Traditional medicine (TM) refers to the knowledge, skills and practices based on the theories, beliefs and experiences indigenous to different cultures, used in the maintenance of health and in the prevention, diagnosis, improvement or treatment of physical and mental illness. Traditional medicine covers a wide variety of therapies and practices which vary from country to country and region to region. In some countries, it is referred to as "alternative" or "complementary" medicine (CAM). Ethnomedicine is a study or comparison of the traditional medicine practiced by various ethnic groups, and especially by indigenous peoples. The word ethnomedicine is sometimes used as a synonym for traditional medicine.

Traditional medicine has been used for thousands of years with great contributions made by practitioners to human health, particularly as primary health care providers at the community level. TM/CAM has maintained its popularity worldwide. Since the 1990s its use has surged in many developed and developing countries. This degree program is designed for 21st century applications.

The term folk medicine refers to healing practices and ideas of body physiology and health preservation known to a limited segment of the population in a culture, transmitted informally as general knowledge, and practiced or applied by anyone in the culture having prior experience. All cultures and societies have knowledge best described as folk medicine.

In the context of academic degrees, the term "philosophy" does not refer solely to the field of philosophy, but we use in a broader sense in accordance with its original Greek meaning, which is "love of wisdom". The World Health Organization (WHO) defines traditional medicine as:
"the health practices, approaches, knowledge and beliefs incorporating plant, animal and mineral-based medicines, spiritual therapies, manual techniques and exercises, applied singularly or in combination to treat, diagnose and prevent illnesses or maintain well-being."

Traditional use of herbal medicines
Traditional use of herbal medicines refers to the long historical use of these medicines. In the written record, the study of herbs dates back 5,000 years to the ancient Sumerians, who described well-established medicinal uses for plants. Ancient Egyptian medicine of 1000 BC are known to have used various herbs for medicine. The Old Testament also mentions herb use and cultivation in regards to Kashrut. Their use is well established and widely acknowledged to be safe and effective, and may be accepted by national authorities.

Therapeutic activity
Therapeutic activity refers to the successful prevention, diagnosis and treatment of physical and mental illnesses; improvement of symptoms of illnesses; as well as beneficial alteration or regulation of the physical and mental status of the body.

Shamanism is a practice that involves a practitioner reaching altered states of consciousness in order to encounter and interact with the spirit world and channel these transcendental energies into this world. A shaman is a person regarded as having access to, and influence in, the world of benevolent and malevolent spirits, who typically enters into a trance state during a ritual, and practices divination and healing. There are distinct types of shaman who perform more specialized functions.


The IMD Degree program is planned by the student with the Dean to develop the student's ability to conduct research in a specialized field of traditional or indigenous medicine. All Ph.D. students shall conduct and present an educational research study early in their graduate program. This research should be undertaken with the expectation that it will make a contribution to knowledge in the area of the student’s Ph.D. topic. The University reserves the right to publish it online for future generations of students.

Prior to the date of degree dissertation/conferral, a student will need verification that he or she has completed all course requirements for the degree.


Aether Physics (Synaether) 101
VITALISM [Vitalistic Therapeutics, A Short Course]
Man and our Systems of Cures (both ancient and modern)
Shamanism: An Overview
Herbalism: East & West
Herbal Chemistry

Candidate must be a health care provider with a graduate degree from a recognized institution. Otherwise, candidate may opt to first complete our LMM program for entry level requirements.

Traditional Medicine - World Health Organization
Fact Sheet N 134. September 1996. TRADITIONAL MEDICINE. The term " traditional medicine" refers to ways of protecting and restoring health that existed ...

WHO | Traditional medicine
Fact sheet N°134. Revised May 2003. Traditional medicine. What is traditional medicine? Traditional medicine refers to health practices, approaches, ...

WHO | Fact sheets - World Health Organization
Fact sheets ... Malaria · Marburg haemorrhagic fever · Maternal mortality · Measles · Medical devices · Medicines: access to controlled medicines (narcotic and ...



  • Legends and Myths of the Aboriginal Indians of the West Indies (1st Peoples)

    THE chief object of the present course has been to preserve, and to give at one view, the more serious traditions—religious, mythological, and historical—of the four aboriginal races who lived nearest the shores of Guiana and represent those who migrated north to settle the islands of the Caribbean as its 1st Peoples.

    A few of these legends appeared in a former work on the Indian tribes. To them are here added the more copious results of systematic research, extending over many years. A metrical form has been adopted, as agreeable to the native style in former days, when their national traditions were recited with peculiar intonation—chanted, rather than told.

    The head-men, mostly sorcerers and shamans, who guarded, and from time to time recited them, have, in the vicinity of our missions, nearly all passed away. Many time-honoured legends have expired with them, as the old state of things has yielded to the spread of Christianity.
  • West Indian Indigenous Healing Traditions

    A West Indian today is a native or inhabitant of the West Indies (the Antilles and the Lucayan Archipelago). For more than 100 years the words West Indian specifically described natives of the West Indies, but by 1661 Europeans had begun to use it also to describe the descendants of European colonists who stayed in the West Indies. Some West Indian people reserve this term for citizens or natives of the British West Indies.

    The Caribbean is the source of the U.S.’ earliest and largest Black immigrant group and the primary source of growth of the Black population in the U.S. The region has exported more of its people than any other region of the world since the abolition of slavery in 1834. While the largest Caribbean immigrant sources to the U.S. are Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Haiti, U.S. citizen migrants also come from Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

    There are close to 50 Caribbean carnivals throughout North America that attest to the permanence of the Caribbean immigration experience. West Indians brought music, such as soca, calypso, reggae, compas (kompa) and now reggaeton, which has a profound impact on U.S. popular culture. Cultural expressions, and the prominence of first-and second-generation Caribbean figures in U.S. labor and grassroots politics for many decades also testify to the long tradition and established presence.

    In June 2005, the House of Representatives unanimously adopted H. Con. Res. 71, sponsored by Congresswoman Barbara Lee, recognizing the significance of Caribbean people and their descendants in the history and culture of the United States. Since the declaration, the White House has issued an annual proclamation recognizing June as Caribbean-American Heritage Month.

    West Indian Medicine

    Traditionally, for many Indigenous Peoples the concept of medicine was and is still not as compartmentalized as generally practiced and promoted by Western society today. Indigenous communities throughout the world recognized the sacredness and all encompassing scope of the concept of medicine and this is historically demonstrated by the way of life of communities and individuals; especially with regard to interaction with and respect for the natural world. It is interesting to note that “Western” medical systems of today, which developed via the “man conquers nature” attitude now seem to promote a market driven philosophy of “specialized and prolonged treatment”.

    In contrast, indigenous medicine was developed with the understanding that all things are interrelated and co-dependant and this worldview promoted the practice of “holistic prevention and cure”. This fundamental difference between Western philosophy and traditional indigenous worldview offers an important insight into not only why these traditional practices have remained even till today but also why they are now sought after by other sectors of the global community.

    For quite a number of “developing” countries in the Americas, medicine based on local tradition is still a main stay of health care. Within this context, the development, use and legacy of medicinal plants and herbal remedies has an historic and fundamental relationship with “American Indians”. From at least the 15th century, the use of medicinal plants (and food crops) has been consistently documented in the Western Hemisphere, even as many of the cultures responsible for these innovations have disintegrated or in some cases disappeared.

    It is estimated that Amerindians developed 60% of the world’s food crops and there are no food plants native to the Americas that were not first cultivated by Indigenous Peoples of the region. As for our Taíno ancestors, and their close relatives the so-called “Caribs”, were the first peoples in the Western Hemisphere to be called “Indians” by Christopher Columbus. It must also be acknowledged that many of the medicinal plants and food crops that are now staples in Europe, Africa and Asia, were first encountered in the 15th century Caribbean and taken back to Christendom. The Caribbean’s tropical environment was a virtual “pharmacopoeia” of medicinal plants and herbal remedies and the use of these important resources were not only accessed by so-called “Shamans/Medicine Women or Men” but by most members of the West Indian communities.

    Many Caribbean indigenous plants now identified solely as food crops were also valued by the West Indians for their medicinal properties.

    • Msgr. Prof. [Dr. of Med.] Charles McWilliams Msgr. Prof. [Dr. of Med.] Charles McWilliams: Allie Litterer
    This course requires an enrolment key