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"It's not an either/or," Zavaleta said. "It doesn't work that way."
"I do this for policemen, lawyers, judges, doctors, nurses," Salinas said, his voice trailing off. "People who are very well off come here."
One woman who made a six hour drive from Austin on Friday to visit Salinas for the first time said she only visits curanderos for spiritual cleansing, not for medical treatment.
Talismans, candles and statuettes clutter her modest south Alamo home. The smell of incense wafts through the air, and hand painted, wooden boards outside advertise the woman's "miraculous gift."
The Rio Grande Valley with some of the lowest rates of health Fendi Studded Peekaboo
"But some people could just pay the penalty if they perceive a greater benefit," Su said. "It's a complex issue."
The annual number of visits to providers of unconventional treatment is now higher than the number of visits to primary care physicians, and yearly out of pocket expenditures on such services exceed $27 billion.
Some people who request his healing services are medical professionals, he said.
Dejun Su, director of the South Texas Border Health Disparities Center at the University of Texas Pan American, said people who are more educated are less likely to resort to unconventional medical treatment.
Improved access to standard health care could erode use of folk medicine
The curandera, or folk healer, tells her clients she can channel the Holy Spirit, giving her the supernatural ability to prevent cancer and cure stomach ulcers. Calvo says she counts on monetary donations from customers to keep her small healing business running, though she accepts all types of offerings from visitors.
A provision of the Affordable Care Act, as the law is known, requires people to buy health insurance or pay a penalty, something that would give South Texas residents incentive to head to the doctor's office.
"I tell the rich they have to bring money and pay, so I can help the poor," Calvo said. "But people bring everything they can to me fruit, bananas, food. Everything."
The use of complementary and alternative medicine has been growing in the United States over the last two decades, according to a study by Su published in 2008 in the journal Social Science Medicine.
That change could mean fewer people visiting folk healers who specialize in complementary and alternative medicine, some scholars and medical experts suggest.
The growing use of complementary treatment highlights the need for medical providers to understand their patient's cultural values and make sure they aren't consuming substances that could react negatively with prescribed medication, experts said.
Some scholars say the practice is part of a belief system that is ingrained in Latin American culture and will continue to grow in popularity.
Most people who use curanderismo in the United States use Fendi Card Holder Mens it to complement conventional medical treatment, not replace it, said Antonio Zavaleta, director of the Texas Center for Border and Transnational Studies at the University of Texas Brownsville.
If someone came into Salinas' home seeking treatment for a broken foot, for example, "I won't see them," he said. "I'll tell them: 'After you see a doctor, I'll pray for you.'"
Alberto Salinas, a popular curandero who practices out of his home in Edinburg, says his clients only ask for his remedies to complement conventional treatments.
"The spirit of Jesus came to me last night and gave me this," Calvo said in Spanish, reaching for a blank sheet of paper and pouring a green, fragrant liquid over it. "God comes to me and teaches me to heal."
unconventional therapies, such as herbal medicine, homeopathy and acupuncture.
"If you don't have the $60 or $100 to pay for an office visit, you'll probably rather spend $5 or $10 going this route," said Frank Ambriz, chair of UTPA's Physician Assistant Studies Program. "But if someone's telling me that I have insurance that'll cover it, then I'm probably going to take advantage of it."
"We don't want to discourage people from visiting curanderos," Ambriz said. "We only ask them to stop if we see they are being harmed for example, if they are fed Fendi Hobo Bag
"CAM (complementary and alternative medicine) is very prevalent everywhere," Su said. "It'll be interesting to see the full effect (of the health care reform law) once health insurance becomes more affordable."
According to Su's research, the growth is taking place at the same time the size of the foreign born population is increasing in the United States in 1990, about 8 percent of Americans were immigrants. In 2003, that number grew to 11.7 percent. Census Bureau.
Some older Mexicans choose treatment from shamans because they don't trust doctors and rely on healers out of tradition.
Experts believe immigrants' language barriers, health literacy and low socioeconomic status lead many to resort to Fendi Monster Bag Collection
lead to cure an ailment."
insurance coverage in the nation is coping with uncertainty over the full impact of the new federal health care reform law, which will bring health care to thousands in South Texas.
"Many people go see (folk healers) because they don't have other resources," Dr. Miguel Aleman, a family practice doctor in Edinburg, said in Spanish. "More access to medical care will remove complexes, myths and beliefs from the less educated.
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