The World Health Organization (WHO) defines traditional medicine as “the sum total of knowledge, skills, and practices based on the theories, beliefs, and experiences indigenous to different cultures that are used to maintain health, as well as to prevent, diagnose, improve, or treat physical and mental illnesses.”
Traditional medicine is the oldest form of healthcare in the world. Certain traditional medicine systems are supported by volumes of literature and records regarding theoretical concepts and practical skills; others are passed down from generation to generation via verbal teaching. There are varying systems of traditional medicine, and the philosophy and practices of each are heavily influenced by prevailing conditions, environment, and geography within which it first evolved. However, a common credo is a holistic approach to life, equilibrium of the mind, body, and surroundings — placing emphasis on health as opposed to disease. The focus is on an individual’s overall condition instead of a particular ailment from which any given patient suffers. Herbs are a core part of all systems.
Where Is Traditional Medicine Practiced?
In some areas, the majority of the population continues to rely on their own traditional medicine practices to meet their primary health care needs. About 90% of Africa’s population and 70% of India’s depend on traditional medicine to assist in meeting their health care needs. In China, traditional medicine accounts for roughly 40% of all health care delivered, and over 90% of general hospitals in the country have designated traditional medicine units.
Practices regarded as traditional medicine include traditional Chinese medicine, traditional Korean medicine, traditional African medicine, traditional Native American, Ayurveda, Siddha medicine, Unani, ancient Iranian Medicine, Iranian (Persian), Islamic medicine, Muti, Ifá, traditional Mexican medicine, and Hispanic folk medicine. Among those, the most widely used traditional medicine systems today include those of China, India, and Africa.
Outside of its traditional culture, traditional medicine is often referred to as complementary and alternative medicine (TCAM or CAM). In certain countries, the terms are used interchangeably with traditional medicine.
What’s the Difference Between Herbal and Conventional Medicine?
Herbal medicine is the use of plants to treat disease and enhance general health and wellbeing. Herbal medicines have been used throughout the beginning of human history and played a pivotal role in preventing and treating various diseases. Herbal medicine aims to return the body to a state of natural balance so that it can heal itself.
The main difference between herbal and conventional medicine is that herbal medicines contain a combination of chemicals instead of a single, pharmacologically-active substance. Herbal medicines may also be used in various ways. For example, they can be prescribed by herbalists as part of holistic treatment and are commonly available as OTC products for self-medication or after a pharmacist consultation.
Why Use Traditional Medicine?
Let’s take a look at why an individual, or community at large, may value traditional medicine:
Regardless of why an individual uses traditional medicine, it provides an important health care service whether people have access to allopathic medicine or not, and it is a flourishing global commercial enterprise. Booming popularity in recent decades has prompted the incorporation of herbal and various forms of traditional medicine into many health care systems and its inclusion in the medical training of doctors throughout the developed world.
Traditional Medicine and Herbal Remedies from Vidl Wellness
Health care consumers have increasingly turned to traditional medicine and herbal remedies over the past few decades because the consumer perceives it as being more effective and having fewer side effects than pharmaceuticals. For more information about our full-spectrum herbal extracts and how we can help you nourish your body, reach out to our team today!