ÇUKUROVA ÜNİVERSİTESİ-TÜRKOLOJİ ARAŞTIRMALARI MERKEZİ
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TRADITIONAL FOLK MEDICINE IN THE TURKISH FOLK CULTURE

Serdar UĞURLU1

Turkish Studies - International Periodical For The Languages, Literature and History of Turkish or Turkic
Volume 6/4 Fall 2011, p.317-327, TURKEY

ABSTRACT

The traditional Turkish folk medicine has a history of thousands
years. This tradition existed before Islam, has continued to live then.
Therefore, nowadays, old-traditional healing practices continued to be
applied, contains marks of faith and beliefs of past. This tradition
executed by shamans and kams, in the ancient religion and tradition, is
maintained by religion men, big wives, folk healers and ocaks (that is a
kind of folk healer) in the new religion and culture around. Even though
present-day practices of healing tradition are reverse of modern medicine,
in this tradition there are also many practices overlapping with the
modern medicine. Folk healers of old tradition have benefited from nature
in order to make the drugs or heal patients. This situation has continued
unchanged in the new tradition as well. In addition to these, tradition of
a folk pharmacy has occurred because of use of various herbs and
animal products in making drug. This kind patient healing techniques
and drug making applications, have reached until now with the
traditional ways of transmission.

Key Words: Folk Medicine, Folk Pharmacy, Healing Herbs, Healing
Places, Treatment Practices.

TÜRK HALK KÜLTÜRÜNDE GELENEKSEL HALK HEKİMLİĞİ

ÖZET

Geleneksel Türk halk hekimliği binlerce yıllık bir geçmişe sahiptir.
İslamdan önce ortaya çıkan bu gelenek İslamdan sonra da yaşamaya
devam etmiştir. Bu nedenle günümüzde eski geleneksel iyileştirme
pratikleri geçmişin inanç ve inanış unsurları ile birlikte uygulanmaya
devam etmektedir. Bu gelenek eski din ve geleneksel ortamda şaman ya
da kamlar tarafından uygulanmıştır ki şamanlar eski gelenekte din
adamları olarak kabul edilmektedir. Yine kocakarılar, halk hekimleri ve
ocaklılar (bir çeşit halk hekimi) da yeni dinde ve gelenekte bu geleneğin
yürütücüleridirler. Iyileştirme geleneğinde bazı uygulamalar günümüz
modern tıbbına ters olmasına rağmen, modern tıp ile uyuşan
uygulamalara da rastlanmaktadır. Eski geleneğin halk hekimleri
hastaları iyileştirmek ya da ilaç yapmak için doğadan faydalanırlardı. Bu
durum günümüz geleneğinde de değişmeden devam etmektedir. Bütün
bunlara ek olarak bir halk eczacılık geleneği ilaç yapımında hayvan
parçalarının ve çeşitli bitkilerin kullanılmasıyla ortaya çıkmıştır. Bu tür
hasta iyileştirme pratikleri ve ilaç yapım uygulamaları geleneksel aktarım
yolları ile günümüze kadar ulaşmıştır.

Anahtar Kelimeler: Halk Tıbbı, Halk Eczacılığı, Şifalı Bitkiler, Şifalı
Mekanlar, İyileştirme Uygulamaları

1. Introduction

In the past fifty years the term "traditional world" has emerged in many countries to
describe the applications of traditional within the society. Despite the existence of many
traditional practices a few books, at least in Turkey, have been published on traditional
world and only a handful of articles have dealt with this important issue. According to
these a few studies, every person living within a traditional organization is both a supplier
and a customer. And traditional world with its all nature is stunning and attracts attention
to itself as well as to the values and services it offers. This is why everyone has something
to say about it. So it is not surprising that it has become a popular subject of controversy
and as a matter of fact, in the long run, products of traditional world will acquire their
merits because of its indispensability.

Modern medicine practices are currently criticized by traditional specialist because
emphasis is given to modern theories instead of traditional values, to modern concepts
instead of human beings, to modern efficiency rather than traditional consciousness.
Education system of the world is also operated in this direction. Therefore traditional
knowledge system is not being learned to the students. But in spite of those disadvantages,
traditional values are able to maintain their existents. If traditional folk medicine, is only
one of these values.

This article gives an overview of the traditional medicine organization and
traditional social structure,
occurring as a result of developments lasted for centuries in
Turkey and Middle Asia. There are some differences in the ways of example presented
in
relation to the
cases of the folk healers in Turkey and shamans in the Middle Asia owing to
differences in their today culture.
Despite these differences we are able to define the
traditional folk medicine as an accumulation of past because of there was a common and
shared culture in past. According to Shils’s explanation, this issue: “All existing things
have a past. Nothing which happens escapes completely from the grip of the past; some
events scarcely at all from its grip. Much of what exists is a persistence or reproduction of
what existed earlier” (Shils, 1971:122). So traditions or traditional practices, in all fields,
should not be considered as a broken from the past. On the contrary, traditional folk
medicine should be accepted as a renovated form of the past.

Today prevalent medicine of the world is modern medicine. This dominance of
modern medicine is based on a long history and scientific advances. In this process a
struggle has took place between science and tradition. Especially, since the eighteenth
century modern sciences have proved clearly their dominance in every field. In addition to
this, during the last three centuries human race has faced with a progress of information
about the universe he lives in. As a result of this different progress modern medicine has
spread all over the world. The science revolution started with the Renaissance increasingly
has developed itself and traditional life has been influenced by these rapid developments.
Despite these boundless advances took place in the modern world, we can see that also
traditional folk medicine such as other traditional values is still alive in today's Turkey.

2. Traditional Folk Medicine

“Folk medicine is defined by contrast to modern, scientific medicine, the ‘official’
medicine of the modern world. We say that a belief or practice is folk medicine because we
recognize that is not official” (Hufford 1992: 14). If it is necessary to define traditional
medicine, it is possible to do such a definition: When there are no opportunities of peoples
or when peoples don’t go to a doctor or don’t want to go to a doctor because of other
reasons, they apply to certain traditional methods and procedures with the aim of diseases
identification and treatment that we call traditional folk medicine for all. According to
Yoder (1975:24-27) traditional medicine is older than modern doctors and “the traditional
folk medicine is both entire of traditional views about diseases and entire of treatment
methods applied against diseases seen among the people. Yoder emphasizes that there are
two types of traditional folk medicine, including natural folk medicine and religious-
magical folk drugs.” It is pointed out in Yoder’s description that traditional folk medicine
is within a close relationship with faith, belief and folk culture. Today such as it was
previously, traditional belief systems play an important role among society and especially
affect in views of lifestyle of traditional societies. This impressive strength of tradition
comes from its hereditary. And also in addition to this: “Healing experiences of traditional
medicine occurred by transferring from a generation to generation are a product of
accumulated knowledge” (Kaplan, 2010:33). “The decisive criterion is that, having been
created through human actions, through thought and imagination, it is handed down from
one generation to the next” (Shils 2006:12). This handed down knowledge of tradition is
still being used by traditional folk healers in various parts of Turkey. For example,
Anatolia as the interior area of Turkey is a place inhabited in a lively manner of this
tradition. Especially in rural areas of Anatolia the most commonly using medicine is
traditional medicine after modern medicine. Due to this prevalence of traditional medicine
so many different names have appeared to be given to folk healers in course of time in
Anatolia.

Folk healers have so many treatment practices based on the faiths, beliefs and
experiences that these all have occurred by being gained from different cultures. Folk
healers have regularly benefited from different applications of different cultures to improve
diseases and disorders of physical and mental, that those are whether explicable or not. At
this point, folk remedies appear. Folk remedies as well as in traditional medicine have a
deep-rooted history based on accumulated knowledge of the past. Folk pharmaceutical
products resembled traditional medicine practices derive their drugs from plants and
animals with traditional practices. Arıkan and Özkan in relation to this matter (2007: 138),
“The plant chemicals that have evolved to increase plants resistance may also provide
protection and be therapeutically useful for human health” by saying their thoughts about
the subject are drawing attentions to chemical structures of plants. In traditional sciences is
known that each plant is cure which disease. According to modern medicine, such as these
traditional products can be sometimes incorrect and even can lead to bad consequences.

However drugs derived from traditional ways have still been using by folk healers
for various diseases to be needed the treatment for
thousands years. This situation is due to
the structure of the tradition. According to Kaplan (2010:34), “traditional medicine is a
product of centuries of experience occurred from magic and superstitious beliefs.” To
people using practices of traditional medical is usually called the name of traditional healer
as title. If the term of traditional healer, is used in two senses to be both in scientific
articles and to be in everyday conversation. These are coming from medicinal plants and
magical, religious practices. So “traditional healers make both drugs from herbs and plants
found in nature and treats largely diseases by taking advantage of magic, sorcery, religious
beliefs and values”(Kizil
9elik, 1996:76). As can be seen, traditional healers use different
methods from each other and this difference can also be seen in the areas of application.
Fields which traditional medicine is applied, indicate differences from rural areas to cities
or to poor residential areas of country. According to this, “Traditional medicine is often
used in two type residential areas. The first is rural areas. If the second is poor residential
areas of country” (Kaplan, 2010:34). Traditional medicine is equal to modern medicine in
rural areas and even traditional medicine can be sometimes superior to modern medicine.
The decisive reason of this situation is that, having been reproduced in these areas. For
example, “Immigrants that is sitting in slum areas as a residential area are mainly
reconfiguring and reconstituting the traditional medicine as a part of the their original
cultures”(Oz
9elik, 2002:100). As a result of the entry of traditional medicine into the cities,
modern medicine has had to be divided into two types as modern and alternative medicine.
Alternative medicine name, the first time, is a name used by modern world and is mainly
being used for traditional medicine practices.

Another of the names used in connection with traditional medicine is also
complementary medicine. Complementary medicine with all healing practices is seen as
helpful to the modern medicine by scientific environments. Because, traditional medicine
is still able to treat some diseases with traditional methods. In this issue Micozzi also uses
similar expressions. According to this similar expressions: “Alternative medicine is re¬
submitted by referring to new technologies of past/traditional thinking system related to
health and healing” (Micozzi, 2002:398). Today in Anatolia many people is continuing to
use this old tradition and to heal diseases. As a result of treatment of diseases, many more
healer named with different names such as shaman, Lokman healer, sheikh, healer and
magician have existed as powerful breath or healing hand among the people from past to
present. Shamans of ancient time, at the same time, are in position of ancestors of today's
folk healers. Shamans especially have used religious and mystic elements besides the
material elements because of they were religious scholars of shamanism belief in the
Middle Asia. They have merged magic, sorcery and medicine in their healing practices.
Shamans, at the same time, have also an important role owing to govern the birth, marriage
and death ceremonies. Nowadays, there are a lot of practices of belief of shamanism
considered as practices of traditional folk medicine. It can be seen from these applications
that shamanistic practices still continue.

3. Examples From Traditional Medicine Practices In Turkey

Since a long period, in Anatolia, traditional folk healers have replaced by shamans
of ancient tradition appeared in the Middle Asia. As a result of this, new religion has
gradually reshaped the old tradition according to its own principles. Thus Lokman healer
who is an Islamic type has become the ancestor of contemporary folk healers from the first
period passed to Islam until now. “There are different definitions about the meaning of the
Lokman word in various sources” (Kaplan, 2010:39). Lokman healer is the most popular
traditional folk healer of Turkish folk culture. There is much information in many different
scientific sources about him. According to some of them, Lokman healer was one who can
speak with flowers and healing plants and thus he had discovered the immortality drug as
well. Nowadays people believe that immortality formula found by Lokman healer is lost.
According to the legend related to this issue, Lokman healer actually had dropped it into
the river. Thereby, formula fallen into the river have lost and couldn’t have been made
again.

Lokman healer, who is one of the healers of the traditional folk medicine, not only
has been engaged with biological diseases, but also has implemented the healing practices
against the magic, sorcery and the evil eye. Beginning from Lokman healer, method used
the mostly by traditional healers against the magic, sorcery and the evil eye, has been to be
prayer. “According to folk beliefs, malicious persons who are especially magicians, are
able to put the people into sick and even able to kill them with magic. The only way of
protection from bad situations similar to this according to faith and beliefs, is to pray by
applying in a correct manner the religious duties” (Acipayamli, 1989:1). And it is to apply
some mystic rituals. “In case of biological disease is used drugs made from herbs.
Herbalists (Aktar in Turkish) are persons sold and made those drugs. In Turkish folk
culture “aktar” (herbalist) is a name given for them, who sell the herbal and animal
products used in drug making. “Aktar”s (herbalists) (at the same time) are of descendants
of Lokman healer in the traditional folk medicine. In this topic, Baydar (2005:5) indicates
that “Lokman healer has been ancestor of folk healers and had found the cure needed for
every trouble”.

Traditional folk healers use many methods to heal the diseases and physical
defects. Within these methods, there are a lot of techniques such as treatment by using the
spiritual power, treatment with evacuation of blood from the body, treatment by sitting in a
sacred place, treatment by injuring the body, treatment with pray, treatment by using the
plant-based drugs, treatment by using the animal-based drugs and treatment by using the
mineral-based drugs. Now let's look at these methods.

3.1. Treatment by using the spiritual power:

This method in Turkish is known as „irvasa'. In this method, there is desire to
benefit from the spiritual power of a person or object. “It is not directly related to the body.
It is one of the types of treatment with intent to influence the patients. In different regions
of Turkey, for this method are given names such as
irvasa, urasa, ugrasa and ograsa”
(Artun, 2005:183). Patient in the treatment applied through irvasa, is laid next to healthy
one or patient is sat to seat which healthy one had sat previously or is washed with water in
skull of wolf. The aim in here is to get a spiritual power both from healthy one and from a
sacred object to be healthy again by defeating the disease or diseases. In old Turkish
tradition wolf, snake and eagle are powerful creatures feared among people. And so parts
of their body are regarded as sacred and powerful. For example, it has been even made
drugs from snake poison. Skull and bones of wolves, wolf teeth, snake skins, eagle claw
are elements with mystic powerful in this tradition and also is still believed that by the
people. These sacred elements are used as a simple ritual of divestment from disease. This
is done by tossing something (sacred elements) over one’s head or shoulders into space.

3.2.    Treatment by shedding the blood from body:

“This method called „parpilama’ mainly in the Turkish is also known as
‘parpilama’, ‘parpilma’, ‘parpulama’, and ‘parpulma’ in different parts of Turkey”
(Artun, 2005:184). In this practice, is aimed the treatment of patient by removing the
contaminated blood from the patient’s body. The head of patient is usually the most
appropriate place for this practice and sometimes is also used to the healthy ones. Because,
in the traditional folk culture is believed that every human body collects the contaminated
blood in head or back area. The deposit of contaminated blood in head or back area is
drained from skin cut with a scalpel or razor. And thus body has been cleaned from
harmful factors.

3.3.    Treatment by sitting in a sacred place:

Places navigated during the life of a saint, is regarded as sacred places in which
may has never been one of the saints. There are a lot of places occurring in this way in
different parts of Turkey. Rocks, trees, fountains and some of the tombs are from these
sacred places. Patients go to these sacred places and expect to get rid of diseases. People
who are not sick go to these places as well. These people are in there for other things. For
example, infertile women and men, women who want a son, persons who want to be rich
in future, students who want to pass an important examination and persons who want to
enter a job. All these people expect the realization of your wishes.

3.4.    Treatment by using the mineral-based drugs:

In addition to these practices, minerals can also be used as a treatment when
needed. Many more minerals such as mercury, silver, gold, copper, water and stone is used
by folk healer to heal the patients in the traditional folk medicine. Dust of stones possessed
magical power is given to patients by melting in water. “Many of these treatments have
magical properties” (Acipayamli, 1989:4-7). These practices are usually used to prevent
persons from evil eye and harmful spells.

3.5.    Treatment by using healing water:

There are a lot of faith and beliefs related to the mystical power of water in the
Turkish folk culture. Firstly water is healing, cleansing and purifying. Therefore water has
been used by folk healers. Usually prayed waters or kept waters in a religious place are
considered as sacred beverage. These waters are given to those who lost their health. In
addition to these practices, water can be mixed with some elements, consisting of plants
and parts of animal. The aim in here is to obtain a mixture of medicinal. According to the
type or severity of the disease, the amount and consistency of water is adjusted by the folk
healer. Stomach pain, nausea, high fever and epilepsy is mainly tried to be healed by this
method. Sound of water is listened to patients because it is believed that there is cure in
sound of water. Mental patients, schizophrenics are usually treated in this way. We can
also come across method of chemotherapy applying with the sound of water in the past
(BeyazidKulliye in Edirne where is a city in the west of Turkey).

4. Shamans As Folk Healer Type of Old Turkish Culture

Firstly, shamanism is not a religious contrary to the old information. Shamanism is
a belief system that has existed in the various primitive regions of the world and in central
Asia for centuries. “Shamans are at once doctors, priests, social workers and mystics. They
have been called madmen or madwomen, were frequently persecuted throughout history”
(Vitebsky, 2001:10). The word ‘shaman’ has been become to be used from last three
centuries. The Russian researchers have a great role in this nomenclature. According to
Vitebsky (2001:10) “The word ‘shaman’ comes from the language of the Evenk, a small
Tungus speaking group of hunters and reindeer herders in Siberia. It was first used only to
designate a religious specialist from this region.” But by the beginning of the 20th century
concept “shaman” wins prevalence all over the world. It is believed that shaman’s soul can
leave her or his body and travel to underground and in the sky and later come back again.
Turks have had a lot of shamans while were in Middle Asia. Therefore tradition of
shamanism is also a part of Turkish world folk culture, because its characteristic practice
patterns is continued to be used by new representatives of this tradition.

Shamans have implemented many treatment techniques that these techniques are
still being implemented by traditional folk healers in the Middle Asia. The technique used
most commonly by shamans is one that is used the fire. “It is believed that fire is cleansing
and purifies from evil spirits. The fire keeps people out of each trouble” (Kalafat, 2004:
56). In old Turks have shown great respect for the fire because of therapeutic properties of
its. It is believed that fire has a mystical heat. “This feature has existed as a side meaning
of the concept of mystical heat” (Tuna, 2000: 41-42). At this point, the concept of
tapas is
important. “Tapas; in the Rig Veda (It is a book about Indian mythology) is written openly
and also creative of its forces in both the cosmic and spiritual background. Shamans gain
the long-suffering viewpoint through tapas, even can take even the gods to their body”
(Eliade, 1999: 449). To take advantage of cleansing nature of the fire, people traditionally
jump it’s over and not put it out. “The subject of fire along with Mazdaism has influenced
our folk beliefs. In the old Turkish belief system, fire is abstract, cleansing and purifying. It
is not worshiped to it. But in Mazdaism is worshiped to it” (Kalafat, 2005: 262). Shamans
especially use the cleansing power of the fire due to heal their patients in
alas ceremony
(treatment ritual of the Bashkirs and Kazakhs). While shaman dances and sings, the other
hand, he tries to banish evil spirits from patients by burning the incenses. As incense is
mainly used the
peyote grass which is a grass of specific to Siberia. This grass has the
effect of narcotic and this effect especially appears when burned.

The shamans also travel in the supernatural realms as imaginary (that according to
them, this realms consist of two-dimensional worlds) to obtain the mystical heat. Shaman
who is possessed the mystical heat can start healing practices. Otherwise he can’t this.
Shamans also restore the sufferer souls by guiding (towards the correct direction) to lost
souls in the supernatural realms. As it is understood that shamans, at the same time, are
soul healers and so they are also regarded as specialists in this areas. In this tradition
“Disease may be interpreted as being caused by the soul leaving the body or something
alien penetrating the patient” (Jakobsen 1999: 89). So sha mans try to find lost soul or soul
leaved body of patient and when they find the lost soul, put it in body of patient.

In addition to these healing practices, mental patients have usually been treated by
shamans from ancient times until now in rural areas of Middle Asia. Nowadays, in some
places where there are not the modern doctors, this task still is above shamans. In those
areas where are rural areas of Middle Asia, shamans are obligated with looking for both
physical and mental illnesses.

5.    Folk healers known as ocak (in English: stove)

It is argued that folk healers called as Ocaks are remains of shamans in Anatolia.
They have the power to treat the diseases with extraordinary ways. “They are also called as
“urasa” in some regions of Anatolia. There are many different
Ocaks struggled with
various diseases in Anatolia. For example, the ocak of jaundice, the ocak of lead cast, the
ocak of wart, the ocak of erysipelas, the ocak of malaria, the ocak of mumps, the ocak of
herpes, the ocak of tonsillitis, the ocak of infertility and more of them still exist today”
(Ongel, 1997:10). Ocak folk healers use mainly magical practices and these practices are
mostly implemented within family by parents who have unusual powers. It is believed that
this power has passed from parents to children. There ar ealso some ocak folk healers
benefiting from plants in the treatment of diseases, except of
ocaks benefiting from
magical operations.

Ocak healers such as shamans and Anatolia folk healers are based on a common
history. Common aspect which they all have is to fight with diseases. Especially in the
traditional period, to struggle against diseases has been an important issue for people. Ocak
healers, with their superior abilities have, can treat these diseases. Therefore it is accepted
that this healing power is an incredible skill and this incredible skill, in ocak families,
passes from father to son or from mother to daughter. When we ask ourselves how to pass
these skills from one to another, we can say that transition occurs through the blood or in
other words this is what believed by traditional culture. But this transition ritual is not just
within the family or is not an obligation for
ocaks. Ocak folk healers can give their ability
to anyone who is seen as talented in this area. As it can be understood from the transition
practices, there are two type transition rituals in tradition. In the first one is high the role of
heredity. But in the second one, is high the role of education.

Ocak folk healers not only benefit from magical operations but also use and know
many of the traditional techniques including methods such as treatment by using the
spiritual power, treatment with evacuation of blood from the body, treatment by sitting in a
sacred place, treatment by injuring the body, treatment with pray, treatment by using the
plant-based drugs, treatment by using the animal-based drugs and treatment by using the
mineral-based drugs. These treatment methods are still used by folk healers in Turkish folk
culture. People, who are usually from rural areas of country, continue to prefer traditional
treatment methods. Therefore usage rate of these methods are more common in rural areas
according to usage rate in city center.

6.    Conclusions

Researchers must carefully consider about the roles of cultural factors affecting to
studies concerned with Turkish culture and its historical development. Because the
traditional culture elements, no matter what, are continued and maintained against the
corrosive influence of modern times. Turks, in the historical process, have entered into
many different religions and belief systems, and have been able to move the old cultural
elements as gains of ancient tradition until today. In this context, traditionalism is a very
important factor for Turks, because this concept has occurred as a result of the struggle of
tradition against corruption. According to Shils makes a statement about this issue:
“Tradition and traditional are among the most commonly used terms in the whole
vocabulary of culture and society. The terms „tradition’ and „traditional’ are used to
describe and explain the recurrence in approximately identical form of structures of
conduct and patterns of belief over several generations of membership or over a long time
within single societies (with a more or less delimited territory and a genetically continuous
population) and within corporate bodies”(Shils, 1971:123). All the cultural values which
we have, have a traditional line continuing from generation to generation. In addition that,
“It is said that society teaches its values, beliefs and attitudes during the socialization
process” (Sharma and Malhotra, 2007:79). Therefore traditional medicine is considered in
context of traditionalism.

In spite of everything, traditional folk medicine considered along with cultural
accumulation is also exposed to be forgotten. Representatives of folk healers of
contemporary Anatolia culture criticize it for having lost its healing traditions. Despite all
the drawbacks of modern life, traditional folk medicine defined as remains of old tradition
(tradition of Lokman healer) still continues to live in a renewed way in Anatolia. In
addition to this explanation, Shils (1971:122), “All novelty is a modification of what has
existed previously; it occurs and reproduces itself as novelty in a more persistent context.
Every novel characteristic is determined in part by what existed previously; its previous
character is one determinant of what it became when it became something new” by saying,
his ideas in this topic tries to describe by referring to relationship between past and future.
For the same patterns can also be looked into modern western culture and traditions. In
relation to the modern western culture and traditions, Wayland Debs Hand indicates that
(1980:133) “Folk medical magic often involves both pagan and Christian elements, and
ancient medical beliefs and customs still have not wholly disappeared from the civilized
community”. According to his explanation, traditions are not far away innovations and also
innovations are a part of past.

Because of this reality it should be considered in this way, traditional folk
medicine. As shown in traditional folk medicine, folk healers have brought together many
old and new cultural elements and as a result of this have appeared a traditional folk
medicine. Although modern medicine has advanced until the villages, traditional medicine
still continues to be used in these villages. This vitality of traditional medicine, in fact,
comes from its silence. Tradition does not need to defend itself in the face of modernity. “It
makes no statement about what is handed down or in what particular combination or
whether it is a physical object or a cultural construction; it says nothing about how long it
has been handed down or in what manner, whether orally or in written form”(Shils,
2006:12 ). In this context, it can be seen that Turkish folk culture also such as other
different cultures continues to keep alive by reproducing the traditional medicine practices.

Since the last few years, contributions of traditional medicine to modern medicine
have begun to see the respect that should be shown to them. And even “products derived
from traditional knowledge have benefited the pharmaceutical companies greatly and
indigenous knowledge of plants has played a significant role. These companies are
interested because of the cost of screening. Out of 10 000 molecules only one will emerge
as a new drug” (Arıkan ve Özkan 2007: 138). Therefore traditional medical data is very
important for modern pharmaceutical companies. Because the discovery of a new drug, in
addition to its research cost, also requires a fairly long-term research. Traditional
knowledge facilitates this long and laborious process.

The other reason of the value of traditional medicine is to be low of its research
costs when compared with modern medicine. Experiences acquired with traditional
medicine are gains reduced research costs that these experiences renew themselves with
reproduction of what existed earlier. The purpose of traditional folk medicine is to protect
the public health and to heal patients by using material and spiritual vehicles. But despite
this purpose, there are also some superstition applications in tradition. These superstitious
applications are showing rotten parties of traditions. For example, to cut the skin in the
bottom of tongues of patients with rabies is a treatment in healing tradition but is not a cure
for disease. Since a long period it has been observed that this type practices have not
treated patients with rabies. However in case of disease, people in Anatolia still continue to
use a kind of herb called rabies herb to heal this disease and no doubt that will also
continue in future. This is a fact that culture and tradition are being affected by traditional
faith and beliefs and this situation is a good example to effect of faith and beliefs over us.

REFERENCES

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Turkish Studies

International Periodical For the Languages, Literature and History of Turkish or Turkic

Volume 6/4 Fall 2011

1

Yrd.Doç.Dr., Abant izzet Baysal Üniversitesi Türk Dili ve Edebiyatı Bölümü Halk Edebiyatı -Bilimi Ana Bilim Dalı
Elmek: sugurlu@sakarya.edu.tr