Herbal Terminology: Healthcare Systems

Posted by Iya Ifayomi Fasola - Initiated Practitioner on 23rd Jan 2021

I'm providing the definitions for different types of herbal healthcare systems. This will help provide an understand of what practices incorporates herbs. I know many are curious of the spiritual uses, and I'll do my best to provide generic spiritual use. However, if it's dipping into sacred practices of an Indigenous system, I WILL NOT cover those - if it's not publicized information, I don't incorporate practices that don't belong to me. I also, being an alorisha, will not disclose practices that correlate to Ifa. There's plenty of knowledge to be had about herbalism and respecting plant life without using sacred practices.

Allopathy: Also known as "conventional medicine" in Western societies, allopathy focuses on treating the symptoms of diseases primarily through prescription drugs and surgery. This approach utilizes a process of reductionism (focusing on the symptoms exhibited in a part of the organism rather than focusing on the organism as a whole.)

Ayurvedic Medicine: Literally meaning the "science of life." Ayurveda is a 5,000-year-old system of medicine originating in India that combines natural therapies with a highly personalized, holistic approach to the treatment of disease, which is believed to be the result of disharmony between the person and the environment. Ayurvedic medicine works to balance the three basic types of energy (doshas) that occur in everyone and everything: vata, pitta, and kapha.

Eclectic Medicine: A branch of American medicine popular in the latter half of the 19th and first half of the 20th century that made use of therapies found to be beneficial to patients including medicinal plants, as well as physical therapy practices. “Eclectics” were doctors who practiced with a philosophy based on “alignment with nature.”

Homeopathy: A system of medicine founded in the late 18th century in which remedies consist of diluted substances from plants, minerals and animals. It is based on a theory that "like cures like." Remedies specifically match different symptom pattern profiles of illness to stimulate the body’s natural healing process.

Indigenous or Tribal Medicine: A healthcare system that tends to incorporate various methods of botanical and animal medicines as well as specific ceremonial rituals of the culture to cure disease. The medicinal knowledge is passed from generation to generation primarily through oral traditions. The system tends to be unique to each tribe.

Kampo: Japan’s traditional medicine system which has been used since the Han period (206BC to 220 CE of ancient China. The Shang han lun is a therapeutic handbook for the application of herbal prescriptions based on the use of raw herbs.

Naturopathy: A holistic medical system that treats health conditions by utilizing what is believed to be the body’s innate ability to heal. Naturopathic physicians aid healing processes by incorporating a variety of natural methods based on the patient’s individual needs.

Traditional Chinese Medicine: A 3,000-year-old holistic system of medicine combining the use of medicinal herbs, acupuncture, food therapy, massage, and therapeutic exercise. Chinese physicians look for the underlying causes of imbalance in the "yin" and "yang" which lead to disharmony in the "qi" (energy) in the body. Traditional Chinese Medicine addresses how illness manifests itself in a patient and treats the patient, not the ailment or disease.

Unani-Tibb: Also known as Unani Medicine, Arabian medicine, or Islamic medicine, Unani is a Persian word meaning Greek and Tibb is an Arabic word meaning medicine. The origins of Unani-Tibb are based on the system of Greek medicine developed by Hippocrates and Galen and later refined by the Persian scholar-physician, Ibn Sina, also known as Avicenna (980-1037 CE).