Integrative and complementary practices in the health field: towards a decolonization of knowledge and practices

Maria Beatriz Guimarães João Arriscado Nunes Marta Velloso Adriana Bezerra Islândia Maria de Sousa About the authors


This essay contributes to the dialogue between the approaches of Epistemologies of the South and the health field, focusing on the relationship between biomedicine and traditional, complementary and integrative knowledge and practices. Such relations are explored by using dimensions of knowledge, power and the self, based on the perspective of decolonization. This is a theorical-conceptual study. The decolonization of knowledge aims to decolonize science and appropriate it in an anti-hegemonic manner to value interculturality, enabling the inclusion of different types of knowledge and care practices. The decolonization of power presupposes equality in the face of free access while performing different types of therapeutic resources, not considered as marginal forms of treatment. The decolonization of the self incorporates therapeutic practices in subjective areas, such as religiosity/spirituality and the arts, which are necessary to a whole conception of the person. Ecologies of knowledges emerge from the encounters and articulations of these dimensions, as a pathway for decolonization in health. The public health field has a central role in this process, but its conception of health must be broadened by incorporating diversity and plurality of knowledges and social practices.

Epistemology; Decolonization; Public Health; Complementary Therapies; Interculturality

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