Campus and Community

Building on Traditions

University of New Mexico

Traditional Medicine: Curanderismo in the Southwest and Mexico

The University of New Mexico is a center for the study of the rich Hispanic tradition of healing through medicinal herbs and rituals. The class, “Traditional Medicine Without Borders: Curanderismo in the Southwest and Mexico,” draws more than 250 students from the fields of anthropology, Latin American studies, women’s studies, and Chicano, Hispano and Mexicano studies.

At the Festival, visitors met traditional healers (curanderas) from New Mexico and Mexico, and learned about the many facets of their work.  Presentations explored the history and varieties of curanderismo, such as herbalists (yerberos/as), spiritual healers (espiritistas), traditional massage therapists (sobadores/as), bone setters (hueseros), and sweat lodge specialists (temazcaleros)

Visitors experienced demonstrations of laugh therapy (risa terapia), dance therapy (danza terapia), sounds that heal (sonidos sonadores), Mexican cupping (ventosas), energetic cleansings (limpias espirituales), shawl body alignments (manteadas), juice therapy (jugo terapia), and the preparation of medicinal plants such as tinctures (tinturas y microdosis) and salves (pomadas). Each day, visitors were invited to participate in the building of a Healing with Day of the Dead ceremony (Día de los Muertos y la sanación) shrine and learn about the healing significance of this celebration.

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