(VIDEO) UNM’S Chicana/o Studies Brings The Ancient Art Of Traditional Healing To The Community

UNM News:

ALBUQUERQUE — Registration is well underway for the Chicana and Chicano Studies (CSS) Department’s Traditional Medicine Without Borders class at the University of New Mexico.

Offered in the Summer, Fall, and Spring semesters, it is the only class of its kind in the country that is taught year-round in both English and Spanish.

According to CSS administrators, the wildly popular summer class, Traditional Medicine Without Borders Curanderismo in the Southwest and Mexico, fills up quickly, and this year is no exception.

Curanderismo is a traditional form of healing that has been practiced in Mexico and other parts of Latin America for centuries. Also referred to as Mexican folk healing, Curanderismo is a holistic approach to health that recognizes the interconnectedness of the body, mind, and spirit. It encompasses a variety of practices such as herbal remedies, prayer, massage and energy healing. The practice is deeply rooted in indigenous culture and has been passed down through generations.

“The class has been steadily growing by approximately 30 percent each year,” Dr. Eliseo Torres said, who has been faithfully teaching the class for more than 20 years. “It has a tendency to reach capacity quickly, as hundreds of students from all over the world are eager to learn about the ancient art and science of Mexican traditional healing.”

Monday, June 12, as is the annual tradition, an opening ceremony will kick off the beginning of the summer class. The ceremony will pay tribute to the four directions, father sky, and mother earth to welcome students and dozens of local and internationally renowned traditional healers.

Then, Wednesday, June 21, the public is invited to attend a Mexican Traditional Health Fair (feria de salud) 12:30 to 4 p.m. on UNM’s main campus at the east side of the Anthropology Museum. Healers at the event will share knowledge and provide traditional healing treatments featuring herbal medications, spiritual energetic cleansings, cupping and other healing techniques, which have remained a part of the Mexican culture for centuries. Free workshops will be offered at the health fair and throughout the month from June 12-23.

In recent years, with the global spread of autoimmune related diseases such as Long COVID, there has been a growing interest in combining alternative healing with conventional medical treatments, as people seek to find holistic and natural ways to improve health and wellness.     

Historically, Hispanics in the US have less access to health services and utilize fewer preventive care services. Studies show that access to culturally and linguistically competent health, as well as access to the practice of traditional healing, would help address these health disparities. In parts of the US, indigenous leaders are pushing for Medicaid reimbursement to cover the traditional healing mental health services that tribal members receive. And Torres notes that many of the students registering for his class are nurses and other health practitioners seeking to provide better service and culturally competent care for their patients. 

“Curanderismo serves as a valuable complement to conventional medical treatment. Honoring and promoting traditional health and wellness practices encourages individuals to assume an active role in their own healing and has the power to help save lives,” Rodney Garcia said, an anesthesiologist and Traditional Medicine practitioner. “As a Western trained physician, I am privileged to be able to share what I’ve learned from the traditional Healers of North, Central and South America with UNM students and the local community.”

About The Chicana and Chicano Studies Department at The University of New Mexico

The Chicana and Chicano Studies Department at The University of New Mexico has the largest percentage of Hispanics in the country and is committed to promoting a critical understanding of Chicano/Hispano/Mexicano communities through teaching, research and advocacy.

To learn more about Curanderismo classes visit the CCS website.

For the health fair and workshop schedule please visit curanderismo.unm.edu.

The Curanderismo program is integrating five online short courses in English and Spanish through Coursera.org


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