The problems are particularly acute in Michoacán, which has traditionally exported the greatest amount of informal labour to the US of any Mexican state, and is also historically the biggest recipient of remittances.
Edgardo Arqueta, a 35-year-old chemist living in the town of Tlalpujahua de Rayón, has never relied on dollars from the US, but he is hurting just the same. Sales of medicines and beauty products
at his pharmacy on the town's main street are down by about 80 per cent compared with last year.
In response, Mr Arqueta has stopped buying inventory. "There's just no point in stocking any of this stuff any more," he says, gesturing to the severely depleted
shelves behind him. Where people used to buy baby wipes
, they now use a damp
cloth. Where they bought antibiotics, they now use plants."
In Senguio, a small town in the hills of Michoacán, the absence of remittances has caused problems for most residents - but not for Elvira Ríos. For years, she has practised ancient, plant-based
medicine that she learned from an old woman who died many years ago. Most of the time, people come to her when their babies suffer with empacho, a stomach-related illness.
The 50 pesos (EUR2.98) that Ms Ríos charges is half the price of an appointment with the doctor. Many residents are not eligible for the government-run health clinic because they are not officially registered or do not qualify. Besides, the massage she gives together with a few sips of a laxative tea
made from local plants seems to do the job.
Carlos Zolla, an Argentina-born doctor and director of the "Mexico, a Multicultural Nation" programme at Mexico City's Unam university, says many of the cures
used in Michoacán date back to Aztec times. He says they are often a valid alternative to more expensive western medicines. "These cures are not appropriate for more serious illnesses, but for most of the common complaints they work very well," he says.
Even so, Rafael Vanegas, one of Senguio's doctors, is concerned that prolonged use of herbs
over modern medicine could lead to a decline in the population's health. "What worries me is that if the cures don't work, people's illnesses are more advanced by the time they finally decide to come here," he says.