Our Plants, Our Health
We believe that care which uses all that is available and effective in our environment, that prevents as well as cures, that encourages us to take responsibility for our own health by learning all that we can about it, and which treats wisely and treats early is the best care. Traditional science recognizes and values the importance of plants in contributing to both prevention and cure of illnesses and the general maintenance of good health. This body of work is founded on this premise.
Since TICAH's inception we have continually been faced with the importance of the relationship between plants and health and it is a theme that has reflected in many aspects of our work. When we started our Listening to Those Who Live It work, we found that both the treatment stories we gathered in Nine Lives and our Body Mapping projects reflected the importance of nutrition as well as herbal therapies in the health strategies of our HIV+ friends. The stories tell of foods eaten to help boost immunity as well as to manage specific health problems. We have heard about the herbs people use as medicines to treat many of their illnesses. We have learned of the power of Frangipani (Plumeria alba) as a topical application for Herpes Zoster, of Stinging Nettles (Urtica massaica) as a blood builder and a blood cleanser and of Aloe vera as an immune booster as well as a valued treatment for a variety of fungal infections.
Our experiences with the Africa Asia InterAction on HIV/AIDS have also shown how integral food and herbs are in the management of daily household health. A highlight of our exchange visits has been the sharing of ideas and knowledge of how to use plants. When our Asian colleagues visited us in September 2007, we ended up giving cooking demonstrations to teach each other about new ways of preparing common foods. Meanwhile, our work with Traditional Healers and care providers has shown us the extent to which plants are used in managing health from the perspective of the care provider. Presentations at our Bellagio meeting and our more recent Traditional Medicine and HIV/AIDS: Treatment, Research and Resources meeting are tributes to the extent to which herbs are widely used in positive and beneficial treatment of patients.
Within this context, we have chosen to focus our energy on highlighting the importance of the role of plants in health care through our processes of learning, documenting and sharing. Our first foray into this was through the documentation process that resulted in our publication, Using Our Traditions: A Herbal and Nutritional Guide for Kenyan Families. This book is now available in an interactive version on this website, where we hope to build upon the knowledge that we have already gathered. We have developed a training program that teaches about the use of herbs and nutrition in managing health and provides technical support in growing medicinal and nutritional gardens that are appropriate to an individualís environment. Finally, we have launched our medicinal herb garden at the National Museum of Kenya in Nairobi, Our Living Traditions: Our Plants, Our Health, Our Heritage where we are able to provide a living tribute to the plants that play such an integral part in maintaining the physical and spiritual health of Kenyans. The overwhelming curiosity and enthusiasm displayed by visitors to our garden serves to prove how significant a role plants continue to play in all our lives.