Medicinal Plants from Tropical Africa
Senegal — Uniterra
A few weeks ago, I had the chance to meet the organizers of an ANAMED Course that took place in the Keur Moussa Monastery, not very far from Thies (Senegal), the city where I am living and working as a CECI volunteer this year. I could not take the complete course, but I was there for the preparation, a little part of the first class and I had the chance to read many of their materials. ANAMED (Action For Natural Medicine in The Tropics) is a German organization that works in promoting the use of medicinal plants all through the Tropics, mainly Africa but also Asia and Latin America. The organisation was founded on 1986 in Congo. In 1994 ANAMED international became registered as a charitable trust in Germany.
At the beginning of the course, the teacher made a point in defining natural medicine: a practice based in the use of medicinal plants and other local resources such as honey, ashes, salts, etc. It integrates the best characteristics of modern medicine (the cleanliness, the correct dosages, a scientific approach based in the active principles of plants and their properties) and traditional medicine (the integrated approach, the adaptation to local resources). They promote the use of species that grow in the area, and of making their own materials for drying (solar ovens), measuring (homemade scales) and conserving leaves, roots and flowers. Also, they teach how to elaborate soaps with oils, creams with wax and shea butter, how to purify water with moringa seed, how to make oral rehydration salts, and they even suggests veterinary and phytosanitary products.
With time, the team have developed a variety of Artemisia called Artemisia annua anamed, which is very useful in the prevention and treatment of malaria. It has been used in Chinese traditional medicine for many millennia and for a variety of ailments with great results.
Anamed courses and documents provide very useful information in treatments of common disease, specifically for places that don’t have access to doctors or where people cannot afford modern remedies. They teach about alternatives to buying expensive drugs, vitamins and supplements that may be made in other continents, but in many cases, elaborated with parts of plants that grow in the backyard of the same person that will spend a big sum on an imported product.
I have always been interested in natural medicine, I took courses and attended conferences in Argentina and Canada plus I read many books on the subject. I agree that a correct alimentation and good life habits alone can prevent a big deal of diseases and problems. When I meet the ANAMED organisers in an agriculture workshop, I was immediately interested in their work! Moreover, the Monastery is close to where I live, so I could visit a few times, talk to the Brother in charge of the Medicinal Plant Garden and try some of the teas and oils that they were using.
There is a lot of information in their website (anamed.org/en) and they sell many of their materials online. But just to give an idea, here I wrote a list of the five plants most used and the disease that they treat. For curious people, there are workshops, books and a Web Site! There are many more species and detailed information on the treatments.
Next time you feel a little sick, think about the vegetation that grows everywhere, the remedy may be closer than you think!
Five Important Plants in Natural Medicine in Tropical Africa
1-Garlic (Allium sativum)
Diseases: Reinforces immunity system, reduces cholesterol, fight against microbes, cough, colds and sore throat, sinus, headache, diabetes, malaria, hypertension, tooth pain, insects bites, closed abscess
Treatment: Raw, honey with garlic, garlic oil, garlic tincture
2-Artemisia (Artemisia annua anamed)
Diseases: Malaria, bilharzias, bronchitis, cancer, candida, fever, cold, hemorrhoids, intestinal affections, scabies, abscess
Treatment: Teas and decoctions
3-Neem (Azadirachta indica)
Diseases: Tooth care, skin care, ulcers, scabies, burns, candida, malaria
Treatment: Oils, baths, creams, soaps
4-Papaya (Carica papaya)
Diseases: Intestinal problems, indigestion, cough, asthma, diarrhea, malaria, wounds, mycoses
Treatment: Sap, leaves, soap
5-Moringa (Moringa oleifera)
Diseases: Diabetes, stomach problems, scabies, tooth ache, injuries, infected ganglions, cold, rheumatisms, vertigo
Artemisia field near Thies
The gardens in the Keur Moussa Monastery
Trees and gardens in the Keur Moussa Monastery