Health: How Africans Survived On Traditional Medicine Long Before The White Man’s Medicine

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The magic tree called Neem

In 1832, the Scottish merchant McGregor Laird led an expedition to the Niger Valley and out of 48 people that accompanied on the expedition, 37 lost their lives. These experiences led to the belief that Europeans could not survive in coastal West Africa, which came to be known as ‘The White Man’s Grave.’ Because Europeans noticed that Africans survived much better in the region from these fevers. Despite malaria killing many Africans as well, they acquired resistance to malaria in their childhood, baffling European physicians.

The loss of 37 expeditioners not only revealed that Europeans can’t settle in Africa that time but also demanded how Africans had been able to survive on that harsh continent of deadly malaria? From generation to generation, ancestors pass on their expertise in herbal medicine preparations to families. One of Africa’s powerful concoctions against malaria is prepared from leaves of a neem tree.

The neem tree, biological name (Azadirachta indica) is a unique tree, and the leaves are the most complex leaves on the planet. The neem tree has over 130 different biologically an active compound. The trees grow in tropical and semi-tropical regions.

About the Neem Tree:

Neem (Azadirachta indica) is a tree in the mahogany family. Native to India and throughout Southeast Asia, neem trees grows in tropical and semi-tropical regions. The neem tree grows quickly and can reach heights over 100 ft tall. With its surprising variety of uses and benefits, the neem tree is known as the ‘cure of sickness’ in West Africa, because of its extreme bitterness.

The main components of neem leaves include protein (7.1%), carbohydrates (22.9%), minerals, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin C, and carotene. But the leaves also contain glutamic acid, tyrosine, aspartic acid, alanine, praline, glutamine and cystine-like amino acids, and several fatty acids. Without toothpaste or brush, a piece of chewed neem tree gives a clean teeth brush and fresh mouth each morning. Another life-saving tree is the Kuntan tree (Uapacca Guiniensis.) The cover of the tree was used to treat fractured bones.

Enjoying corn porridge without sugar


The miracle berry or fruit , known as Asaba in the central region of Ghana, serves sugar because it contains a protein called miraculin that tastes sweet enough to replicate the effect of sugar.

There was no sugar, yet our ancestors enjoyed herbal tea and corn meal porridge. A plant which bears small reddish fruit, called miracle fruit, serves as a substitute for sugar. The fruit contains a protein called miraculin that tastes sweet enough to replicate the effect of sugar. After eating berry fruit, everything sour, such as lemon or vinegar tastes sweet in the mouth.

Africa is endowed with many plants that can be used for medicinal. Some of the herbs heal high blood pressure, skin diseases, sore throat, arthritis, digestive problems etc. Many of the drugs consumed throughout the world for health purposes, were manufactured from herbs taken from Africa and Asia because those herbs grow in tropical countries. For example, African ginger is a very powerful medicine.

Many around the world wonder how Africans live, especially those in the villages without electricity. Frankly speaking, there is everything available to make life easy for them just like those living in modern cities. Before health centers were built our ancestors deliver babies at home successfully and the child’s umbilical cord was treated with herbal medicine.

Food Preservation in Africa

Have you ever wonder how Africans preserved food without electricity? If there is no electricity, there wouldn’t be any fridge or storage facilities but food is best preserved in such a way that it doesn’t get rotten. With smoldering wood, generating intensive heat, which adds a layer of desiccation to preserving qualities, fish, meat and other sea foods are smoked. The heat of the fire dehydrates all the liquid from the fish or meat and makes it last longer without rotten.

Salt and the sun also play a major role in traditional food preservation in Africa. For example, fish are well preserved with salt and Cocoa beans are spread in the sun to dry for many days, before they are exported or used to manufacture cocoa products, such as chocolates, drinks, beverages and body lotions consumed locally.

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Fish smoking is one of the oldest traditional ways of food preservation in Ghana.

The Palm Tree: The Subsistence Of Life In Africa

Below is a link to another article revealing the traditional life in Africa.


Health Matters: Evaluation Of The Quality And Wonders Of Lotus Seed For The Health

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Lotus plant

Lotus seeds are obtained from the lotus flower. They are a versatile food and can be eaten raw or cooked. The dried lotus seeds can be popped like popcorn and eaten. The seeds are harvested in the months of August and September and are then dried under the sun. There are two types of lotus seeds, white and brown peel. The shells, membranes and bitter germ of the seed of the white lotus seeds are removed during harvest.

Brown lotus peels, which get their color from the ripened seed which attaches to the membrane, are cracked in order to remove the germ. Dried lotus seeds are sold widely in Asian markets. They are hardy and rough in texture and hence must be soaked in water overnight. They can be added to various dishes such as soups. Fresh lotus seeds are sold with the seed heads.
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Dried Lotus seed
They must be broken Nutritional Information and Properties of Lotus Seed to remove each seed and then eaten. The shell of the fresh seeds should be removed before eating. Crystallized lotus seeds are made by cooking the seeds in syrup and then drying them. One of the most common uses of lotus seeds is lotus seed paste which is used in Chinese pastries and in Japanese cakes and desserts.
Nutritional Information and Properties of Lotus Seed
Lotus seeds are a rich source of phosphorus, protein, potassium and magnesium. They may also contain zinc and iron. The seeds contain low levels of sugar, sodium, cholesterol and saturated fat. One ounce of raw lotus seeds contains approximately 94.3 calories.
Health Benefits and Therapeutic Uses of Lotus Seed
Lotus seeds are popular for their nutritional benefits and healing properties. They are commonly used in Chinese medications and also in various recipes. Lotus seeds contain L-isoaspartyl methyltransferase, an enzyme with anti-ageing properties. It is known to help in repairing damaged proteins. The seeds contain kaempferol, a flavonoid known for its anti-inflammatory properties. It is known to help in repairing aging gum tissue.
The astringent properties of lotus seeds make them beneficial for the kidneys. They help to regulate the energy levels of the body. Some studies indicate that lotus seeds may be used to treat various sexual conditions. Lotus seeds are used in Chinese medicine to relieve the problem of diarrhea. They are also used to improve the health of the spleen.
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Rich and healthy Chinese Lotus seed cuisine
Lotus seeds were used to treat people with sleeping disorders such as insomnia. They are also known to be effective in alleviating restlessness. This is due to the natural sedative and calming effects of the seeds. The center of the lotus seed is known to be beneficial for the heart due to its cooling properties. The bitterness of the seeds comes from isoquinoline alkaloids which are believed to induce a calming effect and are also anti-spasmodic in nature. They cause dilation of the blood vessels and thus help in controlling blood pressure levels.
Some medicinal researchers believe that lotus seeds help to strengthen the digestive process and relieve diarrhea. The seeds are sometimes combined with other herbs in order to treat urinary ailments such as prostatitis and reproductive diseases. However it is advisable to consult a doctor before using any natural remedies such as lotus seeds.
Other Uses of Lotus Seed
Lotus seeds also contain a powerful anti-aging enzyme which researchers are now trying to add to various anti-ageing products and cosmetics. The dried seed heads are sold for decorative purposes across the world. These seeds are commonly used in dried flower arranging.
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Delicious Chinese Lotus seed pastry.
Delicious meals that can be prepared by Lotus seed are Pork heart Lotus Soup, White Mushroom Lotus Soup and Lotus Seed and Longan porridge.
Medicinal use of Lotus seed
Lotus seeds are classified as astringents. It’s sweetness and neutral are good for the spleen, kidney and heart. The sweet taste and nourishing qualities of the seed are responsible for the benefit to the spleen; this helps stop diarrhea associated with qi deficiency. The astringent quality helps prevent loss of kidney essence, so the seeds are used to treat weak sexual function in men and leukorrhea in women. The seed also has calming properties that alleviate restlessness, palpitations, and insomnia.