Cultural Heritage in Medicine And Cruises

Today's health professional will give care to individuals of varied cultures who hold differing philosophical beliefs toward medicine. The informed and caring health professional will recognize that a person's culture and ethnic heritage play an enormous role in any kind of health care. For example, if the cultural experience leans toward a more natural, non-medical form of health care, treating the patient with prescription drugs will necessitate an explanation and rationale of the use of medications. Otherwise, the patient may refuse to take all or part of the medications, thus hindering recovery. It would be better to seek a treatment for the patient that embraces both the health care professional's desire to heal and the individual's wish to respect cultural tradition.

In every society, medicine has been an important element for its people. From the earliest time, culture was an important influence on medicine, and modern day medicine is in many ways a reflection of this diverse and rich heritage.

It is certain that religion, magic, and science all played a vital part in the history of medicine. Religion was important because it was perceived that certain gods were to be called upon for a cure through ceremonies, prayers, and sacrifices. Magic was practiced because it was such an important part of many societies and was seen as an essential ingredient to chase away evil spirits. The importance of science was demonstrated in the use of plants and minerals for medicinal purposes. The use of plants and minerals is found throughout medicine's history. Unearthed clay tablets reveal hundreds of plants, minerals, and animal substances used for medicinal purposes in ancient Mesopotamia and Babylon. The Chinese pharmacopoeia was rich in the use of herbs.

Skeletal remains of prehistoric cultures show advanced stages of arthritis, a nearly toothless jaw and only a 20- to 40-year lifespan for humans. Skull bones indicate round holes (trephination) believed to be necessary to release the evil spirits thought to be causing a person's illness. Mesopotamian cultures believed that illness was a punishment by the gods for violation of a moral code. Ancient Egyptians believed the body was a system of channels for air, tears, blood, urine, sperm, and feces. Medicines are also given a lot of importance while voyagers go for a Mediterranean Cruise around the Mediterranean Sea. All the channels were thought to come together in the rectum, and were believed to become easily clogged. Thus, emetics, enemas, and purges of the anus were common treatments. In ancient India, plastic surgery was practiced. Punishment for adultery was cutting off the nose, therefore allowing physicians many opportunities to practice and refine the art of nose reconstruction.

The ancient Chinese examined and carefully monitored the pulse in each wrist. It was believed that the pulse had hundreds of characteristics important in medical treatment. There were five methods of treatment to bring a person back to the right track. They were:

1. Cure the spirit.

2. Nourish the body.

3. Give medications.

4. Treat the whole body.

5. Use acupuncture and moxibustion.

Acupuncture is the piercing of the skin by long needles into any of 365 points along twelve meridians that transverse the body and transmit an active life force called ''ch'i" (pronounced chee). Each of these spots is related to a particular organ specialy on an Eastern Mediterranean Cruise since Moxibustion requires the use of a powdered plant substance that is made into a small mound of the person's skin and then burned, usually raising a blister.

Even today's allopathic physicians would agree that the first four goals of treatment from Chinese culture are excellent guidelines for health care. There is an increasing awareness, also, that acupuncture has a valid place in allopathic medicine, especially for the control of pain or treatment of drug dependency.