Throughout Africa, there are more traditional healers than trained medical practitioners, according to the book Healing Traditions: African Medicine, Cultural Exchange, and Competition in South Africa, 1820-1948. The traditional healers promote traditional African medicine, a form of holistic health that combines spiritual beliefs and herbalism to treat patients. Because traditional healers are so well-respected and trusted by their communities, many practitioners and followers of westernized medicine believe the healers can play an important role in treating deadly epidemics such as HIV/AIDS among Africans.
Avert.org says that during colonial rule, traditional African medicine was almost eliminated because many disagreed with the medical practice’s belief in witchcraft. However, the traditional form of medicine remains in Africa today and most Africans use it as their health care. In traditional African medicine, healers strive to discover the primary cause of an illness rather than trying to treat all the symptoms. Healers pass on knowledge of traditional medicine from generation to generation.
Herbalism is one of the main methods used to treat various sicknesses in traditional African medicine. Since the continent of Africa has an abundance of herbs and plants from areas such as rain forests, healers use the indigenous flora as treatments. According to livestrong.com, African healers are knowledgeable of which herbs to use, what the herbs treat and how to combine the various herbs and plants to create treatment remedies. When extreme illnesses arise, western medicine usually performs surgery or prescribes antibiotics, but traditional African healers use herbal medicines “for equalizing unbalanced relationships within the social or spiritual order,” said Aone Mokaila in her paper at Drury University’s Interdisciplinary Research Conference. For a full list of typical traditional African herbs and their uses, look at: http://www.herbalremediesworld.com/African-herbal-remedies.html
Spiritual beliefs such as witchcraft affect traditional African medicine.