Author Topic: Folk Medicine Thrives in JH  (Read 3800 times)

Offline toddg

  • Moderator
  • Mayor
  • *******
  • Posts: 4029
  • Lived here since: 2002
Folk Medicine Thrives in JH
« on: November 19, 2007, 11:43:45 AM »

Queens Chronicle
Folk Medicine Thrives In Jackson Heights
by Radha Vij, Chronicle Contributor
   Jackson Heights is an area known for its rich cultural diversity, so the popularity of ethnic folk medicine comes as no surprise.

   It also has the highest rate of uninsured residents in New York City and this has further increased the popularity of ethnic folk medicines.

   According to a 2006 community profile report released by the city Department of Health, Western Queens residents are 60 percent more likely to be uninsured than in the rest of New York City and Queens and are more likely to rely on the emergency room for medical care and information.

   However, many in Jackson Heights often frequent stores that offer traditional and natural medicinal remedies. “So many more people are interested in natural and ethnic remedies now, not just the people from the home country either,” said Mike Patel, the owner of Jackson Heights Health Foods, which has been operating for over 40 years.

   Latin American botanicas, stores that specialize in selling folk remedies and other products from the Caribbean and other countries with large Hispanic populations are just one example of alternative medicine in the community.

   Botanica La Macarena’s manager, Mariantonia Gallego, is proud of folk medicine and its popularity in the community. “I am constantly busy with all kinds of customers, not just Latin people. There are Greeks, Jews and many Italians who come see me to cure them of all kinds of things – stomachaches, cataracts, cancer, migraines. I’ve cured them all with nature and God.”

   Gallego’s store, which has operated in Jackson Heights for 18 years, is covered with packets of dried herbs, roots, scented candles and beads from Brazil, Spain and the Caribbean Islands. There is dandelion root for indigestion, rosemary for stress, sage for stomachaches and an array of accompanying candles meant for luck, blessings and wishes.

   Gallego, however, isn’t the only skeptic about modern medicine in Jackson Heights. Mohsin Khan, an immigrant from Bengal who came to the United States over 30 years ago, is a firm believer in Ayurveda, the ancient Indian science of natural healing. He currently has two Ayurvedic practices in the city, one in Jackson Heights and one in Coney Island.

   His office in Jackson Heights is on 74th Street, in the heart of Little India. The modest three-room facility consists of his office, a receptionist’s room and a small waiting area. “I have been practicing Ayurveda for 15 years. I was looking for a way to really help people after I got my masters in public health … this is really it.”

   Kahn is a man in his 60s with white hair, a relaxed demeanor and baby-soft skin, which he swears is the result of Ayurveda. His patients seem to regard him as more of a guru than a health specialist and frequent his office as if they were stopping by to chat with a neighbor or friend.

   One of Khan’s patients, Ken Overgaard, 59, of Manhattan, heard of Kahn through his pharmacist. “My pharmacist said Kahn cured his painful hemorrhoids in one week when it took other doctors years to get rid of the problem. We initially went to see him because my fiancée’s mother was going through dialysis. Khan cured her pain but then we stayed and he has cured my back pain too,” Overgaard said.

   Instead of candles and beads used in the botanicas, Kahn prescribes herbal tonics and a holistic approach to an organic diet. “All I had to do was teach Ken how to eat, and then the rest fell into place,” he said.

   In fact, Overgaard is so taken with Khan that he is currently financing Khan’s third Ayurvedic practice in Manhattan.

   Overgaard is not Kahn’s only success story, though. Dilgit Singh, 51, an Indian immigrant who now lives in Jackson Heights, came to Kahn after having been to over 20 doctors.

   â€œI have problem with sugar in my blood and have a hole in (my) foot,” Singh said. As he continued to speak, he pointed to his foot, which was covered in dead black skin cells, blood specks and had a hole about one-half- inch-deep in the heel.

   â€œThe hole in his foot used to be 2 inches and I made it one-half an inch through the use of herbs and organic diet,” said Khan as Singh nodded in agreement while putting his worn sandal back on his foot.

   While botanicas and Ayurvedic clinics are only two places to get traditional folk remedies, they are the most popular, according to resident Amelia Zanes. “I always go to the botanica, especially when I know the kind of illness I have and don’t want to waste money at the doctor. Plus, I would rather take a bath in rosemary than eat medicine that makes me feel sick.”

Jackson Heights Life

Folk Medicine Thrives in JH
« on: November 19, 2007, 11:43:45 AM »