Alternative System of Medicine

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Chapter: Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry : Alternative System of Medicine

Pharmacognosy has been basically evolved as an applied science pertaining to the study of all types of drugs of natural origin.

Alternative System of Medicine




Pharmacognosy has been basically evolved as an applied science pertaining to the study of all types of drugs of natural origin. However, its subject matter is directed towards the modern allopathic medicine. During the course of developments, many civilizations have raised and perished but the systems of medicines developed by them in various parts of the world are still practised, and are also popular as the alternative systems of medicine. These are the alternative systems in the sense that modern allopathic system has been globally acclaimed as the principal system of medicine, and so all the other systems prevalent and practised in various parts of the world are supposed to be alternative systems. The philosophy and the basic principles of these so called alternative systems might differ significantly from each other, but the fact cannot be denied that these systems have served the humanity for the treatment and management of diseases and also for maintenance of good health. About 80 percent of the world population still rely and use the medicines of these traditional systems.


Traditional Chinese medicine in China, Unani system in Greece, Ayurvedic system in India, Amachi in Tibet or more recently Homoeopathy in Germany are these systems of medicine which were once practised only in the respective areas or subcontinents of the world, are now popularly practised all over the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) is already taking much interest in indigenous systems of medicine and coming forward to exploit the scientific validity of the medicines used since traditions. The revival of great interest in these age-old systems of health care carries much meaning in the present scenarios. The study of these alternative systems is necessary so as to grasp and receive the best out of it to rescue humanity from the clutches of disease. Modern allopathy has developed many sophisticated and costlier diagnostic methodologies which have made it quite exorbitant and beyond the abilities of common man. Many modern synthetic drugs may harm more than they help in curing the disease by its serious toxic effects. On the contrary, traditional medicines are much more preferred for being safe and without harmful effects and comparatively much cheaper than that of allopathic medicines. However, one fact must be accepted here that the yelling humanity lastly run towards the modern allopathic treatment, which has developed wonderful techniques of diagnosis and highly effective drugs to provide the best and effective treatment than any other system of medicine till date.


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