Introduction
€ Traditional medicine, is

a cultural gem of various communities around the world and encompasses all kinds of folk medicine, unconventional medicine and indeed any kind of therapeutic method that had been handed down by the tradition of a community or ethnic group.

Categories
€ For most

countries of the world, just as we have in Nigeria, a traditional healer uses rituals in combination with herbal remedies to treat people. The vastness of the demand creates specialties in the field of practice. The various categories of traditional healers, perhaps specialists known in traditional medicine today include:

Herbalists
€ An herbalist is a

professional trained in the use of herbs to treat others. € Herbalists use mainly herbs, that is, medicinal plants or parts of such plantsplants-whole root, stem, leaves, stem bark or root bark, flowers, fruits, seeds, but sometimes animal parts, small whole animals, inorganic residues, and insects are added.

or rubbed into incisions made on any part of the body. depending on the instructions given. swallowed or taken with any hot or cold drink. .€ Such herbal preparations may be offered in the form of: y Powder Form. which would either be Form.

cooled. strained and drank. The traditional name for this is Àgbo .y Preparation Form. decanted as required before drinking. y The materials could also be boiled in water. for some time in water or local gin. where the items are soaked Form.

y Made into pastes. pomades or ointments. which is consumed by the patient y Herbal Preparations administered through an enema . in a medium of Palm oil or Shea butter y Soup.y Preparation form where items are pounded into native soap and used for bathing.

€ . When seasonal plants have to be used. They are. € Herbs were the first medicines used by pre historic man. part of every cultural tradition and have helped the development and growth of herbalism in Nigeria. these plants are collected when available and are preserved usually by drying to eliminate moisture.An herbalist cures mainly with freshly gathered plants. therefore.

€ TBAs are mostly women. . € TBAs initially acquire their skills by delivering babies by themselves or by working with other birth attendants.Traditional Birth Attendants € A Traditional Birth Attendant (TBA) is a person who assists a mother at childbirth. but in some areas. men and women are equally involved.

€ TBAs occupy a prominent position in Nigeria today as between 60-85 per cent 60of births delivered in the country and especially in the rural communities are by the TBAs .

Duties of a TBA € Diagnose Pregnancy € Determine Position of Growing Fetus € Provide Pre-Natal and Post-Natal Care PrePost€ Assist in Obstetric and Pediatric Care € Manage Simple Maternal and Babyhood illnesses .

child delivery by Caesarean section is not common € If there is a difficult labor. for example. the TBA will massage and press on the abdomen and work on the fetus. .€ With experienced TBAs. € TBAs also use some plant preparations known to have muscle relaxant properties to wash the vulva a few days before delivery.

A ki fidi bi. . ko gba way ni ko gba· which is translated as gba· ¶We don't normally defecate through the head. for most times. Ibi ti Oluwa ni su.€ There is TBAs a saying amongst Nigerian y ¶A kii t'Ori su. The route of delivery ordained by God should be followed· € Such efforts by the TBA have. have ensured safe and CaesareanCaesareanfree deliveries. We don't normally vomit through the anus.

These practices are. . however.Traditional Surgeon € The various forms of surgery recognized in traditional medical care include: y Male and Female Circumcision: traditional Circumcision: surgeons carry out these simple surgical operations with special knives and scissors. bloodblood-letting operations and wounds that result from these operations are usually treated with snail body fluid or pastes prepared from plants. obsolete in urban areas.

etc. Nigerian Girls with Tribal Marks . and charred herbal products are usually rubbed into these bleeding marks to effect healing. bellies.€ Cutting of Tribal Marks: traditional surgeons usually cut tribal marks into the cheeks.

It is believed that uvulectomy can protect the patient from various infections of the pharynx and the respiratory system.y Uvulectomy: The cutting of the uvula is Uvulectomy: widely practiced. . Traditional surgeons in the northern part of Nigeria are versed in cutting off the upper end of the throat flap commonly referred to as epiglottis for the treatment of many illnesses.

using their experience to see that bones unite and heal properly.y Bone Setting: Bone setting is the art of pairing Setting: fractures and other orthopedic injuries. It is recognized to have attained a level of success comparable to that in orthodox medicine in Nigeria. . Traditional bone setters are very knowledgeable in the art and skill of setting broken bones in the traditional way.

y An interesting aspect of the bone setter's approach is the selection of a chicken whose leg would be broken and re-set. . This is usually used to determine the time the patient's fracture would heal. and the time to remove the wrapped splints and clay caste. The fracture recaused on the chicken is treated alongside that of the patent at the same time and in the same way.

The occurrence of deformities or abnormal shapes of post-treatment limbs is postvery rare. . Patients are usually also subjected to radiant heat treatment or hot applications of peppers to reduce inflammation and swelling. various methods are known for applying traction to fractured legs.y Also.

Traditional Medicinal Ingredient Dealers These dealers are involved in buying and selling of plants. may qualify to be referred to as traditional healers. € . and minerals used in making herbal preparations. animals and insects. € Some of them who indulge in preparing herbal concoctions or decoctions for the management or cure of febrile conditions in children or some other diseases of women and children.

Traditional Psychiatrists € They specialize mainly in the treatment of those with mental disorders. € When the patients do get violent. . they are usually beaten to submission and then given herbal hypnotics or highly sedative herbal potions to calm them. Patients are usually restrained to prevent them from harming others when they get violent.

and may prescribe rituals associated with the community's religious worship and adopt all sorts of inexplicable things to treat various diseases. seers or priests.Therapeutic Occultism € These practitioners include diviners. incantations. fortune tellers. € They use supernatural or mysterious forces. .

they are usually held in high esteem in the community.The practitioners are usually consulted for diagnosis of diseases. € They are believed to have extra-sensory extraperception and can see beyond what an ordinary man can. their causes and treatment. the supernatural. € With their ability to deal with the unseen. € .

spirit guides and perform well. making invocations and preparing fetish materials to appease unknown gods € Yoruba Babalawo (Occultist) . € Their activities include making prayers. where other traditional healers and orthodox doctors fail. citing and singing of incantations. can consult oracles.They can receive telepathic messages.

€ The sounds so produced are read and interpreted. Others depend on the throwing of cowries. € Some take replies of messages in a pool or glass of water.The instructions which these practitioners use include magic stones which are usually thrown to the ground. divining rods. € Cowries used to communicate . keys or sticks. etc. coins. kola-nut kolaseeds.

Traditional Medicine in Contemporary Nigeria .

developed various traditional systems using locallylocally-available resources for the alleviation of their health problems . Many communities have. since creation. therefore.€ Traditional medicine has developed in various communities in Nigeria in response to the health needs of the people.

strategies and medicines or remedies now known. € Traditional Medicine is very relevant to majority of Nigerians partially because a lot of them don·t have access to orthodox medicine .€ The development of traditional medicine in Nigeria has led to various categories of healers. the various healing methods.

€ There is abundant justification for the use of herbs by the various traditional healers identified. € Different Recipes are known to work for different types of ailments: y Cardiovascular Disease: Mixture of African Disease: Rauwolfia and Negro Coffee. y Nervous System Disorders: Mixture of Disorders: parrot's beak and the African Rauwolfia offer a good remedy .

Mormodica. y Endocrine System Disorders: Leaves of Disorders: Roused Periwinkle or Mormodica. y Genitourinary Infections: Bush Banana is Infections: useful. y Skin Wounds: ¶Craw Craw· Plant helps. y Respiratory Problems: Lemon Grass is Problems: useful.y Alimentary System Disorders: Basil is very Disorders: useful. Wounds: Craw· .

y Ear. Nose and Throat Infections: Resurrection Infections: Plant is usually recommended. Soak all in Kanufuru·. Infections: African Mahogany. very useful. ¶Legunoko· Fever: ¶Dongoyaro· ¶Legunoko· Leaves. Scallion. y Malaria Fever: ¶Dongoyaro· Leaves. Black Pepper Seed. y Microbial and Viral Infections: Garlic Clove. cold water and drink as desired. Boil all ¶Otiti· together and drink 8oz every 4 hours y Hemorrhoids: Flat ¶Kafura·. ¶Otiti· Leaves and Lemon. . Hemorrhoids: ¶Kafura·. ¶Kanufuru·.

arthritis.y Persistent Cough: Garlic. Cough: Grind garlic and lime together. € Numerous other diseases or complaints of a special nature such as hernia. sieve and pour honey on it. Lime and Honey. Lick the mixture. have been treated using herbs alone or in a mixture with animal parts and minerals. gout etc. . snake bite.

to produce oral contraceptives and the Shea butter which showed nasal decongestant activity . Diogenes extracted from the yam are used in the treatment of rheumatism.€ € € Today. plant medicines include vincristine and vinblastine isolated from the Rose periwinkle are used to treat childhood leukemia and Hodgkin's disease Reser Pine extracted from the African or Indian Rauwolfia are used in tranquillizers.

.€ Non-plant Non- medicines including the bee venom have been used in the treatment of arthritis € The civet cat exudates has shown anticonvulsant effects € All these facts point to the values of medicinal plants and their importance in traditional medicine in present day Nigeria.

The Practice of Traditional Medicine .

€ In Traditional Medicine. the treatment of an ailment or disease usually follows the following procedure. .

urine. feces. based on the symptomatology of the disease. skin.Diagnosis € Common ailments or problems are easily recognized and treated successfully. € Diagnosis may also be achieved by visual examination of eyes. .

€ Generally.€ Proper diagnosis is needed in the treatment of psychosomatic and psychiatric cases just as in the cases of bone fractures and other traumatic injuries. . proper diagnosis is the key to most traditional treatments.

Symptoms The patient describes the symptoms as much as practicable. symptoms that are usually watched out for include behavioral changes € y Fever or abnormal rise in body temperature y Jaundiced state y Yellow Eyes. Palm and Fingers which suggests possible Liver Problems . Urine. € For the various diseases.

y Seizures as often experienced in convulsions y Diarrhea in cases of poisoning y Frequent stooling and vomiting y Blood in the urine y Coughing and vomiting blood y Breathing difficulty y Swelling which may be minor and localized y General weakness of the body y Development of rashes .

Treatment € The herbalist treats with medicines made up of plants. . animals and minerals. He may also use therapeutic systems like therapeutic fasting and dieting massage and therapeutic occultism.

have however.Conclusion € Modern-day Modern- technology. € The general populace now wants to compare the herbalist with the orthodox medicine general practitioner. made a lot of impact on the herbalist and on the practice of traditional medicine in Nigeria. innovations and education. .

€ Herbalists are being encouraged to identify correctly the medicinal plants and other ingredients used in the preparation of herbal products. . all in the bid to ensure safe medicines. € They should be mindful of the sources of their raw materials and avoid adulteration.€ Herbalists are now being encouraged to improve on the quality of their out put and practice.

But.Recognition of traditional health care is long overdue. Only then could it contribute to a multifaceted model of health care in line with the varied needs of the diverse peoples of this country. should there be any further delay in legalizing these healers. The fact remains that. it must be characterized by the institutionalization of more standardized training of traditional healers. when it does come. . a rich source of health care will remain largely untapped. and the authority and mechanisms to oust quacks who tarnish the image of this kind of health care.

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