Arch Iran Med. 2018;21(7):315-323.
PMID: 30041531
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Opinion

Science and Pseudoscience in Traditional Iranian Medicine 

Kiarash Aramesh 1,2 *

1 Director, James F. Drane Bioethics Institute, Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, Edinboro, PA, USA
2 Associate Professor, Medical Ethics and History of Medicine Research Center, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
*Corresponding Author: Kiarash Aramesh, Email: karamesh@edinboro.edu

Abstract

The recent efforts for revitalizing traditional Iranian medicine (TIM) have shaped two main streams: The quackery traditional iranian medicine (QTIM) and the academic traditional iranian medicine (ATIM). The QTIM encompasses a wide range of practitioners with various backgrounds who work outside the academic arena and mostly address the public. These practitioners have no solid bases or limited boundaries for their claims. Instead, they rely on making misleading references to the Holy Islamic Scriptures, inducing false hope, claiming miraculous results, appealing to the conspiracy theories, and taking advantage of the public resentment toward some groups of unprofessional healthcare providers. The theories and practices of ATIM, however, can be categorized into two major categories: First, valid and scientific TIM that is aimed to conduct well-designed clinical trials and thereby, supply the evidence-based medicine with new treatments originated in or inspired by TIM. Second, a pseudoscientific part of the current TIM that is based on some obsolete medical theories, especially the medieval humoral medicine, and erroneous accounts of human anatomy, physiology, and physiopathology, mostly adopted from the ancient and medieval medical scripts. TIM has recently established some clinical centers for practicing humoral medicine that is partly pseudoscientific and involves significant risks. This paper suggests that the public health sector has a duty to act against the promulgation of medical superstitions by QTIM and the pseudoscientific medical practices of ATIM, and at the same time, support and promote the valid and potentially beneficial research pursued by ATIM aimed to explore the rich recourses of TIM and thereby enrich the evidence-based medicine.
Cite this article as: Aramesh K. Science and pseudoscience in traditional Iranian medicine. Arch Iran Med. 2018;21(7):315–323. 
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Submitted: 29 Dec 2017
Accepted: 17 Apr 2018
First published online: 01 Jul 2018
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