Scientific Basis of Traditional Medicine

Even though of antiquital origin, traditional medicine was not lost in antiquity as did many other ancient practices with development and progress of human civilization. Thus it can be said that traditional medicine has survived the test of time and is still practised all over the world. No system on earth could survive for such a long time unless it is based on some solid foundations. That this observation is not incorrect and that traditional medicine has enough scientific basis and credibility can be seen from the examples of traditional medicine cited below.

Traditional Medicine

  • Phytochemical and pharmacological investigations have shown that the plant-components of most traditional medicines used in the treatment of oral diseases, wounds and skin infections contain antibiotic and anti-inflammatory principles. They are also present in most of the plant materials recommended in traditional medicine as toothbrush and chewing sticks.
  • The ingredients of most traditional medicine used in the treatment of gastrointestinal and skin diseases have been found to contain tannins, which possess astringent and antibiotic properties.
  • The plant-components of a number of traditional medicines used in the treatment of stomach troubles contain fixed oils, which as emollients diminish gastric acidity secretion, peristalsis and pyloric tone.
  • Most of the plant-ingredients of the traditinal medicines used for curing gastro-intestinal disorders contain volatile oils It is scientifically established that volatile oils enhance appetite and facilitate digestion by promoting salivation stimulating secretion of gastric fluids and reduce billiary and gastric colic through Canninative action.
  • Many traditional medicines used for oral diseases also contain volatile oil-containing plants.
  • The leaves of Neem tree (Azadirachta indica) and roots of Bab la tree (Acacia arabica), used in traditional medicine for treating fevers, including malaria, have now been scientifically demonstrated to possess definite antipyretic and anti-malarial properties.
  • The extracts of Vanda roxburghii Lonchoearpus cyanescens, Temunalia ivorensis and Costus of er, which are used in traditional medicine for treating arthritis, have been confirmed to possess anti-arthritic activity in laboratory animals.
  • The leaves and fruits of Coccinea cordifolia, seeds of Eugenia jambolana, bark of Ficus benghalensis and leaves of Bridelia ferruginea are popularly used in traditional medicine for treatment and management of diabetes. The anti-diabetic property of these plants has been substantiated by clinical experiments.
  • Extracts of Senna leaves and the aloetic juice of Aloe leaves are used as popular remedy for constipation. The chemical constituents of these plant parts are now commonly used in modem medicine for their laxative properties.
  • Datura stramonium and Atropa belladonna have long been used in traditional medicine as popular pain-killer drugs. The chemical constituents of these plants, hyoscine, hyoscyamine and atropine, are now commonly used as antispasmodic and mydriatic drugs in modem medicine.
  • Roots of Rauvolfia serpentina have long been used in this subcontinent for treating high blood pressure, insomnia and mental diseases, including insanity. The active constituents of these roots, reserpine, deserpidine and rescinnamine, are also used in modem medicine for the same purposes.
  • Hundreds of other similar examples of plants used in traditional medicine are there whose therapeutic efficacy and rationality of use have been established scientifically by isolation and pharmacological testing of their chemical constituents.

As evident from the examples cited above, it can therefore be said that the traditional medicine is a scientifically valid system as the properties and actions of the drugs used in this system are backed and supported by scientific investigations.

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