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September 2019

Soc Work Health Care. 1995 ; 21(4): 37-58.

Folk medicine use: diverse populations in a metropolitan area.

Becerra RM, Iglehart AP.

School of Social Welfare, University of California, Los Angeles 90024, USA.

This paper discusses folk medicine practices among four groups--African-Americans, Mexican-Americans, Chinese-Americans and White non-Hispanics--in an urban area. Folk medicine or home remedies are defined as "cures" that have been passed on through generations and are part of the tradition of the group. The data show that folk medicine and home remedies are widely used among all groups even though these practices are often viewed as primarily limited to rural settings. Folk medicine remedies are utilized in addition to, rather than in place of, formal biomedical health care. Folk medical cures are not used for chronic illness but primarily to treat minor illnesses and to prevent serious illness. Implications are drawn for social work practitioners in health care settings.

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