Background. Folk remedy use is universal, occurring in all cultures. Folk remedies have been and still are relied on in the black community. In this study, folk remedies refer to herbs, over-the-counter medications, and items traditionally used for cooking that are used to treat a variety of ailments.

Objective. To identify folk remedies used to treat fever, colic, and teething among black children in Detroit, Michigan.

Methods. Structured interviews were conducted with caregivers of healthy black children <2 years of age who were patients of the general pediatric clinic at Children's Hospital of Michigan. Descriptive analysis of the frequency distribution of the responses was performed.

Results. One hundred seven caregivers agreed to participate. All participants were familiar with the use of folk remedies. Most caregivers learned of these remedies from their mothers or grandmothers. Older parents were more likely to use folk remedies, but there was no difference in remedy use among different levels of maternal education.

Conclusions. The knowledge and use of folk remedies were active in this black community. Their use seems to be cultural, rather than attributable to decreased access to health care. Physicians should be aware of these remedies, to educate families about remedies that may be harmful. Most remedies used pose no threat to health. In some cases, remedies may be blended with traditional medical treatments to ensure better patient compliance.

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