They say modern problems require modern solutions; but sometimes, the answers we look for are all readily available when you look into the past. In the field of medicine, traditional cures and practices are as relevant and important as modern-day medicines. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), traditional medicine (TM), known in the scientific field as complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), is involved in 65 to 80 percent of the world’s healthcare practices. In another report by the WHO, it is estimated that 80 percent of the emerging world population relies on traditional medicine for therapy.
The diverse techniques in medicinal practices, as well as the selection of remedies, across culture and traditions, have become essential in health management. There are numerous ancient cures such as the Unani, Ayurveda, and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) persisting today, despite the surge and discoveries of new treatments. And as old and as kicking as they were since archaic times, these ancient cures still offer potent cures to various ailments.
Recognized as the Unani System of Medicine (USM), it hails from Greece and later made its way to India, being brought by the Arabs and Persian settlers in the 7th century. According to the Unani practitioners, known as the Hakims, a healthy body is achievable through the alignment of al-umoor al-tabiyah, or the seven basic physiological principles. These are arkan (elements), mizaj (temperament), akhlat (bodily humors), aaza (organs and systems), arwah (vital spirit), quwa (faculties or powers), and afaal (functions). These components can be harmonized and balanced through the restoration of tabiyat, a self-regulating power against diseases to restore normal physiological functions of the body.
In 1976, the WHO recognized the USM as a valid treatment in global health care. The wonders of USM transcends some modern solutions for curing diseases like Vitiligo, Infective Hepatitis, Psoriasis, Renal and Bladder calculus, and so on. It’s significant as an affordable alternative health care choice for both developed and developing countries.
Ayurveda is a traditional medical system originating in India. For thousands of years, Ayurveda has helped Indians in curing their illnesses.
It follows three principles called doshas, which, as quoted by a study of evidence-based complementary alternative medicine, is a “regulatory control factors for fundamental physiologic processes in living systems that maintain their identity throughout biologic history: vata and its subdoshas regulating input/output processes and motion; pitta and its subdoshas regulating throughput, turnover, and hence energy; and kapha and its subdoshas regulating storage, structure, and lubrication.” Many chronic illnesses have responded well to Ayurvedic treatments, thus propelling its popularity in the field of alternative medicine.
Traditional Chinese medicine
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is one of the world’s oldest medical systems. Its practices revolve around the philosophy of yin and yang — dualities of light and dark that are opposite yet complementary forces. For over 2,000 years, TCM has achieved the healing and prevention of diseases and ailments by rebalancing the yin and yang energies in the body.
Through the understanding of the qi (life force) flowing through invisible meridians in the body, TCM practitioners can determine unbalances in the two energies. Several diagnoses are employed by practitioners, such as pulse, to identify health conditions. Yin-yang theory and the theory of the five elements are used as a framework for pathology, physiology, pharmacology, and diagnosis.
When it comes to treatment, TCM practitioners have varying approaches based on the patient’s needs: acupuncture, acupressure, moxibustion, cupping, and prescribing medicines brewed from the Chinese pharmaceutical armamentarium.
Through a holistic approach, TCM has treated a plethora of symptoms such as pain, infertility, colitis, depression, irregular sleeping patterns, arthritis, and so on. Acute and chronic problems can also be treated by TCM practitioners. The wonders of TCM are recognized by WHO as a viable means for global healthcare.