On our last morning in South Texas, we checked out of the hotel, loaded into our cars, and set off on one final adventure: a visit to a curandera, a traditional Mexican healer. After interviewing physicians and health professionals all week, I was excited to see an important component of Hispanic health that lies outside of medical buildings. It is a common complaint in the United States that physicians do not spend enough time with their patients and create no personal connections, resulting in a lack of understanding and noncompliance by the patients. Now here we were Saturday morning, as a group of about 15, sitting on the couches of the curandera’s home. I don’t know what could be more personal and welcoming than that.
The curandera invited each of us to sit next to her and receive physical or spiritual healing. One by one, individuals in our group described ailments to her and she immediately placed her hands on the individual. Whether it was a muscle ache or carsickness, the curandera used physical touch to diagnose the problem and attempt to heal it. Watching the curandera, I understood why people would travel countless miles to visit her. There is something powerful about laying hands on a patient to get a sense of the entire body. Westernized medicine often treats patients at the level of the ailing body part without considering the importance of the rest of the body. Our visit to the curandera affirms my belief in the benefit of utilizing a whole-mind and whole-body approach to health and healing.