MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd.

Traditional European Medicine (TEM) is an increasingly popular yet ill-defined term. Like Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), it encompasses all the traditional therapies from the respective region. One website describes it with this very odd graph:

On Medline, I found only very few papers on TEM. One article reported about a congress based on the concept of TEM but confusingly called it ‘European Traditional Medicine (ETM). Here are a few excerpts:

… the aim of this congress is to explore and survey, very old and modern traditional based therapies and treatments curing the principles of scientific medicine (). Discussions of the links between ETM and other traditional medicines therefore are mandatory, particularly when considering the importance of traditionally based therapies that are still a source of primary health care to about 70 percent of the world’s population. Connections between traditional medicine and human health have been addressed and commented upon by many national and international political and sanitary bodies because: a) the good health of populations requires enlightened management of our social resources, economic relations, and of the natural world, and b) that many of today’s public-health issues have their roots in lack of scientifically sustainable holistic approach to the patient c) many socioeconomic inequalities and irrational consumption patterns that jeopardize the future economic sustainability of health.

In the same context the conventional biomedical approach to health is based on methods of diagnosing and treating specific pathologies: one pathogen = one disease, an approach that does not take into account connections between diseases, humanity, and some psychological aspects of suffering, and other socioeconomic factors such as poverty and education, and even the connections between disease and the environment in which sick people lives (,).

Other authors, like the one on this website, are much more concrete. Again, a few excerpts must suffice:

Bloodletting
When bloodletting according to Hildegard von Bingen max. 150 ml of blood taken. It is one of the most valuable and fastest detoxification options in TEM. In some people, no blood comes, because the body has no need to excrete something. For others, the doctor may say a lot about human health after the blood has been left for about 2 hours. If the serum is yellowish or whitish, this indicates excess fats. If certain threads form, they are signs of inflammation. Then the doctor gives recommendations for certain herbs and applications.

Wraps and packs
Whether neck wrap or hay flower sack. In TEM, there are many natural remedies made from natural materials (clay, pots) and herbs that support the body’s self-healing powers.

Wyda instead of yoga
Wyda is a holistic philosophy that is about getting in touch with yourself. In doing so, one can relax through flowing exercises and energy sounds, strengthen one’s mind or stimulate the metabolism. The exercises are similar in some ways to yoga. Here you can learn more about European yoga!

Which archetype are you?

In Traditional European Medicine (TEM), the archetype of a human is first determined so that the TEM doctor can coordinate the treatments. There are 4 temperatures:

Sanguine: He is active, open-hearted, energetic and mostly optimistic and cheerful. He is not resentful and does what he enjoys.
Suitable use: cool applications such as chest and liver wrap, whole body rubbings with grape seed and lemon balm oils.
Abandonment: too much sweet and fat, animal foods, sweet alcohol.

Choleric: He has a hot temper, shows leadership qualities, is prone to hyperbole, emotional and outbursts of anger, is extroverted, but often uncontrolled. Suitable application: cooling and calming applications. Massages with thistle, almond and lavender oils.
Avoidance of: too much animal protein, alcohol, hot spices and fatty foods.

Phlegmatic: enjoyment is important to him. He is reliable, can accomplish things, but seldom initiate. To get going causes him problems when he “runs”, then persistently and with energy.
Suitable application: warming and drying applications, warm chest wraps. Abdominal massages with camelina oil, marigold ointment.
Abandonment: too much sweets, milk, whole grains, tropical fruits, pork, too many carbohydrates.

Melancholic: He is an admonisher and a thinker, appreciates beauty and intelligence, is more introverted. He tends to ponder and pessimism, struggling for an activity.
Suitable use: warm applications such as warm chest wraps and liver wrap. Clay in water in the morning relieves gastrointestinal discomfort. Massages with strengthening cedar nut oil.
No: Frozen food, raw food, hard to digest, too much salt and sugar.

Yes, much of this is dangerous nostalgic nonsense that would lead us straight back into the dark ages.

Do we need more of this in so-called alternative medicine (SCAM)?

Definitely not!

TCM was created by Mao as a substitute for real medicine, at a time when China was desperately short of medicine. The creators of TEM have no such reason or motivation. So, why do they do it?

Search me!

8 Responses to Traditional European Medicine: what is it and do we need it?

  • Hidegarde von Bingen? She was an abbess and composer. Never knew she was an authority on bloodletting. She wrote a lot about visions of heavenly palaces, but probably just had migraine.

    • I do not know much about Hildegard von Bingen but I believe she was something of a polymath plus as abbess she probably took an active interest in health mattesr of her convent.

      Did convents supply hospital-like services to the general public as medieval monasteries did?

  • So, why do they do it?

    I am not a psychologist or a sociologist, but I think that this obsolete nonsense is promulgated mainly for two different reasons:
    – The practitioner’s motives: by touting the virtues of old, mostly forgotten practices, these people try to lay claim to special knowledge about one of the most precious things that we have: good health. At the very least, these people will get some respect for their wisdom, but this can quickly escalate into a guru-like status if they attract followers. And, of course, many people monetize this ‘knowledge’, selling their gullible audience nostrums, treatments or just training courses(*).
    – The consumers’ motives: things from the past evoke a sense of nostalgia, and (perhaps surprisingly) comfort and safety. The past may hold many horrors, dangers and disasters – but they all have one thing in common: they are all safely Past Tense, and can’t threaten us any more. As an added bonus, hindsight makes everything that happened in the past look simple and easy, as contrasted with the uncertainties and complications of our current life and society.
    And last but not least, our personal emotions with regard to the past refer in large part to our childhood, which further increases feelings of comfort and ‘simple life’, without all the hassle that we grown-ups have to deal with. All this means that many people naturally have a positive connotation with the past – even if this emotion is based exclusively on their personal past.

    *: Which basically boil down to the old scheme “Want to Get Rich Quick? Send me $10, and I’ll tell you the secret!” – after which any gullible marks receive a small note saying “Just place an ad like mine!”

  • Humors and bleeding. Galenic garbage, already discarded by mainstream medicine two centuries ago after it was (very belatedly) found to be both utterly wrong and actively harmful.

    Ironically, Hahnemann could’ve been lauded today as instigator of modern medicine and creator of the placebo-controlled trial, had he only realized that homeopathy’s improved outcomes over Galenic bloodletting was not because homeopathy had a positive effect but because then-mainstream medicine had a negative one. But the pompous preening idiot misinterpreted his results and extrapolated to wild fantasy from there, for reasons that are not hard to infer (being the same motives that encourage malpractice in every other domain).

    “The creators of TEM have no such reason or motivation. So, why do they do it?”

    Ego and Money; the Two Humors of SCAM.

  • Traditional European… “Sports Medicine” ????????

  • Always trying to control how other people take their healthcare. This is a very dangerous authoritarian streak in the So-called Skeptics movement. Would you rather be informed about your preferred medical approach or TOLD whether you could have it or not by some third party, who wouldnt have to live by the decision?

    Choose your own healthcare and let other choose theirs.

    • Dear Roger,

      Nobody cares if you want to treat your own COVID/cancer/disease with whatever homeochiroreiki fantasy fellates your ego. That’s your funeral, you’re welcome to it, and nothing of value is lost.

      The problem occurs when you evangelical suckers insist on propagating your delusions onto other people too, at which point you should have a duty of care to those people. But you shamelessly shirk that duty; because you are callous, empathy-free narcissists, who don’t—can’t—give a crap for anyone but yourselves.

      Your personal beliefs are nobody’s problem but your own.

      Your absolute absence of honestly, responsibility, or accountability when applying those beliefs to other people are everyone’s problem. That is what you’re being called out on. You could fix it, but you choose not to.

      You are a coward, Roger, and your pitiful cries of “freedum” a paper-thin deflection from that embarrassingly obvious fact. Your deep moral and intellectual cowardice is why you will never grow as a person, why you will never amount to anything more than the pathetic rosy-palmed fabulist you are; and why you should never, ever be allowed within a hundred metres of anyone who is genuinely ill. Because you would merrily kill other people in service to your beliefs, than ever admit to yourself that your beliefs could be wrong.

    • Choose your own healthcare and let other choose theirs.

      I fully agree. However, given that homeopathy etc. are not healthcare but belief systems based on deception and magical thinking, people should be dissuaded from believing that it can benefit their health. And those profiting from these forms of deception should preferably be banned from doing so – even if they first and foremost deceive themselves.

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