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Traditional Medicine in Peru

Throughout the world, traditional medicine is the main pillar of the provision of health services or its complement. In some countries traditional medicine or unconventional medicine is often called complementary medicine. Traditional medicine is defined as the sum total of the knowledge, capacities, and practices based on theories, beliefs and experiences of different cultures, whether explainable or not, used to maintain health and prevent, diagnose, improve or treat physical diseases or mental. Within traditional medicine there are different methods: Acupuncture, Mind and Body Therapies, Energy Therapies, Manual Therapies and Natural Medicine.

In Peru we have a variety of cultures and within them different beliefs and religions. There are 1,786 communities, 55 ethnic groups and 67 different languages. In addition, according to some specialists, in Peru there are approximately 25,000 plant species registered, corresponding to 10% of all the plants in the world. Many of them have been used by priests or healers to alleviate different diseases within the population under their charge, and today they continue to be part of the medicine used in most of the towns.

At the end of the 17th century, Andean doctors discovered a powerful febrifuge in the powdered bark of the cinchona tree. It specifically cured malaria (known as tertian). It was the first specific remedy against a disease. That discovery continues to be used to this day, with scientific studies that support it.

One of the biggest problems faced by these various methods of traditional medicine is the limited scientific support with which they support their efficacy and especially their safety in different groups of people. Most of them are used and recommended only by references from the experiences of friends and / or acquaintances.

During the pandemic, many drugs validated for other diseases were used as part of protocols for the management of patients with covid-19 without the support of any scientific study and indiscriminately. Likewise, various medicinal plants were introduced that claimed to be beneficial for their management without having a basic scientific support.

It is very important that scientific research on these methods be promoted in order to provide quality products and, above all, safe for the population. This hard work should start from the classrooms of medical schools where little or nothing is taught about the history and relevance of traditional medicine within the world of conventional medicine; and thus, work to integrate conventional medicine that uses standardized techniques and treatments with scientifically proven drugs, with the traditional medicine system that uses personalized, unconventional treatments that help the sick to heal and maintain health.

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