Growing medicines in home gardens
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CTA. 2007. Growing medicines in home gardens. Rural Radio Resource Pack 07/3. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57188
There are many plants which can be grown in home gardens which can boost the health of families, and provide income.
Growing medicines in home gardens Cue: Many common plants and trees found in Africa have recognised medicinal properties. Many others contain high levels of vitamins and minerals which can protect people?s health against disease. But there is also scepticism and doubt about the value of such plants. Can they really cure sickness, or is it better to buy a medicine from a shop or a clinic? The organisation Action for Natural Medicine was originally set up in the Congo, where health services and provision of medicines in rural areas were seriously affected by the civil war. Commonly known as ANAMED, the organisation trained people in how to use locally available plants to treat common illnesses. There are now ANAMED representatives in numerous countries, not only in Africa. One strategy used to promote the use of medicinal plants is setting up medicinal gardens. These provide planting materials and a venue for training courses, so that local people can reduce their dependence on pharmaceutical drugs and may be able to gain a source of income from growing medicinal plants. Nelson Moyo, head of ANAMED?s medicinal garden in Malawi, spoke to Excello Zidana about the work being done. IN: ?We have got pawpaws, neem, moringa ? OUT: ? thing is for them to be healthy.? DUR?N: 6?41? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: Nelson Moyo, head of Action for Natural Medicine in Malawi, speaking about the benefits of growing medicinal plants in home gardens. The interview comes from a radio resource pack produced by CTA. Transcript Moyo We have got pawpaws, neem, moringa which is called chamwamba in our vernacular and then we have got Artemisia annua. ANAMED would like to get this plant given to as many people as possible to be used for the healing of malaria and again other diseases, because it is an immune booster. We can also use this plant for HIV infection as of today. So what we are doing is we sometimes have the planting materials here and make more of them and we distribute through the organisations that we are working with after seminars; they can get these plants and then they open their own medicinal gardens. Zidana Many people think that using medicines obtained from stores, groceries is more effective than medicines from plants. How do you look at that? Moyo It is not totally true, both sides have got weaknesses and strengths. People should also respect what God is giving them through nature. For example Artemisia, when we use it for malaria people get well after taking Artemisia for 7 days, most people they get well. But I also believe that no two bodies are the same. Somebody may take the same plants and use them, it may not work well for such bodies but it does not mean that the plants cannot be used. Lemongrass, for example; if I have got a fever I take lemongrass tea, I get relieved. So I do not think that is the truth to say that it is only the pharmaceutical medicines that can do better. Zidana You also talked about moringa, the plant that is mostly found along the lakeshores. How good is this tree? Moyo This plant is more nutritional. What we are doing is to tell the people that you have got a lot of worth by having moringa, chamwamba, and then what we are telling them is that they should harvest the leaves, dry them in the shade, pound them and then they can be using these leaves, the powder, they add it to porridge or they add it to their meat during lunch or supper and then they get a lot of vitamins from this plant: vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C, there is again vitamin K, iron, magnesium, zinc and the like; a lot of mineral salts. So by just taking those leaves you are getting a lot of nutrients. Zidana And you also said about pawpaws being very good in terms of treating or curing these common diseases. Tell us more about the pawpaw tree. Moyo Yes the pawpaw plant is really wonderful because the pawpaw leaves can be used for asthma. Let?s say I have got asthma, I would take the young leaves of pawpaw and then I would dry them up. I either make like a cigarette, I smoke and then I feel better now in the air pipes. And then if I do not want to smoke a cigarette, I may just burn these leaves and then when I will be inhaling the smoke I will feel better, if I am asthmatic that is. And if I have got diarrhoea I would also use these same leaves of pawpaw and I just boil one handful of the leaves in 1 litre of water and drink. And the roots of this plant you can use when you have got rheumatism. You take fresh roots and then you just rub on the place that you have got a problem and then it helps. Zidana As a liniment? Moyo Yes it would go that way. And of course the sap from the green pawpaw fruit is good for, if I have got worm infection I would take maybe two tablespoons of the sap, the milk that we have from the green pawpaw. Zidana The white stuff? Moyo Yes of course I do not take off the fruit from the plant I leave it there. I just make incisions and then I get the sap, maybe two tablespoons and I drink this once and I can check again maybe after two weeks I can just drink again. But the worms are going to be paralysed and when I go to the toilet I may pass them out. Zidana Now let?s focus on the environmental aspect. Many traditional healers go out to cut down trees maybe looking for leaves and barks. How do you think this garden will help in terms of conservation of the environment? Moyo This garden, demonstration garden, we tell them how best they can harvest the leaves without cutting the branches off. And again if they wanted the roots, they take the side roots not the tap root because if they take the whole tree down then tomorrow we will not have medication. Like for example again the bark, if they just take the bark from the trunk you know then this plant is not going to live well. Zidana It will die? Moyo It will die. So we say for the bark it would be better to get from the branches because then the food is still going to go to the other branches. So they just take maybe a branch or two branches and then take the bark from there, it could be better. Zidana How are you helping in this epidemic that has come in, the HIV/AIDS pandemic? Moyo We try to get the plants that we know that they are immune boosters and the plants that we know they are nutritional. For example we just talked of chamwamba, Moringa oleifera. This plant, if it would be used in the right way? for example if I am HIV positive I would be getting like 3 tablespoons in the morning, 3 tablespoons afternoon, 3 tablespoons in the evening. If I do that for a month, two months or so I would get most of the nutritional values that I need for my body. And then we have got plants like Artemisia, Aloe vera, these plants they help quite a lot in keeping our immunity well. Zidana Lastly, what would you want Malawi to be in future in terms of the availability of medicinal plants in Malawi and even in the whole region? Moyo Just in general I would like to see that each and every family is having medicinal plants and then know how best can you use this plant and when can you use it. Because there are some plants that we are not supposed to use for example aloe, Aloe vera is not supposed to be used by expectant women but maybe people in the villages may be using that plant and then they may cause a lot of abortions and the like. So organisations should be willing to train these people on how best they can use the plants. In that way their lives are going to be developed. Zidana And what advice can you give to those people in communities where these plants are available but they do not use them? Moyo What I would say is that we should work together, get them trained and then even some of them they can make IGAs, income generating activities. For example chamwamba, they can sell that leaf. With this HIV infection people need a lot of that, so they may sell. Or they can be using it, because the first thing is for them to be healthy. End of track.