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The KUT Longhorn Radio Network Presents: Mexican American Experience Collection

Audio recordings including interviews, music, and informational programs related to the Mexican American community and their concerns in the series "The Mexican American Experience" and "A esta hora conversamos" from the Longhorn Radio Network, 1976-1982.

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Chicano Folk Diseases And Their Herbal Cures
Program #
Culture, Society

Folklore, Health
Gloria Contreras
Dolores Latorre
Nov 21, 1977

Chicano Folk diseases and their Herbal Cures

Dolores Latorre discusses some of the folk practices and cures she studied in Múzquiz, Coahuila, while working on a book on the Mexican Kickapoo Indians with her husband Felipe Latorre. While living in Coahuila, Dolores Latorre, an anthropologist, became interested in the use of medicinal plants. Her book Cooking and Curing with Mexican Herbs is a study of Mexican folk beliefs, cures and cuisine. Using information provided by her employees, a laundress and a cook, and their friends, Latorre discovered that many of the medicinal plants catalogued by Padre Juan Agustin de Morfi in the 18th century also continued to be used in the 1970s. These plants, many of which Mexicans use in the kitchen, are also used to treat diseases of both the body and spirit. Herberías sell other plants that are not found locally.

Latorre then discusses some of the spirit diseases, which include mal de ojo, susto, and espanto. Latorre explains that God, witches or regular individuals can send spirit diseases, sometimes inadvertently. Her interviews in the southwestern United States indicate that many Mexicans and Mexican Americans, especially among the first generation, firmly believe in the possibility of spirit disease and seek help from curanderas, or folk curers, in Mexico.


Center for Mexican American Studies | Department of History | The Benson Latin American Collection

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