Mexican American Approaches to Health

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Mexican American Cultural Approaches to Health
Mexican American, or Latino, traditional views on health and healing practices are influenced by several other cultures that they have historically had some kind of contact with, such as the Spanish colonizers, indigenous Indian populations, and Western medical practitioners. This varied background accounts for their holistic healing methods and their belief that good health stems from internal balance, a clear conscience, and a strong spiritual relationship with God. The underlying theme in traditional Mexican American health is that there needs to be a balance between the body and Earth's elements. Equilibrium of each element--fire, water, air, and land--leads to an overall healthy state. (Molina, 1994) Traditionalists tie this balance concept in with the idea that all health states are associated with either hot or cold, and one may be used to heal the other. A state of health is characterized by a warm, wet body, and any exposure to extreme conditions on either side of this scale leads to illness. It is important to point out that the generalizations assumed in this paper are based on very traditional Mexican American individuals and do not span the entire population within the US. In regards to healthcare, traditional Mexican Americans hold the belief that their healing methods are either superior to or the same as those practiced by Western providers, so they tend to rely primarily on home remedies and cultural healers before seeking out other forms of medicine. Furthermore, their healing approach is firmly rooted in their specific values.

It is important to be aware of Latino cultural values in order to understand their views on healthcare, as the latter is based on the other. In general, there are three basic values that crucially exists within most Mexican American relationships—personalismo, respeto, and dignidad. (Molina, 1994) Personalismo is the trust and rapport that is established with...
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