Traditional Somali Diaspora Medical Practices in the USA: A Scoping Review

Asmaa Ferdjallah, Mohamed Hassan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Minnesota has the largest Somali diaspora in the world. Uniquely, the Minnesotan Somali diaspora utilizes traditional healing practices along with Western medicine. Therefore, medical providers who regularly interact with Somali patients must be aware of traditional healing practices. A scoping review inclusive of three databases (Embase Classic + Embase, Ovid MEDLINE, PsychINFO) was conducted. Fifty-eight studies met established criteria. Traditional medicine is performed with conventional medicine. Illnesses are acknowledged to be caused by a malfunctioning body, evil eye, and/or zar (possession). Examples of the utilization of dawo dhaqmeed (traditional practices) included ilko dacowo (dental enucleation), khat (catha edulis), guboow (use of a fire-heated object), cupping, xoq (scraping), xidhayn (female genital mutilation), duugto (massage), baan (nutrition), herbs, caano geel (camel milk), Qur’anic healing, prayer, zam zam (holy water), tahliil liquid (blessed water), and amulets. Practices ranged from benign to harmful. Identifying Somali traditional healing practices is the first step in understanding the health of the Somali community in Minnesota.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2412-2435
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Religion and Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • African medicine
  • Alternative medicine
  • Holistic medicine
  • Somali
  • Traditional medicine

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Review
  • Journal Article


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