Folk Medicine Use Among The Gullah: Bridging The Gap Between Folk Medicine And Westernized Medicine

By Tiara S. Banks

This study examined the practice of folk medicine among a group of African Americans living on the coast of the Sea Islands, the Gullah/Geechee. The Gullah/Geechee are descendants of enslaved Africans, transported from Western and West-Central Africa, who have preserved their African influenced culture consisting of language, food ways, rituals, and folk beliefs. Twenty members of the Gullah/Geechee community, including three nurses, participated in this study consisting of semi-structured interviews relating to the use of folk medicine. The findings revealed folk medicine use was linked to family influence and traditions, spirituality, mistrust of the medical community, dual health care, lack of access to health care, socioeconomic status, and easy access to herbal medicine. The findings indicate that the use of folk medicine is still practiced within the Gullah communities and efforts should be made to integrate folk medicine into the healthcare system.

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