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Folk medicine

From Academic Kids

Folk medicine is the collection of procedures traditionally used for treatment of illness and injury, aid to childbirth, and maintenance of wellness. Folk medicine is sometimes associated with quackery when practiced as theatrics or otherwise practiced falsely, and sometimes with witchcraft and often with shamanism, yet it may also preserve important knowledge and cultural tradition from the past.

Herbal medicine is an aspect of folk medicine - the use of gathered plant parts to make teas, poultices, or powders that purportedly effect cures. Modern medicine has tended to regard herbal medicine negatively, but in recent times has discovered that some of the herbalists' cures were effective.

Some attention is being paid to the folk medicine of indigenous peoples of remote areas of the world, in the hope of finding new pharmaceuticals. Of special concern is the extinction of many species by the clearing of formerly wild rainforests, that may cause the loss of species of plants that could provide these new aids to modern medicine.

One problem in getting the attention of modern medicine is that most research is funded by those who hope to eventually make a profit from such research. For example, honey has been a part of many folk cures, but it is common and cheap (compared to pharmaceuticals), and cannot be patented, therefore it is difficult to fund any research of its effectiveness.

In the USA, an old folk medicine field called apitherapy, in which bee stings or venom is used to aid victims of autoimmune disorders like arthritis or multiple sclerosis, is receiving renewed interest in recent years.

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