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Traditional medicine (also known as indigenous or folk medicine) comprises knowledge

systems that developed over generations within various societies before the era of
modern medicine. 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." [1]
In some Asian and African countries, up to 80% of the population relies on traditional
medicine for their primary health care needs.
The WHO notes however that "inappropriate use of traditional medicines or practices can
have negative or dangerous effects" and that "further research is needed to ascertain the
efficacy and safety" of several of the practices and medicinal plants used by traditional
medicine systems.[1]
Traditional medicine may include formalized aspects of folk medicine, that is to say
longstanding remedies passed on and practised by lay people. Folk medicine consists of
the healing practices and ideas of body physiology and health preservation known to some in
a culture, transmitted informally as general knowledge, and practiced or applied by anyone in
the culture having prior experience. Similarly, a home remedy is a treatment to cure
a disease or ailment that employs certain spices, vegetables, or other common items.
Indigenous medicine is generally transmitted orally through a community, family and
individuals until "collected". Within a given culture, elements of indigenous medicine
knowledge may be diffusely known by many, or may be gathered and applied by those in a
specific role of healer such as a shaman or midwife.[20] Three factors legitimize the role of the
healer – their own beliefs, the success of their actions and the beliefs of the community
All cultures and societies have knowledge best described as folk medicine. Although there is
large overlap, the denotative and connotative definitions differ. [23][24] Folk medicine often
coexists with formalized, education-based, and institutionalized systems of healing such as
Western medicine or Great traditional medicine systems likeAyurvedic, Unani medicine,
and Chinese medicine, but is distinguishable from formalized or institutionalized healing
A home remedy is a treatment to cure a disease or ailment that employs certain spices,
vegetables, or other common items. Home remedies may or may not havemedicinal
properties that treat or cure the disease or ailment in question, as they are typically passed
along by laypersons (which has been facilitated in recent years by the Internet). Many are
merely used as a result of tradition or habit or because they are effective in inducing
the placebo effect.[25]
One of the more popular examples of a home remedy is the use of chicken soup to
treat respiratory infections such as a cold or mild flu, and according to one in vitrostudy, there
may be benefit from this use.[26]
According to Johns Hopkins University, more than 40 percent of Americans report using
alternative medicine therapies for pain control when prescribed medications prove to be
ineffective. Alternative medicine offers an integrated approach to healing and may include
interventions such as herbal remedies, reflexology, chiropractic, nutritional supplements,
massage therapy and acupuncture. With more medical professionals beginning to suggest the
use of alternative therapies in combination with conventional medical treatments, many more
studies are underway to examine both the usefulness and safety of these nonstandard
Many people turn to alternative medicine therapies for pain relief when traditional treatments
fail to work. Alternative medicine also offers treatment options to individuals who do not have
access to pain clinics under their health insurance plans. A study conducted by researchers at
the University of Michigan Health System found that older individuals, who are more likely to

use alternative therapies more frequently. Results of the study are published in the January 2010 issue of the journal Pain Medicine.suffer chronic pain conditions. The study takes a look at the increasing use of alternative treatment modalities as a way to manage chronic pain. .