I grew up in the 1950 and 60s in a small town in Lexington,
The majority of people in my community, including me,
were African Americans.
My ancestry is enriched by a long line of
midwives and healers including my grandmother who taught us the
best way to take care of one’s body was to eat garden fresh foods
and to use herbal medicine.
When we became sick, my grandmother would
go out into the woods, gather some herbs and prepare a tea or salve or
whatever was the best medicine for the illness.
I have come to realize it is
important to start talking to the elders in communities about their
knowledge of herbal medicine.
My experience during the past several years
of my research in the Sweet Auburn community in Atlanta, Georgia and my
community in Franklin, Mississippi indicates that in the African American
communities, there is usually someone in every family that passes this herbal
information on to the next generation.

African Views of Illness
Traditional Africans believe that everything is
imbued with a life force
This spirit of power is the essence of every living creature, deceased ancestor,
inanimate object, and natural event (such as a thunderstorm). The preservation
and restoration of health cannot be pursued without involving these life forces, all
of which have their own personality and cosmic place. A healer’s power is not
determined by the number of medicinal tree barks he or she knows, but by his or
her ability to apply their understanding of the intricate relationship between all
things for the good of the patient and the whole community. The traditional
African healer looks for the cause of the patient’s misfortune in the relationship
between the patient and his social/physical environment.

African healing is an intricate part of the African religion. When this
framework is understood, it no longer is an incoherent collection of
rational and irrational acts, but rather a condensed expressions of
base beliefs concerning life, good and evil, and etiology of illness.

Sub-Saharan Africa carries 21% of the global burden of disease and only
spends 0.7 % of the total health care budget of the world.(1) More than half of
this burden is due to communicable diseases such as malaria. Almost one third
is directly related to malnutrition. Eighty percent of all births in Africa are
attended by midwives or traditional birth attended .
The majority of midwives
are elderly women who are respected for their skills.
Their procedures are not very different from practices elsewhere in the world,
and many do more the just deliver babies. These midwives share a cultural
heritage with the women and their families, and they know which food and local
herbs are needed before, during, and after delivery.
Traditional healers
constitute the professional form of health care service for the large
majority of Africans, particularly those living in rural areas.
Today, it is often believed that all major Western medicine comes from a
chemical laboratory, and that it is, therefore, old-fashioned to study natural
products. This is quite a misconception. Half of today’s best-selling drugs are
directly or indirectly based on naturally occurring substances. Traditional African
plants make an important contribution. For example, healers in Ghana use an
aqueous root extract to treat symptoms that occur in diabetics. A study of human
patients with type 2 diabetes (non- insulin dependent) has confirmed that the
aqueous root extract lowers blood glucose levels . Laboratory testing has
identified the alkaloid cryptolepine as the major anti-diabetic constituent. .

When our ancestors were brought to the Americas from Africa as
slaves, they brought their medicines with them.
Women working in the
fields would plant their special herbs between the rows of corn so that they would
be close to their heritage and the medicines from their homeland.
They did
not forget the powerful healing knowledge of their ancestors, and the
seeds of this wisdom are still alive in the elders of our community.
It is
time to reclaim our birthright. Start a garden in your backyard or on your patio.
Plant herbs in small pots in your window for cooking and tea. Eat locally grown
organic food from your region’s farmers. Educate yourself about local herbs and
their beneficial uses for your health.
Connect with elders in your
community and learn what they may know about local plants and
their remedies.

Cine’ is the owner of Pure Cine’ Natural Hair & Skin Care Products.
email her at purecine2001@hotmail.com.

Inner Beauty Herbal Tea                    NEW LIFE JOURNAL

Read more about Earcine Evans in our Biz Women Section!
Earcine Evans
helps us embrace
the deep medicine
of African ancestors.
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