Domestic medicine

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Domestic medicine or domestic health care is the behavioral, nutritional and health care practices, hygiene included, performed in the household and transmitted from one generation to the other.

Such knowledge is complementary to the specialized skills of doctors and nurses. Consisting of preventive and curative tools, often related to first aid and medical herbs uses, the concept of domestic medicine, was first made popular in Western countries by Scottish physician William Buchan in the 18th century, and was spread by domestic economy manuals through the following two hundred years. An example of such a manual was written by English homeopath John Henry Clarke in the 19th century, A Dictionary of Domestic Medicine and Homeopathic Treatment.

Since the mid 20th century the success of scientific medicine, associated to the rise of public and private medical services, disrupted most family self-care traditions, decreasing the transfer of most domestic medicine skills from parents to children.

Positive characteristics can be summarized as:

  • effective, as preventive and complementary to scientific medicine practices;
  • an option for those who can’t afford to pay the price of synthesis drugs;
  • they fit a set of external environmental conditions that their users are part of, including solidarity networks;
  • they assimilate modern medicine or other traditions, continuously evolving.

Conversely, they are bounded and hampered by lack of resources and remedies are usually bio-chemically mild substances only known and available in small geographical areas.[1] Domestic and non scientific medicines are locally rooted.

Domestic and scientific health care systems, as well as in a patient medical treatment, can harmoniously coexist. The knowledge gap between generations has reduced the appeal of domestic medicine, although its resilience can be ascribed to its links with a "spiritual dimension" of human health. Domestic medicine can reduce the cost of medical treatments, more expensive than prevention, and the risk of side effects from pharmaceutical drugs, and time and cost associated with care recovery.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Medicine etniche e tradizionali, p416, Giorgio V. Brandolini, Macro edizioni, 2008 ISBN 978-88-7507-867-6

External links[edit]

  • (Italian) A review of intercultural health care topics [1]