Curanderismo: Mexican Traditional Medicine on Coursera

Dr. Eliseo “Cheo” Torres (right) and Asheninka Mino. Copyright © The University of New Mexico. All Rights Reserved. (

Just for the fun of it, I signed up to “Curanderismo” on Coursera. It is already in its fourth week of, in total, an eight week course. It is presented by Dr. Eliseo “Cheo” Torres and his colleagues from the University of New Mexico.
If you are interested in holistic medicine, herbs, and treatments, then check it out. It may be a bit late to do the quizzes and get a certificate, but for getting an introduction in what Curanderismo is about, watching the videos alone is educational.

Eons back, when I was still doing research, the analysis of active constituents of herbs and plants for various uses was part of my work. I have been interested in holistic ways of healing for a long time and this course is renewing my fascination.

Dr. Tomas Enos. Copyright © The University of New Mexico. All Rights Reserved.

It also links right into my interest in different customs, myths and tales from around the world. Curanderismo is interesting in that regard, since it combines traditional Mexican methods with some of those used by the Spanish conquerors. Plants native to the area are used just as are introduced plants from all over Europe, like lavender or chamomile.

Last week I watched videos about how tinctures are made, how they can be used, and a very interesting section about geotherapy; the use of clay in healing. There also was a fascinating section on Empacho, a massage technique, and fire cupping, Mexican style, to relieve muscle stress. This is amazing to watch and I wish someone would treat my tense tendons and muscles with this.

Rita Navarrete. Copyright © The University of New Mexico. All Rights Reserved.

I think this would be interesting to many people, whether you look at it more from the spiritual side or more from the practical or scientific one. I’m the most non-spiritual person you can imagine, but I’ve always treated the plants I collected for my research with respect and care, as is also taught in North American Native American plant lore, as far as I know.

Living beings must be treated with respect and care, that’s a given, whether you believe in higher powers or not; that’s my view of the world.

Anyway, I was amazed to recognize some of the uses, since in Germany, the use of herbs as tinctures, salves or tisanes is based on a long tradition, and many mothers would first give their children chamomile tea when their stomach is upset rather than giving them a pill. Using clay, mostly for skin cleansing, has also a long tradition, and some of the massage techniques remind me of some of the holistic methods used here, also.

So, to wind it all up: if you are interested in these themes, check it out. The course is running for the first time and may have a glitch here or there, but I find it fascinating and can highly recommend it.

Disclaimer: Do not use any of this information for any kind of treatment without more thorough research, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing.


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