Georgian folk medicine

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Georgian traditional medicine originated at the crossroads of the East and West and therefore integrates the principles of both medical traditions.[1] On a scale between tribal level Folk medicine and highly institutionalized Chinese and Unani Traditional medicines, Georgian traditional medicine ranks closer to the better institutionalized and formalized end of the scale. Some ancient Georgian Folk remedies made it to the modern formulations and are commercially distributed in form of modern drugs, mostly Petrolatum based ointments.


Anthropological data suggests that Paleolithic Cro-magnon people that dwelt on the territory of modern western Georgia may have known of some sort of primitive ointment made from animal brains mixed with fat.[2] Classical Greek mythology suggests that ancient Kolkhs (Colchis people) had practiced somewhat highly developed medicine that must have impressed the Mycenaean Greek travelers at the time. Some historians of medicine suggest that the modern medical science's principle "Contraria contrariis curantur" (opposite cures the opposite) dates back to ancient Kolkhs and their healer and sorceress princess Medea, acquiring its final form in the classical Greek and eventually in the modern medicine.[3] Georgian popular tradition even attributes the origins of the term Medicine solely to Medea's name. In fact, the term likely stems from the Indo-European root MA and MAD, “and its more familiar hypothetical form MED, meaning to think or to reflect, to give a consideration or care to” - still, some relation between the name of Medea and the term Medicine cannot be decisively denied.[4]


"Karabadini" - the 15th century Georgian medical Almanac by Zaza Panaskerteli-Tsitsishvili

Beginning of the recorded history of Georgian traditional medicine should be related to the first almanac of medical remedies and medical knowledge written in the 11th century, known as “Ustsoro Karabadini” (Georgian: უსწორო კარაბადინი).[5] Since then different compilations of it, as well as original fundamental works, all mostly under similar titles (for the exception of the influential 16th century medical encyclopedia titled "Iadigar Daudi" - Georgian: იადიგარ დაუდი,[6] and a few more), have had been published once or twice every 100 years until the end of the 19th century. These works along with the unique local remedies also include the knowledge influenced by the ancient Greek, Byzantine, and Central Asian and Middle East medical traditions.[7]

The highly developed feudal social structure of Medieval Georgia made for emergence of traditional Georgian medical families (not too unlike the well-known Irish medical families), one of which, the Turmanidze family (Georgian: თურმანიძეები) is first mentioned in historical documents somewhere on the turn of the 10th and 11th centuries. So great was the clout of the bearers of Turmanidze family traditions even in the twentieth century that some representatives of the family such who lacked the formal education had been granted medical licenses by the Soviet officials, otherwise very adamant about disallowing the traditional medicine methods in the official Soviet medicine.[8]

Use in Modern Days[edit]

Georgian traditional medicine is mostly a Herbal Medicine, or so it has survived to the modern day. The tradition of folk medical families who jealously guard their remedies from becoming public is still alive and to some extent hinders the migration of these remedies into the mainstream medicine. Some examples of these medical families that hold very potent remedies are: Burdiladze (Georgian: ბურდილაძე) - beverage, Askurava (Georgian: ასკურავა) - complex system, Tvildiani (Georgian: ტვილდიანი) - ointment, Getsadze (Georgian: გეწაძე) - beverage, Gochitashvili (Georgian: გოჩიტაშვილი) - ointment, Mchedlishvili-Uznadze (Georgian: მჭედლიშვილი–უზნაძე) - ointment. At least some time-tested ancient Georgian herbal remedies are recreated with modern formulations and remarkably exist in form of modern pharmaceuticals: Salkhino caplets, Turmanidze skin ointment, and skin ointment Kolkhuri.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ramaz Shengelia: Study of the History of Medicine in Georgia, p.1
  2. ^ Archeological Evidence to Ancient Georgian Medicine [1]. Georgian.
  3. ^ Ramaz Shengelia: Study of the History of Medicine in Georgia, p.2
  4. ^ Thelma Charen: “The Etymology of Medicine”, Bull Med Libr Assoc. 1951 July; 39(3): 216–221.[2]
  5. ^ Karabadini (Georgian: კარაბადინი)ka:კარაბადინი. Georgian.
  6. ^ Iadigar Daudi (Georgian: იდიგარ დაუდი)ka:იადიგარ დაუდი. Georgian.
  7. ^ Nikobadze I.I.: Ibn Sina (Avicenna) in old Georgian medicine, Sov Med. 1959 Aug;23:141-4. Russian.
  8. ^ Turmanidze medical family (Georgian: თურმანიძეები)ka:თურმანიძეები. Georgian.
  9. ^ Kolkhuri: Medical research and ointment clinical testing materials