Botanica

Understanding Your Patient



pic of curandera art

Art by: Ariel

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 healthcare.

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.


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.