Bridging traditional healers with modern medicine – Latina Lista: News from the Latinx perspective
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The reality is that we can learn and take away good medicines from both streams and combine them into a plan that takes into consideration an individual's holistic health needs.
This is patient-centred care. Traditional healing involves working with a person to help them heal, not just physically but mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Also known as holistic healing, it involves an integrative approach that seeks to balance the body, mind and spirit with the environment. Traditional healing makes use of the healing properties of many medicines found in and on the land and water to help people suffering from physical ailments, along with healing ceremonies to help people with their mental, emotional and spiritual ailments.
It's this combination that promotes holistic wellness. Many of the medicines found in plants, trees, herbs, soils and water that are used in First Nations healing have counterparts on conventional pharmacy shelves.
These traditional or natural medicines are used to combat cold, flu, joint pain, gastrointestinal ailments, headache, insomnia, infection, skin conditions, blood diseases, cancer and many other illnesses. As with any medicine, a traditional healer recommends a specific dosage, preparation and administration. The best health outcomes occur when there is an opportunity to be treated through a comprehensive health-care plan that includes both traditional and conventional practices.
A story was once shared with me about a patient receiving both conventional and traditional treatment for cancerous tumours. The traditional healer had given her traditional medicines to take with the understanding that she continue with conventional treatment.
Why traditional healing has a place in modern health care
When a checkup showed that the tumours had shrunk to indiscernible sizes, the patient informed her doctor about receiving medicines from a traditional healer. The doctor told her to continue, because what she was doing was working. Optimally, though, both healers would be informed of each other's treatment plan from the start. This story resonated — not only did the patient find both medicines helpful, both the healers had an openness and respect for the other's discipline.
Also, deliberate or accidental adulterations or misidentified herbal drugs constitute a continuous problem and latent health risk Ouarghidi et al.
Traditional medicines and globalization: current and future perspectives in ethnopharmacology
In this perspective review, we highlight the historical legacy and development of ethnopharmacology, the relevance of human diet and the importance of allelochemicals. The interface between phytotherapy and drug discovery is evidenced with a discussion on bioprospecting ancient texts, phylogenetic approaches in ethnopharmacology, and evolutionary ecology. Through a discourse touching on aspects of knowledge transmission, integration of medicinal systems, globalization, and medicinal pluralism we tag economy and commercialism as a driving force in ethnopharmacology.
Ergot, for example, the sclerotium of Claviceps purpurea Fr. Clavicipitaceae was used as an abortifacient in Central European folk medicine when Adam Lonicer Lonicerus — described its application for the first time in Ringrose, Women made use of repeated doses of three sclerotia against pains in the uterus Lonicerus,p. Indeed, ergot did not stand the test of time as a labor-inducing agent since the risks for the unborn were too high and, therefore, continued to be used only to stop the bleeding after parturition Hofmann, The hemostatic principle of ergot was finally isolated, elucidated and named ergometrine in Stoll, In an attempt to optimize the pharmacological characteristics of ergometrine Albert Hofmann — derivatized lysergic acid, the pharmacophore common to all ergot alkaloids, with butanolamine instead of propanolamine as in ergometrine obtaining methylergometrine, a compound with more favorable qualities.
Methysergide, another ergometrine derivative interacting with 5-HT receptors was introduced to the market as a prophylaxis of migraine headaches in von Bruckhausen et al. After the success with methylergometrine and in search of a circulation and respiration activator, Hofmann synthesized one of the most controversial compounds ever produced by humans: LSD was introduced as a research tool in psychiatry and sold under the name of Delysid by Sandoz who propagated this strong entheogen as a psyche-decentralizing agent in analytical psychotherapy Hofmann,pp.
During the late s and the s LSD was widely used in psychotherapy alongside insulin shock therapy and with its psyche opening quality served as a therapeutic alternative to the tranquilizers frequently used at that time Sandison, ab.
The next example focuses on the same compound class but on a completely different ethnological background. In book 11 p. The head is small and round, the stem ling and slender…it makes one besotted; it deranges one, troubles one. It is a remedy for fever and gout. Only two or three can be eaten…. He who eats many of them sees many things, which make him afraid, or make him laugh. He flees, hangs himself, hurls himself from a cliff, cries out, takes fright.
One eats it in honey…of one who is haughty, presumptuous, vain, of him it is said: In the same year Richard Evans Schultes — obtained fresh mushroom samples in Huautla, which he identified as Panaeolus campanulatus L.
Bresadola Wasson and Wasson,p. The first outsider to experience the effect of psilocybin containing mushrooms was Gordon Wasson — who in participated in a mushroom ceremony held by the curandera Maria Sabina in Huautla.
It was again Albert Hofmann who in the late s isolated and elucidated the psychoactive principles of teonanacatl, the serotonin mimicking psilocin and its pro-drug psilocybin, disenchanting the magic mushrooms Hofmann,pp. Both psilocybin containing mushrooms and LSD were soon experimented with outside the scientific community and became globally used recreational drugs influencing subcultures and propelling countercultural movements.
The triggering of overwhelming psychedelic experiences led to the theory that the administration of the classical hallucinogens would result in an overall enhancement of brain activity in humans. This theory was relatively well accepted until recently although no thorough pharmaco-physiological studies of hallucinogen action have taken place since the s Lee and Roth, Intriguingly, a new study by Carhart-Harris et al.
In an interesting survey subjective case studies on cluster headache self-treatment with psilocybin and LSD were gathered Sewell et al. Cluster headache is an extremely painful condition for which currently no medications terminating cluster periods or extending remission periods are available.
Respondents also reported extension of remission period upon LSD and psilocybin consumption see Sewell et al. New insights into the pharmaco-physiological interactions of hallucinogens and surveys conducted with individual users might help for a more directed and concerted use of psychedelic compounds in psychotherapy and pain therapy.
Today opium alkaloids are a worldwide therapeutic commodity, while their molecular scaffolds inspired scores of pharmaceutical chemists and pharmacologists alike. One of the major concerns of medical opioid administration is the fast development of tolerance and withdrawal symptoms as well as minor complications such as constipation, emesis, and drowsiness Darvishzadeh-Mahani et al.
Recent experimental research on the therapeutic value of opioids remifentanil shows that single but highly dosed opioid administration reverses hyperalgesia in rats Drdla-Schutting et al. This finding suggests that in case of hyperalgesia, instead of chronic low dose opioid administration, brief but highly dosed opioids might erase chronic pain persistently Drdla-Schutting et al. Also ginger Zingiber officinale Roscoe, Zingiberaceae besides its status as a spice and food item, has become a global medicinal commodity used against rheumatism, headache and above all against digestive and respiratory problems showing potent anti-inflammatory properties in vitro and in vivo Chevallier, ; Williamson, ; van Breemen et al.
Murine in vivo data suggest that ginger extract administration is able to prevent morphine tolerance as well as naloxone-induced withdrawal signs Darvishzadeh-Mahani et al. As an underlying mechanism L-type channel blocking properties by ginger constituents leading to an attenuation of calcium channel over expression induced by morphine has been suggested Darvishzadeh-Mahani et al. The therapeutic benefit of ginger in this context might include its anti-inflammatory potential as it was shown that morphine triggers neuroinflammation in the CNS mediated via binding to the Toll-like receptor 4 Wang et al.Bridging the gap between modern and ancient medicines - Cease Wyss - TEDxECUAD
Well-conducted clinical trials on the therapeutic efficacy and effectiveness of ginger preparations in painful inflammatory conditions are, however, still lacking Terry et al. Pennell Scrophulariaceae is an important Ayurvedic medicinal plant used for a variety of health problems but above all to treat mental problems Williamson, ; Russo and Borrelli, Mandukaparni the first written accounts are difficult to assign to either of the two species see Hoernle,p.
Phytochemical analyses with B. Recent experimental data obtained with rats suggests that B. A randomized controlled trial over a long-term period with a standardized B.
Recent evidence suggests that hemoglobin degradation products such as heme are activating artemisinin leading to carbon-centered radicals exerting oxidative stress in the parasite Klonis et al.
Artemisinin derived anti-malarial drugs are, however, not easily accessible or affordable to a large portion of the malaria struck population Kokwaro, ; Wright et al.
Locally grown and carefully prepared and applied herbal tea of A. When adopting the preparation methods described in ancient Chinese medicinal texts it was shown that only a fraction of pounded juice is needed with respect to the quantity of aqueous infusion in order to provide the required amount of artemisinin Wright et al. Intriguingly, a survey about the anti-malarial use of A. Encouraged by this report Lubbe et al. Although the identification of the responsible compound s as well as in vivo studies are still due, Lubbe et al.
Especially during the appearance of new diseases, lack of financial resources and in cases where no effective treatment methods exist Sewell et al. The evolutionary perspective of health and nutrition comprises the co-evolution of the food-medicine continuum of wild gathered and cultivated vegetables Etkin, ; Lindeberg, ; Leonti, Especially wild gathered food plants are often reported in local and popular traditions to have pharmacologic activities and are frequently associated with beneficial effects on the gastrointestinal tract, the cardiovascular system and with diuretic properties e.
But although domestication of staple crops has led to a reduction of allelochemicals Johns,pp. The focus thus falls on pharmacological properties of allelochemicals present in food, i. Lindeberg, ; Carrera-Bastos et al. 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: An example is the patent on an anti-fungal neem derivative commonly used in Indian traditional remedies.
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 percent 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. 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. For most of the past decade, the WHO has been working to develop international guidelines and technical standards to help countries formulate policy and regulations to control traditional medicines.
Testing times If regulation of traditional and Western medicines varies, so too do methods for evaluating and testing them.
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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. 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.