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January 2022

J Ethnopharmacol. 1984 Oct; 12(1): 35-74.

Pharmacopoeia of traditional medicine in Venda.

Arnold HJ, Gulumian M.

Many researchers in different parts of the world are actively involved in recording the available information on traditional medicine. To contribute to this vast task, we chose Venda, one of the more remote tribes in Southern Africa. We found traditional healing to be very much alive and functioning in this area. Within 2 years of research, we could tabulate 151 medicinal plants with their galenics. Many of the plants listed were frequently used by different healers to treat the same ailment which might substantiate their reliability. On the other hand, certain plants were employed for various indications. Moreover, although the toxic effects of some plants are not included in our list, they are encountered by the Western medical doctors. Therefore, the benefits of compiling such lists on medicinal uses of different plants are twofold. To gain from the positive aspects of the traditional medicine and to eradicate, if possible, the harmful effects of some plants used by the traditional healers. However, during our study, it became clear that the plants used were with some exceptions mainly found in the vicinity of the habitat of the healer or the herbalist. It would therefore be useless to compile a more general pharmacopoeia for the African traditional healing as many of the useful plants in one area cannot be found in another. Hence, a more specific pharmacopoeia for each area would be necessary.

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