Herbal medicine has always been a flip-side to cure when typical therapies with modern medicines fail in most African countries. Traditionally after a very long battle with an ailment under modern therapy, the patient my attempt treatment from herbalist. Most of the time, these herbalists offer a way out of their disease. This has always left unanswered questions to whether modern medicines are superior in comparison to herbal remedy.
Before western civilization Africans relied on herbal medicine which worked in treating a number of common illnesses. Some African communities still use herbal medicines to date. Herbal cure is as old as humanity and has been passed from one generation to another in different cultures across the globe. Chinese herbal medicines are one of the greatest herbal structures of the world with constant tradition going back to the 3rd century BC. Through research and new technology, herbal medicines throughout history have continually developed in response to changing clinical conditions. Modern medicines have since been an alternative to herbal medicine until recently when people are slowly shifting back to herbal.
So far things have changed due to lifestyle disorders, where many take modern medicine without success. Supplements keep changing from time to time but once tried the patient will always say, “I need something better” at this point herbal medicine could play complimentary roles in healing process although most people will shift to herbal medicine fully which sometimes miscarry.
From time to time herbalists have always faced the law in some countries for selling medicine that is suspected not to cure certain ailments. For instance herbalists have once been busted selling the same medicine in different packaging with indications for different diseases. There is no specific law for most herbalists although mostly their practice is not integrated into healthcare systems. The herbs are readily available and known and thus herbal medicines are sold without restrictions or limitations.
One problem that is facing herbalists is the storage conditions of their herbs. Most herbalists will move with their herbs, prepared well and packaged in containers or tubes for marketing. The medications are handled carelessly and usually left lying over the sun for several hours which general knowledge dictates that exposure to sunlight will reduce the potency of a drug or medicine.
It has not been known to cause any side effects and this is one advantage of herbal medicine, a “Maasai” (community in east Africa well known for using herbal medicines) will always walk with his jerry-can of refined herb which treats virtually almost everything. This has always raised eyebrows but to the Maasai herbalist he believes he believes he is able to handle a case that a hospital cannot handle.
With proper training through universities, pharmacognosy can replace modern medicine and if included in the act of most healthcare organization it can be better complimentary to modern medicine.