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8th Edition of International Conference on

Traditional Medicine, Ethnomedicine and Natural Therapies

June 05-07, 2025 | Rome, Italy

Traditional Medicine 2023

Medical therapy log (1992-2020) of Rosita Ascencio, A Mexican indigenous traditional healer

Speaker at Traditional Medicine, Ethnomedicine and Natural Therapies 2023 - Roberto Campos Navarro
National Autonomous University of Mexico, Mexico
Title : Medical therapy log (1992-2020) of Rosita Ascencio, A Mexican indigenous traditional healer


In Mexico, it is uncommon for traditional healers to register their sessions. However, under the advice of a government representative of the Indigenous National Institute, Rosa Ascencio-Garcia, an indigenous traditional healer, consistently logged every patient she treated over 28 years. This resulted in two notebooks containing the name, age, place of origin, diagnosis, and treatment of all the patients visiting her. Rosa Ascencio [a.k.a. Doña Rosita, (1925-2022)] was a traditional healer born in the city of Patzcuaro, state of Michoacan, Mexico. She belongs to the Purepecha indigenous group, stablished in the west of Mexico. Although she learned western nursing basics, she was mainly instructed by her family, ultimately providing health services to her neighbours. She belonged to an organization of Purepecha traditional indigenous healers which allowed her to visit Canada, U.S, and Costa Rica to share their traditional knowledge. She registered 2296 therapy sessions in her notebooks that included several illnesses not recognized by academic medicine: most of the patients where locals and visitors from neighbouring towns, both male and female. Most child patients where under 4 years old suffering from “caida de mollera” (fallen fontanelle), “empacho” (a kind of indigestion) and “mal de ojo” (evil eye). Meanwhile, adults were mostly treated for “nervios” (i.e., stress and anxiety), gastritis, and digestive and respiratory system infections. In this oral presentation, we would like to show the day-to-day activities of a Mexican traditional healer, who exceptionally, logged in her notebooks the general characteristics of her patients, infant therapeutic attention, and frequent traditional illnesses. This work aims to highlight the importance, persistence, and demand of indigenous traditional medicine in the Mexican society, especially in the treatment of illnesses not recognized by academic medicine. To do so, we will show you the context and statistics obtained from Rosita Ascensio’s logs. 


Dr. Roberto Campos-Navarro is a family doctor with a Master's and a Ph.D. degree in Social Anthropology from the National School of Anthropology and History (Escuela Nacional de Antropologia e Historia, ENAH) and the National Autonomous University of Mexico (Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, UNAM) respectively. He is a professor in Medical Anthropology at UNAM Faculty of Medicine since 1987. He teaches postgraduate courses in México and Spain and has presented in multiple conferences in multiple countries of Latin America and Europe. He has authored several books, articles, and book chapters on Mexican traditional medicine in the last 40 years. He is also a level 3 (the highest) researcher at the National Bureau of Research and Technology in Mexico (Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnologia, CONACYT) and belongs to the Mexican Nacional Academy of Medicine.