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Social Science and Medicine. 1985; 21(12):1345-7.The author examines whether traditional medicine promotes biopsychosocial fulfillment in African health and argues that every society has its own method of managing illness and controlling the environment. In African societies, traditional medicine remains the major way of coping with illness; for some 80% of the population, primary health care is synonymous with traditional medicine. Just as any society would not negotiate its sociocultural imperatives for those of a borrowed culture, it is vital for societies to maintain their significant cultural 'idioms' such as African traditional medicine. It is a form of domestic health care based on general medical knowledge and practised within the family that represents a system of ordering, classifying, and explaining illness, as well as elaborate concepts of treatment. Often, traditional medicine is used as a "psychological opium" in the relief of pain or suffering by creating a sense of societal membership and self-awareness in the face of fear and death. Biopsychosocial health can be equated with the World Health Organization's definition of health as a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity; insofar as this is true, African traditional medicine promotes the biopsychosocial fulfillment of African health needs.