- Medicine Information and Evidence for Policy > Medicines Policy
- Traditional Medicine > Traditional, Complementary and Herbal Medicine
(2002; 70 pages) [French] [Spanish]
What is traditional medicine?
"Traditional medicine" is a comprehensive term used to refer both to TM systems such as traditional Chinese medicine, Indian ayurveda and Arabic unani medicine, and to various forms of indigenous medicine. TM therapies include medication therapies - if they involve use of herbal medicinesa, animal parts and/or minerals - and non- medication therapies - if they are carried out primarily without the use of medication, as in the case of acupuncture, manual therapies and spiritual therapies. In countries where the dominant health care system is based on allopathic medicine, or where TM has not been incorporated into the national health care system, TM is often termed "complementary", "alternative" or "non-conventional" medicine.b
a Herbal medicines include herbs, herbal materials, herbal preparations and finished herbal products, that contain as active ingredients parts of plants, or other plant materials, or combinations thereof.
b Accordingly, in this document, "traditional medicine" is used when referring to Africa, Latin America, South-East Asia, and/or the Western Pacific, whereas "complementary and alternative medicine" is used when referring to Europe and/or America (and Australia). When referring in a general sense to all of these regions, the comprehensive TM/CAM is used.