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Traditional medicine

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The term describes medical knowledge systems, which developed over centuries within various societies before the era of modern medicine; In popular opinion the term is often considered interchangeable with such terms as Folk medicine, Alternative medicine, Indigenous medicine, Complementary medicine, Natural medicine, and some more. Given the simple definition for Alternative medicine as any healing practice "that does not fall within the realm of conventional medicine"[1], for example, such a confluence may seem valid. However, Complementary and Alternative medicine should still be understood as a separate discipline[2], while the rest may also be split in two. WHO defines Traditional Medicine as "the medicine that refers to health practices, approaches, knowledge and beliefs incorporating plant, animal and mineral based medicines, spiritual therapies, manual techniques and exercises, applied singularly or in combination to treat, diagnose and prevent illnesses or maintain well-being"[3], implying thus some high level of institutionalization of the health practices and medical tradition. Among Traditional and Natural medical traditions that carry high level of institutionalization and formalization are the following well-known (also in Western countries) medicine systems:

Less formalized medical traditions, tribal or other local health practices, rather fall under Indegenous medicine and Folk medicine definitions than under the term Traditional medicine. While Traditional medicine systems, such as listed above, are taken seriously by the modern evidence based medicine which is gradually incorporating traditional methods and treatments into the mainstream medicine, smaller Folk medicine traditions are largely ignored as many researchers' attitude is that many of the folk treatments that they test are "statistically indistinguishable from placebo treatments".[4]

Countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America use traditional medicine (TM) to help meet some of their primary health care needs. In Africa, up to 80% of the population uses local folk medicine for primary health care.

Techniques used in traditional medicine to treat psychological conditions

One of the core disciplines, which studies traditional medicines, is ethnomedicine.


  1. Bratman, MD, Steven (1997). The Alternative Medicine Sourcebook. Lowell House. p. 7. ISBN 978-1-56565-626-0
  2. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: What is CAM
  3. [1] WHO:Traditional Medicine: Definitions
  4. The Economist, "Alternative Medicine: Think yourself better", 21 May 2011, pp. 83–84.

External Links

hr:Tradicionalna medicinapt:Medicina tradicional

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