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Lebanese turn to alternative medicine as health care costs soar

Many in Lebanon are opting for alternative medicine to treat physical and psychological maladies after no longer being able to afford health services.
A doctor in the oncology department of the Hotel-Dieu de France reviews anticancer drugs in the hospital pharmacy, Beirut, Lebanon, Oct. 7, 2022.

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Due to Lebanon's continuous economic collapse and exorbitant inflation rates, most of the country's population is unable to access the health care system. Medical shortages and high hospital costs have rekindled interest in ancient medical practices, which differ in type and price. Whether it is traditional Islamic medicine in apothecaries or modern healing centers that combine eastern traditions with Arabic teachings, experts told Al-Monitor that the coronavirus pandemic — mixed with the economic crisis — has caused demand to increase.

The Middle East has always been a major center for alternative medicine, which is a concoction of Islamic, Chinese and Ayurvedic therapies. In Lebanon, these practices manifest as herbalism or the combining of herbs, spices and natural oils, as well as physical healings such as cupping, energy healing and acupuncture to treat illnesses. Medications range in price from less than $4 to more than $100.

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