Ethno-diversity within current ethno-pharmacology as part of Israeli traditional medicine - A review

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The Holy Land has absorbed millions of immigrants in recent centuries: Jews from East and West, Druze, Circassians, Muslim and Christian Arabs. The land is unique and diverse in geographical location and ethnic groups, and also in its cultural characteristics, including traditional medicine and use of materia medica. However, these traditions have waned over the years. The young state of Israel adopted a "melting pot" approach to fashion Jews from all over the world into Israelis. The traditional medicine and materia medica of different ethnic groups (Yemenite, Iranian, and Iraqi Jews) are reviewed in this paper, as well as the ethno-botanical survey (first conducted in the 1980s, covering Bedouins, Druze, Circassians, and Muslim and Christian Arabs), and the matching ethno-pharmacological survey (conducted in the late 1990s) covering the medicines sold in stores. Present-day healers are usually not young and are believed to be the end of the chain of traditional medical knowledge. The ethno-diversity of Israel is becoming blurred; modernity prevails, and ethnic characteristics are fading. The characteristic lines of traditional medicine and materia medica have hardly lasted three generations. A salient former dividing line between ethnic groups, namely their use of different medicinal substances, paradoxically becomes a bridge for conservative users of all groups and religions. Shops selling these substances have become centers for "nostalgia" and preserving the oriental heritage, traditional medicine, and medicinal substances!

Original languageEnglish
Article number4
JournalJournal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine
StatePublished - 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • Cultural Studies
  • Complementary and alternative medicine


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