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Beliefs, Meanings, and Practices of Healing with Botanicals Recalled by Elder African American Women in the Mississippi Delta
Jennie Gunn, PhD, FNP
Sheila Davis, PhD, RN, FAAN

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Abstract: The purpose of this study is to provide knowledge about the cultural beliefs, meanings, and practices of healing with botanicals as recalled by elderly African American women in the Mississippi Delta. The Mississippi Delta is bordered by the Mississippi River and is known for its agricultural production. In this study, the term botanicals refers to plants or plant parts valued for their medicinal or therapeutic properties. Knowledge about healing with botanicals enables nurses and other health care providers to design and implement culturally congruent and competent nursing care. Madeleine Leininger's Theory of Culture Care Diversity and Universality and the ethnonursing method are used in the study. Eight key informants and 16 general informants participated in the study. All informants have knowledge of healing with botanicals and reside in the Mississippi Delta. The following themes emerged from the data: (1) Defining health as getting up and going about your business and illness as the inability to go on; (2) Staying well by caring about self and doing right; (3) Recalling past times of need: healing with what nature provided-making do; (4) Caring and healing in modern times: roots, herbs, and plants a bygone era; (5) Caring and healing from God: the answer to everything; (6) Caring and healing from the hands of women: Woman as healer; and (7) Preserving the old ways of caring and healing: The treasure of the past. Keywords: Healing with botanicals, elder African American women, Mississippi Delta

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