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October 2022

Soc Sci Med. 1986 ; 22(1): 99-105.

The inter-relationship of folk, traditional and Western medicine within an Asian community in Britain.

Bhopal RS.

A community-based interview study of Asians and a questionnaire study of health professionals were performed to ascertain the role of traditional medicine in the context of health care within the Asian community. Among Asians, knowledge of herbal remedies, the Asian healer and cultural concepts such as the 'hot/cold' theory was high. They frequently used culinary ingredients to treat common diseases such as abdominal discomfort, earache and toothache. The use of metal-based medications was rare, application of the 'hot/cold' concept was not of nutritional significance and Asian healers were infrequently consulted except during visits to India and Pakistan. Among health professionals awareness of Asian medicine was low. None had encountered morbidity resulting from its remedies while 50% felt that such remedies should be encouraged unless shown to be harmful. Traditional medicine was found to play a modest but not insignificant role within the context of total health care. There was little evidence that is use comprises a significant health threat. Opportunities for further research and a prediction of the future of Asian medicine in Britain is presented.

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