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Indigenous Knowledge and Traditional Medicine

Indigenous knowledge is passed down from one generation to another and covers areas such as resource management, medicine, education, child rearing practices, animal husbandry and agriculture, and a lot more. Traditional medicine also builds on indigenous knowledge and practices and is based on the experience and beliefs of traditional cultures.

Understanding Indigenous Knowledge

Indigenous knowledge is unique in view of the fact that practices, beliefs, and values are local and characteristic of a particular culture. Researchers study traditional cultures in search of answers to serious problems like ethnic conflict and war, poverty, famine, and disease. Indigenous knowledge is a treasure and helps scientists to find working solutions to complex problems – environmental pollution, depletion of non-renewable resources, and health hazards.

Traditional Medicine

Traditional cultures use different practices and plants to prevent, diagnose, and treat mental and physical illnesses. Folk or traditional medicine includes systems and practices such as:poppy

  • African medicine
  • Muti
  • Acupuncture
  • Traditional Korean and Chinese medicine
  • Islamic medicine
  • Ayurveda

Plants with medicinal properties are used to treat different ailments and conditions, for example, common cold, fevers, headaches, lacerations, sprains, and others. Many plants have medicinal properties and have been shown to effectively prevent and treat ailments. There are powerful medicinal plants with healing properties such as California poppy, lady ferns, tansy, blood flower, and others. Some are used as warm expellants, anxiety relievers, and cleansers while others help treat burns, stings, and minor cuts. Traditional cultures also use medicinal plants to treat kidney pain and stones, nausea, and morning sickness. Some systems like ayurveda, for example, focus on food preparation and proper nutrition, prevention and treatment, diagnosis, and cleansing practices to eliminate toxic substances from the body. Minerals, gems, and metals such as arsenic, mercury, and lead are added to certain herbal preparations and elixirs. Some materials actually have toxic properties and may cause poisoning. Traditional medicine also uses rare and endangered species to make preparations and remedies. Other systems treat food as a medication and add food to their healing repertoires. Chinese medicine, for example, uses soups, herbs, and other foods and ingredients.

Other systems that use traditional practices, herbs, medicinal plants, and minerals include the Georgian, Aboriginal Bush, Japanese Kampo, and Celtic traditional medicine. In some countries, traditional practices have become, in fact, institutionalized healing systems.