The borderlands of the Rio Grande are enormous repositories of folk healing, It runs the gamut from herbs and plants to religious and psychic healing and much in between . in fact most of the time it is a combination of things, The curanderas and curanderos are perhaps the premier folk healers in the Unites States today. Once folk healing was predominant among all ethnic groups, but it has decreased more and more as ethnic groups lose more and more of their unique traditions. Not so much amongst the Mexican-Americans, Curandisimo is alive and well for a variety of reasons. Los pobres de Mexico and the Mexican Indians have always had limited access to allopathic medicine, drugs and surgery. Most Mexican children were born with the help of a midwife or partera instead of an obstetrician. Of course during an emergency when surgery was required the midwife could only do so much. And of course a caesarian section would have been, if not for the baby, a death sentence for the Mother
But many women will say they have been treated with much more empathy and sensitivity by a midwife, and intuitively the partera, as she is called, is more in tune with positioning the baby, and with the application of certain massages and ointments. The modern obstetrician, has a “machine for that” as well “as a machine for this.” So almost inevitably, arts and techniques are lost along with “progress”
In Texas and throughout the Southwest the ethnic tradition that survives the most is the one that came from Mexico. The African-American one left with the black migration to the North after World War 2. The Southern White tradition has declined with the modern era as well. And of course Native American traditions still flourish, but in sheer numbers of practitioners and clients, the Mexican and Chicano healing modalities are the most prolific.
The involvement of religion and spirituality are notable as well. This is where the real story begins. There is much more to come. Traditional medicine involves almost always faith healing, Faith in this saint, faith in this power, faith in this historical personage, Of course faith in the Catholic Church as well.
Strangely enough, the faith healing (ad you could say) even the shamanistic practices are taking new directions, reaching into the most modern theories and cutting edge areas of science.