Erowid References Database
“Virtuous Herbs: Plants in Chumash Medicine”.
J. Ethnobiol.. 1987 Winter;7(2):171-80.
The Chumash, like most other California Indians, believed that illness was largely a matter of power imbalance, or lack of harmony between the individual and the spiritual world. Most disease was thought to be caused by malevolent supernatural beings, by sorcery, or by violation of sensory or dietary taboos.
Plants played a role in most medical treatments. In traditional Chumash society,
several kinds of shamans specialized in particular kinds of treatment for illness-smoke doctors, sucking doctors, ant doctors, herb doctors and others. All these highly trained practitioners were paid for their services and generally kept their methods secret. During the mission era, most of these specialties went into rapid decline and soon died out. The use of herbs then shifted, to become the basis of a widespread folk medicine whose application did not require formal status or training as a doctor.
This paper describes herbal medicine among the Chumash and discusses the effects of Spanish, Mexican and Anglo-American contact on these traditional practices.
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