“Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.”
It is often said that learning is a lifelong process. For millennia, people have gone to healers, and in many cultural customs, it is widely accepted to see a healer rather than a doctor.
A healer in the most traditional sense is a person who has learned how to teach the body to heal itself and shares that wisdom with others. Hence, a curandero/a is a person who utilizes spiritual elements, especially holy water used in Catholicism and praying to saints, to heal someone who suffers from a physical or spiritual debility or ailment. Yerberos are herbalists, those in the Latino tradition who use herbs for remedios. Though there are varied approaches to spiritual healers throughout the world, one thing is common among them: they look at the whole person and figure out a course of action soon thereafter. Unlike doctors, healers also teach those with questions how to use the power of either or both spiritual or herbal approaches, and get to the root causes.
The term doctor, as a title, originates from the Latin word doctoris which means teacher. It was originally from docere which means “to teach.” The term doctor became customary in Europe then eventually spread throughout the world. It was essentially a way to gain licensure to teach.
In the modern sense, doctors are trained to learn the human anatomy and how to treat symptoms with “allopathic” medicine. Allopathic medicine treats symptoms and disease with remedies that “produce effects different from those caused by the disease itself.” The term allopathic comes from conventional western medicine, and the treatments rely on the use of pharmaceutical drugs.
To put this all in perspective, have you ever visited a doctor who, besides asking what your symptoms are, approaches you with questions about your personal life, academic pursuits, career, your current job, your love life, or your nutritional history? Though every experience is unique, a doctor has been trained to prescribe medication based on a symptom or combination of symptoms - rather than treating the cause of your symptoms. In addition, a doctor who is prescribing medication, should have lessons for his/her patient as to how to prevent future adverse symptoms, dietary changes needed, and long term benefits of lifestyle changes. This would be an example of how to teach his patient to heal. Have you ever visited a curandero/a or yerbero/a or other traditional healer? If so, what types of questions has h/she asked you?
For years, I visited my primary doctor and he asked the same routine question, “So, what brings you here today?” After my weariness around using one antibiotic to treat another, I became more open minded about talking to the sábios who know herbs better than I (I aspire to be a wise herbalist further along my journey). Today, I see myself as my body’s student; I’ve learned to listen to my body and what it tells me. Thereafter, I’m able to think about what I am doing, need to avoid doing, or should do going forward to remedy a symptom, if necessary.
There is a place for medicine in the most extreme matters: just last week I was attacked with a bronchial infection and, in fact, needed to rely on antibiotic treatment. My body’s wisdom has become awakened, however, by eating better, using herbs, and only using allopathic drugs when absolutely necessary. I have developed a deep appreciation for integrative medicine, which respects the uses of modern medicine, yet primarily relies on natural medicine, healing, and non-invasive techniques to heal the body.
What’s your take on doctors and healers? Share your experience with BL…y cuídate.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.