Traditional medicine (also known as indigenous or folk medicine) comprises knowledge systems that developed over generations within various societies before the era of modern medicine.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines traditional medicine as:
In some Asian and African countries, up to 80% of the population relies on traditional medicine for their primary health care needs. When adopted outside of its traditional culture, traditional medicine is often called complementary and alternative medicine.
The WHO also notes, though, that "inappropriate use of traditional medicines or practices can have negative or dangerous effects" and that "further research is needed to ascertain the efficacy and safety" of several of the practices and medicinal plants used by traditional medicine systems. Core disciplines which study traditional medicine include herbalism, ethnomedicine, ethnobotany, and medical anthropology.
Traditional medicine may include formalized aspects of folk medicine, i.e. longstanding remedies passed on and practiced by lay people. Practices known as traditional medicines include Ayurveda, Siddha medicine, Unani, ancient Iranian medicine, Irani, Islamic medicine, traditional Vietnamese medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, traditional Korean medicine, acupuncture, Muti, Ifá, traditional African medicine, and many other forms of healing practices.