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May 5, 1978

Ethnic Medicine in the Southwest

JAMA. 1978;239(18):1911. doi:10.1001/jama.1978.03280450083037

Physicians trained in scientific medicine often are unaware of the beliefs about health and illness held by members of various ethnic groups. This book may help to provide a remedy. In it, four anthropologists study the medical beliefs and practices of four ethnic communities in Arizona.

In a small black neighborhood, Loudell Snow found that the residents made little distinction between different diseases, lumping them all together as "the misery." They believed that some sicknesses were due to natural causes—exposure to the elements, overeating, or overwork. Others might represent punishment for sin; still others were brought about by witchcraft. The inhabitants placed great emphasis on the condition of the blood, worrying about "high blood," "low blood," and impurities that might be avoided by frequent use of laxatives. Home remedies, especially herbs, were used extensively; faith healing was popular, but regular physicians might be consulted to get medicine.

In a Mexican-American