Folk medicine, sometimes referred to as alternative or traditional medicine, is the part of medicine that has a long history and is used to maintain health as well as for the prevention and healing of physical and mental disorders.
In those countries with limited resources and poor health care systems where two thirds of the world’s population live folk medicine is officially recognized. However, in those parts of the world where people have access to modern medical care this sphere of medicine is also widely used.
In recent years, closer attention has been paid to the developments of the traditional medicine all over the world. If before the 70s of the XX century the WHO (World Health Organization) had hardly taken into consideration this part of medicine, nowadays the situation is different.
Here are some facts to think over:
- According to the WHO, 70% of Canadians, 48% of Australians and 38% of the French people employ traditional medicine techniques and preparations;
- In the US approximately one in two Americans use the services of the folk medicine specialists every year;
- In the United Kingdom the number of the consultations provided by the specialists in traditional medicine reaches 13 million per year, or you could say that folk medicine is used in one in four cases;
- According to the recent WHO survey many patients having been disappointed in modern medicine received effective help when they turned to folk medicine;
- There are such countries where the major part of the population commands the services of folk healers (witch doctors). On the other hand even developed countries are showing increased interest in folk medicine;
- One third of the world’s population has no access to modern health services.
In 2002 the WHO developed a traditional medicine strategy that recommended paying close attention to the experience of folk medicine, studying it, investigating the effectiveness of the traditional treatment methods and integrating the best of folk medicine into the modern healthcare system.
More and more countries gradually come to the realization of the contribution made by folk medicine into health promotion and human welfare. Governments and consumers are interested in the use of herbal medicines, and now they start thinking over various practical aspects of traditional medicine and folk healer practices as well as about the possibility to integrate this type of medicine into healthcare system. Besides their effectiveness, the methods of folk medicine are much more cost-effective than modern drugs.
However, one should always remember that any folk medicine methods are obtained basing on the long-term healing experience and, therefore, their use requires certain knowledge and skills. Although, traditional medicine comprises the experience of generations in the healing of various disorders, it is essential to be cautious about any treatment. Indeed, nobody will buy drugs randomly and start taking those drugs at uncontrolled quantities without discussing it with a doctor. The same approach should be adopted when turning to folk medicine recipes and recommendations. In addition, you should not try treating yourself with the methods or techniques found in the Internet or leaflets by chance. The main motto of folk medicine as well as of modern medicine should be “First, do no harm”
Remember that folk remedies should not be the substitution for doctor’s recommendations. That’s why it is worth combining the methods of folk medicine with those of modern science in order to get the best results. Moreover, it is important to know how to combine these methods properly. Although traditional medicine has its advantages, you can use folk medicine preparations or techniques only after discussing it with the doctor who knows your health status. For example, such disease as malaria should be treated only with the help of modern medicine, drugs can treat it very quickly and successfully. Another example - erysipelas (streptococcal infection), it should be treated with antibiotics; provided that nothing but folk remedies is used, the acute symptoms of the disease may disappear, but the infection become chronic.
Having very long history and comprising experience of various cultures folk medicine have a large number of areas and practices.
Some of them are: