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Holistic Health in Mexico

Looking for an alternative to prescription pills? Head south.


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Native communities in the Americas had an extensive system of herbal medicine set in place long before the arrival of Europeans. It’s easy to brush them off today as old wives’ tales, especially considering the pharmaceutical industry is worth $300 billion a year, according to the World Health Organization. Nevertheless, these days, botanicas, or folk pharmacies, are still a hotspot for alternative remedies south of the border and in Latino communities around the U.S. They treat both internal and external conditions—skin irritations, hair loss, arthritis, asthma, and other respiratory ailments, mostly. You’ll find soaps and pomades with ingredients like tomato, squash, coconut, peyote, donkey’s milk, whale sperm, and snail slime. There are loose herbs for teas, as well as powders like Peruvian maca, rumored to up one’s libido. But it’s not all a naturalists’ medicinal nirvana. The spray cans labeled “Money, Come to Me” are probably not worth your while.

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