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CLOSE THIS BOOKOutreach N 66 - Drugs - Part 3: Herbal Medicine (OUTREACH - UNEP - WWF, 40 p.)
VIEW THE DOCUMENT(introduction...)
VIEW THE DOCUMENTArticles on herbal medicines that have appeared in back issues of OUTREACH
VIEW THE DOCUMENTPlants that kill can often cure (plus exercise)
VIEW THE DOCUMENTThe effect of plant chemicals on animals
VIEW THE DOCUMENTA disappearing storehouse of medicinal plants
VIEW THE DOCUMENTThe effect of plant chemicals on humans
VIEW THE DOCUMENTWar on drugs: the tobacco connection
VIEW THE DOCUMENTTraditional herbal medicine and “modern” medicine
VIEW THE DOCUMENTUsing local plants to treat intestinal worms
VIEW THE DOCUMENTTreating cuts and wounds
VIEW THE DOCUMENTUnderstanding medicinal plants teaching materials available from World Neighbors
VIEW THE DOCUMENTTraditional medicine to graduate
VIEW THE DOCUMENTFilm: Jungle pharmacy
VIEW THE DOCUMENTIndigenous treatment for drug dependence in Thailand
VIEW THE DOCUMENTIdentifying health-protecting customs
VIEW THE DOCUMENTA simple and effective cough syrup we can prepare at little cost from the plants we find around us
VIEW THE DOCUMENTDiscovering the uses of medicinal plants in your neighbourhood
VIEW THE DOCUMENTFilm and teaching suggestions - Herbal medicine: fact or fiction?
VIEW THE DOCUMENTPills and potions
VIEW THE DOCUMENTRevival of traditional medicine in Amazonia
VIEW THE DOCUMENTDecode the drug
VIEW THE DOCUMENTBiodiversity and health
VIEW THE DOCUMENTBarefoot doctors
VIEW THE DOCUMENTHow a rainforest in Western Samoa was saved

Identifying health-protecting customs

The challenge for the health worker or educator is not to ‘change people’s behaviour.’ It is to help people understand, respect and build upon what is healthy in their own culture. Every area has unique traditions and customs that protect health. Beneficial customs should be encouraged. Here are some examples:

In several parts of the world, people use bee’s honey to treat burns.


The concentrated sugar in honey prevents bacterial growth. Recently, doctors have been experimenting with similar treatment of burns.

In West Africa, villagers eat yams during most of the year. But during the rainy harvest season, eating yams is ‘taboo’. Scientists have found that this custom makes medical sense. Yams contain small amounts of a poison (thiocyanate) that helps control sickle cell anemia. This kind of anemia causes many problems and sometimes death. But it also helps protect people against malaria, So the tradition of eating yams only when malaria is less common (the dry season), helps protect people against both sickle cell anemia and malaria.


In Mexico, long before penicillin had been discovered, villagers were treating women with ‘childbed fever’ by giving them a tea brewed from the underground fungus gardens of leaf-cutting ants.


It is likely that this fungus is related to penicillin.

Source: “Helping Health Workers Learn” by David Werner and Bill Bower, published by the Hesperian Foundation. Copyright 1982, the Hesperian Foundation.
The Hesperian Foundation, P.O. Box 1692, Palo Alto CA 94302 U.S.A.

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