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Understanding cancer and its treatment in Thai traditional medicine: An ethnopharmacological-anthropological investigation

Lumlerdkij, N; Tantiwongse, J; Booranasubkajorn, S; Boonrak, R; Akarasereenont, P; Laohapand, T; Heinrich, M; (2018) Understanding cancer and its treatment in Thai traditional medicine: An ethnopharmacological-anthropological investigation. Journal of Ethnopharmacology , 216 pp. 259-273. 10.1016/j.jep.2018.01.029. Green open access

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Abstract

ETHNOPHARMACOLOGICAL RELEVANCE: Thai traditional medicine (TTM) is widely practiced in Thailand and continues to gain importance in cancer management, but little is known about the TTM practitioners' emic concepts and practice. AIM OF THE STUDY: With this study we firstly aim to document the practice of cancer treatment and prevention by TTM practitioners and, secondly, to evaluate how such traditional concepts and practices are correlated with biomedical ones. This in turn can form the basis for developing novel strategies for designing pharmacological experiments and longer term strategies to develop TTM practice. METHODS: Semi-structured interviews with 33 TTM practitioners were performed in five provinces in different regions of Thailand. The following information were recorded; basic information of informants, descriptions of cancer (mareng in Thai), causes, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. Plants used in the treatment and prevention of mareng were also collected. RESULTS: Using an in depth ethnographic approach four representative case studies to assist in a better understanding of the characteristics of mareng, its diagnosis, treatment, and prevention are reported here. Five characteristics of mareng - waste accumulation (khong sia), chronic illnesses (krasai), inflammation (kan aksep), bad blood (luead) and lymph (namlueang), and the imbalance of four basic elements (dhātu si) - have been identified. Explanatory models of cancer in TTM were linked with biomedical concepts and relevant pharmacological actions. Traditional uses and available scientific evidence of medicinal plants mentioned in the case studies for the treatment or prevention of mareng are presented and discussed. CONCLUSION: Here for the first time five main characteristics of cancer based on Thai traditional medical concepts are analysed. Our findings are relevant not only for the planning of clinical studies or pharmacological experiment in the search for novel compounds for cancer treatment and prevention, but also for the integration of Thai traditional medicine in cancer care.

Type: Article
Title: Understanding cancer and its treatment in Thai traditional medicine: An ethnopharmacological-anthropological investigation
Location: Ireland
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.jep.2018.01.029
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2018.01.029
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Thai traditional medicine, cancer, integrative medicine, mareng, traditional medicine
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > UCL School of Pharmacy
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > UCL School of Pharmacy > Pharma and Bio Chemistry
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10043585
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