Rosanna Hess


Health care professionals; Community-based care; Herbal remedy; Non-conventional burn care; Skin grafting


Amish and Mennonites have a long standing heritage of caring for each other within the community and family setting using natural, herbal medicines and therapies. For several decades, in numerous Anabaptist communities across the United States, a burns and wounds treatment has been popularized by the training of hundreds of lay caregivers. Little is known outside these communities about the experiences of these caregivers dedicated to providing burns and wounds care. The aim of this study was to describe the lived experience of caregivers who use the Burns & Wounds ointment (B&W) and burdock leaf treatment. Twelve caregivers (eight women and four men) who provide care in five states were interviewed. They ranged in age from 34 to 55 years with eight to 12 years of care. Data were analyzed manually by content analysis. Four major themes provide a rich, in-depth description. Rewarding work with heavy responsibility and decisive action then waiting to heal are accounts of personal commitments to caregiving. Self-reliance along with collaboration portrays family and community involvement. Treatment disallowed versus negotiated support describes caregivers’ interactions with health care professionals. The use of the B&W burdock treatment is embedded in the cultural beliefs of these lay caregivers attending to their own, using natural products when possible, while respecting health care professionals’ knowledge and abilities. They believe their treatment reduces the need for skin grafts, high doses of analgesics, and cost. Their wish is for medical supervision of their patients, including vital signs and hydration, while they provide wound care.