Posted in Woodward Avenue by gijs van doorn on February 23, 2010

Hi Ina,

I understand that you do not want ‘new age hippies’. I have spoken
with an eccentric African-American Herbalist/Spiritualist who I think would work well for your  needs and I have spoken very briefly with an Mexican woman who runs a shop in the city. I need to know, would you like them to partake in a panel discussion or a more “hands-on” workshop. Would they be speaking in front of a crowd or would they be dealing with people one-on-one.
I am not so well versed on the exhibition so I am not certain what the “Bolivia films” are.


Hi Ben,

I would like to hold a private workshop, which means (hopefully at least 4) healers and myself. The idea is to exchange experiences related to traditional healing. Jef, correct me if I am wrong, but I see this as a workshop “by invitation only”, not open to the general public. The idea would be to have a small group of people (none of them new-age hippies) and all people working as healers in the community, or perhaps also some community members who are (or have been) patients of these healers, to hold a discussion about the role and importance of traditional healing today in Detroit.

The reason why I want to keep the workshop “private” is three-fold: (1) this is not a promotional stunt (I don’t want press hanging around and scare people); (2) if the event is open it might not create an atmosphere open enough to talk about traditional healing and community health. (I would like to point again to the NYTimes article that emphasized that a lot of healers are “working in the shadows”). Let’s not forget that many healers in urban areas assist community members without legal status. I want the healers to feel safe to talk; (3) popular action series on TV such as “CSI” recently depicted a botánica shop as “a place of witchcraft”. This shows that there still exists a lot of prejudice towards traditional healing.

The Bolivia movies that will be on display in the Detroit exhibition are about my work with traditional healers in the Amazon region in Bolivia. I will be moderating the workshops and would like to start by showing these movies and explaining my work (which is focused on improving community health and training medical students and doctors to become more culturally sensitive) and then ask the healers to talk about their own practice. Ideally, if we have at least 4 healers and some community members/patients, there could be some kind of discussion among them.

What do you think?

Kind wishes,



mail from Japan

Posted in Woodward Avenue by gijs van doorn on February 14, 2010

Hello Ina-san,

I was so impressed with you on the Nova podcast. I didn’t know “ethnobotany” existed!  I am from NYC but live in Tsu, Mie prefecture, Japan, in the countryside.  Two years ago, I saw an old woman picking something on the bank of a river. She called it “tsukushi,” which my dictionary translates as “a spore shoot of the field horsetail.” I picked it and cooked it for my Japanese wife, who hadn’t eaten it since her grandmother cooked it for her 45 years ago.  Of course, she was very impressed.
People are so seasonal here. In February, “nanohana,” or “rape blossoms” are eaten.  Spring shoots are popular. And all manner of seaweed —is there a field of marine ethnobotany? I can buy fresh kelp at the local market for a dollar.  I don’t know, but I guess it’s good for you.   If you ever come to Japan, I’d be so pleased to help interpret for you, or even to show you where to find salsa dancing in Osaka. (I tried, but 2 left feet – my secret passion is Irish fiddle).

All the best, happy hunting,


Ina Vandebroek and ethnobotany

Posted in Woodward Avenue by gijs van doorn on February 13, 2010

Quadra Medicinale – Kempens Informatieblad – Venetië

Posted in Quadra Medicinale by gijs van doorn on February 11, 2010

Film Ina Vandebroek – Premiere – Woodward Avenue – Detroit – 27 may

Posted in Film Ina Vandebroek, Woodward Avenue by gijs van doorn on February 10, 2010

Inleidende tekst

Deze film toont beelden uit workshops over interculturele gezondheidszorg in de Boliviaanse tropen in 2009. Deze workshops brachten Boliviaanse artsen en studenten geneeskunde samen met traditionele genezers en vertegenwoordigers van Yurakare en Trinitario indianen uit het Boliviaanse regenwoud. Deze inheemse groepen hebben geen toegang tot Westerse geneeskunde en zijn voor hun gezondheidszorg bijna volledig aangewezen op hun eigen traditionele geneeskunde.

Gedurende de workshops komen de inheemse en Westerse visies op het herkennen en genezen van ziektes om beurten aan bod en praten de genezers over de plantenremedies die ze gebruiken voor de lever en galblaas, het verminderen van koorts en pijn, en het bestrijden van intestinale parasieten en luizen. Sommige ziektes die de genezers benoemen, zijn ook bekend in de Westerse geneeskunde, maar vele andere ziektes, zoals desombro (gegrepen worden door Moeder Aarde) of mocheó (veroorzaakt door de geur van een dood mens of dier), hebben een sterke culturele inslag waarvoor geen directe “vertaling” in de Westerse geneeskunde bestaat.

Het verder zetten van de dialoog tussen artsen, medische studenten en traditionele genezers in deze inheemse gemeenschappen via workshops is belangrijk wil men gezondheidszorg kunnen verlenen die efficiënt en cultureel aanvaardbaar is.


The images from this movie are selected from workshops about intercultural healthcare that took place in the Tropics of Bolivia in 2009. The workshops brought Bolivian physicians and medical students together with traditional healers and community members from Yurakare and Trinitario indigenous groups in the Bolivian lowland rainforest. These communities do not have access to Western medicine and depend almost entirely on their own traditional medicine for healthcare.

During the workshops, similarities and differences were discussed between indigenous and Western views on recognition and treatment of illness. Healers also talked about the plant remedies they use for ailments of the liver and gall bladder, fever and pain, intestinal parasites and lice.  Some of the illnesses they mentioned are also known in Western medicine, but many other illnesses are not, such as desombro (being grabbed by Mother Earth) or mocheó (caused by the smell of a dead human being or animal). The latter illnesses have a strong cultural component for which there does not exist a direct “translation” in Western medicine.

The continuation of a dialogue between physicians, medical students and traditional healers from indigenous communities by means of workshops is important to develop healthcare that is both effective and culturally acceptable.


Esa película demuestra imágenes provenientes de talleres sobre la atención intercultural de la salud organizados en el Trópico de Bolivia en 2009. Durante los talleres se reunieron médicos Occidentales y estudiantes de medicina con representantes indígenas de los Yurakares y Trinitarios de la selva tropical Boliviana. Esas comunidades indígenas no tienen acceso a la medicina Occidental y dependen casi totalmente en sus propias prácticas tradicionales para curarse.

Durante los talleres se dio la oportunidad de conocer la visión indígena y la visión Occidental en torno a los signos y síntomas de las enfermedades. Además, los médicos tradicionales hablaron sobre las plantas que usan para tratar enfermedades del hígado y de la vesícula biliar, bajar la fiebre, calmar el dolor, y matar parásitos intestinales y piojos. Algunas de las enfermedades mencionadas por los médicos tradicionales también son conocidas por la medicina Occidental, pero muchas otras enfermedades, como el desombro (“ser agarrado por la Madre Tierra”) o el “mocheó” (causado por el olor de un ser humano o animal muerto), tienen un componente cultural muy fuerte y no existe una “traducción” para ellas en la medicina Occidental.

La continuación del diálogo entre médicos Occidentales, estudiantes de medicina y médicos tradicionales de comunidades indígenas por medio de talleres es indispensable para desarrollar una atención de salud que es a la vez efficaz y aceptable desde un punto de vista cultural.


Ce film montre des extraits de réunions de travail à propos des soins de santé interculturels sous les tropiques boliviennes. Ces réunions de travail rassemblaient des médecins boliviens et des étudiants en médecine avec les guérisseurs traditionnels et représentants d’Indiens de Yurakare et Trinitario des forêts pluvieuses de la Bolivie. Ces groupes d’autochtones n’ont pas accès à la médecine de l’ouest et sont pour leurs soins de santé presque entièrement dépendants de leurs propres traditions.

Durant ces réunions de travail les visions des autochtones et ceux de l’ouest à propos de reconnaître et de guérir les maladies s’échangent.  Les guérisseurs parlent de leurs plantes médicinales qu’ils emploient pour le foie et la vésicule biliaire, pour diminuer la fièvre et la douleur et contre les parasites intestinaux ainsi que les poux. Certaines de ces maladies diagnostiquées par les guérisseurs sont aussi connues dans la médecine des pays de l’ouest. Mais d’autres maladies comme le ” desombro ” (être pris par la terre) ou ” mocheó ” (causé par l’odeur d’un homme ou d’un animal mort) ont un fort impact culturel pour lequel dans la médecine de l’ouest il n’existe pas de « traduction » directe.

La prolongation du dialogue entre médecins, étudiants en médecine et guérisseurs traditionnels dans ces communautés autochtones via les réunions de travail est importante si on veut apporter des soins de santé efficaces et culturellement acceptables.