Does the cultural use of local plants enable coping with diabetes and generational trauma in Salish tribal communities? And how might plants education be effectively employed in community health programs? A qualitative case study. [Full text link below!]
With medical interventions eradicating many infectious diseases, rapid nutrient transition, and the loss of traditional lifeways and practices, chronic disease is rapidly increasing. Diabetes is quickly spreading throughout developed and developing countries alike. And ethnobotanical education and community health programs are well suited to prevent its proliferation. Programs like TFMP are inexpensive and tend to several needs at once: basic health education, cultural healing, fortification of social fabric, ecological sustainability, and spiritual wholeness.
For community health programs operating in multicultural settings, this case study offers broad insights for health maintenance and improvement. One of the key lessons of this study is the necessity of attending to cultural understandings of health and illness. This should be considered in discussions on disease etiology, in clinical interventions by examining and displaying sensitivity to a patient’s life and culture story, and in attending the narrative strengthen by the presence and actions of a particular program. Like looking under the hood of a car, examining situations in terms of their narrative trajectory can yield rich insights—and point the way to empowering and successful community health initiatives.
Aside from transforming functional narrative, community leaders and healthcare workers can introduce plants education in health programs as a means of basic health education and reconnection to the natural world. Connection to social and ecological communities is undoubtedly vital for health. As Elise Krohn stated, “Plants reconnect us with the wealth of who we are,” and to strengthen this connection is to open a world of rich possibilities.
This is perhaps the richest insight of all: the reconnection to place, family, and community is the path to wellness. Botanical practices call us home—home to our family and ancestry, home to our communities, and home to health. With this approach, communities can truly build health from the ground up and help create a future of sustainability, cultural integrity, and holistic health in communities worldwide.
Keywords: Ethnobotany, diabetes, generational trauma, traditional foods, traditional medicines, cultural traditions, community health, herbalism.