Any school of traditional medicine retains its specific rituals, beliefs, behaviours and reasons. These comprise the composing elements of the diverse schools of traditional medicine. This sub-section deals with the identification and assessment of the said components in different schools of traditional medicine.
Specific behaviours are part of treatment methods in different schools of traditional medicine. These behaviours are performed as part of a certain social action. An example in the Iranian school of traditional medicine is the ritual of “ZĀR” and “PIR SHALYAR”. The cure/recovery rituals are part of the non-medicinal practices adopted for treatment in traditional medicine. There is great significance attached to these rituals in all schools of traditional medicine. Identification, assessment and documentation of the said rituals are the focus-point of this sub-section.
Healers are the main actors in any school of traditional medicine. They are in charge of treatment. In the Iranian school of traditional medicine, the healers were referred to as “KHAWJA”, “PIR”, “EESHAN”, “MAMAZAR” and “BABAZAR”. The identification of the healers as well as the processes they adopt for treatment is the main focus of this sub-section.
Based on the teachings of diverse schools of traditional medicine, any human community is abundant with beliefs, and prescriptions for individual and collective social life. Adhering to these rules guarantees individual and collective health. This sub-section, focuses on the identification and assessment of such sets of rules/beliefs.
Today, traditional medicine has gained widespread recognition as a means for treating illnesses. The World Health Organization also promotes and encourages this method of treatment among nations, to reduce national treatment costs of countries and to observe peoples’ right to democracy. However, the question of whether the said treatment methods and related healers are trusted by the public still remains and needs to be investigated.
Traditional medicine is not merely limited to curing illnesses and recovery. Any school of traditional medicine consists of a series of activities that are directed at healthy peoples in a society and they are based on societal beliefs and traditions. One such example is the process of childbirth in some societies, where it should traditionally take place with the help of midwives, a group of healers in traditional medicine. In Iran the midwives are referred to as “GHABELE” or “MAMA”. As such, this sub-section focuses on the identification of and awareness-raising about health-oriented approaches attributed to traditional medicine.
Advancements in modern knowledge and technologies and their growing interrelationships with daily lives of people, raises the questions of how traditional medicine is treated in modern days as well as peoples’ level(s) of accessibility to this type of medicine. Are there any societies in which traditional medicine and related practices has diminished due to advancements in living conditions? This sub-section, therefore, focuses on the remaining number of healers are well as the existing, working schools of traditional medicine.
The users/audiences of traditional medicine in any society are also in a position to be considered as means of classifying this type of medical practice (in other words, traditional medicine can be classified according to its users). In addition to all adult men and women, who are the users of traditional medicine as patients, women and children are also considered special users of this practice considering gender-specific and certain illnesses to which they are prone. This sub-section seeks to highlight the various approaches of traditional medicine towards the mentioned groups, the diseases most affecting them as well as the diverse methods adopted by different schools of medicine for treatment purposes in regard to the two identified target groups.
In addition to the classification of traditional medicine according to patients’ gender and age, this type of medicine can be classified according to peoples’ jobs. Certain jobs tend to develop career-specific diseases such as diseases prevailing among societies of water-well diggers and carpet-weavers. This sub-section thus seeks to highlight whether traditional medicine has specific answers for job-specific illnesses of the types described above or not.
Any school of traditional medicine has a special glossary of prayers, curative chants, incantations, talismans, etc. that are used in the process of treatment or afterwards to maintain a patient’s health. It is interesting to note that, in general, the oral traditions of diverse schools of traditional medicine are rooted in a society’s oral literature. This sub-section seeks to identify, collect and document the oral traditions specific to different schools of traditional medicine.