African Traditional herbalists blamed for giving wrong cancer treatment

A variety of herbs used for treating people

Traditional African medicine is a holistic discipline involving indigenous herbalism and African spirituality, typically involving diviners, midwives, and herbalists.

Practitioners of traditional African medicine claim to be able to cure various and diverse conditions such as cancers, psychiatric disorders, high blood pressure, cholera, most venereal diseases, epilepsy, asthma, eczema, fever, anxiety, depression, benign prostatic hyperplasia, urinary tract infections, gout, and healing of wounds and burns  and many more. 

It is common to see these ‘medicines’ either in liquid form or other forms being sold by these traditional healers but now experts are warning these medicines could be seriously affecting people who depend on them rather than looking for conventional treatment.

Experts in Kenya are warning that herbalists across the region could be the reason why many Cancer patients may be losing their lives solely by depending on the traditional medicines.

It was during a cancer awareness workshop in Nairobi , Kenya’s capital that this was revealed .

The traditional healers were accused of giving wrong treatment to patients.

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Herbal medicines


Researchers Custodia Mandlhate, Emmanuel Luyirika and Tualibu Ngoma said they were concerned that most patients sought treatment in hospitals when the disease was at an advanced stage.

Dr Mandlhate, director of World Health Organisation Kenya is reported by the Nation Website as saying that  more studies should be conducted to verify the credibility of the herbs used.

“To validate the effectiveness of drugs administered, we need to do more research on the components used by the traditional healers,” she said at the 9th Stop Cervical Breast and Prostate Cancer in Africa in Nairobi.

Dr Mandlhate said most of the cancer patients first seek treatment with traditional herbalists before visiting hospitals.

Dr Luyirika, the executive director of the African Palliative Care Association, said research showed that South Africa and Uganda lead in the number of the herbalists on the continent.

“The two countries have found a way of using the traditional healers on palliative care,” he said.

However, Prof Ngoma from Tanzania defended the group, saying they should be incorporated in the cancer treatment programmes and training.