Medicinal Plants of South Africa, by Ben-Erik van Wyk, Bosch van Oudtshoorn and Nigel Gericke

Medicinal Plants of South Africa, by Ben-Erik van Wyk, Bosch van Oudtshoorn and Nigel Gericke. Briza Publications. 2nd Edition Pretoria, South Africa 2009. ISBN 9781875093373 / ISBN 978-1-875093-37-3

Medicinal Plants of South Africa, by Ben-Erik van Wyk, Bosch van Oudtshoorn and Nigel Gericke. Briza Publications. 2nd Edition Pretoria, South Africa 2009. ISBN 9781875093373 / ISBN 978-1-875093-37-3

Despite considerable efforts over the last decade, there is still a lack of detailed documentation on the use of many of the medicinal plants in South Africa. This is an urgent priority in view of the fragility of oral-tradition knowledge, and the rapid pace of urbanisation and acculturation in this country. Ben-Erik van Wyk, Bosch van Oudtshoorn and Nigel Gericke believe that with official support, formal documentation, research and systematisation, the beneficial practices of Africa's indigenous systems of medicine will one day claim their rightful place among the great healing traditions of the world.

Bosch van Oudtshoorn  Nigel Gericke  Ben-Erik van Wyk  

Cultural aspects of healing

South Africa is blessed with a rich cultural diversity which is reflected in the formal and informal systems of medicine that are presently practised in different parts of the country. The informal oral-tradition medical systems of the Khoi-San peoples, the Nguni and the Sotho-speaking peoples have not yet been svstematised, and are passed on by word of mouth from one generation to the next. These medical systems and their herbal, animal and mineral materia medica have ancient origins which may date back to palaeolithic times. The formal systems of medicine, which are well documented and svstematised, were introduced to the country over the last three hundred years by European and other settlers, and are exemplified by today's modern Western medicine, also called Western biomedicine or allopathic medicine. Ayurvedic medicine from India, Traditional Chinese Medicine and homoeopathic medicine are also commonly practised in South Africa.

Similarities betweeen medice systems

Each system of medicine is the art and science of diagnosing the cause of disease, treating diseases, and maintaining health in the broadest sense of physical, spiritual, social and psychological well-being. Each culture has found solutions to the preventive, promotive and curative aspects of health that resonate in harmony with the world view of that culture. Western medicine may diagnose a disease in terms of a bacterial infection, for example, and treat that infection effectively with antibiotics. An African traditional healer will seek to understand why the patient became ill in the first place, and the treatment administered will address the perceived cause, usually in addition to specific therapies to alleviate the signs and symptoms of the condition.

Traditional healing in South Africa

There are an estimated 200 000 indigenous traditional healers in South Africa, and up to 60% of South Africans consult these healers, usually in addition to using modern biomedical services. Traditional healers in South Africa are most commonly known as "inyanga" and "isangoma" (Zulu; plural: "izinyanga" and "izangoma"), "ixwele" and "amaquira" (Xhosa), "nqaka" (Sotho), "bossiedokter" and "kruiedokter" (Western and Northern Cape). The terms "inyanga" and "san-goma" used to refer exclusively to herbalist and diviner respectively, but in modern times the distinction has become blurred, with some healers practising both arts. In addition to the herbalists and diviners who are believed to be spiritually empowered, there are traditional birth attendants, prophets, spiritual healers (Zulu: "abathandazi"), spirit mediums, intuitives and dreamers. Most elderly folk in rural areas have a knowledge of herbal lore, and function as first-aid healers with a family repertoire of herbal remedies or "kruierate".

The future

Indigenous systems of medicine are dynamic and adaptive, although firmly rooted in the traditions of the past. This can be seen in the incorporation ot introduced medicinal herbs such as liquorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra; Zulu: "mlomo-mnandi") and calamus root (Acorns calamus; Zulu: "ikalarmm") into the materia medica, the use of modern medicines by some indigenous healers, and the keen interest in modern Primary Health are training programmes expressed by modern traditional healers' associations. This dynamism suggests that with appropriate official support and recognition, traditional medicine will survive well into the next century, strengthened by modern science, not subsumed by it. [...]

This is an excerpt from the guide: Medicinal Plants of South Africa, by Ben-Erik van Wyk, Bosch van Oudtshoorn and Nigel Gericke.

Title: Medicinal Plants of South Africa
Author: Ben-Erik van Wyk; Bosch van Oudtshoorn; Nigel Gericke
Publisher: Briza Publications
2nd Edition. Pretoria, South Africa 2009
ISBN 9781875093373 / ISBN 978-1-875093-37-3
Hardcover, 17 x 24 cm, 336 pages, distribution maps, 500 colour photographs

van Wyk, Ben-Erik und van Oudtshoorn, Bosch und Gericke, Nigel im Namibiana-Buchangebot

People’s Plants: A Guide to Useful Plants of Southern Africa

People’s Plants: A Guide to Useful Plants of Southern Africa

In People’s Plants: A Guide to Useful Plants of Southern Africa traditional and contemporary uses of more than 700 plants are described and illustrated.

Cut flowers of the world

Cut flowers of the world

Cut Flowers of the World describes and illustrates more than 330 different species of commercially important flowers, foliages and potted flowers.

Mind-altering and poisonous plants of the world

Mind-altering and poisonous plants of the world

This book introduces to the better known poisonous and mind-altering plants of the world.

Food plants of the world

Food plants of the world

Food Plants of the World is a comprehensive overview of the plants that provide us with food, beverages, spices and flavours.

Medicinal plants of the world

Medicinal plants of the world

Medicinal Plants of the World is a comprehensive and scientifically accurate guide to the best-known and most important medicinal plants, including those of special commercial or historical interest.

Mesembs of the world

Mesembs of the world

This is a well-illustrated, easy-to-read guide of all the 123 mesembs genera that are currently recognised worldwide.

Photo Guide to Trees of Southern Africa

Photo Guide to Trees of Southern Africa

An invaluable identification and reference guide to 300 of the more common tree species in Southern Africa

Muthi and Myths from the African Bush

Muthi and Myths from the African Bush

52 compelling tales that lead on a journey of discovery of African plant mythology and its associated healing practices

Guide to the Aloes of South Africa

Guide to the Aloes of South Africa

A wonderful guide to all 155 species aloes found in the South African field and in gardens.

Guide to Garden Succulents

Guide to Garden Succulents

Scientifically accurate photographic guide for gardeners and horticulturalist to easily identify commonly used species of succulents

People’s Plants. A Guide to Useful Plants of Southern Africa

People’s Plants. A Guide to Useful Plants of Southern Africa

Traditional and contemporary uses of more than 650 plants in Southern Africa are described and illustrated

Medicinal plants of South Africa

Medicinal plants of South Africa

Medicinal plants are an important aspect of the daily lives of many people and an important part of the South African cultural heritage.