Indigenous Medicinal Knowledge
KeywordsScience Education Income Level Western Medicine Knowledge System Indigenous Community
Indigenous medicinal knowledge (IMK) refers to the sum total of all knowledge and practices whether explicable or not, used in diagnosis, prevention, and elimination of physical, mental, and social imbalance and, relying exclusively on practical experience and observation, handed down from generation to generation whether verbally or in writing (WHO Traditional Indigenous Medical Programme 2008; see Soewu and Adekanola 2011). IMK’s diverse methods include physical, mental, and spiritual therapies, usually strongly influenced by the culture and beliefs dominant in a particular community.
Balasubramanian (1997) notes that IMK serves the health needs of the vast majority of people in developing countries where persistent poverty and marginalization limits access to Western medicine. IMK helps to translate natural resources into products and services of unique and organic value, improves nutritional levels by utilizing local food materials from the immediate environment, and improves health and income levels of indigenous communities for more sustainable livelihoods. Moreover, many herbal plants known to IMK have become essential raw materials for making pharmaceutical products; hence, there is an important link between IMK and the developed world (Fabricant and Farnsworth 2001).
IMK can be important in science education as a way for indigenous schools to link science with local knowledge and for students in the developing world to learn more about how the resources of the developing world contribute to scientific knowledge. IMK and science education jointly can help to translate natural resources into products and services of unique and organic value, improve nutritional levels by utilizing local food materials from the immediate environment, and upgrade the health and income levels of indigenous communities by accessing them to quality and affordable herbal medicines available in their respective localities – for community-wide, sustainable livelihoods (Nelson-Harrison et al. 2002).
- Balasubramanian K (1997) Herbal remedies: consumer protection concerns. Consumers International, PenangGoogle Scholar
- Nelson-Harrison S, King S, Limbach C, Jackson C, Galiwango A, Kisingi SK, Kanyerezi B (2002) Ethnobotanical research into the 21st. century. In: Iwu M, Wooton J (eds) Ethnomedicine and drug discovery. Elsevier, IrelandGoogle Scholar
- Soewu DA, Adekanola TA (2011) Traditional-medical knowledge and perception of pangolins (Manis sp.) among the Awori people, Southwestern Nigeria. J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. Retrieved from http://www.ethnobiomed.com/content/7/1/25. Accessed 9 Sept 2013
- WHO Traditional Indigenous Medical Programme (2008) World Health Organization. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs134/en/. Accessed 9 Sept 2013