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close this bookTraditional Medicinal Plants (Dar Es Salaam University Press - Ministry of Health - Tanzania, 1991, 391 p.)
View the documentSession I
View the documentSession II
View the documentSession III
View the documentSession IV
View the documentSession V
View the documentSession VI
View the documentSpecial Session of Traditional Herbs
View the documentClosing Session

Session VI

Chairman: Prof. Koumare
Rapporteur: Prof. A. S. Elmi


Dr. Waane's paper was on the cultural context of using traditional medicine. It covered such aspects as life on the planet, attitude when in trouble (turning to nature for help), and the three operational spheres of household: home, region, and wilderness. The traditional medicinal plants and other medical practices are but natural associations of the human race. He stressed on the need for total cooperation and collaboration between the two medical systems.

Dr. E. Njau gave the history of the development and commercialization of drugs from natural sources, e.g., morphine in the 18th century. He pointed out that the development of a modern drug, which is patented, is exceedingly costly, while, on the other hand, traditional drugs cannot be easily patented, and are less expensive in general. He stressed that our chances of protecting our traditional medicinal products with the existing legislation, are rather remote.

Dr. E. Dagne gave a brief account of the medicinal plant sale in the local market in Ethiopia. He argued that identification of the samples is difficult in such cases. Nevertheless pharmacological studies showed their medicinal values. For example, Taverniera abyssinica, was shown to be biologically active. In another study some anthraquinones were separated from Aloes.

Prof. A. S. Elmi expressed that the use and acceptance of medicinal plants in Somalia is wide but varied. In 1977 Somalia started the systematic evaluation of the medicinal plants, but experience showed that it was not a very satisfactory way of carrying out the studies; so a more direct approach was applied, which was the application and use as per traditional healer methods, after the toxicity studies had been carried out. There is also a mechanism of passing on information to the healers.

Dr. F. Mbenkum et al., elaborated on the situation in Cameroon. He gave a detailed description of the study of traditional medicinal plants grown in Korup area, Cameroon, and described the inventory of the medicinal plants of the area. There is a Herbarium based on the medicinal plants of the Korup area and the traditional medicines of the area are equivalent to the common drugs.

Mr. R.L.A. Mahunnah expressed the importance of ethnobotany and conservation of medicinal plants. Ethnobotany is much more than names of the plants for it gives information about all the characteristics of the plants as far as possible.

Prof. Kofi-Tsepo presented Prof. Akerele's paper which stressed the importance of the following:

(a) the need for registration and the establishment of associations;
(b) listing of the herbal remedies used in each country, and
(c) establishment of safety laws.

Prof. K. E. Mshigeni gave a detailed account of the use of seaweeds in medicine and pharmacy. He elaborated on the potential of seaweeds, including the possibility of enhancing seaweed biomass production through farming. He also reported that is extensive research going on to screen seaweeds for new drugs. The Third World as a whole should look into the neglected seaweed resources.

Dr. J. Bacon gave an account on studies of the Lippia javanica and Harpogophtum procumbens, medicinal plants of Botswana, from which a number of compounds were reported. The grapple plant is marketed in the area. He stressed on the need to produce such drugs locally, rather than to re-import the material at very high cost.

Mr. C.K. Mutayabarwa reported on the anti-epileptic properties of the essential oil of Hyptis suaveolens, which consisted of 60 components. The activity is due to the collective action of the oil.

Dr. R. Tokarski gave an elaborate video programme of the cultivation, production and final processing of medicinal plants on industrial scale in Brazil.

Prof. M.R. Khan reported on the testing of medicinal plants for their antibacterial properties, and also on the phytochemistry of over 200 plants used in Tanzania.

Mrs. J.A. Aluoch reported on the use of medicinal plants in the treatment of bronchial asthma. The work had been done by a traditional healer, and was confirmed by a modern clinician.

Dr. N. Koita reported on his comparative study of the medicinal plant Cassia occidentalis and chloroquine, on two groups of patients suffering from malaria.

Dr. K. Ikhiri gave a report on his country's activities in the field of traditional medicine. There were 400 medicinal plants, out of which 200 were studied. Some of the plants were used against dysentery and diabetes in Niger.


Dr. Rwangabo (Rwanda) wanted to know from Dr. Koita if any other studies had been done before the clinical trials, and how ethical problems had been dealt with. He responded that no laboratory studies had been conducted. They were dependent on the traditional use. Patients had been consulted before the treatment. No placebo was used.

Dr. Kofi said he appreciated the work by Mr. Mutayabarwa for his antiepileptic study. He also made a general comment to the traditional healers, requesting them to inform the other participants on how they control their dosages.

Prof. Mwaluko directed a question to Mrs. Aluoch, asking her to elaborate on the mode of administration and efficacy of the reported remedy. This was particularly important since the disease is chronic. He also asked for an elaboration on the duration of the follow up.

Mrs Aluoch responded that the route of administration was through intranasal for one of the drugs, and oral for the other two. The attack on a sixteen year old patient has not recurred since 1987.

Prof. Abondo asked Prof. Akerele to comment why the list of countries in his paper embraced only the English speaking states. The response was that the information collected had emanated from an English speaking workshop. For the Francophone a similar workshop will be held in 1990.

Dr. Vongo pointed out that scientists should exchange information with the healers on collecting the plants, and on the results of their research, e.g. toxicity.

Mr. Twalib asked Mr. Mutayabarwa whether any cost elements had been studied with regards to his plant. Mr. Mutayabarwa responed that the study was still continuing and that the costs would be looked into.

Dr. Upunda re-stressed the need for using appropriate terminology.

Dr. Estrella commended Dr. Koita for their paper on the treatment of malaria. He was happy that he now knew two new plants for treating malaria.

Dr. Tokarski stressed the importance of proper eating habits for good health, especially where traditional medicinal plants play a part. The comment was also supported by Dr. Bracho. Dr. Tokarski further explained the pricing system in Brazil and what they had done to help the local people use the home remedies.

Dr. Caceres made a general comment on his visit. He had no intention of insulting anyone, but his aim was to come and try to bring cultures together, share experiences, find means of joining people to have a common front, so that we have our plant resources available for everyone.

Ms. Zahra M. Nuru (Chairperson of the Conference) said Dr. Cacere's paper would be included in the proceedings. The Conference was designed to cover scientists, traditional healers, policy makers, and enterpreneurs, so that the gap existing between modern and traditional medicinemen could be bridged, and appropriate recommendations and resolutions could be made by all the participants, collectively.