What is Indigenous Medicine?

Acu-Na Wellness Center
Indigenous medicine ceremony

Indigenous Medicine Ceremony

What is Indigenous Medicine? The term “Indigenous Medicine” refers to the healing systems that have been used by various countries and ethnic populations for thousands of years, before the arrival of modern medicine. Acupuncture, cupping, moxa, TuiNa, Reiki, Tai massage, acupressure, auricular therapy are all indigenous medicine from Asian cultures.  For this reason, Acu-Na Wellness Center is considered an indigenous medicine center.

These practices developed out of the specific nature of the culture, history, philosophy and availability of natural resources in different regions of the world. The World Health Organization estimates that between 65% and 85% of the world’s population relies on its indigenous medicine as their primary form of health care. Despite this long tradition of use, indigenous medicine has not had strong official support in most countries since the rise of modern western medicine, resulting in an under-development of formal education, training and research into its effectiveness.

Indigenous medicine is time-tested and comprehensive. Indigenous medicine refers to health practices, approaches, knowledge and beliefs incorporating plant, animal and mineral-based medicines, spiritual therapies, manual techniques and exercises, applied singularly or in combination to treat, diagnose and prevent illnesses or maintain well-being. Indigenous traditional healing is an ancient, deeply rooted, complex holistic health care system practiced by indigenous people worldwide. However, scant information exists to explain the phenomenon of indigenous medicine and indigenous health. Even less is known about how indigenous healing takes place.

East Asian Medicine refers to the diverse traditional health care practices indigenous to East Asia including but not limited to Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean, Mongolian, Tibetan and Indonesian medicines. East Asian medicine has been referred to as Oriental medicine, and includes but is not limited to traditional Chinese medicine, or TCM. The most recognized of the techniques used in East Asian medicine is acupuncture. The Huang-di Nei-jing or Inner Classic of the Yellow Emperor is one of the oldest known medical texts. The Nei Jing works from a world view of the body as part of nature, resonant and interacting with the forces external to it. Health reflects a balance of internal and external influences. Illness is a manifestation of imbalance. Observation remains key to assessing the nature of the imbalance, and the appropriate intervention.

Ayurveda is an ancient system of life (ayur) knowledge (veda) arising in India thousands of years ago. Ayurveda theory evolved from a deep understanding of creation. The great rishis or seers of ancient India came to understand creation through meditation and other spiritual practices. They then sought to reveal the deepest truths of human physiology and health. They observed the fundamentals of life, organized them into an elaborate system, and compiled India’s philosophical and spiritual texts, called Veda of knowledge.

Native American Medicine refers to the combined health practices of over 500 distinct nations that inhabited the Americas before the European arrival at the end of the fifteenth century. Specific practices varied among tribes, but all native medicine is based on the understanding that man is part of nature and health is a matter of balance. The natural world thrives when its complex web of interrelationships is honored, nurtured and kept in harmony. Native American philosophy recognizes aspects of the natural world that cannot be seen by the eye or by technology, but which can be experienced directly and intuitively. Just as each human has an immeasurable inner life which powerfully influences well-being, so does nature include unseen but compelling forces which must be addressed and integrated for true balance to be achieved.

Acu-Na Wellness Center currently integrates several Traditional & Indigenous healing systems into its services such as East Asian Medicine, Ayurveda from India and Native American Healing. Indigenous healing systems bring much needed enhancements to our current modern medicine. To answer the call for more education and dissemination of the wisdom and ways of indigenous medicine we have created an event series on “Indigenous Medicine Teachings.”

Acu-Na Wellness Center introduces our new Indigenous Medicine Teachings

Our goal is to disseminate the ancient wisdom of various cultures for achieving and maintaining health. We have chosen to redefine health as, “a disease-free physical body and a soul that lives in community, respects the earth, is connected to spirit, expresses its authentic self and lives a life of purpose.”

Acu-Na Wellness Center already provides a unique array of services that utilize the scientific knowledge of Naturopathic Medicine, the Five Element System of Correspondence medical paradigm in Traditional Chinese Medicine, the ancient wisdom of Indigenous Medicine for reconnecting with the earth and rebuilding community, and Energy Medicine as it recognizes that energy is the vital, living moving force that determines much of our health and happiness.

To further enhance our clients’ personal growth we will now be offering our Indigenous Medicine Teachings. Last year we had our first Women’s Healing Water Retreat in Jamaica and will continue to offer women’s retreats that range from one day to one week.

by Mary Jane Houge, ND, L.Ac., LMBT, Philosopher