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Africa's Medicine






The healing methods and medicine developed in Africa differs in many aspects from western medicine. Western medicine is technically and analytically based, while the traditional African medicine takes a holistic approach.

It is believed that good health, disease, success or misfortune are not chance occurrences but arise from the actions of individuals and ancestral spirits according to the balance or imbalance between the individual and the social environment.

Traditionally, every rural African community would have a traditional medical practitioner, to which they would go for advice on a number of issues, including health-problems. These traditional 'doctors' have an invaluable botanical knowledge of plant species and their ecology and scarcity.

The community would rely upon this knowledge, as well as the spiritual and practical skills of the traditional healer, since they themselves were not allowed to gain this knowledge.

This is because throughout Africa the gathering of medicinal plants was traditionally restricted to traditional healers or their trainees through spiritual calling, ritual, religious controls and, in Southern Africa, the use of alternative (hlonipha) names not known to outsiders.

Traditional healers use plants in a variety of ways, depending on the illness to be cured. Parts of plants can be applied directly to wounds and cuts or, if necessary, prepared as powders that are used like snuff. Sometimes plants are even used in the form of smoke or fumes, or as infusions.

The idea that healing can take place with the help of plants is not so far-fetched. Many modern medicines also have their origins in plants that have often been used in the treatment of illness and disease. In fact, plants and their derivatives contribute to more than fifty per cent of all medicine used worldwide.

The harvesting of plants, their drying and analysis in laboratories also mimics some of the ways used by traditional healers. Laboratories use a variety of solvents to extract molecules of the active compounds, which are made into medicines in the form of liquids, ointments or pills.

Traditional preparation of medicines also involves reducing the plant or its parts into the form in which the active compound is best suited to heal, whether it is in the form of smoke, powders or fumes.

The following are some plants traditionally used by healers that have recently also been acknowledged by western doctors:

Aloe ferox (Asphodelaceae) - commonly known as the Cape aloe.
Artimesia afra (Asteraceae) - the African Wormwood
Agothosma betulina (Ruaceae) - this plant is more commonly known as buchu.
Salix mucronata (Salicaceae) - commonly known as the wild willow.

These are only a few of the plants traditionally used by traditional healers.

There is no doubt the fact that traditional healers and their medicine have played an important role in developing the western medicine.



Ik schyn nodig te hebben - barabara, silvertan, altjentjur. Geen idee of dat klopt.
Het schynt als madicyn te werken volgens prof. Akay.
Ik hoop op een reactie, dank u.

Posted by: joke v blijswijk

Aloe ferox is obtainable form John M Riggs T/a John M Riggs see the blog at http://bittercapealoeferox.blogspot.com

Posted by: John M RIGGS




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