What is Traditional and Complementary Medicine?

According to the definition by World Health Organization (WHO): “It is the sum total of the knowledge, skill, and practices based on the theories, beliefs, and experiences indigenous to different cultures, whether explicable or not, used in the maintenance of health as well as in the prevention, diagnosis, improvement or treatment of physical and mental illness”.


Phytotherapy (Herbal Therapy)

The forgotten importance of Phytotherapy (Herbal Therapy), which is based on scientific evidences and is among the Traditional and Complementary Medicine practices approved by the Ministry of Health, has now been in the spotlight.

History of Phytotherapy

There is a myriad of evidence for the use of plants to protect and improve human health in many civilizations throughout the history. Being the first written document on this matter and dating back to 3000 BC, Nineveh tablets show that Sumarians, Accadians and Asyrrians used medications incorporating materials of herbal and animal origin. In 2500 AD, approximately a thousand medicinal herbs were also mentioned in the works by Rig Veda, who is among the prominent representatives of Indian medicine which showed a parallel improvement with Chinese medicine. Esculape, whose name is listed among the important figures of Greek medicine, and Hippocrates, who is acknowledged as the founder of contemporary medicine, have referred to approximately 400 herbal products in their books.

During Islamic civilization, Abu Rihan, the author of “Kitab-al Saydalafi al Tıp” which listed around twenty herbs; and Avicenna, the author of “Al Qanun Fi’t-Tıbb (Canon Medicinae) which had been acknowledged as a “reference book” in western medicine until 1650’s, have carried out important studies in the field of herbal medicine.


Herbal medicine is a discipline taught for 2 years throughout the 4-year-long curriculum of faculties of pharmaceutical sciences in Turkey. Albeit it has recently been included into curricula as an elective course by both public and private universities in Turkey, it does not have any place as a separate internship program in the curricula of all faculties of medicine.


As of October 2016, Phytotheraphy Education Centers were inaugurated in various universities, under the supervision of the Ministry of Health - Department of Traditional and Complementary Medicine Practices, and the graduates of which have been given Ministerial Certificate of Practice.




What is Phytotherapy?


Herbal Treatment (Phytotherapy) implies the therapeutic use of a plant, partially or in whole. Herbal products that are used in phytotherapy and medications made of plants are not the same. Herbal medication contains only one chemical material in a plant, while the phytotherapy product uses the plant in whole or partially.

Phytotherapy is a method that follows certain medical rules. These rules consist of monographs called Pharmacopeia, which incorporate in-depth analyzes for each plant. For example; the rulebook accepted by European countries is ESCOP monographs, while the 3rd issue of FED monographs published in 2017 is used as the source of information for the current herbal therapies practised in Turkey.

Each monograph section in these books provides information on the following features of plants:

  • Scientific name (e.g. turmeric: Curcuma longa L.),
  • Description of the plant’s structure using measurements and figures,
  • The segment of the plant used in treatment (e.g. for turmeric: root segment of the plant),
  • Areas in which the plants grow naturally,
  • Harvest season,
  • Biochemical contents of the segment of plant used in therapy,
  • Rate of active substance that helps the standardization of the plant (For example; 3-5% minimum for turmeric)
  • Scientifically proven benefits of using this part of the plant,
  • Potential adverse effects this herbal therapy may cause,
  • It’s interaction with other medicines used at the period of herbal therapy, and the recommended use of it (as powder or herbal brew),


Herbal Therapy In Cancer (Phytotherapy)

The use of herbal therapies in patients with carcinoma is of complementary characteristics. Nowadays, herbal therapies are introduced as they were capable of healing cancer, which doesn't have any scientific basis. However, herbal therapies prescribed by an oncologist with an expertise on phytotherapy as a complementary treatment to surgery, radiotherapy and medical treatments may yield positive results.  

Herbal therapies given by an oncologist with an expertise on phytotherapy for patients with cancer;

  • Herbal treatments along with medical therapy
  • Herbal treatments along with radiotherapy
  • Herbal therapy to alleviate side effects of therapies
  • Herbal therapy in supplementary treatments for patients with advanced stage cancer, who are not suitable for medical therapy or radiotherapy with poor health condition.
  • Preventive use for cancer development in subjects with high risk of cancer (e.g. hereditary, occupational or living conditions related risks).




Homeopathy From Past To Present

“Homeos” means “similar and “pathos” means “disease" in Greek.  Homeopathy is based on the principle of "curing similar diseases with similar methods”. Practised by German doctor and pharmacist Samuel Hahnemann in early 19th century, homeopathy is a treatment method that allows body to heal itself naturally. WHO data reveals that Homeopathy is the most commonly practised method of complementary medicine. Homeopathy aims to bring the self-healing mechanisms of the body into healing process, without harming the patient and in a moderate and safe manner.


What is homeopathy and it's effects?

Homeopathy strengthens the recovery and defense systems of body by using the energizing feature of substances. Natural medications, the effects of which are scientifically tested and proved, are used in homeopathy. Natural medications, the effects of which are scientifically tested and proved, are used in homeopathy. That’s because the body and disease of each individual shows different symptoms. Remedies re-establish the harmony and balance of the body by using the energizing features of substances and strengthens the defense and recovery systems. Since they work using the patient's own power, they have no side effects. Therefore, they are safe to use for babies, pregnant women and elderly people.

Homeopathic treatment should be performed by certified experts in hospital settings. Homeopathy and modern medicinal treatment procedures can be performed as complementary treatments. A physician with an expertise in homeopathy will determine the most suitable treatment for you, amongst the one available in both fields.



For which conditions can homeopathy be used?

  • For cases where there the immune system needs to be strengthened and balanced
  • Treatment or supportive therapy for both physical and emotional imbalance
  • In cases where the adverse effects of medications needs to be minimized
  • For severe chronic diseases
  • It is safe to use in elderly people, pregnant women, babies and animals.


Gaining importance in the recent years, Cupping treatment, which is based on scientific evidences, and is listed among the Traditional and Complementary Medicine practices approved by Ministry of Health, is used as a complementary treatment method for many diseases.

Cupping Treatment From Past to Present

Cupping treatment has been performed by many cultures around the world for more than five thousand years. It has been performed as an alternative treatment in many regions of the world, particularly in Asia, Middle East and Europe. Cupping treatment was first implemented in Middle East, around 3500 BC (5500 years ago) by Asyrrians who used animal horn and bamboo. The oldest document about cupping treatment is “Ubi Plethore Ibi Evacua” which was written in 3300 BC and narrates how it was performed in ancient Macedonia. Cupping treatment was also mentioned in Ebers Papyrus of Medicine (Egypt) in 1550 BC. Herodotus (484 BC- 425 BC) also stated that the Egyptian doctors were performing both dry-cupping and wet-cupping treatment. Cupping treatment, which was implemented by Assyrians and Babylonians and which was used by Chinese in combination with acupuncture, was also adopted by Hippocrates and Galen. It is also a fact that Al Qanun Fi’t-Tıbb (Canon Medicinae) by Avicenna also addresses to cupping treatment (blood letting) and some European universities used this valuable work until the last century. Today, cupping treatment is performed in countries in Northern Europe, the Americas, Australia, Africa, Far East and Middle East.


Importance of Cupping Therapy

Cupping treatment has rapidly gained academic attention in the recent years. This treatment method is proved to have positive effect for various painful conditions such as migraine, rheumatoid, arthritis, back pain.‑{}‑ Cupping treatment is supported by modern medicine and it yields positive results when applied by certified physicians with related expertise.

Being a kind of acupuncture method, cupping therapy aims to excrete toxins accumulated in capillary vessels by making small incision on skin. It helps body to alleviate the negative effects caused by certain factors which the body is unable to excrete through natural processes such as heavy metals, toxins, medications and foods.





Types Of Cupping Therapy

Cupping therapy regulates the skin and subcutaneous tissue as well as superficial circulation by means of cups or glasses, which is a conventional method. Cupping therapy is performed by following either one of two methods; dry cupping or wet cupping (blood letting).

In dry cupping method, the cup is hold stable or it is used to massage the affected area, which results in regulated blood circulation and regressed muscle tension as well as eased various pains.

On the other hand, wet cupping (blood letting) procedure involves making small incisions on skin, placing a cup on the affected area and cleansing the skin and subcutaneous tissues from waste materials.




  • Vertebral osteoarhtitis, osteoporosis, osteopenia or pains secondary to early-stage herniated vertebral discs.
  • Fibromyalgia (Fibrosis and resultant muscle pain usually secondary to stress)
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Headache secondary to stress
  • Migraine
  • Backache secondary to muscle spasm (myospasm)
  • Tendinopathy (Tendon inflammation)
  • Sports injuries
  • Muscle inflammation
  • Jaw arthropathy (Difficulty in mouth opening and chewing secondary to swelling and pain in temporomandibular joint)
  • Tooth grinding
  • Sudeck’s atrophy (It is a disease with such symptoms as pain in shoulders, hands and joints resulting in swelling in shoulder and hand joints)
  • Post-zoster neuralgia (Persistent pains secondary to zoster, which is also known as “skin eruption”)
  • Trigeminal neuralgia (Severe pain which occurs in jaw bone and is sometimes confused with dental inflammation)
  • Asthma, bronchitis
  • Sinusitis, laryngitis (Vocal cord inflammation) otitis (ear inflammation)
  • Hyperkinetic heart syndrome
  • Gastrointestinal problems (e.g. constipation and nausea)
  • Circulatory system disorders


When cupping therapy should be avoided?

  • Thrombosis (patients with complaint of blood clot) Patients with paralysis, respiratory problems or foot swelling secondary to blood clot
  • Patients with ongoing bleeding (nose-bleeding, subcutaneous bleeding or hemorrhagic diseases)
  • Patients with open wound secondary to recent surgery
  • Patients with decompensated cardiac disease (Swelling in hands, face and arms; increased shortness of breath when in bed)
  • Areas with varice
  • Risky pregnancies (It should be performed with utmost attention under supervision by an expert, for normal pregnancies)



Gaining importance in the recent years, Hirudotherapy (medicinal leech therapy), which is based on scientific evidences, and is listed among the Traditional and Complementary Medicine practices approved by the Ministry of Health, is used as a complementary treatment method for many diseases.

Hirudotherapy From Past to Present

First written sources about the use of medicinal leech therapy were found in Egypt, around 1500 BC. It is understood that physicians in Ancient Egyptian Civilization used hidurotherapy as the main therapy method. Likewise, physician Nikandros who resided at the Agean coast in the 2nd century, the Greek physician Plinius who lived in the 1st century and Galen who lived in the 2nd century used hidurotherapy. Moreover, we can also see that hidurotherapy was mentioned in Al Qanun Fi’t-Tıbb (Canon Medicinae) by Avicenna, in 1020 AD. Leeches used for therapeutic purposes were first named by Linnaeus as Hirudo Medicinalis, in 1758. The most important development in this matter was the discovery of a substance obtained from leech saliva by Haycraft in 1884, that prevents blood clot. This bioactive substance named Hirudin was later found to be an efficient anticoagulant.


The Importance of Medicinal Leech Therapy

It is a known fact that countries with advanced economies like Germany, France, England, Russia and the United States of America employ hidurotherapy in treatment of diseases. When it comes to our country, physicans with special certificate approved by the Ministry of Health started to give Hirudotherapy as of 2018. Compared to modern medication therapies, hirudotherapy has less side effects and is costs less.

While sucking blood, leeches also inject a secretion that incorporates many bioactive substances into the tissue. These bioactive substances have different effects on human body similar to that of a medication does; such as analgesic, anticouagulant, anti-inflammatory, myorelaxant, immune modulator, vascular circulation and hypoxy regulating agents.

In order to prevent contagious diseases, medicinal leeches should be processed as medical waste once used. Prior to medicinal leech therapy, blood work should be performed to eliminate the risk of anemia. Medicinal leech therapy is based on solid scientific principles and evidences and it aims to improve the patient’s condition substantially.


What Is Medicinal Leech And What Benefits Does It Offer?

Hirudo Medicinalis and Hirudo Verbana leeches which have therapeutic features are named Medicinal Leech.

  • Phlebotomy
  • Reflex Stimulus
  • Bioactive Secretion Content


Certain Bioactive Substances In Leech Secretion

Leeches inject their secretion into the body while sucking blood. As far as it can be isolated, this secretion is determined to contain more than a hundred bioactive substance. While some of these substances prevent blood clot, some of them eliminate current blood clots and a couple of them show pain alleviating features. Furthermore, studies have also revealed that medicinal leech therapy has also antidepressant, antibacterial and antioxidant effects.

  • Blood clot inhibitor (Antiagregant)
  • Clot-breaking substance (Fibrinolytic substance)
  • Pain killer (Analgesic and antirheumatic substance)
  • Germicide (Antibacterial substance)
  • Blood pressure balancing substance (Antihipertansive substance)
  • Muscle relaxation and soothing agents (Anxiolytic substance)
  • Protective (Preventive substance)
  • Antidepressant effect
  • Antioxidant
  • Nerve Cell regenerative effect




  • High blood tension and and pulse
  • Ischemic heart disease
  • Cardiovascular occlusion
  • Blood circulation disorder
  • Myocarditis
  • Stroke (Partial paralysis)
  • Blood clot in arteries and veins (Thrombosis)
  • Varicose veins



  • Cerebral and spinal blood vessel diseases
  • Nerve root inflammation
  • Neuritis
  • Epilepsy
  • Strokes,
  • Degenerative nerve system diseases such as MS, Parkinson’s disease, ALS, etc.



  • Hemorrhoid



  • Lazy kindey syndrome
  • Renal stone, renal calculi and nephritis
  • Chronic prostate problems
  • Testicular varicose vein diseases



  • Inflamed sore and skin abscess
  • Juvenile acne, skin blemish
  • Baldness and hair loss
  • Eczema and psioarisis



  • Obesity
  • Gout disease
  • Immune system disorders,



  • Thyroid inflammation, vestibular inflammation
  • Ear inflammation and hearing loss secondary to ear inflammation
  • Sinusitis
  • Tonsillitis
  • Tinnitus, calcification of ear and hearing loss secondary to it.



  • Conjunctival inflammation
  • Detached retina
  • Inflammatory ophthalmologic diseases
  • Lazy eye
  • Strabismus
  • Glaucoma (high intraocular pressure)
  • Loss of vision secondary to diabetes mellitus
  • Ocular vein occlusion
  • Uveitis
  • Yellow spot disease
  • Maculopathies and retinopathies
  • Hypertensive retinopathies



  • Gastritis and lazy bowel syndrome
  • Digestive tract ulcer
  • Gall bladder inflammation and stone
  • Collitis (Inflammatory bowel disease), Pancreatic inflammation
  • Hepatitis and Hepatic diseases



  • Diabetes
  • Goiter



  • Rheumatism
  • Inflammatory rheumatic joint disease



  • Bronchial asthma
  • Pneumonia (Pulmonary inflammation)



  • Breast inflammation, myoma, cyst
  • Infectios inflammatory diseases
  • Ovary inflammation



  • Cellulitis
  • Anti-aging – anti-wrinkle agent
  • General skin appearance disorders
  • Incision scars and deformations


Anxiolytic substances injected by medicinal leeches into human body may be used in panic attack and depression therapies. Furthermore, it is also used in MIGRAINE therapy thanks to the secretion analgesic (pain killer) substance.



There isn't any known adverse effect. Some patients may experience redness secondary to allergic reaction. However, if performed by certified physicians with expertise in leech therapy and in hospital setting, potential risks can be prevented.




Anemia, use of blood thinners, impaired blood clotting and active focus of bleeding are the main considerations before performing medicinal leech therapy. Additionally, pregnant and breastfeeding mothers and patients with diabetes mellitus and cardiac failure are not allowed to have medicinal leech therapy.


  • Bleeding Diathesis (Hemophilia)
  • Presence Of Active Bleeding Focus
  • Severe Anemia (Hb < 10)
  • Prior to Surgical Intervention
  • Use of Blood Thinner Agnts
  • And in cases of pregnancy and breastfeeding, medicinal leech therapy should be avoided.


On Which Spots Should Leech Therapy Be Avoided?


  • Areas With Soft Skin (Eye lid)
  • Keratinized Areas (Palm, plantar region)
  • On important blood vessels (Neck, lower jaw, armpit, groin)