Traditional medicine

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Traditional medicine (also known as indigenous or folk medicine) comprises medical aspects of traditional knowledge that developed over generations within the folk beliefs of 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". Traditional medicine is often contrasted with scientific medicine.


  • A concrete example showing the importance of preserving difference is that of healing systems throughout the world. Each brings something useful to the table because of its distinct models and approaches. Western medicine, Indian Ayurveda and yoga, and Chinese medicine and acupuncture all provide unique solutions for certain types of diseases and wellness management. Yet none can be properly mapped onto another's framework without compromise. What is needed is not a cut-and-paste insertion of these practices into a Western model of medicine but an understanding of the integrity and utility of each system's own model and the philosophy behind it, so as to give it a place alongside Western systems.
    • Malhotra, R., & Infinity Foundation (Princeton, N.J.). (2018). Being different: An Indian challenge to western universalism.

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