The Next Big Thing in Traditional Remedies

Since prehistoric times (H Yuan, 2016), humans have used natural products, such as plants, animals, microorganisms, and marine organisms, in medicines to alleviate and treat diseases. According to fossil records, the human use of plants as medicines may be traced back at least 60,000 years. The use of natural products as medicines must, of course, have presented a tremendous challenge to early humans. It is highly probable that when seeking food, early humans often consumed poisonous plants, which led to vomiting, diarrhea, coma, or other toxic reactions—perhaps even death. However, in this way, early humans were able to develop knowledge about edible materials and natural medicines. Subsequently, humans invented fire, learned how to make alcohol, developed religions, and made technological breakthroughs, and they learned how to develop new drugs.

Traditional remedies is the sum total of the traditional knowledge, skill, and practices based on the theories, beliefs, and experiences indigenous to different cultures of various societies, including indigenous peoples that develop over generations, whether explicable or not, used in the maintenance of health and medical aspects as well as in the prevention, diagnosis, improvement or treatment of physical and mental illness before the era of modern medicine.

The culture of traditional religious practices and traditional medicine have been in sync for millennials. There are plenty of remedies for almost everything in a human life and it is not limited to health, marriage, sexual problems and financial problems. In the subsequent articles which will be published in WorldTrendz blogs, you will learn more about a vast collection of traditional remedies which contributes to the knowledge which will benefit all. These traditional systems of religious practices and medicine are each unique but there is a common thread in their fundamental principles and practices all over the world.

N Kanjanahattakij (2019) states that herbal and traditional medicines (HTM) are widely used in Asian countries. Rapid urbanization and globalization has led to a marked increase in non-communicable diseases (NCDs) around the world. As the pathological processes linked to NCD may take years to develop, the use of preventive medicine to target risk factors during the pre-symptomatic period might prevent the development of cardiovascular disease (CVD) or other chronic diseases. Continuous management of subclinical pathology requires very safe agents to be regularly taken for an individual’s lifetime. The use of herbal medicine either for primary prevention or as complementary and alternative medicine for CVD risk factors such as hypertension or diabetes and other NCD is thus of increasing interest to the public and the medical community.

It is frequently stated in the scientific literature (O Oyebode (2016), official fact sheets and reports and the press that 80% of people in Asian and African countries (or sometimes that 80% of the world’s population) use traditional medicine (TM) practitioners to meet their primary healthcare needs. In low- and middle-income countries where the number of practitioners of modern medicine may not be enough to meet the health care needs of the country, TM and its practitioners are considered an important resource for population health. Compared to modern medicine, TM is perceived to be more affordable, accessible and acceptable to the communities in which it operates. Integration of TM and modern medicine has been recommended by the WHO since 1978. The recently published WHO Traditional Medicine Strategy 2014–23 has two key goals, one of which is to support Member States in harnessing the potential contribution of traditional and complementary medicine to health, wellness and people-centered health care.

According to OMJ Kasilo (2019), African traditional medicine (ATM) and traditional health practitioners (THPs) could make significant contributions to the attainment of universal health coverage (UHC). Consequently, the WHO provided technical tools to assist African countries to develop ATMs as a significant component of healthcare. Many African countries adopted the WHO tools after appropriate modifications to advance research and development (R&D) of ATM. An analysis of the extent of this development was undertaken through a survey of 47 countries in the WHO African region. Results show impressive advances in R&D of ATM, the collaboration between THP and conventional health practitioners, quality assurance as well as regulation, registration and THP integration into the national health systems. 

Natural products and traditional medicines are of great importance (H Yuan, 2016). Such forms of medicine as traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurveda, Kampo, traditional Korean medicine, and Unani have been practiced in some areas of the world and have blossomed into orderly-regulated systems of medicine. In their various forms, they may have certain defects, but they are still a valuable repository of human knowledge. Although only a tiny fraction of the existing plant species have been scientifically researched for bioactivities since 1805, when the first pharmacologically-active compound morphine was isolated from opium, natural products and traditional medicines have already made fruitful contributions for modern medicine. When used to develop new drugs, natural products and traditional medicines have their incomparable advantages, such as abundant clinical experiences, and their unique diversity of chemical structures and biological activities. 

From ancient ages, India has a rich history of a traditional system of medicine based upon six systems, out of which Ayurveda stands to be the most important and has its roots in folk medicine. Ayurveda is one of the most widely used systems in traditional Indian medicine, emphasizing on the overall holistic medicine, which takes the body, mind, and spirit as a whole. These alternative medicines in the Indian traditional systems are derived mainly from herbs, minerals, and organic matter. 

Therapies in ayurveda include herbal medicines, special diets, meditation, yoga, massage, laxatives, enemas, and medical oils. As a matter of fact, Ayurvedic medicines are regulated as dietary supplements rather than as drugs in the United States, so they are not required to meet the safety and efficacy standards for conventional medicines which is a requirement in the United States. It is based on a healing system which uses a range of treatments.

References

Kanjanahattakij, N., Kwankhao, P., Vathesatogkit, P. et al. Herbal or traditional medicine consumption in a Thai worker population: pattern of use and therapeutic control in chronic diseases. BMC Complement Altern Med 19, 258 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12906-019-2652-z

Oyinlola Oyebode, Ngianga-Bakwin Kandala, Peter J Chilton, Richard J Lilford, Use of traditional medicine in middle-income countries: a WHO-SAGE study, Health Policy and Planning, Volume 31, Issue 8, October 2016, Pages 984–991, https://doi.org/10.1093/heapol/czw022

Kasilo OMJ, Wambebe C, Nikiema J, et alTowards universal health coverage: advancing the development and use of traditional medicines in AfricaBMJ Global Health 2019;4:e001517.

Yuan, Haidan, Qianqian Ma, Li Ye, and Guangchun Piao. 2016. "The Traditional Medicine and Modern Medicine from Natural Products" Molecules 21, no. 5: 559. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules21050559

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