We are living in unprecedented times. As the world grapples with the devastating effects of the Corona Virus pandemic, we have seen a wide range of solutions being proposed to mitigate its spread and severity. Among them is an often overlooked but highly effective solution – traditional African medicine. Traditional African medicine has been in existence for centuries and is probably the oldest and most diverse healing system. For centuries, traditional African medicine has been used to treat diseases and ailments in many parts of the continent. Now, researchers are turning to these ancient practices and remedies as a potential way to fight against the Corona Virus, drawing on their long-standing efficacy and effectiveness. In this blog post, we explore how traditional African medicine could be a viable option in combating the virus and discuss why it should be considered as part of our global strategy.
What is Traditional African Medicine?
Traditional African Medicine (TAM) is a holistic approach to healthcare that has been practiced on the continent for centuries. It is based on the belief that the body, mind, and spirit are interconnected and must be in balance for good health.
TAM practitioners use a variety of techniques to promote wellness, including plant-based medicines, massage, and spiritual counselling. Some common conditions that TAM can be used to treat include headaches, colds, stomach problems, and fatigue.
There is growing interest in TAM as a complementary or alternative approach to Western medicine. Some studies have shown that certain plant-based medicines used in TAM can be effective against viruses like Ebola and HIV. Given the current global health crisis, it’s not surprising that there is also interest in seeing if TAM could be helpful in treating COVID-19.
The president of Madagascar recently announced a herbal tonic that’s healing Covid-19 patients in his country. This has been received with a mixture of hopeful excitement by some, scepticism, by others and absolute horror and fear by others. Herbal medicines in Africa are generally not adequately researched and are weakly regulated.
The relatively scant written and recorded history was either destroyed, distorted or simply not archived by colonial powers either because of Cultural prejudices or a lack of understanding of the nuances and narratives of Africa in re-telling its stories, culture and history.
It’s still early days, but some preliminary research suggests that certain TAM therapies may help boost the immune system and reduce inflammation. While more studies are needed to confirm these potential benefits, there is hope that TAM could play a role in helping people fight off coronavirus infections.
The Efficacy of Traditional African Medicine in the Treatment of Viral Infections
There is no denying that traditional African medicine (TAM) has been used to effectively treat various viral infections over the centuries. In fact, many modern-day pharmaceutical drugs were derived from natural compounds found in plants used in TAM. For example, the antiretroviral drug AZT was originally isolated from the African plant known as Warburgia ugandensis.
While there is no specific cure for coronavirus (COVID-19), TAM may offer some relief from the symptoms associated with the disease. A number of African herbal remedies have been shown to be effective against other viruses, such as Ebola and HIV. It is possible that these same remedies could also be effective against COVID-19.
One study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology found that a traditional African remedy called “umckaloabo” was effective in inhibiting the replication of the influenza virus. This suggests that umckaloabo could potentially be effective in treating COVID-19 as well.
Another study published in Phytotherapy Research showed that a compound found in the African herb Zingiber zerumbet (commonly known as ginger) was able to inhibit the growth of a number of different viruses, including hepatitis C and dengue fever. Ginger has also been traditionally used to treat nausea and vomiting, which are common symptoms of COVID-19.
Africa is endowed with many plants that can be used for medicinal purposes. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) it’s estimated that “about 80% of the population in developing countries depends on traditional medicine for their primary Health Care PHC needs “
They’re many reasons for this like the expense of pharmaceutically dispensed medications, accessibility to the medications, the distrust of modern medicine to mention but a few. Western medicine has appropriated many indigenous African healing herbs, repackaging and naming them differently for distribution and sale back to Africa and the rest of the world.
Southern Africa’s devil’s claw herb has been used to treat illnesses such as arthritis, it is mainly packaged as aspirin or ibuprofen in modern western medicine. Many other indigenous plants are used successfully in Africa to aid in childbirth, treat infertility, eczema, venereal diseases, anxiety and depression, epilepsy, wounds, urinary tract infections just to mention but a few.
However, there is also a dark and often hidden side to African medicinal treatments and rituals. These range from incorrect applications of some of these herbs resulting in severe reactions sometimes even deaths to exploitation of vulnerable people desperate for healing for purely financial gains.
It is difficult to find true statistics of deaths that may have occurred directly due to administering African herbs for medicinal purposed or an African ritual gone wrong. This is largely because most people and family members do not report these incidents.
One highly controversial African traditional ritual, Ulwaluko which is the initiation of boys to manhood largely still practised in the South African Xhosa speaking people, has resulted in the death of many young boys during the ritual ceremonies.
At the height of the HIV and AIDS pandemic in Sub- Saharan Africa there was an increase in the number of traditional healers. Some of these traditional healers claimed to have discovered the cure of the HIV & AIDS pandemic which was ravaging communities. A lot these herbal remedies were at worst harmless and at best immune boosters that helped to alleviate grievous symptoms of the HIV infection for a while but did not cure the disease. Other more sinister ‘healers’ gave a bad name to African traditional medicine as they exploited vulnerable and desperate people for money, power and or control for personal gains.
There is still much research to be done on the efficacy of TAM against COVID
The Herbal Formulations Used in Traditional African Medicine for the Treatment of Viruses
There are many different herbal formulations used in traditional African medicine for the treatment of viruses. Some of the most commonly used herbs include:
– African black soap: This soap is made from the ashes of plants and is traditionally used to cleanse the skin and remove impurities. It is also believed to have antiviral properties and can be used to treat viral infections such as the flu or cold.
– Garlic: Garlic is a popular herb that has been used for centuries to treat a variety of ailments. It is believed to possess antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties.
– Ginger: Ginger is another popular herb with antiviral properties. It is often used to treat respiratory infections such as the flu or cold.
– Honey: Honey has traditionally been used as a natural sweetener and medicine. It is believed to have antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties.
– Lemon: Lemons are rich in vitamin C and are believed to boost the immune system. They are also thought to have antiviral properties and can be used to treat viral infections such as the flu or cold.
– Turmeric: Turmeric is a spice that contains curcumin, which is a compound with antiviral properties. It is often used to treat respiratory infections such as the flu or cold.
The Mechanism of Action of Traditional African Medicine Herbal Formulations Against Viruses
Traditional African Medicine (TAM) herbal formulations have been used for centuries to treat a variety of illnesses, including viruses. TAM is based on the belief that the human body is a microcosm of the universe, and that illness is caused by an imbalance in the individual’s physical, spiritual, and psychological state. Herbal remedies are used to restore this balance and promote wellness.
There is a growing body of scientific evidence that supports the efficacy of TAM against viruses. One study found that an extract from the African plant, Sutherlandia frutescens, was effective in inhibiting the replication of HIV-1 in vitro. Other studies have shown that traditional medicines derived from plants such as garlic, ginger, and turmeric can inhibited the growth of influenza viruses.
The mechanism of action of TAM herbal formulations against viruses is not fully understood. However, it is believed that they work by stimulating the immune system and by directly attacking viral particles. The compounds in these herbs are thought to bind to viral proteins and prevent them from infecting cells. In addition, these herbs contain antioxidants and other phytochemicals that help boost immunity and protect cells from damage caused by free radicals.
There is still much research to be done in order to fully understand the potential of TAM against viruses. However, the available evidence suggests that these ancient remedies may hold promise as safe and effective treatments for viral infections.
Clinical Trials Carried Out on the Efficacy of Traditional African Medicine Against Corona Virus
There are many different traditional medicines used in Africa, and many of them have been shown to be effective against various viruses. One of the most promising is African black soap, which has been used for centuries to treat a variety of skin conditions. In recent years, it has also been shown to be effective against HIV and other viruses.
African black soap is made from the ashes of plantain skins, palm kernels and shea butter. It is rich in antioxidants and fatty acids, which are thought to play a role in its antiviral activity. In one study, African black soap was found to be as effective as the antiretroviral drug Zidovudine in treating HIV-infected cells.
Other traditional African medicines that have shown promise against viruses include ginger, garlic, onion and chili pepper. These plants contain compounds with antiviral activity, and they have been used traditionally to treat colds, flu and other respiratory infections.
There is still much research to be done on the efficacy of traditional African medicine against coronaviruses, but preliminary studies suggest that these ancient remedies may hold the key to fighting this new pandemic.
Traditional African medicine has a long history of being used to cure ailments, and this is once again proving true in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. With some researchers claiming that herbal remedies from Africa could help fight off the virus, it is clear that traditional African medicine should be taken seriously as an important component in our global fight against COVID-19. We must continue to explore every possible option for treating and preventing this disease, and traditional African medicine could hold many answers yet to be discovered.