Traditional Indigenous medicine in North America: A scoping review [2020]

Despite the documented continued use of traditional healing methods, modalities and its associated practitioners by Indigenous groups across North America, it is presumed that widespread knowledge is elusive amongst most Western trained health professionals and systems. This despite that the approximately 7.5 million Indigenous peoples who currently reside in Canada and the United States (US) are most often served by Western systems of medicine. A state of the literature is currently needed in this area to provide an accessible resource tool for medical practitioners, scholars, and communities to better understand Indigenous traditional medicine in the context of current clinical care delivery and future policy making.

A systematic search of multiple databases was performed utilizing an established scoping review framework. A consequent title and abstract review of articles published on traditional Indigenous medicine in the North American context was completed.

Of the 4,277 published studies identified, 249 met the inclusion criteria divided into the following five categorical themes: General traditional medicine, integration of traditional and Western medicine systems, ceremonial practice for healing, usage of traditional medicine, and traditional healer perspectives.

This scoping review was an attempt to catalogue the wide array of published research in the peer-reviewed and online grey literature on traditional Indigenous medicine in North America in order to provide an accessible database for medical practitioners, scholars, and communities to better inform practice, policymaking, and research in Indigenous communities.

Nicole Redvers, Be’sha Blondin
PLOS ONE, August 13, 2020