Curanderismo is a type of healing commonly to Hispanic-American culture. It is often referred to as Latin American healing or folk medicine. Curanderismo includes practices such as prayer, massage, herbal medicines, spiritualism, herbal rituals and psychic healing. More commonly found among Hispanic-American communities located in the southwestern United States, curanderismo is comprised of a system of traditional beliefs. Folk healers known as curanderos (male) and curanderas (female) are sought out, as well as yerberos (herbalists), and parteras (midwives) for their particular knowledge. Another important figure in curanderismo healing is known as a sobadoras, who is an individual trained in massage, bone manipulation, acupressure, and other associated techniques. Each element and healer maintains their own specific purpose or area of expertise, with techniques often being passed down several generations.
Proponents of curanderismo attribute it to the treatment of a variety of ailments including: headaches, gastrointestinal issues, back pain, fever, anxiety, irritability, fatigue, and depression. Treatment often involves approaches that are not just physical, but spiritual and mental. A practitioner’s approach is centered on a balance of hot and cold. All aspects of the patient’s health are considered including: diet, exercise, drug use, and illness. A rebalance of an individual’s hot and cold aspects correlate to a balance of body and soul.
Curanderismo is currently practiced in Latin America, as well as the United States. It has a long cultural history, remaining popular among several different communities. Although not currently recognized as a treatment or cure for diseases such as cancer, this practice remains in use. A study in 1977 noted by the American Cancer Society, suggested that conventional medicine consider curanderismo. It proposed that a better understanding of this and other folk medicines might lead to more effective treatments simply by addressing patient’s beliefs.
Benefits of Curanderismo
When coupled with standard medical procedures, curanderismo could result in reduced pain and stress, along with a sense of peace among patients. Patients diagnosed with cancers such as mesothelioma may benefit from alternative therapies such as this one. Mesothelioma exhibits a long latency period, oftentimes resulting in diagnosis occurring in the later stages. Late-stages of some cancer types often require symptom relief in lieu of curative treatments. When used in conjunction with standard procedures, alternative methods like curanderismo treatments could aid in a mesothelioma patient’s overall well-being, and quality of life.