Debra Hayes

Debra Hayes
  • Multi-ethnic, healer, global health researcher
  • Writer, Professor
  • Practicing applied and medical anthropology
  • Chinese Medicine Doctor (CMD) Candidate
topic: Health and Healing: Global Discourse and Traditional Healing
presentation (1.7MB)


Debra Hayes is a multi-ethnic, healer, global health researcher, writer and speaker whose life path and illness led her people and places beyond preconceived ideas and informed an anthropological life. More than 25 years ago, as an aspiring surgeon, it ultimately called her to step beyond custom and convention in order to retrace the footsteps of many lives and learn to see through "native eyes." While seeking ancient wisdom, curative and restorative techniques drew her to peoples and cultures, language and beliefs, healing and the interweaving of medicines.

Inquiry and exploration guided her to the Sioux, the Cherokee, the Navajo, and many others, through indigenous peoples of Mexico, the Maya, to the medicine in Laos and Sierra Leone, Ethiopian, Egyptian and Malaysian healers, Unani, Reiki, Energy, Tibetan and Quranic medicine, and to the diversity within Chinese medicine, informed by region, minority, multiple disciplines, and practice. The last of these has more fully consumed her time and life for more than ten years. However, each medicine practice calls to her, lures and excites her, inexplicably. Each has value. Through submission, willingly partaking of the ritual interaction, the multi-faceted engagement, imbibing the knowledge, skills and experience through apprenticeship and study with medicine men and Masters, humbly, appreciatively, she has vowed to uplift health and healing for all.

After teaching in the university and studying, translating and engaging in both field and formal study in a semi closed village in China with patients from more than sixty different countries, she has become increasingly aware of culture and beliefs, health practices and disparities. She is particularly well versed in the healing methods of the Chinese, Maya, Sioux, Laotians and Tibetans.

Encompassing more than 30 years, her global health and traditional/indigenous healing research has informed several areas of the World Health Organization (WHO) including the Traditional Medicine, Stop-TB, and Intellectual Property Rights committees. Accordingly, Debra has been asked by the government of Algeria and by citizens of Macedonia to help determine policies regarding traditional medicines. Within the last two years, she has presented findings in the US and abroad, including the WHO center in Beijing, China and the Ministry of Health. With deep and sincere gratitude to the Ancients, the global family, the patients and many teachers she has encountered along the way, she continues the quest for wisdom, sharing tales of experience.