What are the connections between Intangible Cultural Heritage (IKE) in the sense of the UNESCO Convention of 2003 and the healing systems and methods of Traditional & Complementary Medicine and Healing?

UNESCO - Acupuncture and moxibustion of traditional Chinese medicine Inscribed in 2010 on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

Acupuncture and moxibustion of traditional Chinese medicine Inscribed in 2010 on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity


Acupuncture and moxibustion are forms of traditional Chinese medicine widely practised in China and also found in regions of south-east Asia, Europe and the Americas. The theories of acupuncture and moxibustion hold that the human body acts as a small universe connected by channels, and that by physically stimulating these channels the practitioner can promote the human body’s selfregulating functions and bring health to the patient. This stimulation involves the burning of moxa (mugwort) or the insertion of needles into points on these channels, with the aim to restore the body’s balance and prevent and treat disease. In acupuncture, needles are selected according to the individual condition and used to puncture and stimulate the chosen points. Moxibustion is usually divided into direct and indirect moxibustion, in which either moxa cones are placed directly on points or moxa sticks are held and kept at some distance from the body surface to warm the chosen area. Moxa cones and sticks are made of dried mugwort leaves. Acupuncture and moxibustion are taught through verbal instruction and demonstration, transmitted through master-disciple relations or through members of a clan. Currently, acupuncture and moxibustion are also transmitted through formal academic education.

1st European Herb Gathering, 4-7 October 2012, Lesachtal, AT

Rural Actors for Health

1st European Hearb GatheringHerbs play an important role for health

  • Traditional knowledge about the use of plants is acknowledged as intangible cultural heritage (recognized by UNESCO). This represents a strong commitment to safeguard this knowledge and the benefits it can provide for public human health.
  • The cultivation, processing, selling and use of herbs is strongly restricted by regulations
  • It is often rural actors, mainly women, who are the holders of knowledge how to cultivate and process plants and how to use them. These actors play an important role in the economic balance of rural regions. The cultivation and processing of plants is an important cornerstone of multifunctional agriculture.


Human evolution is not conceivable without cultural achievements. This cultural legacy is so far expressed by art, fashion, music, healing arts or the skill of cooking. Likewise the not yet tangible knowledge about plants, spiritual practices, dances and ritual correlations does belong to it as the so-called “Intangible Cultural Heritage“. Traditional medicine has its own cultural roots which are in parts thousands of years old and continue still intensely in all continents of this planet. According to the statutes of ANME all category of natural medicine has to be considered as traditional cultural heritage and which is property of mankind. Therefore is it utterly required to protect this inheritance in future as faithfully as possible for all European citizens and active CAM-practitioners in Europe.