George Mwoko is our Home of Friends guide and loves to teach about the cultural and natural beauty of his hometown: Sipi. One of the special features in the Sipi nature are medicinal plants, herbals that are used to treat discomforts of the body. In this blog George teaches us the major characteristics and usage of these medicinal plants.
What are the most important medicinal plants to be found in Sipi?
First of all, there is black-jack (in Latin: Bidens pilosa). This is a medicine that is used for treating wounds. When you have a cut you can use it as an ointment.
The second one is marigold, which is used as a blood stopper. Older ladies used it as a sign of good luck by putting it on their ears. These are ladies who are with pension and just visit relatives.
Then there is aloe vera, for skin health. It is also used for malaria prevention, and as a plaster to cover wounds.
The fourth medicinal plants is ‘momordica foetida’ which is used to treat ring worms. It is believed that if you tie this plant on your head during circumcision, it indicates you are the friend to the parent who is circumcising. The same leaf tied to the neck of the cow shows this cow is giving us dowry.
Lastly, there is the ‘impatiens tinctoria’, a plant used by local teenage girls to design fingernails. They use the roots of the plants, crush them to be soft and add them to the nails and tie it there. Leave it for a night or two nights, so when you open it, it has already colored. It remains permanent. This plant is used for fun: when you get the mature fruits it sparks.
Do most people believe in medicinal plants or modern pharmacy/healthcare?
Most people in the villages belief in the local, medicinal plants. In town people have turned more towards modern healthcare.
Where can I find people who have knowledge about plants and herbals?
You need to go deep into the villages. There are same hawkers along the roadside selling these herbal medicines. Foreigners can access female and male doctors as well. The female doctor deals with ladies and children, for example to treat the milk teeth and to avoid the spinal cord from disturbing. Men treat men.
What is the most remarkable story you ever heard about someone who got healed through medicinal plants?
Currently, I am using a local medicine for my ‘muko’ (= brother to my wife). He is believed to be suffering from brain cancer. We took him to the hospital Mulago in Kampala. After the hospital treatments he has not improved, until some village doctors advised to bring the man back home for further trial on local medicines. We are now treating him with leaves of wheat flower. There are some other mixtures of medicinal powders being given to him, of which we don’t know what it is made of. Some powders are given through the nose, others in the bathing water. We are using different doctors. The father to the sick person is now in Kenya to find more advanced local doctors. We are seeing a slight improvement compared with the time we brought him from Kampala. He is also advised to be fed with red pepper to help open his eyes, because he is blind at the moment.
When people don’t succeed with local medicine treatments, they go to the prophet to find out.
Do you want to discover these medicinal plants? Book a local medicine tour with us!