The Tarahumara, one of North America's oldest surviving aboriginal groups, call themselves Rarámuri, meaning "nimble feet" – and though they live in relative isolation in Chihuahua, Mexico, their agility in long-distance running is famous worldwide. Tarahumara Medicine is the first in-depth look into the culture that sustains the "great runners". Having spent a decade in Tarahumara communities, initially as a medical student and eventually as a physician and cultural observer, author Fructuoso Irigoyen-Rascón is uniquely qualified as a guide to the Rarámuri's approach to medicine and healing.
In developing their healing practices, the Tarahumaras interlaced religious lore, magic, and careful observations of nature. Irigoyen-Rascón thoroughly situates readers in the Rarámuri's environment, describing not only their health and nutrition but also the mountains and rivers surrounding them and key aspects of their culture, from long-distance kick-ball races to corn beer celebrations and religious dances. He describes the Tarahumaras' curing ceremonies, including their ritual use of peyote, and provides a comprehensive description of Tarahumara traditional herbal remedies, including their botanical characteristics, attributed effects, and uses.
To show what these practices – and the underlying concepts of health and disease – might mean to the Rarámuri and to the observer, Irigoyen-Rascón explores his subject from both an outsider and an insider (indigenous) perspective. Through his balanced approach, Irigoyen-Rascón brings to light relationships between the Rarámuri healing system and conventional medicine, and adds significantly to our knowledge of indigenous American therapeutic practices.
As the most complete account of Tarahumara culture ever written, Tarahumara Medicine grants readers access to a world rarely seen – at once richly different from and inextricably connected with the ideas and practices of Western medicine.
Fructuoso Irigoyen-Rascón is a psychiatrist in McAllen, Texas. A former researcher at universities in Mexico and the United States, he has written extensively about Raramuri ethnography and medical conditions.
Alfonso Paredes is Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California Los Angeles and author of more than 100 medical papers, including several on the Tarahumara.
"In Tarahumara Medicine, Fructuoso Irigoyen-Rascón reveals, for the first time in a single volume, the complex healing system of the Rarámuri of northwestern Mexico. He provides firsthand information on Rarámuri concepts of illness, healing, and the soul, and a comprehensive ethnobotanical guide to medicinal plant use. This thorough, readable volume belongs in every library and collection devoted to the Rarámuri or to the indigenous peoples of Mexico, American Indians, American Indian medicine, or American Indian ethnobotany."
– Enrique Salmón, author of Eating the Landscape: American Indian Stories of Food, Identity, and Resilience