The Virgin of Guadalupe.

The Virgin of Guadalupe.

speaks to each situation. Most often, these situations are not overtly linked to HEALTH, but if thought through one can see their relationship. This discussion continues in Chapter 6.

Religion may, therefore, help provide the believer with an ability to un- derstand and interpret the events of the environment and life.

HEALTH Restoration

HEALTH restoration in the physical sense can be accomplished by the use of countless traditional remedies, such as herbal teas, liniments, special foods and food combinations, massage, and other activities.

The restoration of HEALTH in the mental domain may be accomplished by the use of various techniques, such as performing exorcism, calling on tra- ditional healers, using teas or massage, and seeking family and community support.

The restoration of HEALTH in the spiritual sense can be accomplished by healing rituals; religious healing rituals; or the use of symbols and prayer, medi- tation, special prayers, and exorcism. This will be further discussed in Chapter 6.

■ Health/HEALTH Care Choices There are countless ways to describe and label health/HEALTH care beliefs, prac- tices, and systems. “Health care” may be labeled as “modern,” “conventional,” “traditional,” “alternative,” “complementary,” “allopathic,” “homeopathic,”

HEALTH Traditions ■ 103

Table 5–2 Selected Situations Where Religion and HEALTH Intersect

Physical Mental Spiritual

Agriculture—practices related to the planting, harvesting, and distributing of produce and meats

Blood—admonitions regarding the acceptance of blood transfusions

Childbirth—numerous rituals and rites surrounding immediate birth

Conception—prohibitions against birth control

Death—the immediate care of the body after death

Dietary practices—food prohibitions

Dying—care of the person in the final moments of life

Exercise practices— physical daily care of the body

Garments—special cloths and sacred clothes that must be worn at all times or for special occasions

Medications—admonitions to take prescribed medications

Nature—respect for the sustainability of the earth and natural resources— stewardship

Pregnancy—countless rules to be followed

Specific maintenance & prevention practices— cleanliness—hand washing

Child rearing—how, when and what children must be taught regarding rules of the given faith tradition

Face—how the essential part of the person must be safeguarded and that one must not compromise a person’s face

Familial relationships— encourages close family bonds and respect for the elderly

Readings—sacred readings developed to calm a person

Sense of self and self in world—answers to the questions: Who am I? and Why am I here?

Time—weekly and seasonal festivals and holidays to set the rhythm of the year and keep person in balance

Amulets and talismans—sacred objects that may be worn, carried, or hung in the home

Beginning of life—sacred ceremonies—baptism, circumcision, naming

Death—rituals for funeral, burial, mourning, memorial services

Dying—confession, prayers

End-of-life care—use of resuscitation and extreme care versus not using

Forgiveness—final words with family members and friends

Pilgrimages—visiting holy places such as shrines— sacred spaces

Prayer times—times of day when prayers are recited

Prayer ways—direction one faces, position of prayer, sacred garments that must be worn

“folk,” and so forth. The use of the word traditional to describe “modern health care” is, by definition, a misnomer. Traditional connotes a tradition—“The pass- ing down of elements of a culture from generation to generation, especially by oral communication: cultural practices that are preserved by tradition,” or “A mode of

104 ■ Chapter 5

thought or behavior followed by a people continuously from generation to genera- tion; a custom or usage” (American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 2011). The use of traditional to connote modern health care is a misnomer, as modern, allopathic, health care is a new science and has been passed down in writ- ing for a relatively short amount of time, rather than orally over many generations.

There are also many reasons people may choose to use HEALTH care sys- tems other than modern medical care. These include, but are not limited to, access issues, such as poverty, language, availability, and lack of insurance, and preference for familiar and personal care. Traditional here connotes HEALTH care beliefs and practices observed among peoples who steadfastly maintain their heritage and observe HEALTH care practices derived from their ethnocul- tural or religious heritage.

As stated earlier, in nearly every situation when a person becomes ill there is an expectation for the restoration of health/HEALTH, and the person usually recovers. As far back as historians and interested social scientists can trace in the extended history of humankind, the phenomenon of recovery has occurred. It made little difference what mode of treatment was used; health/HEALTH restora- tion was usual and expected. Established cultural norms have been attributed to the recovery from illness, and over time the successful methods for treating various maladies were preserved and passed down to each new generation within a tradi- tional ethnocultural community. It is the occurrence of natural recovery that has given rise to all forms of therapeutic treatments, and the attempts to explain a phe- nomenon that is natural. Over the generations, natural recovery has been attributed to all sorts of rituals, including cupping, magic, leeching, and bleeding. Today, the people who are members of many different native, immigrant, and traditional cul- tural communities in the United States—American Indian, Black, Asian, European, and Hispanic—may continue to utilize the practices found within their tradition.

■ Folk Medicine Folk medicine today is related to other types of medicine that are practiced in our society. It has coexisted, with increasing tensions, alongside modern medi- cine and was derived from academic medicine of earlier generations. There is ample evidence that the folk practices of ancient times have been abandoned only in part by modern health care belief systems, for many of these beliefs and practices continue to be observed today. Many may be practiced in secret, un- derground. Today’s popular medicine is, in a sense, commercial folk medicine. Yoder (1972) describes two varieties of folk medicine:

1. Natural folk medicine—or rational folk medicine—is one of humans’ earliest uses of the natural environment and utilizes herbs, plants, minerals, and animal substances to prevent and treat illnesses.

2. Magico-religious folk medicine—or occult folk medicine—is the use of charms, holy words, and holy actions to prevent and cure illnesses/ILLNESSES.

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