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By Ellie Hummel, Alli Reilly, Erika Munguia, and Milena Jojic


These clips are reflective of the way that complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is used among rural North Carolinians. Interviewees describe how a lack of affordability, distrust in the doctor-patient relationship, religion, and culture have shaped healing practices for generations. For instance, Crystal DeShazor and Stephanie Atkinson both have experienced racism in their time as patients and nurses. They also face massive challenges when finding insurance for themselves and their families, and, as a result, have a long history of using home remedies, such as water and prayer to remedy high blood pressure. Ernest Taylor and Albrea Crowder also discuss what it is like to treat patients without health insurance, and the other barriers cost creates to care. Reverend William Kearney provides a unique perspective on the balance of faith and medicine, advocating for a complementary use of traditional scientific practices and religious alternatives. Similarly, Carla NorwoodLyman Henderson, and Ebony Talley-Brame recount their own experiences with home remedies and how that has been influenced by their families.

Overall, these interviewees’ relationships with the traditional healthcare system did not emerge overnight. Rather, it is the years of generational racial trauma, passage of the Affordable Care Act, prevalence of religion in the rural South, and the history of distrust amongst rural southerners that have shaped their use of CAM. Like these interview clips, complementary and alternative medicine is varied, and every person uses it for a different reason. Listen to learn more about the motivating factors for CAM, and how it has affected different communities!

Student Essays

Lack of Affordable Health Insurance Enhances Health Disparities and Alternative Medicine Use

By Erika Munguia Introduction Access to affordable care is the main factor that drives people to consider alternative medicine. As a result, individuals seek home remedies as a replacement for prescribed medications and rely on religion for divine healing and … Read more

Reimagine: Incorporating Home Remedies Into Biomedicine

By Milena Jojic Introduction A warm ginger tea that soothes a sore throat, a vitamin and mineral taken before bed, or a turpentine bandage for a cut: home remedies. Home Remedies are an important facet of Complementary and Alternative Medicine … Read more

Finding Balance: Scientific Medicine and Faith-Based Healing in North Carolina

By Allison Reilly Introduction: Religion and Medicine in North Carolina Throughout history, humans have approached health and healing from a variety of lenses, ranging from traditional scientific medical care to home remedies, faith, and other cultural alternatives. Complementary and alternative … Read more

When the Doctor Knows Best: A Tale of Patient Trust and Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use

By Eleanor Hummel Introduction Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) have been practiced for generations, particularly within the American South. It has developed into a rich tradition, incorporating home remedies, religion, and race. One of the driving forces behind the prevalence … Read more