Chapter 5 Alternative Medicine Systems of the WorldPlants are an integral part of many of the alternative medicine systems The traditional knowledge on herbal remedies most likely evolved through trial and error over many centuries.The most important cures were probably passed on verballyIn ancient medicine, people did not have the scientific insight to explain or predict the curative action of plants.Paracelsus-Chelidonium majusRauwolfia serpentina Medicinal plants typically contain mixtures of different chemical compounds that may act individually, additively, or in synergy to improve health.By using a chemically complex single plant or by mixing together several different plants traditional herbal medicine tries to maximize a synergistic effect.
African and Middle Eastern traditional medicineAfrican traditional medicine is the oldestThe various, regional systems of medicine are poorly recorded until today.Medicines are prescribed after finding out the psychological basics for an illness.The Materia Medica of southern AfricaSome important African medicinal plants:Aloe vera- Artemisia afra- Catha edulis- Catharanthus roseus- Harpagophytum procumbens- Prunus africana- Rauwolfia vomitoria- Strophanthus kombe- Aloe vera- North Africa.Succulent leaves are used.Used as a laxative.
For treating burns & skin disorders.Catha edulis –Fresh leaves are chewed.Accepted in Afro-Arabian cultures.Long term uses result in constipation, decreased appetite, irritability & low sexual drive.Strophanthus kombe- Seeds contain cardiac glycosides.S. gratusis also used commerciallyThe Middle East Many modern crops were first domesticated in this region.
Assyrians, Babylonians, and Sumerians recorded herbal remediesSumerian clay tabletsWall paintings of tombs in EgyptThe Code of Hammurabilists several hundred medicinal herbs in a series of several hundredclay tabletsThese tablets mention henbane, licorice, and mint that are still used in medicine today.Bible records several medicinal plantsEbers Papyrus-lists >700 medicinal recipes based on plants.These include Cannabis, aloe, castor, and mandrake.Famous physician Avicennaincluded elements of other healing culturesThis forms the basis for a distinct Islamic healing systemSome important Middle Eastern medicinal plantsAllium cepa- Carthamus tinctorius-Ferula assa-foetida- Papaver somniferum- Punica granatum- Ricinus communis- Trigonella foenum-graecum-Vitis vinifera- Ferula assa-foetida-From Iran & Asian deserts.
Oleoresin gumsPunica granatum-SE Europe – Mediterranean.TanninsAmerican traditional medicineThe indigenous healer or shaman approaches the illness by addressing both the physical and spiritual dimensions of disease.Shamanistic ceremonies involve chanting, dancing and other ritualsEarly pioneers adopted many of the herbal remedies, which later formed the basis of the Pharmacopoeia of the United States.
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