"Natural History and African Traditional Medicine" is an amazing example of a paper on social and family issues. The term ‘ Traditional Medicine’ or TAM as it is popularly known is a set of traditional practices and bodies of medical knowledge that dominated the medical world prior to the emergence of modern medicine. Traditional Medicine practiced in the bygone period depended mainly on herbs and botanical means and was used extensively to cure aliments and render health. However, in the present-day also the use of traditional medicine can increasingly be observed in developing nations like Africa.
The modern scientific world regards traditional medical practice as ‘ Alternative ‘ medical practice. The traditional medical practice also reflects the historical development of different societies and cultures in the scientific front. The World Health Organization has given due importance to the body of traditional medical practice in stating that ‘ traditional medicine’ has the capacity of curing chronic ailments like Tuberculosis, AIDS, and Malaria. (Daniels) Natural history and traditional medicine are gradually gaining significant roles in modern society in being able to cure potential ailments. The Practice of Traditional Medicine in Africa The practice of traditional medicine earned dominance in the cure of ailments of both humans and animals in the bygone periods.
Modern human society in Africa like their ancestors is also dependent on the set of traditional medical methods for curing a large number of ailments. The practice of traditional medicine in Africa is observed to be an interrelated network of psychological and biological factors. It takes into account the mental and physical conditions of the patient who is to be administered by traditional medicine. The practice of traditional medicine is observed to depend largely on herbal means.
However, in some cases, traditional medicine also depends on non-herbal resources like animal products for making drugs. The practice of traditional medicine earns chief contrast to the practice of modern conventional medicine. The conventional approach to medical science depends on a wide body of experiments and observes any ailment as the fallout of a viral attack on the biological system. The traditional approach on the other hand seeks to understand the individual as a specific spiritual entity. Moreover, the traditional approach is also observed to take resort to activities like ‘ witchcraft’ to evade away from the entry of foreign materials in the physical body.
Traditional medicine thus takes into account the social and psychological factors while analyzing the treatment to be offered to an individual. This approach taken by traditional medicine makes it stand apart from the approach taken by modern scientific medicine which depends more on experimentation. The African population is increasingly observed to depend on the traditional medical approach for firstly they are easily accessible and secondly for being highly economical.
(Traditional Medical Practices) Traditional medical practice in Africa is not only restricted to herbal and animal means. It is rather found that several other healing techniques like traditional massaging, making the patients fast other medical conditions and special radiant techniques are also encompassed other African traditional medicine. The region of Africa is resplendent with several socio-cultural groups intermingling with each other. Henceforth, the traditional medical practice shaped by the people of different regions earns due complexity and diversity and becomes cannot be easily generalized. (Africa’ s Tradition of Herbal Medicine). African Traditional Medicine in curing AIDS Global bodies like the World Health Organization and the United Nations increasingly observe that the traditional health care system has the potential to combat fatal and chronic diseases like AIDS.
In fact, it is observed by the global bodies that African doctors through the use of traditional medical means greatly help in the curing of the disease which is still a challenging task for modern scientific medicine. The use of traditional medicine helps in enhancing the potency of the immune system of the AIDS patient which helps the individual to revive easily.
Estimates show that around 80 percent of the people residing in Africa take resort to traditional medicines for getting cured of the ailments. In the course of reducing the propensity of the African population to fall prey to the AIDS virus the traditional healthcare systems in Africa focus on the curing of Sexually Transmitted Diseases. It is observed by the traditional doctors that Sexually Transmitted Diseases are the main carriers of the AIDS virus. Hence curing such would steadily prevent the incidence of AIDS (Daniels). The Traditional Medical approach in Africa-A Western Outlook In drawing a comparison between the traditional medical approach and the modern scientific approach taken in healthcare in western countries a case of the Yoruba healing technique is mentioned.
The medical approach taken in the Yoruba region of Africa earns a traditional significance for its endeavors to mingle the different factors pertaining to religion, culture, and society. The above factors are combined with the health measures taken to provide a holistic outlook to the healthcare system. The Yoruba medical practice in the African region bears strong significance to western healthcare practices.
It is found that the medical approach taken in Yoruba like the western medical system relies on external power for curing the ailment. Yoruba relies on the supernatural powers of the Supreme while westerners on the power of science. More specifically it is observed that the traditional medical approach taken in Yoruba like the western approach takes resort to continuous training and evaluation before rendering the certificate for independent practice. Further, the traditional medical methods practiced in the region of Yoruba like the western approach greatly depend on information gathered through experiments.
Global health bodies like the World Health Organization are increasingly recognizing the advantages of the Traditional Healthcare system practiced in the African region. It is observed that the traditional healthcare system earns considerable popularity in the African region for not only being tied to the African culture but in being highly economical with respect to the poor African population. Moreover, the approaches taken by the government of Nigeria in establishing a Medical Council which would take care of the traditional healthcare system is observed as a further step to render solidarity to the traditional medical system.
Traditional healthcare institutions are also being increasingly promoted in other African regions to help produce more medical practitioners versed in such methods. (Olson & Nkiwane 2, 7-10) The medicines developed in the traditional healthcare system increasingly depend on the natural resources pertaining to the wide variety of flora and fauna. In the context of Africa, the practice of the traditional healthcare system not only incorporates the medical approach but also takes into account the values of different cultures and society.
The traditional medical approach in the African region also depends on the religious ideals of the country and identifies the human body as an embodiment of the heavenly spirit. Thus in total, the traditional medical approach can be observed as a composite body of knowledge rather than only based on scientific virtues. However, the modern contemporary world views the traditional approach as a sedentary body based on witchcraft and other such illusory measures. To this end, it is viewed that traditional medical practice in the African region has successfully countered the western outlook.
The World Health Organization observes that the traditional medicines used in Africa have the power to reduce the propensity of diseases like AIDS. Further, the traditional medical system in Africa increasingly supports the cause of organizing proper training and evaluation measures to render potency to the healthcare system. The government of different African regions like Nigeria and Zimbabwe is endeavoring to establish institutions and administrative bodies to reduce flaws in the medical system.
1. Daniels, Ugo. “Traditional Medicine in Africa: A Viewpoint”. 2007. December 17, 2010 from
2. “Traditional Medical Practices”, unep.org. n.d. December 17, 2010 from
3. “Africa’s Tradition of Herbal Medicine”, helpfulherbalist, 2010, December 17, 2010 from
4. Olson, Jessica & Solomon Nkiwane. “Integrate for Efficiency: Traditional Yoruba Medicine in Nigeria”. 2006, December 17, 2010 from