THE Cuban tradition of natural medicine inherited from its indigenous ancestors and immigrant peoples is now being scientifically rescued to the benefit of the population.
The economic and social policy guidelines of the Party and the Revolution approved at the 6th Congress of the Communist Party define the need to give maximum attention to natural and traditional medicine and also reflect the World Health Organization Beijing Declaration of 2008, which acknowledges their inclusion in national health systems. The Cuban Society of Bioenergetic and Natural Medicine’s 4th Cuban National Convention held this June focused on the issue.
Dr. Martha Pérez Viñas, head of the Ministry of Public Health’s Natural and Traditional Medicine Department, told Granma International that scientists are researching the medicinal practices of Cuba’s indigenous Cuban population, and African and Asian communities resident on the island. However, this specialty has been implemented in practice by health authorities since 1996, using phytotherapy, apitherapy, acupuncture, mineral waters and muds, homeopathy, floral therapy and ozone, among others.
These methods are practiced by doctors, dentists, nursing and technical personnel as an effective and safe treatment. There are currently 29 natural medicine products, manufactured by the Labiofam enterprise, the Finlay Institute and the Medicaments Investigation and Development Center, Pérez Viñas noted.
Research has demonstrated that this alternative medicine alleviates the majority of patients with more innocuous and less expensive treatment and reduces their intake of drugs and their adverse effects, as well as the length of their absence from work.
These products have been used for dental pain, migraine, multiple disorders, addictions, menopausal problems, Giardia, infertility, children with disabilities, joint pain, as an anti-allergic and even for cancer patients.
María de los Ángeles Vega Palau and neurology specialist Salvador González Pol from the staff team at Havana’s Psychiatric Hospital have manufactured homeopathic drops obtained from scorpion venom for the treatment of epilepsy and migraine. The substance is combined with traditional drugs and extends crisis-free periods in patients.
Chemist Juan Reynerio Facundo Castillo has devoted 40 years of his life to the study of medicinal mineral waters for diverse pathologies, while Dr. Isidoro Scull Campo is researching nutritional supplements based on the moringa plant.
But the integration of conventional and traditional medicine goes further than the application of modern methods to inherited medical knowledge. Natural medicine experts are proposing an integrated system of knowledge which recognizes the epistemological differences between one and the other, and establishes norms for multicultural interactions.
Cuba aspires to a high level of development and generalization on scientific bases within the national health system, to guarantee the permanence, increased variety and quality of natural products and to meet statistical requirements for natural medicine in the prevention and treatment of the principal causes of death in the country: cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease, respiratory disorders and cancer.
The plan is also to train all health professionals and technical staff in this specialty.
The developing world has many examples which demonstrate that modern and traditional medicines are not mutually exclusive and that a fusion of the knowledge and principles of both can lead to integrated medical science.