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Africa Traditional Medicine
Mike Femi Peters


Traditional methods of treating illness and diseases were used in Africa long before the coming of Europeans and western medicine.

Both kinds of medicine work very well for the people today, many modern drugs (medicine) are made from plants such as digitalis which is used for treating heart related problems. Treatment on a mainly chemical basis has been found to be inadequate and a naturopathic movement which remembered the knowledge of ancient times has blossomed in the 90's as more people were looking for alternative and more natural ways of attaining and maintaining wholesomeness of the body, mind and soul.

Naturopaths employ natural cure to alleviate the diseases and illnesses of man. There are experts all over Africa in traditional medicine. They are called herbalists or native doctors. They often possess great skills and powers to treat people and their methods are often successful.


Years ago, people had the traditional belief that sickness and diseases such as malaria and other misfortunes in life are a result of spiritual forces. These spiritual forces may be some kind of punishment from gods or from their enemies to harm them. Herbalists or native doctors are often called upon in such cases for advise and treatment. The healer often is a priest of some local gods who can understand the gods or spirits and is able to take away the problems for instance by sacrificing a goat or chicken.  

In Ghana for example, the tigare cult is particularly concerned with detecting witchcraft. The herbalist (traditional healer) may also help his patients who are worried, afraid, depressed or unhappy. He may be able to discover causes which are unknown to the patient, he advises about their hopes and fears.

The healer has a great knowledge of all kinds of leaves, fruits, root of trees and juices of plants which can be used medicinally. For example, the dried leaves of the Baobab tree are used to prevent fever and also for dysentery. Onion is a very good treatment for the eyes while mango, orange and guava leaves are a good treatment for malaria fever.

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The African healer may also be able to set broken bones so that they will mend properly. In many parts of Africa today, both traditional and western medicine exist side by side and many people may use either or both kinds of treatment. Every herb is a blessing from god; all are pure and natural for our benefit.