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September 1995

Folk Medicine

Author Affiliations

International Health Consultant Baltimore, Md

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1995;149(9):949-950. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1995.02170220015001

THE ARTICLE by Risser and Mazur1 in this issue of the Archives provides information about the integration of folk and traditional remedies and the use of health services by a Texas Hispanic population. It highlights the importance of knowing the population with whom you work and appreciating their beliefs and practices. In reality, it is unwise to generalize about "the Hispanic population" in the United States. Although many elements are shared in common, each Latin American subgroup has unique characteristics. For example, almost all groups believe in the hot-cold theory of the categorization of illness, foods, herbs, and medicine.2 To restore equilibrium to the sick body, a "hot" disease is treated with a "cold" remedy. However, there are variations among Hispanics about what is cold and hot. For example, Puerto Ricans in New York City regard penicillin as a "hot" medicine. Guatemalans consider this medicine a "cold" remedy.