The University of New Mexico is going to offer a free online class on curanderismo — the art of traditional healing.
The school announced this month it will host the Massive Open Online Course as an offshoot of its popular curanderismo class offered on campus every summer.
Eliseo "Cheo" Torres, vice president for student affairs, said he will teach the class along with traditional healers from Peru, Mexico and New Mexico. He said the healers will show how traditional medicine is widely used among indigenous populations in the Americas.
Curanderismo is the art of using traditional healing methods like herbs and plants to treat various ailments. Long practiced in indigenous villages of Mexico and other parts of Latin America, curanderos also could be found in parts of New Mexico, south Texas, Arizona and California. In recent years, some curanderos have been found practicing in New York and in Georgia as immigration from Mexico has expanded into that areas.
Anthropologists believe curanderismo remained popular among poor Latinos because they didn't have access to health care. But they believe the field now is gaining traction among those who seek to use alternative medicine.
Among the ailments curanderos treat are mal de ojo, or evil eye, and susto, magical fright.
Mal de ojo is the belief that an admiring look or a stare can weaken someone, mainly a child, leading to bad luck, even death.
Susto is a folk illness linked to fright experience like an automobile accident or tipping over an unseen object. Those who believe they are inflicted with susto say only a curandero can cure them.
"Curanderismo is so diverse now," said Torres. "It is evolving."