Folklore Medicine





Folklore Medicine

            Folklore medicine is the practice of alternative healing techniques carried out by traditional practitioners who are not doctors. In addition, these methods have a variation from one culture to another. They are passed down among generations. These individuals possess special skills and knowledge in the treatment of diseases and normally involve a lot of experience in certain plants or herbs. In some instances, they integrate western healing systems that are heavily influenced by the same cultures. However, most people have the perception that such tendencies are used by poverty-stricken communities although developed countries have also adopted them as well (Lopez 28). While safety concerns about their use arise, they have been known to treat various illnesses in different countries. On rare occasions, herbal medicines interfere with prescription drugs given by doctors. Thus, folk medicines are optional substitutes to the modern treatment of sicknesses thereby contributing to the improvement of people’s health.

            Consequently, various healthcare therapies that constitute this type of cure do not have evidence backed by scientific methods. For example, Christian faith healing, acupuncture and ayurvedic medicine do not follow the conventional processes of treating patients. As such, these norms are based on superstition, religion, pseudoscience, tradition and even propaganda. Its regulation varies from nation to nation and state to state. For example, in the Middle East, it is a tribal matter with thyme being the most common herb. This plant is added to tea to treat indigestion. It is also used to flavor meat such as kabab as well as the preparation of sharbats, which are fruit and non-alcoholic refreshment drinks. According to its proponents, it should be used three times a day and especially before meals. Homeopathy is a revered category of folk medicine and it is based on the belief that any substance that leads to symptoms of a particular disease in people who are healthy may cure similar signs in sick people (McCormick and White 38). Likewise, naturopathic medicine bases its belief on the ability of the body to heal itself using a supernatural energy, which acts as a guide to bodily functions. Similarly, ayurvedic medicine is built on the notion that the mixture of traditional herbs and the achievement of a balance between Buddhism and Hinduism is enough to cure a patient. It incorporates animal products, minerals and plants. Furthermore, shamanism is another practice where victims are led to varying states of consciousness in order to interact with the spiritual world for healing purposes. Other herbal remedies are also used as well as yoga exercises in which the control of breathing movements is vital in the absorption of some healing energy.  

            Hajamat is a form of bloodletting that allows bad blood to be released from the body thereby cleansing someone. It is mainly performed during spring. Moreover, some cultures consider the eating of certain foodstuffs would prevent infections (Portilla 76). These communities view such items as having magical components that boost the immune system thereby acting as vaccines against attacks. In some instances, they specify specific animal parts or plant structures such as leaves and roots to contain powerful enzymes useful for the body. Similarly, others categorize the products into those that can be used by either gender. According to them, a person should begin to notice changes in his/her condition after a while. Traditional Chinese medicine relies on a supernatural energy as well. Their custom believes that the tongue is a reflection of changes in the body and can indicate any alterations in the physiology of its internal organs.

            However, criticisms have been leveled against supporters of folklore medicine. Ethical issues have arisen against the practitioners who administer these treatments. Since they are non-physicians, critiques argue that they offer misleading information to the patients yet there are scientifically proven modern methods of curing illnesses. In fact, they condemn the use of faith to justify the treatments as this could expose the sick to fraudulent schemes staged by superstitious people. Consequently, they assert that these illegitimate methods are not effective and only serve to prolong the suffering of the victims. This stems from the lack of validation of such procedures especially because they cannot be successfully employed in palliative care. For example, chronic diseases such as cancer cannot be healed through these processes. Furthermore, patients may develop unpredictable side effects that may sometimes be fatal. The lack of adequate research in these fields and conducting of tests on their efficacy has led to a lack of regulation in this sector (Rayner 160). In addition, they claim that such procedures are based on the placebo effect in which the success of minor ailments facilitates the application of that therapy to major illnesses thereby terming them dangerous. Likewise, they point to the prevalence of cognitive biases in different communities as proof that such methods are unreliable and should therefore be prohibited. According to them, patients should be careful when seeking treatment. They should not rush to be attended by such individuals with appealing mechanisms because they would be risking their health. Rather, they need to head to medical facilities where scientifically sound diagnoses and prescriptions will be offered for their safety.

Works Cited

Lopez, Rebecca. Use of Alternative Folk Medicine by Mexican American women. Journal of Immigrant Health, 7.1 (2008): 23-31. Print.

The author details the pros and cons of folklore medicine in an urban setting. In addition, myths of the practice are debunked. Thus, the procedures are explained in a concise way that helps the reader to understand.

McCormick, Charlie, and Kim White. Folklore: An Encyclopedia of Beliefs, Customs, Tales, Music, and Art. Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO, 2011. Print.

This book provides an analysis of the different beliefs about the topic under various cultures. It contains examples of real life situations that aid the reader in forming an opinion. The language used is simple as well and contains interactive exercises.

Portilla, Elizabeth . They All Want Magic: Curanderas and Folk Healing. College Station, Tex: Texas A & M University Press, 2009. Print.

The literature in this book is written in a biased manner. Furthermore, the vocabulary is a bit difficult but it manages to illustrate the link between superstition and reality in alternative medicine. However, definitions are given and it has interesting case studies.

Rayner, Lisa. Postmodern Consumptions and Alternative Medications. Journal of Sociology, 37. 2 (2001): 157-176. Print.

This article delves into the treatment of people using unconventional methods and explores the controversies therein. Similarly, it offers a  balanced assessment of the practice. It also includes insightful recommendations.

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