Traditional Medicine of Indigenous peoples, Afro-descendants, and other ethnic diversity of the Americas

At the end of the 1970s, the PAHO proposed understanding traditional medicine as: “the set of all theoretical and practical knowledge, explainable or not, used for diagnosis, prevention and suppression of physical, mental or social disorders, based exclusively on the experience and observation, and transmitted verbally or written from one generation to another. It can also be considered as a firm amalgam of active medical practice and ancestral experience “(IIDH, PAHO, 2006). In this sense, traditional medicine is recognized as a system that has a complex of knowledges, traditions, practices and beliefs that is structured through its own agents: shamans, mamos, traditional doctors, pulseers, midwives, bonesetters, promoters, etc., which has its own methods of diagnosis, treatment, care, and prevention, and whose therapeutic resources include “medicinal” plants, animals, minerals, rituals, diets, among others, which are recognized by a population that requests them and practice them.

This broad concept covers a wide diversity of medical traditions, which through time and cultural encounters have syncretized, or not, diverse elements. But which remains anchored to the ancestral history pillar of the communities and which allows denominating this knowledge and practice as indigenous traditional medicine.

In this section, we will soon be developing a summary of the different medical traditions of the indigenous peoples, Afro-descendants and other ethnic diversities of the American continent.