What is Iranian Traditional Medicine?
In this article, we want to introduce you to one of the most prestigious branches of traditional medicine in the world, namely Iranian traditional medicine. This branch of traditional medicine can be called the legacy of the famous sage, Avicenna. Of course, Persian traditional medicine is several thousand years old, which has been the result of the accumulation of human experience and knowledge in the face of nature. Avicenna has systematically gathered this knowledge and, by adding his own experiences to it, has created a unique set of prevention and treatment methods.
The “Qanun”, which is the result of Avicenna life in the field of medicine, has been one of the reference books of medical science in Europe for more than 600 years. But what is traditional medicine and what advice can it have for today?
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What is traditional medicine?
Contrary to some people’s beliefs, herbal medicine is now accepted as a reliable method of prevention and treatment in the scientific community. According to the World Health Organization (2002), traditional medicine is a set of practical and theoretical knowledge (which may or may not be based on statistical methods) that is effective in diagnosing, preventing, and treating mental, physical, and social illnesses. But it is noteworthy that traditional medicine emphasizes prevention and it can be considered as a complementary method to herbal medicine. What is most talked about in traditional medicine is “lifestyle change”.
In general, most branches of traditional medicine attribute diseases to the imbalance between the body’s temperaments. According to the mythological worldview, nature is the result of the interaction of four main elements: soil, water, air and fire. Accordingly, the body of animals and humans is the result of the interaction of these four elements that make up nature, which is called temperament. Therefore, it is a healthy body in which the four temperaments interact in a balanced way, and the disease is in fact a disturbance of this balance.
According to herbal medicine, the body can heal itself as long as we provide the necessary conditions for it. Thus traditional medicine emphasizes prevention, unlike modern medicine which emphasizes treatment. Herbal medicine claims that just as we live without knowing the processes within our bodies, we can overcome disease as long as we allow the body to function normally.
And finally, another feature of traditional medicine is that it is cheaper. Indeed, prevention is always cheaper than cure!
Traditional medicine, from past to practice
It is necessary to provide a definition of science and then examine the differences between modern medicine and traditional medicine.
According to Aristotle, science is “classified cognition”. Albert Einstein says that the main purpose of science is to cover a large number of empirical facts by logical analogy of a small number of hypotheses or principles. Richard Feynman also believes that science means the regular observation of natural phenomena and their existing conditions in order to discover the facts related to it and to formulate laws and principles based on those facts.
But from Bertrand Russell’s point of view, science is a system of systematic studies, based on scientific methods (observation, experience, etc.) that identify the realities of the world as they are and its purpose is to help man understand nature, phenomena and the discovery and expression of laws that can determine and predict the phenomena in question.
Overall, science can be defined as: Science is a set of issues related to the subject of that science that are organized around that subject. All sciences are related to general matters and seek to discover laws that are true at all times. Science is a mental activity in relation to the outside world.
Distinguishing Feature of Persian Traditional Medicine
Another distinguishing feature of Persian traditional medicine is that traditional medicine is a holistic method. In other words, herbal medicine does not distinguish between soul and body, as well as man and nature, and considers them all as components of a general system. It therefore prescribes methods that can improve the whole body system, not just a specific organ.
According to the teachings of traditional medicine, nutrition and eating habits are one of the causes of the disease. Eating habits can damage our organs in the long run without us realizing it. It is noteworthy that these dietary recommendations, which have been proven to be valid today, have been without access to today’s databases and statistical research.
Of course, traditional healers certainly prescribed medicine and treated patients based on experience and evidence, but these experiences have not been in the form of scientific and statistical research, although they have had the necessary effectiveness.
According to the above definitions and indicators, medicine, whether modern or traditional, is not only a subject of knowledge but also a scientific subject.
Here it is necessary to study medicine definitions based on various sources.
A) The science of diagnosing, treating and preventing diseases (oxford Dictionary)
B) The science that deals with the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases (Marion Webster)
Therefore there is no difference between modern medicine and traditional medicine, and both modern medicine and herbal medicine are considered scientific. In fact, according to the definition of traditional medicine, the first addressees of Persian traditional medicine physicians are healthy people in society and the first task of these physicians is to maintain the health of healthy people in society.
The second point is the phrase “science and practice”, which physicians deal with the patient and disease based on science and practice. The second point seems to be very important, and in this respect it may be better to put “science” in the direction of “practice” and, in other words, instead of putting science in front of other words. So we will find traditional medicine and modern medicine in evolution and not in opposition to each other.
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