“African herbal medicine is extremely impressive. No one has yet done a comprehensive study of it but even the little that has been done so far reveals that several Western medicines were known to Africans before the Europeans discovered them. The Africans had their own aspirin. The Bantu-speaking peoples use the bark of Salix capensis to treat musculoskeletal pains and this family of plants yields salicylic acid, the active ingredient in aspirin. In Mali they had one of the most effective cures for diarrhea, using kaolin, the active ingredient in the American bran Kaopectate. Nigerian doctors have developed a herbal preparation to treat skin infections which rivals the best in the modern world. It was subjected to tests by Western-trained doctors in 1969 and found to have powerful bacteriocidal activity against gram-positive bacteria, the very organisms that cause skin infections. A breakthrough in cancer treatment may also lie in Nigerian medicine where the rootbark Annona senegalensis has been found to possess strong anti-cancer properties. Dr. Finch introduces us to far too many plant medicines than we can mention here — for abortion, for retarded labor, malaria fever, rheumatism, neurotoxic venoms, snakebite, intestinal parasites, skin ulcers, tumours, catrrh, convulsions, venereal disease, bronchitis, conjunctivitis, urethral stricture — all as effective as those in use in Western medicine which has borrowed African ouabain, capsicum, physostigmine, kola and calabar beans, to name just a few plat medicines. The African herbal pharmacy is staggering. The Zulus alone know the medicinal uses of 700 plants.”

Source: Dr. Ivan Van Sertima. Blacks In Science: Ancient and Modern. pg. 22. 1983.


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