World Neighbors International Headquarters
5116 North Portland Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK 73112
The ideas below are taken from:
World Neighbors In Action Vol. 15 No. 4E Interest Grows In Natures Medicine For Us.
World Neighbors In Action is a newsletter published by World Neighbors.
If reproduced, please give credit to: World Neighbors
The best sources of information on medicinal plants are not found in books. People within your community have the knowledge and the skills for preparing treatments using local plants. The traditional healer knows much, and may be willing to share knowledge if you and your students are sincere in your interest to learn. Older people in your community often have experience in the use of medicinal plants. Everyone has something to share and something to learn.
Below are some ideas on ways to discover the uses of medicinal plants in your neighbourhood. (It would be a good idea to do classwork on plants in general before focussing on medicinal plants. For example, make sure students know about the different parts of plants and their functions.)
* Call together the people for a community meeting where everyone can exchange information and experiences. One person can act as moderator, and other students can take down notes. These notes can be the beginning of your own community handbook.
* Organize a field trip for your students to explore the area around your neighbourhood - in the gardens, by the river, up the mountains, in the forest. Ask people who know many of the medicinal plants to be your guides and teachers. You and your students can learn to use your senses in identifying the plants. Remember what each plant and its parts look like. Better still, make drawings. Remember the smells of the leaves, fruits, flowers and bark; how smooth or rough the plant feels; how it tastes - if the guide says its okay to do so. (Be careful not to swallow anything.) Make notes about the plants. Ask your guides questions, too. Do the plants grow only in certain places? At what times of the year do the plants flower and fruit? How are the plants pollinated and how are their seeds dispersed? Are the plants becoming more rare and so harder to find?
* Make a medicinal plant album. Use the notes collected at the community meeting and/or the field trip. Also include the students drawings of the plants. Be sure to include all the local names of the plants. Describe the illnesses they act against; the parts of the plants used; how the treatments are prepared and the dosage or method of treatment. Try to present the information so that people who cannot read well may understand it.
If you are interested and able, both OUTREACH and World Neighbors would welcome information about your experiences with medicinal plants. Others might benefit from your knowledge.
Two ways to present information in a medicinal plant album. (An index of plant species and treatments would be useful.)
* Start a small garden of medicinal plants. Seeds can be collected from plants growing in the region, or cuttings can be taken from healthy young plants. With some plants, you can divide the roots, taking some but always leaving the main root so the plant can continue to grow.
* involve your local health workers in your medicinal plants projects. They, too, have much to share and learn.