The Anthropology of Medicine: From Culture to Method

By Lola Romanucci-Ross; Daniel E. Moerman et al. | Go to book overview
Save to active project

account tells us of their intimate knowledge of the natural world and how they exploit this knowledge to cure. Even so, the Mixe sense the limits of such a phytotherapeutic approach; any illness that causes chronic pain and is debilitating calls for supernatural intervention.

Bogin, in his comprehensive review of the evolution of human nutrition, demonstrates clearly that human health is a consequence of culture. He also demonstrates the much less obvious notion that changes in the human diet since the end of the Upper Paleolithic, and especially since the development of agriculture and the consequent reduction in both the variety and the quality of foodstuffs, have led to a general decline in the state of human health. Similarly, Van Blerkom shows how the great preponderance of infectious diseases were transferred from animals, primarily domesticated animals. This argument follows from a comparison of the extraordinarily different disease histories of Europeans and Asians, on the one hand, and Native Americans, on the other; the latter suffered very few infectious diseases because they had no domesticated animals of significance.

In a closer analysis of one West African society, Etkin and Ross argue that diet is tied not only to the maintenance of health but also to the amelioration of disease, as they argue that a number of elements in the Hausa diet can actually affect the course of malaria. The difference between "drugs" and "food" is ultimately one of concept, not of content. The empirical aspect of non-Western curing and healing, as we here exemplify, may have something to teach us.


But P. P., S. Y. Hu, and Y. C. Kong. 1980. "Vascular Plants Used in Chinese Medicine". Fitoterapia 51:245-64.

Moerman D. 1979. "Symbols and Selectivity: A Statistical Analysis of Native American Medical Ethnobotany". Journal of Ethnopharmacology 1:111-19.

Solecki R. 1975. "Shanidar IV, a Neanderthal Flower Burial in Northern Iraq". Science 190:880-81.


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Anthropology of Medicine: From Culture to Method
Table of contents

Table of contents



Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 400

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?