Today, the US is home to about 42 million African Americans. Their share in the population of the country, due to a fairly significant natural raise, is gradually increasing and now stands at about 13% of the total population. As any ethical minority, African Americans can be either from the rich, poor or middle class. As to the representatives of the middle class, they tend to visit the church and explain health or illness as God’s attendance. They usually lead a healthy way of life and have medical insurance. African Americans usually have strong religious attachments. Maintaining good health is often associated with an excellent religious practice. Numerous churches have health departments through which worshippers and parish nurses hold up good health with cold shots, checking of blood pressure and health education. Researchers investigated that the rich among all social groups have a tendency to move away from their origin communities and turn out to be less traditional. On the contrary, the poor are more prone to follow all cultural traditional and religious practices that are known as CAM (Complementary and Alternative Medicine). Such practices became very popular in the USA in recent decades.

CAM is a modality or therapy that either compliments or serves as an alternative to traditional medicine. In other words, it is a combination of various medical and health care practices, including the usage of many natural forms of herbs, body movement, and body energy.

The reason for the popularity of such nontraditional medicine is that it is cheaper than the usual treatment in hospitals as it does not require a lot of technology or man factory manipulation. All medicines can be prepared just at home, using simple household materials and alternative therapy education. People are not afraid to be hurt and use such an alternative solution. In any case, they always have an opportunity to come back to the classic forms of medicine.

Interestingly, the medical belief of the lower class of black Americans reproduces their social, political and economic nonconformity. A sensible lifestyle is viewed as the basis for fine health with a particular emphasis on keeping one’s body from cold, being clean inside and outside and upholding a proper diet. Diseases and other life trials are explained as “natural” or “unnatural”. As to natural illnesses, they have resulted from cold, dirt, as well as an improper diet that causes changes in the blood. Such diseases are usually treated with the help of herbs.

Another factor that is also significant in human health is divine punishment as a tool of social control. Illnesses that are called unnatural, in the belief of many African Americans, are the result of witchcraft (it also reveals conflict in the social network). It is believed that physicians cannot realize and effectively treat such complaints, but some traditional healers suggest help to the sufferers. Doctors have to elicit such beliefs in order to interact effectively with African American patients. It is also required to make social changes to get rid of the feelings of weakness at the root of countless health problems of the poor African Americans.

In conclusion, it should be said that today African Americans pay much more attention to their health. Moreover, they are becoming more health-conscious, seek health screenings or treatments; however, the health literacy of these people is likely to vary by generation. For example, older African Americans are often suspicious of clinicians and have some fear because of the past generations’ experiences with health care. As traditional spiritual rituals and herb medicine are not effective, especially if the disease is serious, doctors of classic medicine are to work hard. Their work is aimed to decrease health discrepancy among African Americans and it must be done in a holistic way, addressing at once the physical, spiritual and emotional health of patients and their families. Moreover, it is important to make connections with the members of the community and recognize the environment in the community, considering each patient as a unique individual. Generalizations may not be appropriate to each African American patient, because not all the patients conform to usually known specific for this tradition behavior, actions, and beliefs.

This post was written by Bridget Curry, a writer from