Traditional Arabic and Islamic Medicine, a Re-Emerging Health Aid
Complementary medicine is a formal method of health care in most countries of the ancient world. It is expected to become more widely integrated into the modern medical system, including the medical curriculum. Despite the perception of modern medicine as more efficacious, traditional medicine continues to be practiced. More than 70% of the developing world's population still depends primarily on the complementary and alternative systems of medicine (CAM). In rural areas, cultural beliefs and practices often lead to self-care, home remedies or consultation with traditional healers. Herbal medicine can be broadly classified into four basic systems as follows: Traditional Chinese Herbalism, Ayurvedic Herbalism, Western Herbalism—which originally came from Greece and Rome to Europe and then spread to North and South America and Traditional Arabic and Islamic Medicine (TAIM). There is no doubt that today the concept of Arabic traditional herbal medicine is a part of modern life in the Middle East, and it is acquiring worldwide respect, with growing interest among traditional herbalists and the scientific community. TAIM therapies have shown remarkable success in healing acute as well as chronic diseases and have been utilized by people in most countries of the Mediterranean who have faith in spiritual healers. TAIM is the first choice for many in dealing with ailments such as infertility, epilepsy, psychosomatic troubles and depression. In parallel, issues of efficacy and safety of complementary medicine have become increasingly important and supervision of the techniques and procedures used is required for commercial as well as traditional uses. More research is therefore needed to understand this type of medicine and ensure its safe usage. The present review will discuss the status of traditional Arab medicine (particularly herbal medicine), including the efficacy and toxicity of specific medicinal preparations, with an emphasis on the modern in vitro and in vivo techniques.