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Disease prevention and treatment

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The use of plants to cure several kinds of human diseases has a long history. Various parts of plants such as leaf, stem, bark, root, etc. are being used to prevent, allay symptoms or revert abnormalities back to normal. Since the practice of “herbal remedies” does not adhere strictly to facts accrued using scientific approaches, orthodox medicine sees “herbal medicines” as an alternative medicine. However, most of the pharmaceutical products currently dispensed by physicians have a long history of use as herbal remedies, including opium, aspirin, digitalis and quinine.

Sexually transmitted diseases like syphilis and gonorrhea are prevalent worldwide and are also present in both rural and urban areas of West Africa. Most people suffering from these diseases, particularly the rural population seek remedy from traditional medicinal practitioners rather than visiting modern doctors either because of lack of access or because of hesitancy in talking about these diseases to an unknown doctor. The remedies offered by the traditional healers, although a little based primarily on spiritual medicine, their remedies rely more on their knowledge of medicinal plants and their healing properties. That is why I’m going to share with you a local plant which is used in the treatment of gonorrhea and syphilis.

Acalypha indica locally known as is an erect, often simple-stemmed annual herb distributed widely throughout the tropics and is believed to originate from India, Indochina and Ethiopia. In Africa, the plant is found in Nigeria and from Sudan east to Somalia and south through DR Congo and East Africa to southern Africa including South Africa. It can grow up to an average height of one meter; leaves broadly ovate, base rounded to attenuate fairly rapidly.

Acalypha indica has been acknowledged by local people as a useful source of medicine for several therapeutic treatments. They consume parts of the plant for many medicinal purposes and its potent pharmacological activities enhance its use in traditional medicine such as an anti-inflammation, anti-bacterial, anti-cancer, anti-diabetes, anti-hyperlipidemic, diuretic, and anti-helminthic herbal plant. 

It is a plant used as a medicine for several therapeutic treatments. The leaf decoction is dropped into the ears to treat earache and infections. The paste made from powdered leaves is applied for skin infections. In some communities leaves are cooked as a vegetable.

The roots of Acalypha indica are also much used in traditional medicine for treating many diseases such as gonorrhoea, diarrhoea, dysentery, chest pain, ear infections, piles, wounds, epilepsy, and are also used as a purgative. 

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