Photo of the Week: The Cure

Herbal solution hawkers are regularly seen in every part of the continent – Eyes of a Lagos Boy

Africa is home to a rich biodiversity of plant species, many of which possess potent medicinal properties. The extensive use of traditional medicine in the continent, particularly medicinal plants, has been attributed to cultural and economic reasons as they are easily obtainable and largely free or affordable.

Ancient African civilizations deeply understood the healing properties of herbs and roots, and they utilized these natural remedies for medicinal purposes. This ancient healing knowledge has been passed down through generations, preserving the wisdom of African herbal medicine. It encompasses a holistic approach to healthcare, recognizing the importance of addressing the underlying causes of illness rather than just treating symptoms.

Today’s world acknowledges the value of herbal treatments and their potential benefits in treating various ailments. An example is Vincristine and vinblastine, two anticancer drugs derived from the Madagascar periwinkle, a plant native to Africa.

Nigeria researchers, according to Guardian Newspapers have also shown that Bitter leaf protects the liver from drug induced damage. A study published in Journal of Medicinal Food suggests that Bitter leaf elicits hepatoprotectives (offers protection against liver damage) through antioxidant (prevents cell death) activity on acetaminophen-induced hepatic damage in mice.

Traditional medicine continues to play a significant role in many African communities and its diaspora, providing accessible, affordable, and culturally accepted healthcare options. Preserving traditional healing practices and medicinal plants is crucial for promoting holistic well-being in African societies.

Commonly used herbs in African traditional medicine include moringa, rooibos, devil’s claw, aloe vera, buchu, basil and numerous others. These plants were carefully selected and prepared by traditional healers, who possessed a deep understanding of their therapeutic properties. The use of herbal remedies allowed ancient Africans to treat a wide range of ailments, from common illnesses to more complex conditions.

Traditional healers play a vital role in African society, serving as the primary healthcare providers for their communities. Herbalists, as they are sometimes called are not only skilled in the use of herbs and roots but also served as spiritual guides, diviners, and counselors. The ‘Native Doctor’s’ knowledge and expertise are sought after for the cure of physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing of their patients.