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Popular Medicine and Self-Care in a Mexican Migrant Community: Toward an Explanation of an Epidemiological Paradox

By Anna Waldstein


While Hispanics are among the most economically disadvantaged groups in the United States, immigrants from Latin America have health profiles equal to or better than Americans of European descent. Research on this epidemiological paradox suggests that aspects of Hispanic culture prevent negative health outcomes associated with poverty, poor education and barriers to professional care. However, little attention has been given to the ethnomedical beliefs and practices of any Hispanic subgroup. Here I present an ethnographic study of women’s popular medicine in a Mexican migrant community in Athens, Georgia. Migrant women promote healthy behaviors, diagnose sick family members, and prescribe home remedies. These practices stem from long traditions of self-medication and family care, which have experienced less disruption by the biomedical profession than have other North American popular medical systems. Examining Mexican popular medicine within the context of scientific literature suggests that these self-care practices protect health and should be considered by investigators of the ‘Hispanic health paradox.’ The study also suggests that directing more attention to self-care will be fruitful for medical anthropology

Topics: F, G
Publisher: Routledge Journals
Year: 2010
OAI identifier:

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