South African Ethnobotany

South Africa has an immensely rich botanical and cultural landscape.

Over 300 species are used for psychoactive purposes alone (see publications: Sobiecki, 2002): that is having effects on the nervous system, yet for most of these plants their means of action, therapeutic dynamics and cultural significance have been largely overlooked by western researchers.

This site aims to address such gaps in understanding traditional medicine through exploring the medicines, the healers and the complex healing dynamics involved in South African traditional medicine.

Ethnobotany is the western research field of exploring the relationship between plants and humans, and very often focuses on traditional medicines for their uses and potential applications in western medicine.

Yet, with over 14 years of studying South African traditional medicine, I have come to appreciate far more than the inventory lists of medicinal plant uses and actions as part of my ethnobotanical studies.

I have begun to realize the powerful healing dynamics involved with the use of traditional plant formulas, phytoachemical synergy interactions between different plants used in formulas, and the therapeutic effectiveness of rituals used in traditional medicine, that are often dismissed as a merely cultural or magical aspects of traditional medicines.

I demonstrate in my papers (see publications section) the underlying scientific validity of some of the traditional medicine practices from around the world.

Very revealing to me on my journey of learning African healing has been how South African traditional healers (that is the authentic true healers among the many charlatans), embark on a profound journey of psycho-spiritual healing that can lead to psycho-spiritual integration (being whole and healed), that western society and the western allopathic medical/psychiatric model would benefit from understanding and appreciating.

mama muto market

medicinal plant preparations


Holistic medicine traditions such as Traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurveda and African traditional healing share common principles, methods and healing knowledge, that we have largely become disconnected from in our western societies.

Therefore, one aim of this site is to demonstrate the indigenous understandings, wisdom and healing skills of various holistic medicine traditions from around the world, and how modern society can benefit from reconnecting with this valuable knowledge base that is still available through some authentic traditional healers.

Culture loss due to consumerism and modern lifestyles is rapdily eroding traditional indigenous societies and their healing knowledge all around the world, from the Amazon to South Africa, and one of my intentions through my projects, is to preserve this knowledge for future use.

African medicinal plants are rapidly being developed into commercial products, and westerners are increasingly using African plants such as buchu, bitter aloe, rooibos, bulbine, devil's claw, hoodia, and “African potato” to improve their health.

One part of my work is to help people heal with the benefits of African whole plant preparations and other holistic medicine to restore good health, energy, immunity, sleeping, relaxation, detoxification etc.

phytochemistry Impepho Helichrysum species


 

I hope you enjoy this journey into the world of traditional and natural medicines, the intersection of science and spirituality and the many wonderful ways we can heal with plants and nature. 
  

Scroll to Top