Curanderos travel to Albuquerque to blend traditional healing with modern medicine



ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A unique class at UNM is mixing modern medicine with traditional healing.

For the next two weeks, the bustling sounds that usually echo through the campus on UNM, will be replaced with the songs and prayers of curanderos, otherwise known as traditional folk healers.

Dressed in white garb with brightly colored headbands, curanderos surround students with incense. It’s one of the many practices included in their traditional healing process.

Curanderos from all over the country and even the world descend upon Albuquerque for UNM’S Annual “Traditional Medicine Without Borders” class where more than 100 students learn about incorporating “curanderismo” with modern medicine.

“What did we used to do when you had a stomach ache or when you had a fever? We need them to go back into that culture. We need the now modern medicine to look at what our culture uses and what those traditional methods of healing were as it pertains to each culture,” said Tonita Gonzales, traditional healer.

The popular summer class is an opportunity for traditional medicine healers, such as Tonita herself, to teach the younger generation about the folk medicine they may have seen their grandparents or great grandparents use.

“What I hope to gain is to gain more knowledge about the traditions of my culture and possibly find ways how to implement them in my life.

Lizeth Cueto decided to take the class after reading one of Eliseo “Cheo” Torres’ books.

He’s been leading the class for almost 17 years now, establishing a network of curanderos from Mexican communities around the world. The class aims to teach the students about healing therapies, herbal medicines, spiritual cleansing and other healing techniques — all of which can be used at home and at the doctor’s office.

“A lot of sessions on plants, some sessions on how you can merge both modern and traditional medicine together. We have physicians meeting with traditional healers. It’s very dynamic,” said Torres.

Torres says the class has gotten so popular, that physicians, medical students and nursing students are coming to Albuquerque to learn how they can incorporate traditional healing in their practice. Some are now working hand in hand with local traditional healers.

You can get involved, too. Students and curanderos will be holding a health fair on the grounds of UNM Wednesday, July 20th, from noon until 5 p.m. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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