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August 2021

Soc Sci Med. 1987 ; 25(4): 347-55.

Hot and cold in women's ethnotherapeutics: the American-Mexican West.

Kay M, Yoder M.

College of Nursing, University of Arizona, Tucson 85721.

The purpose of this paper is to report the current status of hot/cold principles in the ethnotherapeutics of women of southwestern U.S.A., northwestern Mexico. The paper presents a secondary data analysis from three studies, including a data bank of Women's Ethnotherapeutic Agents derived from literature searches, interviews of women in research of Mexican American Grandmothers as Health Care Advisors, and research in the historical roots of the ethnotherapeutic agents used in contemporary domestic medicine. This report presents women's home remedies, what these remedies are believed to do, and the sources of this domestic therapy knowledge. It concentrates on persistence and change in one aspect of the theoretical base of these remedies, their humoral complexional classification. In the analysis of data from these studies, continuation of aspects of the hot/cold theory is demonstrated. It is suggested that the persistence is tacit, with the lack of articulated knowledge of humoral theory today stemming from the content of contemporary remedy books. Instead of arguing either diffusion or independent invention, commonly held ethnophysiological concepts are offered as a possible explanation for the persistence of hot and cold therapy practices.


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