Traditional Medicine

Definition and Scope:

Traditional system of health care is an art of healing, which is based on traditional uses of plants, animals or their products and other natural substances (including some inorganic chemicals), religious verses, cultural practices and physical manipulations, including torture. As this system of medicine has been used almost unchanged continuously generation after generation throughout the ages for the treatment of various physical and psychological diseases the system is called traditional. In most cases the type, preparation and uses of traditional medicines are largely influenced by folklore customs and the cultural habits, social practices, religious beliefs and, in many cases, superstitions of the people who prescribe or use them. In other words, it is a system of medicine or medical practice, which is based on (a) past and continual or traditional uses of articles, medicinal or ritual, in the treatment of diseases, and (b) clinical experiences of the people of various generations throughout the ages. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has thus defined traditional medicine as “the sum total of all knowledge and practice, whether explicable or not, used in the diagnosis, prevention and elimination of physical, mental or social imbalance, relying exclusively on practical experience and observations handed down from generation to generation, verbally or in writing.”

Systems of Traditional medicine:

Traditional medicine includes not only medicinal substances of natural origin but also items like magic, charms, incantations, religious verses, spiritual methods, amulets, sacrifices, folklore customs and even physical and mental tortures. For these reasons, the forms of traditional medicine practised today ranges from highly organised and long-established Chinese, Ayurvedic and Unani systems to various Folk medical practices, such as herbalism, spiritualism and religious medical practices. Because of the fact that their origin is in the remote past and that most of them are still practised almost in the same way as in the past maintaining the tradition, they are collectively called Traditional medicine. The basic principle involved in traditional medicine is that it strives to treat the whole person rather than his isolated parts and thinks of him in relation to his emotional sphere and physical environment.

The traditional health care systems practised in Bangladesh include the Ayurvedic, Unani, Homeopathic and Folk medicine systems.

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