The body in balance: Humoral medicines in practice

Tobyn, Graeme William orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-1415-9421 (2015) The body in balance: Humoral medicines in practice. Journal of Herbal Medicine, 5 (2). pp. 128-129. ISSN 2210-8033

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This collection of essays on practice within traditional medicine systems in different cultures and continents, bracketed by unifying introductory and concluding chapters, is noted among its testimonies as a unique collection that provides an extremely good basis for comparative studies of global healing practices, a point with which I can wholeheartedly agree. Nearly all of the contributors are professors in their fields – anthropology, history, classics, nutrition – and they investigate the notion of balance and how this is to be maintained or restored by medical practice, both in the ‘Great Traditions’ of the East (Chinese medicine, Ayurveda) and the Greco-Arabic tradition of Hippocratic–Galenic medicine and Yunani Tibb, and in Tibetan medicine and Mesoamerican and East African healing practices. The ensuing full discussions of herbal and shamanic practices present a range of cultural constructs, detail some of the healing foods and herbs employed and offer analysis of the underlying epistemologies of their healing systems. The introduction to this set of essays, which sets out the problems in trying to navigate through the world's major systems of thought about the nature of health and the causes of disease, and its concluding chapter, which successfully links together the themes and findings of the studies mount a substantial and thought-provoking series of challenges to the established explanatory frameworks of medical historians and anthropologists.

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