Traditional Medicine and Traditional Healers

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Liaison with traditional healers

Traditional healers are common in most low-income countries and, despite the presence of practitioners of modern medicine, people routinely consult traditional healers in the first instance. Indeed this situation is aggravated in countries where the public know that even if they do consult primary care or specialist clinics, there is unlikely to be an available supply of medicine. In Western countries there has also been a resurgence of alternative healers such as homeopathy, aromatherapy, acupuncture, and shiatsu. More research needs to be done on the prevalence of psychiatric disorders in people who consult traditional healers, but it is likely that the prevalence is at least as high as it is in people who consult primary care doctors. Collaboration and exchange of ideas is likely to be helpful. There has already been considerable cross-fertilization and many if not most traditional healers are familiar with concepts of psychosis, depression, epilepsy, and alcohol abuse, and have...

Energy Flow

When one organism eats another, molecules are metabolized and energy is transferred. As a result, energy flows through an ecosystem, moving from producers to consumers. One way to follow the pattern of energy flow is to group organisms in an ecosystem based on how they obtain energy. An organism's trophic (TRAHF-ik) level indicates the organism's position in a sequence of energy transfers. For example, all producers belong to the first trophic level. Herbivores belong to the second trophic level, and the predators belong to the third level. Most terrestrial ecosystems have only three or four trophic levels, whereas marine ecosystems often have more.

Contributions of anthropology Helpseeking behaviour

In general people seek help from healers who hold the same beliefs as they do. Traditional healers in developing countries have the advantage of sharing the same belief system about illness with their clients. Thus they can take for granted a great deal of common ground and do not need to embark on long explanations. Clients of traditional healers often present their distress in terms of somatic symptoms. Skilled healers are adept at understanding the relationship problems that underlie the client's bodily complaints, and their prescription of rituals is aimed at involving the client's social network and regularizing relationships. Problems in communication arise when the patient brings somatic symptoms to the Western trained doctor, who is incapable of recognizing the relationship difficulties that have prompted the complaints. It would be a mistake to believe that traditional healers are confined to developing countries or to ethnic minority groups in developed countries....

Incorporating cultural issues

Mediterranean 50) Latino, and Asian(51) cultures use a family-centred model of decision making, including a preference to inform the family, not the patient, of his or her diagnosis and or prognosis. These models of medical decision making are of paramount importance in mental health care, as family involvement and support of a treatment plan can make the difference between success and failure. In addition, traditional healers can play an important and adaptive role in the healing process if the clinician can maintain an open mind.

Qualitative Model Formulation

Qualitative models can take any form (except mathematical), but diagrams are the usual representation. Given our emphasis on differential equations and compartment models, three important diagrammatic schemes are block structure diagrams (having origins in electrical engineering and analog computers), Odum energy flow diagrams (similar to block structure diagrams but based on energy flow within ecosystems), and Forrester diagrams (having origins in systems analysis and operations research). All three share the ability to represent systems as a set of objects and their interrelations. We will stress the latter here, but the interested reader can learn more of block structure diagrams in (Shannon 1975) and Odum energy diagrams in (Odum 1971).

Sugar And Blood Chemistry

Many people are so desperate to get better that they can actually rationalize that they are better. However, blood chemistries improve only when something positive has really happened inside the body. I certainly never disregard the importance of anybody's sense of well-being after an intervention, but I always feel the obligation to let them know if their physiology and general bodily function also seem to be improving. This is not to underestimate the power of the mind and its influence over the intangible pathways of energy flow in the body when people choose to treat themselves with nonmedical therapies or different forms of spiritual healing. Certainly, a positive mental attitude is felt by many to facilitate the healing process. Presumably, when such improved healing really takes place, there must be some associated improvement in some specific laboratory tests. Furthermore, if the improved healing represents a real, permanent change, the treatment or...

Prevalence incidence and disease expectancy

To date, the only study that has generated directly comparable incidence data for different populations is the WHO 10-country investigation. (11 Incidence counts in the WHO study were based on first-in-lifetime contacts with any 'helping agency' (including traditional healers in the developing countries) monitored prospectively over a 2-year period. Potential cases and key informants were interviewed by clinicians using standardized instruments, and the timing of onset was ascertained for the majority of the patients. In 86 per cent of the 1022 patients the first appearance of diagnostic symptoms of schizophrenia was within the year preceding the first contact, and therefore the first-contact incidence rate was accepted as a reasonable approximation to the onset rate. Two definitions of 'caseness', differing in the degree of specificity, were used to determine incidence a 'broad' clinical class comprising ICD-9 schizophrenia and paranoid psychoses, and a restrictive definition

Clinical Studies With Chinese Herbal Formulas

No discussion on using natural immunostimulant compounds in cancer therapy would be complete without some consideration of the many clinical studies that have been done in China. Studies have been conducted on the combined use of chemotherapy and Chinese herbal medicine, as well as on the anticancer use of Chinese herbal medicine alone. The majority of herbal formulas used in the Chinese studies were composed primarily of immunostimulant herbs such as those in Table 12.1 (for example, most formulas included Astragalus or ginseng or both). In Chinese herbal medicine, most of these herbs are considered tonics for the qi, or vital energy.3 (For contents of the herbal formulas mentioned below, see Table H.2 in Appendix H for more information on the theory of using Chinese herbs in cancer treatment, see reference 68).

Antibacterial Screening of Tragia involucrata L Euphorbiaceae A Tribal Used Medicinal Plant

Since time immemorial, folk medicinal plants have been used to cure human ailments. Up till now, traditional healers (present in tribes) are using plants for the preparation of various herbal drugs based on their own traditional methods without any scientific basis. There were 6000 species of medicinal plants used by folk practitioners during 1985-1990 in India. It is estimated that nearly 50,000 herbal formulations were developed from4600 tribal communities. Many of these formulations have been used to treat cold, inflammation, snake bite, mental illness and skin diseases, as well as for birth control and delivery of babies. A leaf paste obtained from Clistanthus colinuswas is used to commit suicide by tribes in many native settlements. The leaf paste obtained from Phyllanthus amarus is used as herbal therapy for jaundice 1 . Medicinal plants have been used to treat a wide range of human diseases because of their therapeutic values 2 , A large proportion of the population in Uganda...

Safety of Synergistic Combinations

There is also a precedent for safely using large combinations of natural compounds, including combinations that contain some of the compounds in this book. Both Chinese herbal medicine and Ayurvedic medicine, the ancient healing system of India, have been using large combinations of natural compounds for centuries, if not thousands of years. For example, in Chinese herbal medicine, single herbs are rarely prescribed, but combinations of 4 to 12 herbs are commonly employed. Considering that each herb may contain multiple active compounds, this is a large mix of compounds. The efficacy and safety of many of these formulas have been borne out by modern Chinese investigations.

Electromagnetic Therapies

Some practitioners claim that cancer and other diseases are caused by disruptions of the body's electromagnetic fields. They believe that disease can be treated using pulsed, high-frequency electromagnetic waves. BioResonance Therapy is a relatively new version of the many alternative energy therapies that predominated in the 1930s. For example, Royal R. Rife developed an energy machine to destroy the microbes that he believed were the cause of cancer. Electromagnetic therapies today are costly treatments, offered mainly in Tijuana, Mexico, and in some European countries, despite their lack of value.

Altered states of consciousnessnormal or abnormal

In most traditional non-Western cultures, and in the West in some fundamentalist Christian groups, altered states of consciousness are induced for religious or healing purposes and are interpreted as either (i) special states that permit close interaction and communication with supernatural or divine entities in order to receive their messages, perceive them in an ecstatic vision, or acquire from them power, inspiration, or healing, or (ii) states of ritual possession in which a supernatural or divine entity acts through the possessed person. These two basic variants of culturally defined and accepted altered states of consciousness have been designated trance and possession-trance, respectively, and their global distribution has been delineated. (42 Trance and possession-trance differ in terms of religious-cultural but not in terms of neuropsychological interpretation. The pathology labelling of such ritual behaviour and its motivating beliefs constitutes a positivistic fallacy, in...

Back Massage As A Patient Comfort Measure

The following statements illustrate the concept of therapeutic touch as an integral part of the domain of nursing. c. Therapeutic touch may make some patients uncomfortable you are entering their personal space and their feelings must be respected, so make sure you ask the patient if he she would like a back rub.

Counselling in medicine and psychiatry

Anyone who works in one of the health professions and comes into regular contact with people who are distressed in any way, whether psychologically, physically, spiritually or practically, offers counselling help. Counselling is something familiar to everyone there need be no mystique about it. Nor should it be something that is reserved for a particular group of professionals who call themselves counsellors.

General effectiveness of traditional folk healing in psychiatric conditions

Data obtained by the author through field observations and through survey of the scientific literature permit the following generalizing conclusions regarding the therapeutic effectiveness of traditional healing in various psychiatric conditions Traditional healing tends to be as effective, or more effective, than modern medical and psychiatric approaches in neurotic-reactive disorders (including dysthymia and reactive depression with self-destructive behaviour), in psychosomatic and somatoform syndromes, and also in transient psychotic states and substance dependence. Traditional healing is much less effective than modern psychotropic medication in schizophrenic and bipolar disorders. However, traditional milieu, occupational therapy, and physiotherapy at religious places or healer's compounds may lead to behavioural improvement and facilitate rehabilitation and resocialization. Traditional healing is in most cases ineffective in organic brain syndromes and epilepsy.

Chapter References

Suwanlert, S. and Visuthikosol, Y. (1983). Phii pha folk group psychotherapy in northeast of Thailand. In Traditional healing practices (ed. R. Kusumanto Setyonegoro and W.M. Roan), pp. 142-6. Directory of Mental Health, Ministry of Health, Jakarta. 34. Peltzer, K. (1987). Some contributions of traditional healing practices towards psychosocial health care in Malawi. Fachbuchhandlung f r Psychologie, Frankfurt-Eschborn. 64. Teo Hui Khian (1983). Traditional healing some observations of its use in drug addiction in West Malaysia. In Traditional healing practices (ed. R. Kusumanto Setyonegoro and W.M. Roan), pp. 105-14. Directorate of Mental Health, Ministry of Health, Jakarta.

Therapeutic approaches to culturally related syndromes

Modern medicine treats the disorders discussed above according to the predominant symptoms with anxiolytic, tranquillizing, or antidepressant medication, and also with parenteral neuroleptics in cases of acute severe agitation. Brief psychotropic chemotherapy usually achieves temporary remission, but it should always be combined with supportive and reassuring counselling that includes family members. Western-type psychotherapy can claim little long-term success in dealing with the culturally related syndromes described in this chapter. These syndromes are the domain of traditional therapeutic resources and in most cases folk healers are already involved before a physician or psychiatrist is consulted. In fact, in cases of psychiatric disorder the 'double-tracked' utilization of both traditional and modern medicine is common today among indigenous non-Western populations. Traditional healing tends to be therapeutically effective in most culturally related functional disorders, and in...

Types and functions of traditional practitioners

Herbalists deal primarily with the therapeutic application of plant remedies. Plant and animal items used in traditional medicine may in some cases have symbolic or 'placebo' functions. However, many plant remedies have not yet been scientifically scrutinized and a number of investigated plants in use by traditional healers have been shown to possess psychoactive principles with sedative-tranquillizing, stimulant-euphorizing, or hallucinogenic action. ( ) Shamanic healers perform certain functions of medicine men and women but enter into altered states of consciousness to communicate with supernatural beings in ecstatic trance, to summon spirit powers and helpers, or to embody supernatural entities in possession states for the purpose of acting therapeutically with special powers. Typically, shamans are considered capable of travelling to the other world, the spiritual or ancestral realm, with the assistance of their spirit powers and helpers, in order to retrieve aberrant or abducted...

Chinese Medicine

Chinese medicine, or traditional Chinese medicine, is thousands of years old and one of the most traditional healing systems on earth. Central to Chinese medicine is the principle of qi, or energy, which travels along invisible meridians, on the surface of the body, and through internal organs. A balance of this energy is crucial for maintaining good health. To a physician of Chinese medicine,


Herbal medicine, plants containing these compounds are often classified as vital energy (qi) tonics for example, Astragalus membranaceus contains high-molecular-weight polysaccharides and Panax ginseng contains saponins. Both are considered qi tonics. Actually, many herbs that stimulate the immune system include compounds from both chemical families. Eleutherococ-cus senticosus is an example. Ginseng also contains both saponins and polysaccharides, although the former are more prominent. In this chapter we focus on a few of the most common polysaccharide-rich herbs and extracts, and in Chapter 21 we discuss a few saponin-rich herbs. The reader is referred to herbal medicine guidebooks for information regarding additional herbs that act as immunostimulants.2-10

Pain Assessment

The pain management plan contains both pharmacological and nonpharma-cological strategies for managing the patient's pain. Pharmacological strategies involve using pain medication. Nonpharmacological strategies involve treatments other than medication. These include massage, imagery, music, distraction, humor, acupuncture, chiropractic interventions, hypnosis, herbal therapies, therapeutic touch, and transcutaneous electronerve stimulation. Surgical interventions are also sometimes performed to relieve pain.

Holistic approach

Most traditional healing practices integrate physical, psychological, spiritual, and social methods. Ritual-symbolic procedures These are central to traditional therapy practices, and the term 'ritual healing' has been used synonymously with traditional healing. (5) Traditional therapeutic procedures are usually conducted in the context of a ceremonial that involves the suggestive use of culturally validated symbols and symbolic acts by the practitioner, such as meaningful words uttered in invocation and incantation, recitation of parables and similes, skilful manipulation of images and of sacred or arcane paraphernalia. The healing ceremonial may also entail the dramatic enactment of a therapeutic myth which is part of the culture's oral tradition.


Panax ginseng is a commonly used medicinal herb. It is categorized as a qi (vital energy) tonic in Chinese herbal medicine, and its use dates back more than 3,000 years. The main active constituents of ginseng are gin-senoside saponins. Although at least 28 ginsenosides have been identified, these can be classified into one of three groups, Ro, Rb, and Rg.a The quantity of these saponins in four-year-old roots is about 0.4, 2.3, and 1.1 percent respectively, for a total saponin content of about 3.8 percent.106 However, in another study on different ginseng samples obtained from herb shops in Taiwan, the average total saponin content was about half this amount, or 1.6 percent.107

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