Traditional medicine (TM) is an important and often underestimated part of health services. TM has a long history of use in health maintenance and in disease prevention and treatment. It is the sum total of the knowledge, skills, and practices based on the theories, beliefs, and experiences indigenous to different cultures. Traditional medication involves the use of herbal medicines, animal parts, and minerals. In some countries, traditional medicine or non-conventional medicine may be termed complementary medicine (CM). The terms alternative medicine or CM refer to a broad set of health care practices that are not part of that country’s own tradition or conventional medicine and are not fully integrated into the dominant health-care system. T&CM merges the terms TM and CM, encompassing products, practices, and practitioners. T&CM continues to be widely used in most countries, and its uptake is increasing rapidly in other countries.
In many parts of the world, policy-makers, health professionals, and the public are wrestling with issues regarding the safety, effectiveness, quality, availability, preservation, and regulation of traditional and complementary medicine (T&CM).