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Mapping Wild Cards

Inspired by: interviews » Traditional European Medicine

version: 5 / updated: 2011-01-27
id: #1518 / version id: #939
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Originally submitted by: Sivert von Saldern
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Source of inspiration


The source of the Wild Card is

Expert Interview on Health with Dr. Johannes G. Mayer, Head of the research group “medical knowledge in monasteries” at Wuerzburg University, Germany.

Uploaded reports, images or pictures related to the Wild Card

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(max. 9 words)

Traditional European Medicine


(approx. 150 words)
Please describe the Wild Card (approx. 150 words)
Intense and highly funded research in the field of monastery medicine lead to the introduction of an officially approved medical treatment called “Traditional European Medicine” in all European member states. This medical treatment is based on the centuries-old knowledge in monasteries on the effective prophylactic and reactive treatment with natural active substances from medical plants. This “new” treatment is fully accepted by society and broadly recognised as an effective supplementary to conventional medicine.


Health, Monasteries, Medical Plants, Pharmacy, Nutrition


(max. 250 characters)

Intense and highly funded research in the field of monastery medicine lead to the introduction of an officially approved medical treatment called “Traditional European Medicine” in all European member states.


Closest timeframe for at least 50% likelihood
Please use one of the following options:

Features of life if the wild card manifests

Feature 1: business models and industrial environment
This wild card might have certain negative impacts, particularly on producers of mammals, classic pharmacies which only focus on selling synthetically produced pharmaceuticals, internet pharmacies and last but not least pharma companies which refused to invest in research on medical plants. Another important aspects concerns the necessary reorientation of conventional doctors and pharmacies. In case this wild card emerged, the number of pharmacies producing their own pharmaceutical compounds and offering a broad range of consultation services might increase. This wild card could certainly result in the emergence of a new growth market “Traditional European Medicine”. There is great economic potential for both small and large enterprises, which define their role and business models at an early stage. New business models could for example include the purchase of medical plants sets for self-mixture at home, delivery services for convenience food based in traditional monastery recipes, nutritional consulting or wellness temples offering a broad variety of natural treatments. Further, there might be significant challenges for health insurances and specific contracts focussing on traditional European medicine.
Feature 6: health and quality of life
The emergence of this wild card could lead to an increased awareness towards ones own health and a growing self-prophylaxis, particularly with regards to common widespread diseases, cardiovascular diseases or different types of cancer. This is partly due to the significant value of healthy nutrition in medical knowlege in monasteries. Essential questions with regards to nutrition consist of „what do I eat, when do I eat and how do I eat“. Following these essencials in daily life, health of European societiies might enormously increase.

Type of event

Human planned (e.g. terrorist attack or funded scientific breakthrough)

Type of emergence

please select (if any) describe related trend or situation
A new development/situation
(e.g. a Romani state is established in central Europe; A message from an alien civilisation existing on a distant planet is received and understood, etc.

Historical parallels

Between the 8th and 13th century, it was the monasteries, which shaped the medical treatment in Europe. One can say that monasteries were the medieval hospital operators. Thus, in the course of time the nuns and monks gained profound knowledge on medical plants and their application fields and created manifold herb gardens. The theoretical base of this monastery medicine was mainly humoral pathology - the theory of four fluids. However, the European era of monastery medicine finally ended in the beginning of the 19th century due to secularisation, except in Slavic states and Italy, where the usage of European medical plants leads back to a continuous 2000-year lasting history.

Type of systems affected

Human-built Systems - E.g. organisations, processes, technologies, etc.




please specify:
please select
Level 3: important for the European Union
Level 4: important for the whole world

Early indicators

(including weak signals)

There are several signals that either individually or in combination with others indicate the possibility of a prospective occurrence of this wild card scenario. First of all there are various signals related to the work of the research group “medical knowledge in monasteries” at the University of Wuerzburg. GlaxoSmithKline, the worlds second largest pharmaceutical company is supporting their work. Fur-ther, there has been an enormous increase of external requests at the research group lately. Lust but not least, the existence of the research group itself and the fact that this groups is financially supported are important weak signals. Another important signal might be a research group in Austria, which focuses on the exploration of some kind of traditional European medicine. They have already registered this research area at the UNESCO as an intellectual heritage and they try to es-tablish this area as an official medicine. Besides, this group is already conducting training seminars.

Latent phase

Obstacles for early indentification

information/communicational filters (media/editorial interests, language, reasoning)
cultural/religious filters (values, traditions, faith, spiritual beliefs)
institutional filters (rules, laws, regulations)
economic filters (business/market interests)
scientific filters (knowledge/technology access)
political filters (party or ideological interests)
social filters (class, status, education level)

Manifestation phase

Type of manifestation

Very uncertain

Aftermath phase

Important implications
Emergence of a new system (e.g. new technologies, new paradigms)

Key drivers or triggers

Provide up to 2 possible drivers or triggers of HIGH importance. Click on HELP to see examples:
please describe
Driver / Trigger 1
please describe
Driver / Trigger 2
Social Increased awareness of negative side-effects of conventional medication
Economic Traditional European Medicine might be cheaper than high-tech medicine

Potential impacts (risks & opportunities)

Timeframe options
Risks Opportunities
(within 1 year after the Wild Card manifests)
Reduction of side-effects
short term
(1 to 5 years after the Wild Card manifests)
Lower costs of medical treatment

Potential stakeholders' actions

it occurs
it occurs
Policy actors (at the international, European and national levels) Adapt the the permission for medical personnal: doctors need to be allowed to practice in ETM
Business actors (incl. SMEs) Alternative production of drug based on ETM
Academic/Research sector intensified research on Traditional European Medicine Implementation of new studies / education in ETM
Media Inform about the research on ETM to rise the awareness for alternative medical treatment

Relevance for Grand Challenges

where? please justify:
particularly relevant Europe world
Behavioural change
Diseases, health and well-being
Food security and diet

Relevance for thematic research areas

please justify:
particularly relevant
Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, and Biotechnology

Pan-European strategies potentially helping to deal with the wild card

please justify:
particularly relevant
Improving researchers mobility and career development by, for example, realising a single labour market for researchers.
Developing and funding world-class research infrastructures
Strengthening research institutions and universities
Facilitating and promoting knowledge sharing and transfer
Increasing the efficiency and impact of public research through Joint Programming (i.e. combining national and pan-European research efforts) or the optimisation of research programmes and priorities, for example.
Fostering and facilitating coherent international cooperation in science and technology

 Features of a research-friendly ecology contributing to deal with the wild card

For further information about 'research-friendly strategies' click here

please justify:
particularly relevant
Overcoming sub-criticality and systemic failures
To be subcritical means that the effort in a particular field or subfield lacks resources, equipment or a sufficient number of researchers to achieve a desired goal
Strengthening the actors in the research-friendly ecology
(i.e. Research funding organisations, universities, businesses, Research and Technology Organisations, Researchers and Citizens)

Relevance for future R&D and STI policies

Note: RTD = research and technology development; STI = science, technology and innovation
Nowadays, only a few research organisations in Europe deal with traditional European medicine and international cooperation is rather low. So it would be necessary to conduct research on alternative forms of natural medicine in all European states.