Beyond Western Medical Techniques: Ethnomedicine
Ethonomedicine is the study of traditional medicines and how they are perceived by people from a biological anthropology stand point. It is a multidisciplinary field that considers culturally relevant practices of medicine and studies the way it affects the people as a whole. There are many different approaches to medicine and how they are affected by the cultural impact, the natural environment, the religious views and the biological components of disease.
Traditional medicine refers to the practice of medicine or healing that has been used for centuries and has been passed down by earlier generations. Most often, the traditional medicine used reflects aspects of a particular culture and religious beliefs. Many forms of traditional medicine use herbal ingredients to cure ailments in the body. Herbal medicine has been used in traditional Chinese medicine, Arabic medicine, and African medicine as well as many other types of traditional medicine.
- Ayurveda: Practice of medicine or health indigenous to India that focuses on the well being of an individual. The reliance of balance in the five elements of earth, water, fire, metal and wood are the backbone of this practice. Yoga, massage therapy, and meditation are intrinsic methods used to bring balance to the body, mind and spirit.
- Chinese Medicine: The basis of the Chinese medicine philosophy depends on the metaphysical balance of the yin and the yang. Rejuvenation and balance is restored by using acupuncture, herbal medicine and herbal therapies.
- Islamic Medicine: Ancient Islamic medicine has made many contributions to modern day science and medicine. Derived from the teachings of the Greeks such as Hippocrates, Islamic Medicine incorporates their culture into the medical practices.
- Herbal Medicine: Known as herbalist, this medicine is practiced based on the concept of pharmacology but instead of the understanding the chemical compounds of traditional medicine, the practice focuses on plants and herbs. The medicinal affect from many herbs can have just as strong of an affect as traditional medicine, and sometimes a stronger affect.
- Korean Medicine: A PDF detailing clinical trials for acupuncture in traditional Korean medicine. Several acupuncture methods outside the traditional Chinese acupuncture system were used. Korean medicine has distinct differences from other oriental medicine practices.
- African Medicine: A combination of tribal healing methods using herbal remedies as well as reliance on the spiritual guidance to combat disease and promote health.
- Jamu: A PDF outlining a study of the use of the ancient Indonesian traditional practice of medicine that most often includes primarily the use of herbs.
- Traditional Hawaiian Medicine: A type of medicinal healing that includes the use of herbs and other plants.
Difference Between Western and Other Medical Practices
Western medicine is based on research, scientific evidence and discoveries. Western medicine is typically successful when treating a particular injury or something an emergency that would require immediate attention. Western medicine relies heavily on evidence and commonly attempts to treat the disease rather than the person. Traditional medicine, sometimes called alternative medicine, generally takes into account the body, mind and spirit when practicing any type of healing methods on a person. Other types of medical practices such as acupuncture refer to the bodies’ meridian points or chakras when treating a person.
- Africans Afraid of Western Medicine: The approach of western medicine can sometimes conflict with cultural and religious beliefs of other countries in the world. Some of these alternative practices of medicine were passed down from several generations leading back to the ancient times. Western medicine, although advanced to westerners, is viewed by other cultures as barbaric and futile.
- Traditional vs. Western Medicine: Traditional healers can oftentimes treat the whole person rather than just the body and ailments focused on by western medicine. In Africa many HIV patients prefer traditional medicine healers because of this personal approach rather than the impersonal approach of the westerners.
- Different Approaches: Traditional Chinese medicine focuses on the entire balance of the body while western medicine focuses on healing trauma and injury to the body.
- Western Medicine Implications: A Chinese proverb states that if a person takes medicine but fails to acknowledge or change their diet, the medicine is being wasted. This shows the different approaches of the different types of medical practice.
- Traditional Healing and Western Medicine: This PDF suggests a possible integration, but also debates the use of segregation of the two types of medical practices.
- Eastern and Western Approaches to Medicine: An article that outlines the differences between the two types of medical practices.
- Acupuncture Being Westernized: A viewpoint that interprets how western medicine has limited the affect of acupuncture by only accepting the result and economic result of acupuncture use rather than the entire mind body experience.
Most western medicine doctors are required to complete several graduate level programs in order to earn a medical doctorate and license to practice medicine. This can equate to over 8 years of training beyond secondary school depending on the specialty. Many doctors or healers who practice traditional medicine do not always have or are not always required to have a license. In some indigenous cultures, there is no formal training other than a type of apprenticeship when practicing the art of healing. The cures and methodologies used in some forms of traditional medicine are passed down from preceding generations.
- Chinese Medicine Training: The Chinese government requires the practitioners of Chinese medicine to be educated at an accredited school as well as meet all of the ethical guidelines established by the medical board.
- Ayurveda Training in India: The Indian government requires training at a recognized training facility in order to practice Ayurveda medicine. This formal training studies focus on the systems of the body including the five elements and the doshas.
- Training for African Medicine: Training for traditional ancient African medicine or healing as they call it is an informal training process that is taught through what is like an apprenticeship type program.
- Traditional vs. Modern Medicine for AIDS: IN a study conducted in Africa on the preference of western medical practitioners versus traditional practitioners a higher percentage of women suffering from AIDS preferred traditional medicine over western medicine.
- Chinese Medicine Vs. Western Medicine: A study of Chinese medicine versus western medicine was conducted and it was found that Chinese people preferred traditional medicine in most cases accept when they know for certain what the ailment is or if they want an instant relief from symptoms.
- Ayruveda Training: Training Resource in the Unites States for those intending to become a practitioner of Ayruveda medicine.
- WHO Training: The World Health Organization offers resources for those interested in training in traditional medical practices from different countries and cultures.