Journal of Health and Medical Sciences
Published: 23 September 2019
Indigenous Health Practices of the Naga People: Continuity and Change
Watienla, Toshimenla Jamir
Nagaland University, India
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Keywords: Christianization, Indigenous Medicines, Medical Plurality, Nagas, Supernatural
For many indigenous people, health is not merely absence of disease but a state of spiritual, communal, and ecosystem equilibrium and well-being. The indigenous concept of health hence articulates physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional elements, from both individual and communal points of view, and involves political, economic, social, and cultural aspects. The health care activities of the indigenous people are often embedded in the traditional beliefs, customs, folklore, taboos, and prescriptions. Like in most indigenous communities, the living traditions of health care exist in Naga society too, which are passed down orally from generation to generation. They have age-old knowledge of preparation and administration of medicines for different diseases using ingredients sourced from roots, barks, leaves, fruits as well as animal derivatives and other natural minerals. Healing rituals employed for invoking the intervention of supernatural forces are an integral component of the treatment procedure. On the whole traditional medicine helped the Naga people to effectively maintain an efficient health care system long before the arrival of the modern medical system. The current existence of a plurality of health care system in the Naga society brings to the fore the question of relevance and continuity of the indigenous health care system which have served the people well for millennia.
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