Modern medicine is finally starting to accommodate traditional medicine, though traditional medicine is still overlooked or regarded as a primitive form of treatment, providing nothing but placebo effects. According to the American National Cancer Institute, modern medicine is:
A system in which medical doctors and other healthcare professionals (such as nurses, pharmacists, and therapists) treat symptoms and diseases using drugs, radiation, or surgery. (NCI, para. 1)
On the other hand, the World Health Organization (WHO) defines traditional medicine as:
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. (Zhang, 2000, p. 1)
Traditional medicine is very different from modern medicine, and without disputing the benefits to modern medicine, it is essential to recognize the positive impact traditional medicine has upon people worldwide. A large aspect of traditional medicine is the usage of medicinal plants, which are the focus of this report. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that nearly 35,000 plants and herbs are the basis of natural remedies (FAO, 2007, para. 1). Despite misconceptions, traditional medicine and medicinal plants are widely used, both for primary care and complementary purposes. Almost 80% of the world’s population depends mainly on traditional medicine, and it is steadily increasing in popularity over the years as a form of alternative care in developed countries (FAO, 2007, para. 1); (Bent, 2008, par...
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...also be implemented without integration, but it is more effective when traditional medicine is recognized and a part of the healthcare system, rather than a largely unregulated commercial body.
The irony of traditional medicine is that as our modern medical systems begin to accept it and its validity, the consequences of our industrial behaviours are endangering medicinal plants when we need them most. Integration would help those who rely on traditional medicine primarily and alternatively, but would certainly not fix everything. Proper regulation and education are integral to protecting this valuable knowledge, as well as a continuing conversation with indigenous people worldwide. As globalization and urbanization continue to pressure diverse indigenous populations, governments must promote indigenous culture in order to enhance the diversity of our world.
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