Traditional Medicine and Alternative Medicine

Traditional Medicines, Alternative Medicine and Complementary Natural Therapies, Traditional medicine also known as indigenous or folk medi...

Traditional Medicines, Alternative Medicine and Complementary Natural Therapies, Traditional medicine also known as indigenous or folk medicine. Traditional medicine can perform better than modern medicine. According to WHO (World Health Organization) traditional Medicine is:

"Traditional medicine is the sum total of the knowledge, skills, and practices based on the theories, beliefs, and experiences indigenous to different cultures, whether explicable or not, used in the maintenance of health as well as in the prevention, diagnosis, improvement or treatment of physical and mental illness."
Traditional medicine, alternative medicine, natural therapies and complementary therapies are terms that are often used interchangeably, although involve therapies and diverse medical systems, both in origin and in their theories on the concept of health and disease, and effectiveness and typology.
Traditional Medicine and Alternative Medicine
Traditional Medicine and Alternative Medicine

According to WHO, 80% of the population living in developing countries is mainly treated with traditional medicines. As a country develops will give back to their traditional medical practices attracted by the mirage of drugs based medicine, technology and Western surgery that apparently cures everything (but not).

Why Traditional Medicine is better than Modern Medicine?

Interestingly, it happens that when countries sufficiently developed, we realize that there are pathologist to which we can only aspire to become chronic through continued treatment that will not cure your ailment, but keeps you more or less controlled at the expense sometimes of a high price for your pocket or taxpayer, and the risk directly proportional to the number of medicines taken for each disease and duration of these side effects. This is one of the reasons why every year more people in developed countries approach to alternative or complementary medicine with the intention of getting a treatment that eliminates their ailments definitely or a more innocuous, sometimes naively and misleading but others with very good results. Curious circle of development and medicine, right? So you can try alternative medicine instead of modern medicine.

What WHO Thinks about Traditional Medicine

Today we will see what the World Health Organization (WHO) says about such therapies as recommended member states to promote their use and incorporation into national health systems and research on its effectiveness and security to build a knowledge base together, you go putting each therapy in place, moving towards an integrative medicine therapies, which have a more holistic view of health and disease, and take ancestral knowledge accumulated over the years, which they are cultural wealth. We will also see if there is a traditional Western medicine or is it just a matter of Eastern cultures.

Allopathic health against alternative health: We believe synergies

  • Traditional and complementary health medicine, welfare and health care focused on people, and promote access and safe, efficient, friendly and affordable use of them by regulating products, practices and practitioners and their training".

WHO sets four strategic objectives to member states on traditional medicines:

  • At the political level: encouraged to integrate traditional medicine into national health systems through the development and implementation of national policies and programs on traditional medicine; 
  • Safety, efficacy and quality: Promote the safety, efficacy and quality of traditional medicine by expanding the knowledge base and providing advice on regulatory standards and quality assurance, encouraging and promoting research into traditional and complementary medicine. 
  • Access: improve the availability and affordability of traditional medicine, and especially access of poor people 
  • Rational use: promoting rational therapeutic use of traditional medicine among professionals and users.

Definitions traditional and complementary medicine

What is Traditional Medicine?: Although we often use the terms traditional, complementary or alternative medicine indifferently, WHO defined the first two terms in a differentiated manner, covering products, practices and practitioners. The term "alternative medicine" should be left to use.

Traditional medicine

Traditional medicine is one that has a long history within a given culture, before the contemporary scientific era. It is the sum total of the knowledge, skills and based on the theories, beliefs and experiences of different cultures, whether explicable or not, used to maintain health and prevent, diagnose, improve or treat physical and mental illnesses practices. They include Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurvedic Medicine India, Phytotherapy and Western naturopathy, traditional Homeopathy (unicist), aromatherapy and other indigenous medicines (2), including practices of shamanism that use psychoactive plants such as Ayuhuasca of Amazon or Peyote in Mexico as a means of healing.

Complementary Medicine The terms "complementary medicine" or "alternative medicine" refer to a broad set of practices of health care that are not part of tradition or conventional medicine of a given nor are fully integrated into the health system country predominant. In some countries, these terms are used interchangeably to refer to traditional medicine, but they are not. They include practices such as neural therapy, manual techniques such as osteopathy and chiropractic (some of whose techniques can be considered also used by traditional healers), contemporary homeopathic remedies etc.

WHO (World Health Organization) estimates that those non-traditional practices or variants thereof, to be considered complementary medicines or therapies have to prove their effectiveness before being administers as such.

The same goes for the dozens of new therapies that appear from time to time without the backing of any studies but yes, often surrounded by a lot of technology, which helps to be admitted as scientific in the general population for the simple fact that technological and say that they are effective for quantum (the buzzword in technological alternative world) effects, such as appliances bioresonance, the Kirliam cameras, electroacupuncture of Voll, some types of low level laser etc etc .. or accompanied by a spiritual aura that makes them attractive to some people because of their "magic" component.

Benefits Traditional Medicine or Alternative Medicine

In many areas of naturopathy studies were carried out, whether they are really effective. It has been made comparative studies and various other therapies, so it could be ascertained whether the Naturopathy an impact. This was the case in most studies. Of course, the chance of a cure naturopathy from the disease, the stage of the application and the addition of the medicine depends. An advantage of naturopathy is the sufficient time for communication between the patient and medical practitioner. There is no time limit in the diagnosis. Even years disturbed body functions can be restored by the naturopathy. The forms of therapy are gentle and stress free. Insofar sensitive people can benefit from the alternative medicine. In the next few years, alternative medicine is greatly expanding. It is working on new therapies that complement conventional medicine.
Herbal medicine or traditional medicine or alternative medicine uses plants, or mixtures of plant extracts, to treat illness. You can try those method without having any hesitation however before any treatment you should take suggestion from any physician.

Disadvantages of alternative medicine or Traditional Medicine

The alternative medicine has many advantages, but also disadvantages. Especially with serious illnesses, serious disturbance or an infectious disease, naturopathy alone can not do anything. They should be seen as a complement to conventional medicine, not as a substitute. Drugs and the like are necessary for most diseases. Symptoms can thus be eliminated more quickly by mainstream medicine, as it is possible by the naturopathy. The healing process of Alternative Medicine runs over several weeks and months. In this respect everyone must decide whether the alternative medicine is the right way themselves. Many doctors work with medical practitioners, because hope is one of the best medicines. Likewise the aggressive means of conventional medicine are not always necessary.

Is There  any Traditional Western Medicine?

Traditional medicines are not only in the eastern countries and indigenous populations in the West also had (and have) Western Traditional Medicine. It was in origin practiced by the Greek physicians like Hippocrates, which was evolved throughout history and achievements through physicians of the Roman empire with Galen, and the contributions that Arabs and Persians became the dominant medical knowledge the time, by cutting some influences. The difference with other traditional medicines, is that in the West the development of the scientific method and experimentation have led to question what existed and great discoveries that were discarded theories. And gradually was forgetting so much what did not work as it was useful for the advancement of scientific research, the ability to isolate, synthesize and modify active principles of plants, the arrival of drugs, vaccines, antibiotics , surgical advances, and the establishment of the increasingly powerful pharmaceutical industry from the nineteenth century and especially the twentieth.

Whole revolution of contemporary medicine has led to forget and marginalize in part, our traditional medicine that has ceased to form part of the knowledge of doctors and nurses, and has become handled frequently by people without sufficient training to use so effective and safe.

Some of these therapies, although in theory continue to be part of our medicine are absolutely marginalized and aggrieved by our government. There is the possibility to visit with naturopathic doctors in the health system, years ago that products made from plants is not funded, so it affects the population to consume drugs and professionals to recommend medicines reimbursed, often with more side effects, which are also cheaper than natural, entering a vicious circle of medicalization to save (both citizens and professionals) condemning forgotten our traditional treatments. For example:

  • For anxiety or insonio: a box of orfidal worth 1 euro 50 days of treatment, while capsules that combine Valerian and passionflower can cost 12.06 euros for 20-30 days without discount prescription. 
  • For coughs, colds or bronchitis, a syrup pharmacy which were before prescription can cost 3-6 euros, while one herbal 10-14 euros, probably the second most beneficial than the first .

They are just two examples but could put many more. Only mixtures of plants purchased from herbal infusion are cheap compared to the products prepared in tablets or syrups, but have the drawback of having to prepare each time must be consumed.

Every Governments should give the option to the citizens to receive primary care in naturopathy (and at least also with acupuncture) with qualified health professionals and recover the funding of some natural products with scientific evidence of effectiveness (there are many), setting competitive prices with reference drugs to promote a less aggressive medicine.

Tips for patients and consumers who go to traditional and complementary therapies

In the absence of regulation that exists in some country, where anyone can prescribe homeopathy to acupuncture, practice massages, perform spinal manipulations or catch a beach bar where both manicure done as acupuncture needles are placed, citizenship is quite exposed the bad practice of non-professional or properly trained can do more harm than good, both treatments applied, for those who fail to apply or erroneous information transmitted to patients about their ailments people recommendations diets or taking and withdrawal of medications that can advise. Given these risks, you need to ask patients to a therapist or therapy that will ask the following questions:

Question to ask before taking Traditional Medicine

  • Is it appropriate therapy for your illness or condition? 
  • Cure symptoms or otherwise contribute to improving health and consumer welfare? 
  • Are there studies to evaluate its effectiveness, safety and compared against placebo and conventional treatments? 
  • Does it provide therapy or herbal medicines a qualified traditional, complementary and alternative medicine or a professional health care training, skills and appropriate knowledge, preferably registered and certified professional? 
  • Do the products or herbal medicinal materials quality assurance and what the side effects of these products or materials and the precautions to be taken are? 
  • Are therapies or herbal medicinal products are offered at competitive prices?

Traditional Medicines and some Complementary Medicines can bring benefits to the health of the population and governments should integrate them into national health systems, especially at the level of primary health care, favoring a model of integrative health care and vision holistic health and disease.
  • Health professionals should pay more attention to traditional and complementary medicines, recover traditional Western medicine (naturopathy and herbal medicine) and promote training in complementary therapies that have demonstrated their effectiveness. 
  • It should be promoted by governments research in herbal medicine, neutral therapy, acupuncture, homeopathy, and manual therapies, to finance those that prove to be safe and effective, and discourage those who are not and involving a deception for the patient and an expense useless for the public coffers and private pockets. 
  • Governments should give the option to the citizens to receive primary care in naturopathy with qualified health professionals and recover the funding of some natural products with scientific evidence of effectiveness (there are many), setting competitive prices with reference drugs to encourage less aggressive medicine.
Not all natural, traditional or alternative is better or safer. Some plants and therapies also have their side effects and risks especially if they are recommended or applied by persons without training and experience.

Sources of Information for Alternative Medicine, complementary medicine, Traditional Medicine, Traditional and complementary medicine, Herbal medicine and a few book written on Medical History.

WHO (World Health Organization):
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
International Medical Group: 
American Holistic Health Association:

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