Abstract Prior to the introduction of cosmopolitan medicine, traditional medicine used to be the dominant medical system available to millions of people in Africa in both rural and urban communities. However, the arrival of the Europeans marked a significant turning point in the history of this age-long tradition and culture. This paper examines the trends and challenges of traditional medicine in Africa. The impact of colonialism on African traditional medicine is also examined.
Ad hoc during consultation with the patient Pre-determined, and once tested in clinical trials cannot be changed unless re-tested Regulation Virtually none, though some countries are trying to introduce rules and standardisation Extremely tight, to the point that bringing drugs to market now costs billions of dollars Testing No formal testing as knowledge of the effectiveness is handed down through generations Rigorous trials that happen in different phases, first testing for safety, then efficacy Dosage Unfixed: Modern medicine, on the other hand, has stringent intellectual property laws and a highly evolved patenting system used to protect knowledge about drugs or medical techniques.
As Western researchers realise the wealth of knowledge stored in traditional medicine systems, and the need for new drugs becomes more urgent, many scientists have begun searching indigenous sources for new drugs: In some cases, researchers have sought patent protection for medicinal compounds that had already been used for centuries to treat disease.
An example is the patent on an anti-fungal neem derivative commonly used in Indian traditional remedies. Neem is commonly used in Indian traditional medicines Spice photo gallery The Indian government convinced the EPO to revoke the patent on the basis of prior use, but it took five years and millions of dollars.
Some regions have tried to tackle the problem by enacting laws to protect indigenous knowledge. For example, Cusco, in Peru, last year outlawed the exploitation of native species for commercial gain, including patenting genes or other resources the trees contain see Peruvian region outlaws biopiracy.
Init launched a traditional knowledge digital library TKDL. From last year, the EPO has been able to consult the 24 million page, multilingual database on traditional remedies and medicinal plants before granting patents see BioMed Analysis: Keep traditional knowledge open but safe.
Many other countries have, or are considering establishing, similar databases to protect their local resources, including China, Ghana, Malaysia, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Thailand and some nations in the Middle East.
Regulating remedies Beyond differences in indigenous and Western knowledge systems, efforts to make traditional medicines mainstream also have to cope with significant differences in regulation.
Every country has a national drug authority of sorts, responsible for administering and managing modern medicines and setting drug policies. The problem with traditional medicine is that it often means different things to different people. A single medicinal plant may be classified as a food, a dietary supplement or a herbal medicine, depending on where you are.
A survey of WHO member states found that 84—90 countries around 60 per cent had no national policy, laws or regulations for traditional medicine although more than half of these proposed developing them .
These are often the countries where traditional remedies are used the most see Figure 1. Worldwide regulation of traditional medicine  And those countries with TM legislation take diverse approaches to licensing, dispensing, manufacturing and trading traditional remedies.
The lack of regulation means there are just as many fake remedies and false practitioners as there are genuine treatments. And that can have fatal results. For example, last year, two people died and nine were hospitalised after taking fake anti-diabetic traditional medicine, used to lower blood sugar, in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in China.
Testing times If regulation of traditional and Western medicines varies, so too do methods for evaluating and testing them.
Modern drugs go through a rigorous series of laboratory tests and clinical trials before coming to market. Modern medicine has developed powerful methods for proving effectiveness, testing for safety and standardising good manufacturing practices.
In contrast, few scientific tests are done to evaluate traditional medicine products and practices. Quality tests and production standards tend to be less rigorous or controlled and in many cases, practitioners may not be certified or licensed.
Of course, some researchers believe that putting a drug that has been tried and tested in thousands of people for decades or centuries through the same hoops as a brand new chemical is not appropriate.
But many agree that before a traditional medicine can be imported into a conventional framework of pharmaceuticals, it will require reassessment.
In some cases, this means adapting standard methods to cope with ethical issues that do not arise with conventional drug development. US researchers Jon Tilburt and Ted Kaptchuk have, for example, suggested that clinical trials of traditional medicines must follow different rules for research ethics see Box 2.
Justifiable social need for the research The rationale for testing a traditional medicine in a clinical trial cannot simply be that it already exists as a treatment. There must be both a social need and some preliminary evidence that the medicine will not negatively counteract other medicines used to treat the same disease.
Different stakeholders will define social need in different ways — for example, a government may want to prevent any other party from commercialising the treatment and health campaigners may want the clinical trial to try to produce better drugs.
Appropriate definitions of inclusion and exclusion criteria, and outcome measures Concepts of health and sickness differ between modern and traditional medicine. For example, Western researchers would probably categorise heart failure in patients according to the New York Heart Association classification.
But practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine TCM would see heart failure as a heart yang chi deficiency or a kidney yang deficiency, categorising patients based on pulse or tongue examination. Researchers testing a herbal remedy for heart failure would need to take both biomedical and TCM criteria into account for the results to be valid from both perspectives.
Innovative protocol design Drugs brought to market by putting traditional medicines through clinical trials must be rigorously tested but researchers will need to think carefully about how best to design their protocol.Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the United States Tonya Passarelli MPHP 4/ Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the United States Introduction While relatively new in the U.S., complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is a are funded to establish the evidence base required for CAM integration and acceptance into.
Historically, resistance to integration of CAM into mainstream health care has been based on factors such as the absence of standards and guidelines for practice, insufficient outcomes-based. Ayurveda and yoga are working their way into mainstream medicine by incorporating these two sister sciences into mainstream culture.
Ayurveda focuses on herbs, lifestyle modifications, diet/nutrition, and body work. The Maharishi Ayurveda health program is the fastest growing system of alternative medicines in the United States, with over 3.
For example, the United States National Institutes of Health department studying alternative medicine, currently named National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, was established as the Office of Alternative Medicine and was renamed the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine before .
Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) modalities, largely derived from early systems of medicine, with their emphasis on mind—body—consciousness approaches to healthcare, may serve us well as a starting point of the revamping process. Herbal medicine (HM) is one of the most widely used complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies used throughout the world.
In many countries, HM has a long tradition and the knowledge about local medical plants is ingrained into cultural memory.