Traditional medicine

Traditional medicine is rooted in a philosophical understanding which engages a multitude of healing methods that have been preserved for generations through stories.
Traditional medicine is rooted in a philosophical understanding which engages a multitude of healing methods that have been preserved for generations through stories, oral teachings, ceremonies, and through written documentation. It is deeply embedded in relationships - relationship to one’s own healing abilities, to one’s connection with others, to nature and to the environment. Community is central to the practice of traditional medicine. 
When we refer to the term ‘Traditional Medicine’, we include the global First Nations and Indigenous communities, and Chinese, African, Ayurvedic and Tibetan Buddhist modalities.  We also consider the generations of women and men who have made enormous sacrifices to keep these lineages alive.
We include as well, today’s practitioners; it is their dedication to perfect their art and science and train a new generation of practitioners and healers,  that keeps the pulse of traditional medicine alive today.
When our students learn these rich traditions, philosophies and ways of being, they begin to look at the world in such a way that spirituality, health and well-being are inextricably bound together.   At the center of these wisdom traditions is concern for relationship and balance – a human being’s relationship to themselves, their families and friends and the larger community of beings that comprises the web of life.
Thus, health is not a concern that arises when we are not well. Rather, health, as our students understand and practice it, is concerned with how we are in the world – every step and every breath. Traditional medicine is a practice of the human spirit, cultivated through humble listening and communication with the rhythms and elemental forces of life.
When you have an opportunity to work with one of ITM’s graduates, you will encounter, not simply an acupuncturist or student of herbal medicine, rather you will be working with an integrative health practitioner who possesses the professional aptitude and personal qualities to guide you to health by reintroducing you to the doctor that resides within you.
“ Traditional medicine includes diverse health practices, approaches, knowledge and beliefs, incorporating plant or mineral based medicines, spiritual therapies, manual techniques and exercises, applied singularly or in combination to maintain well-being, as well as to treat, diagnose or prevent illness.”  –  World Health Organization (Traditional Medicine Strategy)
Oriental and Chinese Medicine have been practiced for thousands of years and over one quarter of the worlds population now uses one or more of its component therapies. Oriental Medical training at ITM combines the practices of medicinal herbs, acupuncture, bodywork, nutrition, lifestyle counselling, mind-body therapies and the use of therapeutic exercises such as tai chi, qi gong and meditation. For more detailed information on this medical system please request our Oriental Medicine Diploma Programs Catalogue.
In First Nation communities, health suggests balance and harmony within, and among the four aspects of a human being (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual), and emphasizes one’s relationship to community, the environment and the land. This ancient and natural approach to health is widely accepted and practiced in contemporary First Nations communities, through a myriad of distinctive medicinal practices which reflect regional uniqueness and diversity. Some of these practices may be a purification (sweat) lodge, rites of passage ceremonies, herbal medicine, counsel from respected Elders or complex rituals that require several days to complete. Traditional First Nations healers include herbalists, midwives, bone-setters and spiritual guides/intercessors, often referred to as medicine women and men.
“The Medicine Person is a physician, psychiatrist/psychologist, family counsellor and spiritual advisor all in one. S/he is concerned with the balanced relationship between the body, mind and spirit. In treating sick people, s/he helps to restore the individual’s balance.”
By synthesizing knowledge from various medical systems, Tibetans developed an approach to medical science drawn from thousands of years of accumulated empirical knowledge about and relationships with the nature of health and illness. Influences came from India in the form of Ayurvedic medicine, as well as more spiritual and psychologically based systems from Buddhist and other sources. Around the 7th-8th centuries the Tibetan government sponsored medical conferences and invited doctors from China, Persia, India and Greece to present and debate their ideas on health and the treatment of disease. This knowledge was codified into a unique system containing a synthesis of the principals of physical and psychological medicine imbued with a Buddhist spiritual understanding. It acknowledged how health and illness resulted both from the relationship between the mind and the body and peoples connectedness to the natural world and sense of spirituality. Tibetan doctors commonly use herbs, mantras, massage, exercise and spiritual counselling as part of their repertoire of medicine.
Ayurveda; ‘the science of life’, has been practiced in India for thousands of years and has recently undergone a renaissance in the West. Ayurvedic medicine is a comprehensive system that places equal emphasis on body, mind, and spirit and uses a highly personalized approach to return an individual to a state where she or he is again in harmony with their environment. This system integrates diet, exercise, yoga, meditation, massage, Vedic astrology, herbs and other healing disciplines to encourage health and awareness and to rebalance the whole person. To many, it is considered the “Mother” of all medicine. 
The longest history of healing in the world is African traditional medicine. African traditional health knowledge has spread across the world, into many cultures, maintaining a unique and distinctive character. For thousands of years these traditional systems of medicine continue to provide effective health care to the vast majority of people of Africa, as well as to peoples throughout the world. In more recent years, African traditional medicine has been successfully integrated into western health care delivery systems, especially for HIV/AIDS, malaria, TB and other infectious and chronic diseases. Dr Sandra Anderson of UNAIDS, South Africa, noted that “Traditional health practitioners occupy a critical role in African societies and are making a valuable contribution to Aids prevention and care”. In sub-Saharan Africa at least 80 per cent of the people rely on traditional healers. Their popularity is a result of their availability. For example, in Mozambique there is one physician for every 50,000 people compared to one traditional healer for every 200. Traditional healers remain popular because they are also accessible, affordable, adaptable and culturally familiar and thus acceptable. They are also respected in the wider community. The popularity of traditional healers is attributed to the fact that they take full account of the socio-cultural background of the people. The components of traditional medicine include herbal medicine, therapeutic fasting and dieting, hydrotherapy, radiant healing therapy, venesection, surgery and bone-setting, spinal manipulation and massage, psychotherapy, therapeutic occultism, psychiatry and preventive medicine. In the physical medicine, vegetable, animal, and mineral substances may be used. In the metaphysical division of traditional medicine, prayers, invocations, or incantations are offered to some mysterious and powerful forces.  The traditional healers tend to take a ‘holistic’ approach to illness, treating the patient’s spiritual,  physical and psychological well-being together.
In addition to the traditional medicines described above, there are numerous other forms of medicine found around the world, far too many to describe here. These include Unani Medicine, the variety of modalities found in the different countries of Africa, and the multitude of Indigenous communities around the world.
According to itmworld


Tin Nóng

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