Afrikanische traditionelle Medizin

Afrika ist ein ganzer Kontinent mit vielen unterschiedlichen Stämmen, Religionen und Normen. Die afrikanische Kultur und ihre traditionelle Medizin verfügen über eine lange mündliche Tradition. Darin unterscheidet sie sich ganz wesentlich von Kulturen wie Indien und China, die alle auf eine lange schriftlich fixierte Tradition zurückblicken können. 

Heilmittel aus Afrika werden darum, denke ich, nicht genügend wertgeschätzt. Da wir keine schriftliche Quellen haben, können wir z.B. nicht mehr beurteilen, ob eine Pflanze ursprünglich aus Indien oder Afrika kommt. Wir werden auf jeden Fall der schriftlichen Quelle einen Vorzug geben. Darum werden in diesem Kurs auch Pflanzen berücksichtigt, die ihre historischen Wurzeln nicht nachweislich in Afrika haben, aber dort verbreitet sind. 

In der afrikanischen Volksmedizin gibt es keine allgemein verbindliche Normen. Jeder Stamm hat seine eigene Tradition, und so ist die Naturheilkunde schwer fassbar und kann leicht mißbraucht werden. 


Man kann drei Aspekte beobachten: 

  1. Volksheilkunde. Von früher Kindheit an werden Naturheilmittel zur Behandlung in der Familie eingesetzt, oft mit erstaunlichem Erfolg. Das Wissen darüber wird von einer Generation zur Nächsten weitergegeben. Auch innerhalb der Stämme wird Wissen vermittelt, es ist kostenlos und nicht geheim, sondern frei verfügbar. 
  2. Die Medizin der traditionellen Heiler. Bei schwierigen medizinischen Problemen hilft der traditionelle Heiler. Auch er hat sein Wissen normalerweise in der Familie gelernt, aber er hält es geheim und stellt es nicht frei zur Verfügung. Seine Praktiken stehen im Kontext afrikanischer Naturreligionen und Zaubereien. 
  3. Ein modernes Vakuum In den letzten Jahrzehnten vollzog sich ähnlich wie in Europa  ein Umbruch. Die alten Familienbande und die Weitergabe an die nächste Generation werden nach und nach aufgehoben. Es ist ein Vakuum entstanden: die Heilmittel sind da, aber das theoretische Wissen darüber fehlt, besonders in Bezug auf Zubereitung und richtige Dosierung. 

Heute werden viele Heilmittel neu erforscht, um sie effektiv zum Wohle der Patienten einzusetzen. Dabei werden afrikanische Heilmittel in den Kontext bewährter medizinischer Konzepte gestellt. 

Afrikanische Medizin im Kontext der Schulmedizin

 Conventional medicine, which is practiced worldwide today, is the medicine of the university and the natural sciences. It is not shaped by religion and sorcery, on the contrary - it displaced the Christian medicine of the monasteries in Europe in the 12th century and created a new scientific system “as if God did not exist”.

As people of our time shaped by natural sciences, we assume that we have to understand the “mechanisms” that are responsible for the healing effects of medicinal products and food. The effectiveness of the remedies is based on the analysis of the ingredients. The pharmacy examines the underlying “building blocks” such as proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, hormones and trace elements. In simple terms, this means that medicine attaches itself to external material things. This materialistic perspective is an integral part of our scientific “modern” worldview.

Medicines, especially medicinal plants, are scientifically examined in the pharmaceutical institutes of the universities. African universities work closely with western ones. The question is: which plant is it? How does it work? How does it work in combination with other substances? What substances does it contain? Conclusions for use and dosage are drawn from this.

The reality is this:

Africa is rich in natural resources and natural remedies. You will be integrated into our world. Remedies have no fate other than mineral resources. Western and Eastern pharmaceutical companies buy them cheaply, manufacture medicine, distribute them here and sell them back at high prices. They become objects of desire for the rich industrialized countries.

The idolatry of money.


Man is no longer the crown of creation; the idol has been put in its place, and everything is bought and sold for money. The focus is on money. People are exploited (Pope Francis).

We have been concerned with this question for a long time. When my husband and I studied theology and biology in Heidelberg, we were friends with a student of pharmacy. He did not get married, but dedicated his whole life to African and tropical medicinal plants. He did his doctorate in Heidelberg on Artemisia annua and went to the Congo for 7 years as a missionary. His name was Hans Martin Hirt, and he still lives very simply and modestly. With many friends, he set up the Anamed organization, which organizes weekly seminars for naturopathy in the tropics.

The seminar participants practice helping people to help themselves step by step:

You learn

  •  know their own medicinal plants from the tropics
  •  to grow them in their garden
  • harvest them and process them professionally into medicinal products.

So they can help themselves and their families and build their own livelihood by selling the medicine. Anamed itself takes over part of the sales to Europe. We also held such a seminar in Itigi / Tanzania.


African medicine in the context of alternative medicine

The old medicines known and practiced to us today in the western world have a different natural philosophy than conventional medicine. No ingredients are isolated. One speaks therefore of holistic or holistic medicine. It is closer to traditional African medicine than modern conventional medicine with its analytical world view.

Traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda place African medicinal plants in the context of their medicine and therefore develop their teaching about dosage and preparation. Her age goes back to before university. They are fixed medicine in writing, i.e. you can read theory and questions about preparation and dosage in old texts, and they can therefore be checked.

Homeopaths also specifically examine African medicinal plants to use in their practice ( They attribute their homeopathy to Samuel Hahnemann, who in turn saw homeopathy as part of Greek hypocritical medicine. Like Ayurveda and TCM, homeopathy is now widespread worldwide, especially in poor countries, but least of all in Africa, because this continent is more dependent on Western donor countries than others.

African remedies in the context of monastery medicine

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!