Traditional Medicine

The phrase Traditional medicine (Folk or indigenous medicine) refers to the medical learning methods which developed over centuries within several societies before the period of modern medicine. Traditional medicines are practises of medicine such as Ayurvedic medicine, herbal medicine, Unani medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, Siddha Medicine, spinal manipulation, acupuncture, Yoruba Ifá, South African Muti and other medical learning and practises throughout the world.

WHO 2003

According to the World Health Organization, traditional medicine is “…the health practises, knowledge, approaches, and beliefs integrating plant, mineral, and animal based medicines, manual techniques, spiritual therapies, and exercises, applied singularly or in combination to diagnose, treat, and prevent illnesses or maintain well-being.” They also note that “inappropriate use of traditional medicines or practises can have negative or dangerous effects” and that “further research is needed to ascertain the efficacy and safety” of several of the practises and medicinal plants used by traditional medicine systems. The central group, which conducts study on traditional medicine, includes medical anthropology and its sub-fields, ethnomedicine, and ethnobotany.

Brief History

Early documented compilers of existing and present herbal learning were the ancient Greek physicians and philosophers such as Hippocrates, Dioscorides, Theophrastus, Galen, and Aristotle, and Roman writers Pliny the Elder and Celsus the Roman encyclopaedist. Their compilations became the keystone of medical theory of the Europeans and were interpreted by the Arabs Avicenna, Persian Rasis, and Jewish Moses Maimonides. Versions of Greek medical reference and handwritten books into Arabic appeared in the 8th and 9th centuries. The translations of the said books began to spread, which led to the development of indigenous medicine of Spain, America, and other countries.

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