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What Is Traditional Medicine? Here’s More On Why Traditional Medicines Are Gaining

By Dr. Nikita Toshi +2 more

Traditional medicines have been making headlines globally, with increasing acceptance of their effectiveness and potency in helping people live healthier lives. In a significant boost to traditional Indian medicine, the ground-breaking ceremony was recently performed for the path-breaking WHO (World Health Organisation) Global Centre for Traditional Medicine (GCTM) at Jamnagar in Gujarat. Traditional medicine in India has always been used for healing and various alternative treatments over the centuries. 


The centre marks an important part of the WHO traditional medicine strategy and its goals to deploy advances in traditional medicine for the betterment of global citizens. The foundation stone was laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with the Prime Minister of Mauritius, Pravind Kumar Jugnauth and the Director-General at WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. The GCTM will be a unique global centre for traditional medicines products globally. Ghebreyesus called it a global endeavour where the rest of the world will depend on India for its strategic traditional medicine leadership. 

He also talked about how traditional medicine products are doing well worldwide, while talking about how the centre will help several global regions understand how to use them as the first line of treatment. The centre, according to him, will focus on data, innovation and sustainability, while optimising traditional medicine usage. The core divisions here will include leadership and research, learning and evidence, sustainability and equity, analytics and data and technology and innovation. 

Jamnagar was selected for the GCTM owing to the establishment of the first global Ayurvedic University in the city over 50 years earlier. It is also home to a reputed Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda. 

 Ayurveda is not only about healing or treatment of disorders, but also about mental, social and environmental health while inculcating compassion, sympathy and productivity. Ayurveda is the knowledge of life and is rightly called the fifth Veda by some

Although it is believed that traditional medicines have no or minimal side effects and are comparatively cheaper, it is still challenging to rely completely on them as there are no huge trials or comparisons done with traditional medicines, inconsistency of descriptions of the treatment or product may be another challenge with their use.

Dr. Ashish Bajaj, M.B.B.S., M.D

More about traditional medicines

There are many  types of traditional medicines  used globally. WHO estimates 80% of the global population using them, while 170 out of 194 members stated using till now. All the Governments of these nations have also sought WHO’s assistance in building up data and evidence of traditional medicinal practices and products.  

What is traditional medicine?

It is used to describe the entire skills, practices and knowledge used by various indigenous and other cultures throughout centuries for maintaining their health and well-being along with diagnosing, treating and combating physical and mental illnesses. It covers ancient methods like Ayurveda or Ayurvedic medicine along with acupuncture, contemporary medicines and herbal medicines. Traditional medicines have been shown to help people live healthier lives with their natural and beneficial ingredients. From multifarious health benefits like lower blood pressure, healthy weight levels and prevention of a host of other probable ailments to enhancing mood, happiness and energy levels, they have numerous advantages for users.  

Traditional medicines have also become a part of contemporary science. At least 40% of approved pharmaceuticals today use natural and organic substances, emphasising the need to conserve natural resources. Experts highlight how aspirin was inspired by traditional mixtures that used the willow tree’s bark. Even some aspects of cancer treatment in some cases of children have been based on the precious rosy periwinkle as per experts. Ancient medicinal texts from China were also studied before undertaking research initiatives (that ultimately won the Nobel Prize) centring on the use of  Artemisia annua  for malaria and fever.  

Traditional medicines are undeniably a crucial part of the ecosystem as more nations realise their importance and time-tested relevance. They are antidotes for better lives for a sizable chunk of the global population.  

Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.

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