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Healers, Curers, and Herbalists: Folk Medicine in America

Disease, disorder, and discomfort, whether mental or physical, are inevitable. They must be addressed and alleviated, and people have invented elaborate systems for identifying, systematizing, and controlling them. These systems are most effective when they draw on a community's shared values, beliefs, and symbols. The tribal medicine man, the herbalist of folk societies, the doctors of contemporary America all do their jobs best when they understand that the faith their patients place in them and in their practices is derived from community-wide values and beliefs.

America is a complex land of many distinct ethnic communities, each with its

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