Traditiotnal Health Practice :
Complimentary and Alternative Medicine

Understanding Traditional Medicine is necessary because it is what people mostly use in the developing world, but it causes delay in attending Biomedicine, which can be important for conditions like snake bites or leprosy. Complimentary and Alternative Medicine is used by 80% of the developed world’s population.

Warning Concerns about Traditional Health Practice (THP) include:

  1. How to collaborate with this predominant health service?
  2. How to approach the finding of evidence?
  3. How to use Traditional Medicine and when not to do so?
  4. Herbal Medicine and its identification, preparation, dosage, and its use as a topical: including written regimens such as Chinese or Indian Systems of Medicine.

Action The topic of Traditional Health Practitioners is addressed in Ryan et al’s (2011) Collaboration with Traditional Health Practitioners in the Provision of Skin Care in Sub-Saharan Africa (International Journal of Dermatology 50:564-570). The long term aim must be to train all THPS in the best possible practices.

Yoga and Ayurvedic herbals have proved essential in a successful Community Dermatology project for the control of Lymphoedema in South India lead by Dr. Narahari (see case study). It stresses the importance of physical exercises, posture and breathing-control in promoting physical and mental well being and the importance of demonstrating its control of the autonomic system. The accurate identification and home growing of herbal systems of medicine differs from biomedicine in the encouragement of synergism; in frequent changes in dosage and in mixtures, together with a planned intervention based not so much on physical signs but on the make up of the constitution when healthy.

"For ten years I struggled with a really painful chest condition that just wasn’t being helped by anything my GP prescribed. It was a small chinese herbalist who eventually spotted what was wrong."