Herbal medicine and rituals are a part and parcel of primary healthcare in many African countries in the 21st Century. This form of treatment is used as acute for disease such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, that we know is difficult to treat. Herbal medicine is believed to bear symbolic meaning associated with spiritual significance. Most people in  Africa believe that herbal medicines and rituals have the capability to heal diseases ranging from fever to Ebola.

Distinction from the Western Medicine:

Traditional African medicines are herbal, spiritual and rituals all in one bag, a way of treating disease. Unlike western medicine, where diseases are scientifically diagnosed and treated, African traditional medicine, curses comes from the God or nature. The assumption that disease is from the God makes Africans seek a divine cure.

The Magnitude of Use

One may think that it is only indigenous people who use herbal products and spiritual  cures. Rather the government of South Africa has promoted the use of herbal medicines in the treatment of HIV/AIDS at some point.

In the treatment of HIV/AIDS, African potato, Hypoxis hemorocallidea and Sutherlandia are widely used. Its use is not limited to the sub-Saharan countries only. In fact, the SADC (South African Development Community) countries also use this plant.

For decades, researchers studied what the Africans use as medicine and how these medicines are handled. Africans use Natural Health Products and traditional herbal products to cure HIV infections. In fact, for some it is the only means of treating illnesses.  It is very common to treat Problems like nausea, depression and weakness with herbal medicines.

Although traditional African treatments vary, the type and intensity of the disease dictate the treatment.  Some common methods of treating disease include bathing, fasting, dieting, message and magic.

  • The treatment of malaria is an herbal drink.
  •  Headache is treated by applying herbal ointment on the eyelids of the patient.
  • Herbalists force their patients to vomit in order to cure diseases associated with abdominal pain.
  • Over fourteen types of plants are used to treat Diabetes.  The most common plants from Asteraceae family are used for this purpose.
  • While the world is dying to find the cure for cancer, in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, treatment for cancer was available for decades.
  • Securidaca longipedunculata, for example, in Tanzania, is a tropical plant used for the purposes of restoring nervous system disorders. Herbalists make medicine by drying it’s root and bark. On the other hand, it’s died leaves are useful to treat wounds and sores.

Herbal medicine has been playing an important role in the treatment of many diseases. Despite its long history, traditional medicine is still heavily relied on in Africa. The pricing point makes it attractive to its poor customers.  Many people in Africa still think that herbals have no side effect for the body.  As a result, we do not see that to end anytime soon.