Juana Gomez

Mixtec traditional medicine

The Mixtec community has practiced traditional medicine since ancient times; knowledge about healing with herbs has been passed on generation to generation, and only to direct desendants.  Mixtecs take advantage of herbs’ healing properties and use them in different ways depending on the illness.  Herbs could be used in fomentos, teas, plasters, baths, and gargles, among many other forms.  In the Mixtec and other indigenous communities, traditional doctors are very respected and well treated.  This vocation is very important because many members of the indigenous community are not used to be treated by Western doctors, especially because these doctors do not speak indigenous languages.

Juana Gomez is native to Mixtec region of Oaxaca, Mexico.  For more than five generations, Juana’s family had been dedicated to learning about the benefits of plants to our bodies.  She learned how to prepare natural remedies from her grandmother, Sotera Velazco, she become her apprentice at a very young age.  From her grandmother, she learned to love and recognize the smell of the different medicinal herbs; she learned how to classify the plants and how to cure with them.  Currently, Juana still practices traditional medicine at her home in Madera, California.  She helps many Mixtec farmworkers who seek an herbal remedy for their illnesses.  She can easily communicate with them in their native language and they trust her because she shares with them their customs and traditions.  Juana’s work serving the Mixtec community is not limited to only prescribing healing herbs but also refering people to screening programs that could help them improve their health. 

Juana was a master artist in ACTA’s Apprenticeship Program in 2012 with her daughter and apprentice Johanna Gomez.  The goal of this apprenticeship was for Johanna, who has been assisting her mother since childhood, to inherit the secrets of Oxacan traditonal herbal medicine so she can practice it in a safe and responsible way.  Johanna learned how to distinguish toxic and poisonous plants for external use and the different amounts to be prescribed for children and adults.