Priscilla in her group nursery by Lake Victoria. Priscilla is one of the ladies from ECCA who has more recently joined as a contact person. She already has a group of women she works with and has this tree nursery with them. We have introduced her to Natural Medicines and she is working with her group to propagate natural medicines such as Moringa and Artemisia alongside the other trees they have already started with.
Sam recently established the nursery at the REAP garden. Now that the garden is well established we have started propagating plants that we have established. Sam has taken responsibility for this and here he is with the early plantings. The bright green plants are Artemisia. You can also see the Vetiver hedge behind him.
Fredah by her mixed medicinal garden
Priscilla in her group nursery by Lake Victoria
Sam establishing the nursery at the REAP garden
Fredah by her mixed medicinal garden. Fredah Wabuko is one of the most active people we have trained. She is from Butere in Western Province and is very active in both training and treating people with natural medicines. She has a small residence on the church compound in Butere town (although she has her ‘home’ and farm outside the town). This picture shows how she has made use of a small plot behind this house to grow a wide variety of natural medicines in a small area.
In this photo, is Sam teaching a farmer (pastor) about pruning Moringa trees.
Pastor Joel Owano is a pastor in the same church as Rosalia (ECCA – Evangelical Christ Church in Africa). His wife, Grace, learnt about Moringa at a workshop with another NGO and later from Rosalia in the church. She and her husband planted a lot of trees in their farm and they are using them as vegetable. They have also shared seeds with others in the church and community.
They asked us to visit partly to show what they had done but more because they had heard that Moringa was a useful medicine. The main product we use from Moringa is the leaves. Although very useful as a fresh vegetable, similar to spinach, the leaves are most useful when dried and crushed into powder. They then become a very high value nutritionally balanced food supplement.
The big trees do not produce so many leaves and those that are produced are difficult to harvest, so for best value the trees are cut back so that they sprout (coppice) and produce abundant leaves. Here Samuel Ouma is showing Pastor Joel how to do this on one of his trees. Note the many seed pods on the tree behind and how compatible the trees are with the maize crop.
REAP is focusing on just a few well proven medicinal plants that can be used locally for treatment of common ailments.
These plants can be divided into three groups
Large trees that should be planted somewhere in the compound
Plants that can be planted in a specific medicinal garden
Plants that are either growing wild or are a part of the normal farm environment
The following four trees are recommended:
Guava (also Mango and Avocado)
The following plants are recommended for a basic medicinal garden
Passion Fruit (can be planted to climb in hedges)
Ringworm Bush – Cassia alata
REAP is seeking to encourage basic uses that are not too complicated. The following table shows the main uses of these plants.
Lice, Scabies, Athlete’s Foot, Skin problems
Fever, tooth brush
Dietary supplement, Anaemia
Diarrhoea, diabetes, skin infections
Vegetable, Water purification,
Diarrhoea, Scurvy (Vitamin C deficiency)
Herpes (Opportunistic infection of AIDS)
Wounds, intestinal worms, indigestion
Meat tenderiser, Fruit
Ringworm Bush – Cassia alata
Ringworm, Athlete’s Foot and other fungal infections
Burns, Wounds, Conjunctivitis,
Laxative, Intestinal worms
Urinary infections (Diuretic), High Blood pressure
Boils, coughs, cold, fungal infections,
Blood pressure, diabetes, amoeba
Nausea (incl travel sickness), cough medicine
Amoeba dysentery. Ashtma
A tea made with pawpaw, mango and guava leaves
As a start the following species are recommended for planting, to be added to later:
Neem is a relatively large tree. It is normally started in a nursery from seeds. The seeds need to be fresh as they do not maintain viability long. The tree is not conducive with crops so is perhaps best planted as a shade tree near the home
Guava is a familiar tree that can either be grown separately or in a hedge.
Frangipani is a medium size tree with attractive flowers. It is best grown where it can give shade and beauty to the compound.
The are two types of Moringa. Moringa oleifera is the smaller one from Asia and Moringa stenopetala is larger native to Africa. Both have the same basic uses. They are planted from seed, though cuttings can also be taken from mature trees. Moringa oleifera is a small tree best grown as a hedge as it is also good to prune it so that it does not grow too tall
This is a small shrub that has attractive yellow flowers. The leaves are very effective for treating fungal infections, and especially Ringworm
Already abundant locally. Plant as for fruit. Papaine already known in Gambogi area. Pawpaw should be included in a medicinal garden and can be planted around the edge or implanted with the other plants.
Passion Fruit (can be planted to climb in hedges)
Passion fruit are already abundant locally. Plant some in the hedge
Lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus)
Grows as a clump grass. Planted as slips. A bunch is separated and a row of grass can be planted.
Aloe vera branches directly from the base. It does not have a tall stem like Aloe ferox and Aloe arborescens. The plant sends out slips from the side. These have small roots and can be carefully dug out and planted as a separate plant. Plant a row.
Artemesia (Artemesia annua)
Artemesia annua grows into a bushy plant. They can be grown with difficulty from seed, but are easily planted from cuttings when already established. Cuttings are sometimes available from REAP. Once plants are established care for them and take cuttings. Plant cuttings in a seedbed or bowl. Transplant when the roots are well established. Plant a row with plants about 2 feet (70 cm) apart in the row.
Roselle is a short lived herb that is grown from seed. Seeds are available from REAP. Plant in an area about 50-70 cm apart.
Garlic is a bulb that has many segments (cloves). Plant separate cloves 15 cm apart in rows 30 cm apart.
The part of ginger that is eaten is the rhizome. It is planted from sprouted pieces of rhizome.
Euphorbia hirta (Asthma weed)
This grows wild and favours places like short grass and alongside roads and paths. It is normally collected from the wild.
Other possible species for planting include Warburgia, Tephrosia diversifolia, Prunus Africana, and Mondia whitei, Other medicinal plants are probably readily available and may not need to be planted. These include Eucalyptus, Chilli pepper, Asthma weed (Euphorbia hirta), pumpkin.
On 15 June 2010 REAP completed the purchase of a plot of land in Kajulu, just outside Kisumu in western Kenya. The final payment was made and the title deed is in the name of REAP. The land will be used as a place where we can give practical teaching, showing practically many aspects of what we teach, as well as developing new ideas and as a source of planting materials.
The plot extends from just left of the big tree – the border is the sugar cane which is in the next plot – to the line that goes from the building on the right just in front of the bananas.
The back boundary is a path/dirt road that passes behind the house on the right and in front of the hedge in front of the house in the middle. The front boundary is a stream which passes just beyond the maize field in the foreground.
This land is sloping so has proved ideal for demonstrating the use of vetiver grass on the contours. It has a stream along the bottom and a pool just beside the tree so has good water for agricultural use. We have dug a fish pond which is stocked with Tilapia fish, but otherwise we are focusing on plants. It was cleared land when we took it over but we have converted it with hedges and other trees to become a very different sustainable piece of land.
The Vetiver hedges across the land have meant that the soil is protected from erosion. In the first 18 months since the hedges were planted up to 2 feet of soil has been caught by the hedges leading to terraces developing. Most of the plants we encourage and the ideas we teach have been incorporated into the farm, and we have established seed trees and planting material so that visitors can go home with not only new ideas but relevant planting materials.
The REAP Natural Medicines programme grew out of the Stewardship programme as we became aware that many useful medicinal plants were already available but their usefulness was not known by most farmers. We began by teaching the medicinal uses of plants already locally available such as pawpaw and aloe. When we were introduced to anamed we were able to expand our teaching and add new plants of proven medicinal value, and slowly developed our own Natural Medicines programme.
We define Natural Medicine as being the combination of the advantages of traditional herbal medicine with the advantages of modern, western medicine. The advantages of traditional herbal medicine include being readily available, being affordable and being easy to prepare and use at home. The advantages of modern western medicine include the scientific basis, which includes knowing the active ingredients, good hygiene, clear dosages, good packaging and targeting specific problems. Natural Medicines that we teach are not a second best option in our opinion but are high quality effective medicine that can be made readily available in the local community.
Since many churches discourage traditional medicine for spiritual reasons, we include in our teaching relevant materials to help churches understand the value of natural medicines as a strategy for the poor with no spiritual threat.
At the start of our Natural Medicine programme in 2006, REAP held a couple of workshops with representatives of churches that we have been working with in western Kenya and from these we have developed teaching materials that churches can use to pass on the ideas. See our publication “Working Through the Local Church” for more information. As with the other programmes we have at the same time been developing practical teaching on the cultivation and use of natural medicines so that we can encourage their use in the local communities.
The focus of our teaching is on what rural families can have available at home and learn to use safely in their families. The strategy is to introduce ideas of first aid, using natural medicines for specific well-researched uses, while still encouraging the use of professional medical resources for other more complex problems. Our teaching through the women’s programme (e.g. how to distinguish pneumonia from a cold) already emphasises the need to be able to identify when professional help is needed.
Since we have been partnering with anamed, we have been actively encouraging the growth and use of Artemisia annua. An infusion of the dried leaves is a very effective treatment for malaria and has a very positive effect generally on the immune system. See our leaflet on artemisia.
Other plants that we have been actively encouraging farmers to plant include Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa), Moringa, Neem and the Ringworm Bush (Cassia alata). As well as encouraging the planting of new crops for natural medicines, we teach on the use of existing known plants such as Pawpaw, Guava, Ginger, Garlic, Lemon Grass, Chilli pepper, Rosemary, Mango, Passion fruit and Avocado. All of these have been well researched and are already used and we just teach extra uses of value to the rural communities.
Both Dr Roger Sharland and Mrs Rosalia Oyweka are approved anamed trainers, and conduct training in Natural Medicines based upon anamed materials, supplemented by REAP’s own experience.
The women at right are making Chilli Ointment at a recent workshop.