Healers and Healing

Folk medicine is arguably the most contentious area of folklore, and the occasional scene of a battleground between conventional, medically trained doctors, and those who practice traditional forms of healing. Folk medicine is the traditional medicine practiced by nonprofessional healers or embodied in local custom or lore, generally involving the use of natural and especially herbal remedies. It has always been in the background our lives, and forms the foundation stone for orthodox medicine.

Patrick Logan, a medical doctor and expert on folk medicine, wrote in the 1970’s that

“a study of folk medicine must enquire whether it was really effective in its own environment; whether the folk healers of earlier generations were able to treat successfully the same ailments as modern man suffers from and which are now treated in a completely different way; and also, whether folk remedies were especially suitable for certain diseases or groups of diseases.”

Before the formalisation of medicine in the late 16th century with the formation of Trinity College Dublin’s medical school, almost everyone in Ireland who became ill was reliant on folk medicine, which fell into one of two categories: herbal or magical and religious remedies. Some healers used a combination of both.

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