What African medicine can teach us

What African medicine can teach us

African medicine has been around for millennia. It is an indigenous set of healthcare practices that lie outside of the mainstream healthcare system. It is used extensively in sub-Saharan Africa, yet very little research and publications exist on the topic. A large portion of the population, especially in South Africa, relies on traditional medicine to maintain their health and treat a variety of symptoms or diseases.

African medicine includes local herbal remedies or products, indigenous healthcare practices, as well as imported alternative practices, such as acupuncture. It plays a major role in local economies; African medicine contributes just under R3-billion to the South African economy every year.

African medicine is still relevant around the world

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that 80% of the emerging world’s population relies on traditional medicine for their well-being. Studies conducted in Germany and Canada have shown that around 70% of their populations have even tried traditional remedies at least once. This shows the significance of the practices and knowledge that have been refined over thousands of years, for the international community.

African medicine has been developed through trial and error and the most effective remedies have been passed from generation to generation. Modern medicine can trace its roots back to these practices and many new pharmaceutical products are still developed from natural sources. African medicine has a lot to teach us, is completely relevant in today’s society and is actively encouraged by the WHO.

Traditional medicine takes advantage of synergy

Plants often contain mixtures of chemicals and compounds, also known as phytochemicals. These compounds may act individually, additively or in synergy with one another to improve health. Several chemicals work together to produce a combined effect that treats symptoms and ailments in a holistic way. This is unlike conventional drugs, which often contain only one or two chemicals.

Herbal remedies also have a vast amount of secondary metabolites that work in harmony with the main chemical compounds. These metabolites can minimise undesired side effects and stabilise the major compounds. African medicine shows the power of synergy and its advantages for treating various ailments. Many pharmacological medicines have been developed using multiple compounds that work together for a well-rounded treatment.

Traditional treatments go beyond herbal remedies

African medicine is not just about herbal remedies and natural healing; it goes beyond that. Traditional healers treat patients holistically; they include emotional and social treatments that can benefit mental health and community relationships, unlike medical doctors who only treat the disease or injury. Traditional healers often act as intermediaries between the living and the dead, connecting patients with their ancestors and restoring harmony within the soul. 

These practices are important to people looking for more than medication. They have a psychological impact that can help with healing. The emotional link between sickness and the state of mind is something often considered by traditional healers. This approach could be highly effective in Western medicine, but is often overlooked.

The role of African medicine in modern life

Traditional healing practices are highly relevant today. There is growing support for traditional medicine and its role in well-being and healthcare. It is possible for African medicine to be used in conjunction with Western healthcare to improve the overall health and well-being of patients.

The two disciplines can work together when it comes to developing new medications and taking a holistic approach to healing. Traditional healers can also play a role in monitoring contagious diseases and outbreaks, such as COVID-19. They are already a trusted source of health information and treatment, and can be an important tool for combatting Africa’s major diseases. 

Western medicine can learn much from traditional practices, and vice versa. Many traditional healers are already incorporating the standards and many practices of Western medicine into their own healing methods. This gives many people a chance to utilise the best of both worlds when it comes to healing.



To learn more about African medicines and traditional plant-based remedies, please do not hesitate to contact us. Source of Health is a manufacturer of Traditional African Medicines under the brand Isiphethu Sempilo. We use biomedicine processes to create herbal remedies, combined with scientific methods to ensure the finest quality and trustworthy herbal extracts.


Source of Health offers a range of herbal products that are effective as natural remedies for pain, depression, illnesses and more. The use of medicinal plants as part of traditional African healthcare is one of the oldest and most assorted of all therapeutic systems. It has been used through the ages to maintain health, as well as to prevent, diagnose, improve or treat physical and mental illnesses.


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