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Association for Natural Medicine in Europe e.V.

... for natural health promotion in Europe!


Association for Natural Medicine in Europe e.V.

... for natural health promotion in Europe!


The healing system of Traditional European Medicine / TEM

Copyright by InstiTEM + ANME e.V.

A collective term for natural diagnostic and application methods developed and rediscovered in Europe, which are used today in an updated form either on their own or in a complementary way in practice.


Independent healing systems such as Ayurveda or Traditional Chinese Medicine/TCM are known worldwide and are even recognized by the World Health Organization / WHO. These healing systems have a history stretching back thousands of years and a close connection to their respective cultures. Today, as well as in the future, they are used for health promotion, prevention and treatment by many people worldwide.

Even in the Europe of regions and nation states, there is a rich and long history of different regional procedures and methods that can be summarized as the healing system of Traditional European Medicine. As a wide variety of different names for TEM have emerged over the course of time due to the respective legal regulations in the nation states of Europe, here are some of them: Naturopatia, Hippocratic Medicine, TEN-Traditional European Naturopathy, TEH-Traditional European Healing, Naturopathy, Occidental Medicine, Mediterranean Medicine or Naturopathy

Prehistoric times:

The ice mummy Ötzi from the Similaun glacier shows that the origins of European medicine go back a long way: over 5000 years ago, Ötzi had a birch mushroom as a medicinal mushroom and other medicinal plants in his luggage; he wore acupuncture-like tattoos, precisely on important TEM reflex points. In other areas of TEM, there are traces of Celtic, Germanic or Old Slavic healing arts that survived in folk medicine for centuries, right up to the Baroque period and beyond. However, this medicine was cultivated by unscriptural peoples and groups and was pushed to the sidelines by the mainstream over the centuries, which is why we only have a very limited knowledge of this prehistory or early history of TEM and its continued influence through the centuries. Some of the content of TEM goes back to non-European ancient civilizations - for example to Ancient Egypt or Mesopotamia.

The Antiquity:

TEM in the true sense of the word can be said to begin with Hippocrates of Kos (approx. 460-370 BC). The new version of medicine associated with the name Hippocrates found its written expression in the famous Greek text collection "Corpus Hippocraticum". The core statements here are a "theory of humors" and the "temperaments". From then on, medicine was developed over centuries in various Greek and Roman schools and reconciled and summarized under a common umbrella by the Greek physician Galenos of Pergamon (ca. 129-225 AD), who worked in Rome.

Because the Hellenistic-Roman culture fell behind in Western Rome during the Migration Period and largely perished, a new situation arose for the TEM: although Greco-Roman medicine remained alive in cities such as Constantinople, Rome and, above all, in monasteries, at the same time the spark jumped over to the Persian-Arabic cultural area, which took the lead in medicine.

Middle Ages:

In the Persian Empire, and particularly in Baghdad, Greco-Roman medicine was translated into Arabic, modernized and published in clear manuals in a joint project by Muslims, Jews and Christians under Islamic patronage. The best known of these is the "Canon of Medicine" by the Persian physician Ibn Sina (ca. 980-1037), known in Latin as Avicenna. His work was translated into Latin in the 12th century and influenced medical education in Europe over the following centuries.

From the 6th to the 13th century, an exciting situation of knowledge transformation arose in Central Europe: Monastery Medicine was at its peak, while pre-Christian folk medicine continued to be practiced. Now the Latin translations of texts from the East came along and brought about a quantum leap in medical knowledge. One of the most famous personalities of Monastery Medicine is the abbess Hildegard von Bingen (1089-1179), who combined folk medicine and scholarly medicine. Far less well known than Hildegard, but no less important, is the Benedictine monk Odo von Meung, whose work "Macer floridus", written around 1070, is the most important book on medicinal plants in monastic medicine.

A leap towards professionalization took place in Salerno. From 1077, the first medical university in Europe was founded in the Benedictine priory, which was actually a place of monastic medicine. In its wake, university medicine began to flourish in locations such as Montpellier, Bologna, Paris, Padua and Vienna. However, popular and monastic medicine remained the main source of care for the general population. Academic doctors devoted themselves almost exclusively to financially strong patients and usually held well-paid positions in the field of public health management; the actual health care was usually provided by non-physician lay therapists.

Renaissance and Enlightenment:

The polymath and physician Theophrastus Phillipus Bombastus von Hohenheim, called Paracelsus (ca. 1493-1541) undertook an important reform of medicine. From his point of view, official medicine had moved far away from the roots of the true art of healing and had degenerated into a merely theoretical and superficial knowledge of healing. The rediscovery of hermetics, the connection to astronomy and astrology led to all-chemistry and spagyrics. This also includes writings such as the "Glauberus Concentratus" by Johann Georg Glauber (1603-1670) and "Die heilsame Dreck-Apotheke" by Kristian Franz Paulini (1734).

The modern era:

The new departures driven by scientific discoveries (cellular pathology, histology, physiology, surgery, etc.) led to a fundamental paradigm shift and a split in medicine; e.g. is it the cell or the environment that is diseased (Virchow, Pasteur vs. Bechamp)? A more and more science-based medicine developed into university medicine (today: mainstream medicine, or evidence-based medicine), while Traditional Medicine remained connected to natural and holistic views and defined itself as naturopathy.

Two further independent healing systems emerged: Homeopathy and Anthroposophical Medicine. On the question of whether these healing systems are to be counted as TEM, it should be noted: Insofar as these systems represent a further development of pre-modern European healing traditions, they must be seen in a connection with TEM. Insofar as these healing systems have been able to establish themselves as independent entities and also contain new elements that cannot be linked to the older traditions, it is not certain that they can be classified entirely under the umbrella term TEM.

The "new" TEM:

The success stories of the reform movements with light and air therapy, the Prießnitz and Kneipp methods, the F.X. Mayr cure, hydrotherapy and balneotherapy, spagyric production methods and manual methods such as massage techniques and osteopathy can be placed in this context.

In the 20th century, dedicated doctors, naturopaths, German Heilpraktiker and committed lay people developed or revised new natural methods: The detox methods and humoral therapy, the system of basic regulation, iris diagnosis and complex homeopathy, isopathy, neural therapy, ear acupuncture, nutrition and dietetics, psychosomatics, electroacupuncture, the bioresonance method, kinesiology, fitness training and meditation, various art therapies and many more. The cultural influence of other global healing systems should also be mentioned in particular from the 1980s onwards.

A final stage of TEM was reached at the turn of the millennium into the 21st century: today, both lay people and professionals consider and are interested in TEM as a resource. The main aim is to make the demonstrably effective and safe elements of TEM available for health care. Today's TEM is a healing system in its own right with specific diagnostic techniques and a broad spectrum of over eighty natural methods that are used on their own or complementary to mainstream medicine. The holistic approach for body, mind and soul is just as important as the special consideration of the individual state of basic regulation and microbiology.

This highly individual and complex approach is also the reason why a comprehensive study situation can only be created to a limited extent. The current study design, which is based on "one lead substance, one specific application and for one specific indication" and a multitude of patients over a certain period of time, - and understands this as "evidence-based / EBM", often does not fit in with a traditional healing system, or can only be implemented in part.

Today's TEM offers a multitude of possibilities for numerous current challenges now and in the future. The deeply holistic approach is also reflected in the close connection with organic farming and small and medium-sized manufacturers of remedies. Due to its long tradition, the methods of TEM and its healing knowledge represent an intangible cultural heritage that confidently occupies a place at the forefront of global healing systems.

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