African traditionell medicine today

Africa is an entire continent with many different tribes, religions and norms. African culture and its traditional medicine have a long oral tradition. In this it differs significantly from cultures such as India and China, which can all look back on a long written tradition.

Medicines from Africa are therefore not valued enough, I think. Since we have no written sources, we can e.g. no longer judge whether a plant originally comes from India or Africa. We will definitely give preference to the written source. That is why this course also takes into account plants that do not have their historical roots in Africa, but are common there.

There are no generally binding standards in African folk medicine. Each tribe has its own tradition, so naturopathy is elusive and can easily be misused.


There are three aspects to be observed:

  1. Folk medicine. From early childhood, natural remedies have been used for family treatment, often with astonishing success. The knowledge about it is passed on from one generation to the next. Knowledge is also imparted within the tribes, it is free and not secret, but freely available.
  2. The medicine of traditional healers. The traditional healer helps with difficult medical problems. He also usually learned his knowledge in the family, but he keeps it secret and does not make it freely available. His practices are in the context of African natural religions and sorceries, which a devout Christian resolutely rejects.
  3. A modern vacuum A change has taken place in recent decades, similar to that in Europe. The old family ties and the passing on to the next generation are gradually being lifted. A vacuum has developed: the remedies are there, but the theoretical knowledge about them is lacking, especially with regard to preparation and correct dosage.

Many remedies are being researched today to use them effectively for the benefit of patients. African remedies are placed in the context of proven medical concepts.

African remedies in the context of conventional medicine

Let us imagine that we have a beautiful flower in our hands. Now we gradually separate each part of the flower, break it down into its individual parts and look at each one individually. 

African medicine in the context of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

Artemisia annua is an ancient medicinal plant of TCM and had been used against malaria 2000 years ago. This medicine has a different theory than conventional medicine. 




The Basics: Living life


Let us imagine that we have a beautiful flower in our hands. Now we gradually separate each part of the flower, break it down into its individual parts and look at each one individually. Then we know a lot about the ingredients of the flower, but we have a problem: we can no longer assemble it and bring it to life.

Living life is based on a force that holds all the individual parts together - life force. The Traditional Chinese Medicine calls it Qi, for the  Christians of the ancient church it is the power of the Holy Spirit - the power of Christ himself.

Living life is a force that holds all parts of a flower together in a living unity and at the same time can create new life again. All individual parts belong together and only make sense in their unity.

An old TCM prescription for malaria received the Nobel Prize in Medicine: Take a bunch of Artemisia Annua, soak it in 0.4l of water, wring the herb out to get the juice, and swallow it whole.

The juice tastes bitter, similar to myrrh, neem and aloe. They are all related to the blood and heart. We cleanse our hands externally with soap from all pathogens, our internal organs with these bitter remedies.

The liver is the detoxifying organ of our blood and it is strengthened by Artemisia annua. Since the malaria pathogens are lodged in the liver, Artemisia helps our body to overcome the disease.

That's how I learned it from Hildegard von Bingen, who lived in Germany in the 12th century and still knew a lot about TCM.

African remedies in the context of Homeopathy

On this page, the African remedies are to be placed in the context of Christian monastic medicine. In many states, medical care is primarily in the hands of the church. Many residents are too poor to take conventional medical help or expensive treatment. The German Benedictine monastery woman and doctor Hildegard von Bingen (1098 - 1179) met with great interest. Monastery medicine is comparatively cheap, almost a poor - people - medicine. It is an old Christian homeopathy in the context of Chinese medicine and Ayurveda. 


Bishop Lupa from Central Tanzania: My grandfather was a traditional healer, my father a rainmaker. I myself am a first-generation Christian and reject pagan customs and incantations. I have often seen that they lead to new dependencies and not to health. But I know that my grandfather helped a lot of people with his medicine. And we see that many ordinary people die today because conventional medicine is too expensive for them and not adapted to their situation. In addition, it is a second class medicine compared to western conditions. Monastery medicine is familiar to us as Christians and not a foreign doctrine.

Katharina Kraus, Massai Bibel, Belser Verlag
Katharina Kraus, Massai Bibel, Belser Verlag

 Find your identity! 

One of the oldest written sources on African traditional medicine can be found in the New Testament of the Bible in the adoration of the wise men from the "Orient" (Mt 2). According to Christian belief, these three scholars are able to recognize God's actions in nature. But the powerful of their time exploit their knowledge for their purposes and do not shy away from murder.

Her gifts of gold, frankincense, myrrh form the basis of monastery medicine. Frankincense and myrrh are still a traditional part of Christian services around the world.

They come from Africa!