Chinese herbal therapy employs proven formulas consisting of various medicinal herbs, minerals, and animal products to increase the body’s health and resistance to disease. Author Alevtina Gall discussed the use of traditional medicine by Ethiopian patients with Dr. The first recorded epidemic that occurred in Ethiopia dates back to 849 following the expulsion of Abba Yohannes, the head of the Ethiopian church, from the land.
It is impossible to pinpoint the birth of medicine in Ethiopia, but certainly the evolution of curative practices closely follows the path of a disease.
Under the rule of Menelik (1865-1913) Western medicine became significantly more incorporated into the Ethiopian medical system. Despite Western medicine becoming more widespread in Ethiopia, Ethiopians tend to rely more on traditional medicine.
Most immigrants who come from countries that rely on traditional medicine continue to use that form of medicine in conjunction with the use of conventional medical facilities.
In North America the Ethiopian immigrant population is more diffuse, thus, traditional medical practitioners (TMPs) may be inaccessible and cultural misunderstandings may compound frustration with the conventional medical system (Hodes, 1997). Ethiopian patients who use traditional medicine and do not inform their health care providers may do this for several reasons. As national borders become more porous and the movement of people more widespread it is increasingly more important for health care providers to be aware of the cultural background of their patients. It is imperative that health care providers are aware of traditional medicines that their patients may be using. Many herbal substances that are used in Ethiopian traditional medicine are also used as ingredients and spices in Ethiopian food. This table is best used when interviewing patients about laboratory findings or side effects when an interaction may be suspected. From a naturopathic or Western herbal perspective, ita€™s hard to imagine people consuming spices in large enough quantities to be pharmacologically active. Herbal Medication App gives many useful and trusted herbal recipes for many symptoms and diseases (like tonsillitis, cough, high blood pressure, Arthritis pain, etc.), it also contains some beauty recipes and others. Herbal Therapy is a central part of Oriental Medicine and the decision of what formula is right for you is based on the same principals of physiology and pathology as your Acupuncture treatment plan.
These formulas are available only by prescription from a health professional with additional training in herbal medicine.
Traditional medical practitioners mostly implement herbs, spiritual healing, bone-setting and minor surgical procedures in treating disease.


Numerous medical envoys from abroad, starting with the Italians and Russians, were influential in building hospitals, providing medical training and participating in vaccination campaigns. Conventional medical services remain concentrated in urban areas and have failed to keep pace with the growing population, keeping health care access out of reach for most Ethiopians living in Ethiopia. Despite the prevalence of self-medication in immigrant populations and the potential for adverse herb-drug interactions, relatively few studies have assessed these risk factors in various groups. Despite the lack of TMPs, herbal remedies are easily obtained and widely used by the immigrant population. Unusual changes in a patienta€™s state of health or reaction to a prescribed medication may be explained by the concurrent use of traditional medicine.
Consumption of these herbs and spices as part of a normal diet is not likely to cause adverse herb-drug interactions because they are consumed in relatively small quantities.
Conversely, it can be used to help caution patients about potential interactions, if particular herbs or spices are consumed in large volumes.
In other words, under normal uses, an interaction is unlikely, but given known medicinal use by East African patients, it is possible. However, in many countries, notably Ethiopia, spices are used specifically for their medicinal value and are consumed in quantities far exceeding how they would be used as a normal food additive, not just in terms of volume, but in frequency of dosing. We only provide herbal prescriptions to patients who have been seen by one of our practitioners. Ethiopian traditional medicine is vastly complex and diverse and varies greatly among different ethnic groups. However, most medical establishments primarily served the urban elites and foreign missionaries and were concentrated in the major cities (Pankhurst, 1990). Because traditional medicine is culturally entrenched, accessible, and affordable, up to 80% of the Ethiopian population relies on traditional remedies as a primary source of health care (Kassaye et al., 2006).
In many cases Ethiopian patients use traditional remedies in combination with prescribed conventional medications for related or unrelated health conditions without informing their physician.
For instance, a widespread Ethiopian remedy for the common cold involves the consumption of large quantities of garlic and ginger, which has the potential to interact with anti-coagulant, hypoglycemic, and cholesterol-lowering medications (refer to following table). On the one hand, the concern is practical because so many commonly used traditional remedies have the potential to adversely interact with conventional medicines. Health care providers should closely observe their patients and be conscious of adverse herb-drug interactions. However, when these herbs and spices are utilized for medicinal purposes there may be an increased likelihood of adverse interactions with conventional medicines.


For example, with garlic, many cloves may be crushed and consumed many times a day for medicinal purposes. Promoting traditional medicine in Ethiopia: a brief historical review of government policy.
8, 2008) Personal interview with Medical Director of International Medicine Clinic (HMC) on topic of Ethiopian traditional medicine use in immigrant patients (Haborview Medical Center, Seattle, WA).
Information was also obtained through a literature review that included studies of patient-health care provider relationships and current scientific data regarding chemical interactions of herbs and conventional drugs. Most traditional medical practices in Ethiopia rely on an explanation of disease that draws on both the a€?mysticala€? and a€?naturala€? causes of an illness and employ a holistic approach to treatment (Bishaw, 1991).
Moreover, Western medicine has become more focused on preventative measures and people seeking curative practices still rely on indigenous medicine as the primary source for health care (Pankhurst, 1990). Another study found that only 5% of Chinese immigrants surveyed reported that their physician had ever asked about their use of traditional medicine (Wu et al., 2007). Patients may feel that they will be judged by their physicians if they disclose their use of traditional medicine (Shenkute, 2008).
On the other hand, the use of traditional medicine brings up the issue of culturally constructed notions of health and illness and demands a place in health care provision discourse. Talking to patients about traditional therapies is crucial and should be done in a nonjudgmental manner to encourage the patient to feel comfortable in sharing this information with their health care provider. There are several classes of medications that are at a higher risk for adverse herb-drug interactions, including anti-arrhythmic, anti-seizure, anti-diabetic, and anti-coagulant medication. Pharmacists with extensive experience managing Ethiopian patients for diabetes, anticoagulation, and hypertension will see complications of herb-spice drug interactions not routinely encountered in naturopathic medicine. Cultural differences in understanding and treating symptoms of illnesses may contribute to patients feeling misunderstood by their health care providers and being more likely to seek satisfactory treatment in the form of traditional medicine (Hodes, 1997). In countries with substantial Ethiopian immigrant populations, traditional herbs, medical devices, and practitioners are readily available (Papadopoulos, 2002). The following table summarizes the most commonly used herbs and spices in Ethiopia and their potential drug interactions (Fullas, 2003).



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