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October 22, World Day of Traditional Medicine

October 22, World Day of Traditional Medicine

Traditional medicine encompasses a wide variety of therapies and practices that vary between countries and regions.

According to the definition of the United Nations, Traditional Medicine is:

It includes various health practices, approaches, knowledge and beliefs that incorporate sources from plants, animals and mineral sources, spiritual therapies, manual techniques and exercises, applied singly or in combination to maintain well-being, in addition to treating, diagnosing and preventing diseases.

Traditional medicine encompasses a wide variety of therapies and practices that vary between countries and regions. Called “alternative” or “complementary” medicine in some countries, it has been used for thousands of years, and its practitioners have contributed enormously to human health, particularly as providers of primary health care at the community level.

Traditional medicine is recognized today as a fundamental resource for the health of millions of human beings, an essential component of the tangible and intangible heritage of the world's cultures, a wealth of information, resources and practices for development and well-being, and a factor of identity for numerous peoples on the planet.

World Traditional Medicine Day


World Traditional Medicine Day is commemorated on October 22, a day established by the World Health Organization in 1991 through the Beijing Declaration, with the aim of rescuing, preserving, promoting and widely disseminating the knowledge of medicine. , treatments and traditional practices. Through this agreement, Member States of the United Nations are asked to promote policies that guarantee the safe and effective use of traditional medicines.

Traditional Medicine in the World

Traditional Medicine is a broad term used to refer to both traditional Chinese, Hindu, Western, Arabic medicine, and/or the various forms of indigenous medicine, it includes therapeutic practices and experiences immersed in specific cultural contexts, which involve the use of medicines based on herbs, animal parts and/or minerals. Likewise, they include non-medication therapies such as acupuncture, manual practices and spiritual therapies.

In countries where the dominant healthcare system is based on allopathic medicine (Allopathic medicine, allopathic medicine or allopathy is the expression mostly used by homeopaths and advocates of other forms of integrative medicine), or where Traditional Medicine has not been incorporated In the national health system, it is often classified as “complementary”, “alternative” or “non-conventional” medicine.

Traditional medicine has maintained its popularity throughout the world. Since the 1990s, there has been a resurgence of its use in many developed and developing countries.

Traditional Medicine is widely used and is a rapidly growing and economically important healthcare system. In Africa up to 80% of the population uses Traditional Medicine to help meet their health needs. In Asia and Latin America, populations continue to use Traditional Medicine as a result of historical circumstances and cultural beliefs. In China, it accounts for around 40% of healthcare.

In many developed countries, Traditional Medicine is becoming increasingly popular. The percentage of the population that uses it at least once is 48% in Australia, 70% in Canada, 42% in the USA, 38% in Belgium and 75% in France.

In Mexico through the Survey on Public Perception of Science and Technology (ENPECYT) 2015 of the INEGI, with respect to the recognition of the existence of adequate means for the treatment of diseases that science does not recognize (acupuncture, chiropractic, homeopathy , clean), of the people surveyed, 74.56% recognize these treatments, 18.56 do not recognize them and 6.88 do not know.

In that sense, it is noticeable that Traditional Medicine in Mexico is the first way to approach health care, and in many situations, it is the only affordable source of health care, especially for the poorest patients in the world.

Traditional medicine is often underestimated in health services. In some countries, traditional medicine or non-conventional medicine is usually called complementary medicine, the truth is that historically it has been used to maintain health, prevent and treat diseases and/or illnesses.

Traditional Medicine in Mexico

Traditional Medicine in Mexico

Traditional Mexican medicine is considered to be the set of health care systems that have their roots in deep knowledge about health and illness that the different indigenous and rural peoples of our country have accumulated throughout their history, based on an interpretation of the world (worldview), of health and illness of pre-Hispanic origin, which has incorporated elements from other medicines, such as ancient Spanish medicine, African medicine and to a lesser extent from the interaction of Western medicine itself.

Traditional medicine points to nature, men and the supernatural as the three agents that produce diseases. For this reason it uses a wide variety of therapeutic techniques ranging from the use of herbalism, animals and minerals.

Traditional medicine is recognized in the Political Constitution (Art. 2) as a cultural right of indigenous peoples. In its deepest expressions, it includes:

  • The universe as an interconnected whole, the human body that includes the mind and spirit.
  • An understanding and classification of different diseases, consistent with the entire worldview and conception of health and illness.
  • An understanding of the causes of disease that takes into account mechanisms that break the body's hot-cold balance, derived from individual behavior and social, environmental and spiritual relationships.
  • A series of strategies to diagnose diseases and imbalances, immersed in the entire system.
  • And a wide set of therapeutic elements, including herbalism, the use of animal and mineral products.

Some federal entities such as Morelos, Chiapas, Mexico City, Querétaro, Oaxaca, Nayarit have developed initiatives to reform their health law and regulate the practice of traditional medicine.

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