BIBLICAL SUPPORT TO THE USE OF PLANTS FOR MEDICINAL PURPOSES: IN AFRICAN PERSPECTIVE 2020

BIBLICAL SUPPORT TO THE USE OF PLANTS FOR  MEDICINAL PURPOSES: IN AFRICAN PERSPECTIVE

2020

BY

NWAOZURU JOHNMAJOR CHINECHEREM

 

 

 INTRODUCTION

In the creation story as recorded by the three Abrahamic faiths (that is Judaism, Christianity and Islam), the supreme being created agricultural products, animals and other natural things like water  for man's consumption.  Man is to eat  or make use of them  for a healthy living. In Gen. 1:11 And God said, Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth. And it was so. Then in Gen.  1:31 God instructed man to use plants for food. Lack of eating good food or malnutrition may cause sickness invariably, God was telling man that plants and animals  are medicinal thus, must not be neglected. This may be the reason the Sumerians who were in Fertile Crescent made efforts to involve effectively in agriculture. Adamo and  Al- Ansari (2020) report that:

Sumerians were the first People in history to invent the cuneiform script, which made the reporting of their achievements possible. The Sumerians were versed in hydraulic principles, while  their methods of land preparation, seeding, irrigation and harvesting indicates they were skillful farmers. Moreover, the tools and implements invented for field operations such as those for water control, land preparation, seeding and harvesting, show that they were also inventors.  (p.17).

Some scholars have described Egypt as food basket of  Ancient Near East simply because they were divinely instructed by Joseph to invest heavily in farming and store plenty food. Thus, during the farming period they were able to sell food products to other cities to save them from starving to death. Gen. 41: 1-57. Plants and animals do not only serve as food to man but very medicinal to cure various diseases.

Prior to the advent of scientific medicine in Africa, the use of plants as traditional medicine has been the main source of treating sickness. Nwaozuru (2020) states that in African worldview, good health is the utmost value and must be protected to avoid damage which could be caused by  sickness.  Nwaozuru (2020)  further enunciates that it  is realistic that sickness causes pains, agonizes and finally   death if not properly cured thus,  Africans make every effort to treat diseases of which the use of plants, some animal parts and other natural things are not exempted. It could be observed that those living in rural areas, the use of plants  in form of traditional medicine is the most available, accessible and affordable source of  primary health care.

This  paper is focused on the use of plants (herbs, leaves, roots, barks, fruits, seeds)  and many more  which is indigenous to Africans in treating diseases.

 For a proper understanding of   this paper,  the following terms below are clearly defined.

Medicinal Plants

Medicinal plants are those plants that has been discovered by traditional health practitioners to be useful in treating diseases.

Traditional Medicine

  According to World Health Organization (WHO) (2002),  traditional medicine as the sum total  of all  the  knowledge   and practical  whether  explicable or not,  used  in the diagnosis,  prevention  and elimination of physical, mental  or social imbalance  and relying  exclusively on practical  experience and observation handed down from generation to generation, whether verbally or in writing. In this context, traditional medicine is the use of natural plants, some parts of animals and other natural things such as water, sand and so forth to treat sickness to restore health.

Trado-Medical Practitioner

According to Akanbi and Aluko cited by Osundu (2019), trado-medical practitioner can be defined as an individual that has all total of knowledge or practices used in diagnosing, preventing or eliminating a physical, mental or social disease. The writer proposes that any one who can use natural plants, some parts of animals and other natural things such as water, sand and so forth to treat sickness in order  to restore health, is also among  in the field of trado-medical  practitioner. 

Sickness

Sickness in this context, will be defined as  physical ailments which could lead to death if not properly treated.

Healing

According to Nwaozuru (2020)  healing is  seen as the treatment of diseases for quick cure. 

Although   in African context, healing  goes beyond the physical application of plants and so forth mentioned above to restore good health. Most times, the healing process starts with the spiritual in form of divination and other spiritual exercise to know the cause of the sickness. Then other procedures will follow. But this paper is focused on the use of plants, some  animal parts and other natural things to restore bodily ailments. Hence, in this paper, the use of plants for treatment of ailments is regarded as traditional medicine.

 

 MEDICINAL PLANT AS  TRADITIONAL MEDICINE IN AFRICA

 

History of  Traditional  Medicine

The use of plants for curing sickness dates back to Ancient Near East where ancient cities used plants, some parts of animals and other natural resources to treat diseases. For example in Israel, Olive and mustard seeds are of a medicinal  use to them. Porter (1977) asserts  that:          In about 3000BC. Ancient Egyptian medicine of 1000BC are known to have used garlic, opium, castor oil, coriander, mint, indigo and other herbs for medicine and the old testament also mention herb use and cultivation including, mandrake, vetch, caraway, wheat, barley and rye. It is also on record that the Ebers papyrus discovered in a tomb in Egypt in 1862, dates from 1550BC and is the oldest medical text to survive. It contains hundreds of herbal remedies including castor seeds and senna for constipation and a decoction of cumin, goose fat and milk for various stomach complaints. Mesopotomian practice is recorded on a thousand clay tablets dating from the second century BC; over two hundred plants derived medicines again included castor oil and senna as laxatives. (p. 24).

Coming to Africa,  no date could be equivocally said as when  the practice of traditional medicine started. But it is agreed upon that it has been in existence before the Advent of Arabian and Western civilisation  in Africa. For instance the discovery of  quinine  as anti malaria by Dr Bakkie was done in Africa;  as the materials used in preparing the medicine was of African origin. Quinine was very  helpful to  the survival  of both the missionaries and the colonial masters in West Africa.  

 

 

 

TYPES OF TRADO-MEDICAL PRACTITIONERS

In Africa, trado-medical practitioners have one thing in common,  they make use of indigenous plants within and around their locality coupled with other materials to treat diseases. Although some are called, all trado-medical practitioners are properly trained. 

 

 Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) 

Women  especially in rural areas visit Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) during their pregnancy periods. According to Salihu, Raji and Olayinka (2014), TBAs know how to diagnose pregnancy, confirm it, determine the position of the growing foetus also  they have been seen to provide  prenatal and postnatal care and so successfully combine the duties of a modern day mid-wife. They  get their skills through apprenticeship from an older family member or another experienced TBA . They have a good knowledge of plant medicines, which they administer to pregnant mothers for the good health of both the baby and the mother.  TBAs also handle  sickness  of  the new birth and the mother  that may come  few months after birth. 

 

Traditional Psychiatrist

The traditional psychiatrist specializes mainly in the treatment of lunatics and those with mental disorders. Ekeopara and Ugoha (2017) observe that people with mental disorders who are violent, particularly those that are demon possessed, are usually called or beaten to submission and then given herbal hypnotics or highly sedative herbal potions to calm them, in order to bring them to a state of mental, emotional and psychological calmness as well as tranquility. Treatment and rehabilitation of people with mental disorders usually take long periods. Sometimes traditional psychiatrists involve exorcism in the healing process due to the wide believe that mental disorders are caused by evil spirits. In Igbo land traditional psychiatrics make use of Uha  leaves and  Opeta  stick and the water squeezed from it in treatment process of lunatics.

 

Diviners

A diviner can be defined as a diagnostician endowed with special skills of divination. Diviners basically foretell the cause of the problem and the appropriate way of managing them. According to Ijeh cited by Osundu (2020), diviners art is largely mystic, deeply magical and involves the use of several instruments purported to have magical or mystical power of consulting the spirits. They through divination  reveal the cause of the sickness and give remedy to it. Divination is more of spiritual than physical hence certain things must be done to obtain solution from the spiritual beings. For instance  In Igboland if through divination the cause of the sickness is known to be as a result of breaking of taboos (Aru/Alu) and committing of abominations,  purification rites will follow. This involves  sacrifices to appease the earth goddess, the ancestors and other spirit brings. Once this is properly done, the sickness will give way.

 

Witch Doctors

As the name implies, a witch doctor is a type of healer who treats ailment believed to be caused by witchcraft. This involves many spiritual activities to be done to ensure that the spirit beings will bring fast healing on the sick person. Witch doctors specialized in wizard caused diseases, most of them being formally wizards and witches.

 

Traditional Surgeon

They  perform  traditional surgery activities on people. Olajide (1999) went further to stress that:

The earliest recorded history of surgery in Africa dates back to Herophilus (circa 335-280 BC) who established the first medical school in the Alexandria of ancient Egypt. The early African practitioners of the art of surgery founded the sciences of anatomy and physiology. They practiced such maneuvers as compressions of the carotid arteries to induce lose of consciousness and of peripheral nerves to achieve regional analgesia. They described several surgical procedures for the management of injuries and ulcers which were prevalent at that time.  (p.14). 

According to Ekeopara and Ugoha (2017), the various forms of surgery recognised in traditional medical care include: (i) The cutting of tribal marks: Traditional surgeons usually cut tribal marks into the cheeks, bellies,  and charred herbal products are usually rubbed into these bleeding marks to effect healing. (ii) Male and female circumcision: Traditional surgeons carry out these simple surgical operations with special knives and scissors; blood-letting operations and wounds that result from these operations are usually treated with snail body fluid or pastes prepared from plants. (iii) Removal of whitlow: Diseased toes or fingers are usually cut open and treated. (iv) Piercing of ear lobes particularly in the youth to allow the fixing of ear rings. (v) Extraction of tooth infected teeth or teeth with holes, that bring pain to the mouth are removed and  treated with herbal medicines prepared in local gin.

 

Herbalist

This refers to a traditional medical practitioner who specializes in the use of herbs, tree barks, seeds and fruits  to treat various ailments. He  may combine the herbs with other medicinal natural things to treat sick people. Some of them are well trained by elderly traditional medicine practitioners even though they may have the gift of using herbs to cure diseases. Pregnant women are advised to feed on herbs, fruits  and leaves such as vegetables, paw paw and many more. Traditionally, married women who are finding it difficult to conceive may be administered some herbs and many times, these medicinal herbs play a vital role in pregnancy. In Aba every major street is found a trado-medical practitioners  who advertise both on radio, television and newspaper on how herbs could cure chronic diseases like staphylococcus, Sexually Transmitted Diseases and so on. 

 

Traditional Bone Setters (TBS)

The bone setters specialize in the treatment of fractures, dislocation, operation and suturing wounds. They  adjust sprained and fractured bones with herbal jellies and other adequate ingredients. The writer points that the late wife of his late uncle Charity E. Nwaozuru was a well known bone setter who treat people with fractured bones, hips, ankle and wrist injuries who come from far and near for treatment in her Nwaozuru's compound. She uses materials such as grinded alligator pepper  (Ose oji)  to mix with water,  red sand, nzu ( local white chalk), some grinded roots and many more with which she applies to the fractured part of the body joined with an animal bone and tie with a bandage. She also gives the patient some roots and herbs to drink with prescription. This she does continually until the patient's fracture heals. Some TBS have saved many people who have fracture especially from  accident  from being amputated,  rather the wound may last for a long time before it will get healed. 

 

 SOME CAUSES OF SICKNESS

In African perspective, there are certain things that can cause bodily disorder.

 

Spiritual Attacks,  Breaking   of Taboo and Committing of Abomination 

Traditionally, evil spirits, breaking of taboo and so on can cause sickness to man. According to Nwaozuru (2020),  in traditional Igbo  society, the cause of ill health  could be  classified into following; evil spirits,  manifestations of the anger of the earth  goddess (Ala), and breaking of taboos (Aru/Alu) and committing of abominations.  The Igbo believe in existence of Ekwensu (Satan), Ogbanje, witches and wizards, ghosts which sometimes can cause disease to man.  Martin (2014) affirms that some African illnesses believed to be caused by witchcraft and by evil spirits  are not treatable by  scientific  medicine. Thus, they call on their ancestors and Chukwu the Supreme Being to protect and heal them. Also, Nwaozuru (2020) further posits that when one commits taboo such as incest, stealing a yam, bestiality,  killing another man,  homosexuality and so on such a person will incur  the wrath  of the earth goddess which could cause ill-health. Furthermore, Nwaozuru (2020) views that it is   believed that good morals enhance fellowship with the Supreme Being, the earth  goddess, ancestors and foster good health. Bad morals are considered sins and separate the community from the Supreme Being leading to disruption in the well- being of both the individual and the community in which he or she lives. Ahiabu (2011) asserts that all these positions boil down   to one strongly held view in Africa that biology alone does not explain disease causation. And as such, any attempt to find remedy to ill-health in the form of healing must take into consideration the multi-dimensional method considered as a holistic approach to healing-a process. 

 

 

 

 

Malnutrition/Lack of Intake of  Balanced Diet

Improper take of balanced diet or malnutrition makes the vital body organs to be weak to fight against diseases that comes to the human body. This will then result to sickness. This is mostly experienced in Third World  countries that is facing civil wars, terrorism and insecurity, famine probably due to natural disasters. 

 

Irregular Participation in   Physical Exercise

Many people are not involved in regular physical exercises. Physical exercise helps to make the body fit and strong but many people fail to practice doing it daily. The importance of physical exercise made the Federal Government of Nigeria under the education sector to include the subject Physical and Health Education in the school curriculum and schools do not only teach it, but rather map out some hours during school session to practice many sporting activities which makes the students to actively participate in physical exercise. Many schools carry out Inter-house sports and match past competition all these involve physical exercise.  The idea of inculcating  into the pupils and students the need to exercise is for them to continue doing exercise in their life time. Even other sectors sometimes organise sports activities for members to participate. A good example is the Nigerian Police Games where other armed forces are invited.   This is a form of physical exercise. Presently, it is worrisome that many people are not actively doing physical exercise  as it should be done. This  the reason many fall sick. 

 

Sickness Resulting From Accident 

Many people become sick as a result of accident. For example, road accidents or falling from heights may result to fracture which has caused sickness to the affected part of the body. TBS are specialists in such  case.

 

Consumption of Hard Substances

The indiscriminate   consumption of hard drugs such as cocaine, marijuana, cannabis and many more  affect  the  body system which may lead to ill-health.  Excessive intake of Alcohol may affect the proper function of the vital organs to in the human body hence causes sickness. This is the reason National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration Control (NAFDAC) insist on   banning   the production and sale of sachet  liquor by beverage companies in Nigeria. NAFDAC is of the opinion that many citizens involve in excessive intake of alcohol as a result of the consumption of sachet liquor drinks. Many youths are into drug abuse and this has negative effects on health. For example it can cause psychiatric disorder, damage of kidney and liver and finally death.

 

Natural Disasters

Sometimes, occurrence of natural disasters could cause sickness to man. During the dry and rainy seasons in Nigeria, many people fall sick. Some may suffer pneumonia and many more due to the unfavorable weather on the citizens

 

Bites From Animals 

Bites from animals is another potential way of contacting diseases which could cause sickness to man. Bites from animals inflict man with pathogens that cause diseases to man. Mosquito parasites cause malaria, other animals have their own ways which they inflict man with various diseases. So bites and other contacts between man and animals could lead to sickness on the side of man.

 

 

 

 

Pollution of the Environment

Pollution of the environment causes sickness to living things. Air, land and  water pollution have negative effects on the human body. Degradation of the environment, oil exploration, release of harmful substances into the air or water  is inimical to healthy living. Thus, pollution of the environment makes man liable to sickness.

 

Radioactive Emissions From Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Gadgets

In this 21st century, the world is a global village hence technologically driven. ICT has permeated every sector of the global economy. Thus, this has led to high demand, purchase and use of ICT gadgets by all and sundry. Computer and mobile phones are among the ICT gadgets widely used even in Third World countries like Nigeria. Thus, one could say that we are in the "net generation" where internet and social media are the order of the day especially for youths.  According to Soneye and  Akinpelu  (2018):

Radiation from laptop cannot be seen by the naked eyes, but it can pose real dangers to our health. If only we are a few feet away to our laptops, otherwise when laptops are placed and used directly on our laps, it exposes us to quite more intense radiation that are harmful. It has been said that the amount of radiation emitted by desktop computers is generally higher than that which is emitted from Laptop or notebook computers. Placing the laptop on  the lap make to be very close to the genitals, skin and muscles. Prolonged exposure to this radiation may produce biological effects on human health. (p. 153).

Furthermore on the health implications of the usage of the mobile phones and laptops on accessing the internet and social media,  Hasnain, Nasreen and  Ijaz (2015) observe that excessive usage of social media    has also been associated with sleep deprivation, people  do not take their meals on time and take proper rest. They take excessive amount of coffee or other hard substances to remain active on social media  all through the night especially students who have finished their exam, this affects negatively on their health.  Nwaozuru (2020) observes that, as students stay long in chatting on social media their eyes are glued to the screen of their smart phones and computer system, the rays from the gadgets infiltrate into their eyes which may have  future defect on their eyes  and other body system as they grow old. There radioactive emissions from  ICT gadgets can cause sickness to human body.

 

 BIBLICAL SUPPORT TO THE USE OF TRADITIONAL MEDICINE

Having affirmed that the supreme being created plants, animals and other natural resources for the benefit and health of man.  It have been observed that some   Christians  in Africa are having negative attitude towards the use of traditional medicine. This is because when the Christian missionaries came to Africa,  they associated traditional medicine which is mostly plants oriented  to devil hence, made efforts to stop  new converts from patronizing  it. Yet, the Bible supports the use of plants for food and other medicinal purpose. The  use of plants for medicine is not new according to Duke (1999), the Bible mentions 128 plants that were part of everyday life in ancient Israel and other Ancient Near East  neighbours. These plants include almonds, apples, garlic, mustard seeds, cucumber, grapes, mandrake, nettle, poppy and wormwood. God the creator also encouraged man to make use  of herbs for a healthy living Genesis 1:29-30. 

BIBLE REFERENCES ON MEDICINAL PLANTS

Some Bible references on usage of plants to cure diseases will be outlined below: 

Gen.9:3 Every  moving thing that lives shall be food for you; and as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. 

Exo.12:8,  They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. 

Exo. 15:23-25 When they came to Marah, they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter; therefore it was named Marah. 24 And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink? 25 And he cried to the Lord; and the Lord showed him a tree, and he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet. Here the tree has cured the water of bitterness and made it fit for drinking. Good source of water supply is a requirement for a healthy living. 

Numbers 11:5  We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. Here, the Israelites thought about the herbs, fruits and seeds they enjoyed in Egypt which made them healthy.

Ezek. 47:12 And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing. The last sentence is a confirmation that God created herbs for good health of man.

Psalms 104:14 Thou dost cause the grass to grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth. 

Job 30:4 They pick saltwort and the leaves of bushes, and the roots of the broom tree for their food.

Dan. 1:16 So the steward took away their rich food and the wine they were to drink, and gave them vegetables. The three Hebrew youths who ate vegetables  were healthier than others. This is an interesting indication that herbs help to keep a healthy body.

 

SOME HERBS RECORDED IN THE BIBLE AND THEIR MEDICAL VALUES

Duke (1999) made reference to some herbs found in the scripture  which was also used by other nations in Ancient Near East and the type of diseases they can cure. Thus, use of the medicinal plants in  Ancient Near East combines the healing wisdom of early Arabs, Hebrews, Copts, and Muslims. They are as follows:

1. Aloe (Aloe Vera). John 19:3940. Used to treat burns, constipation, cancer, skin irritations

2. Flax (Linum usitatissimum). Leviticus 6:10. For treatment of  Arthritis, bronchitis, cancer, dermatitis, heart disease, inflammation, rheumatism.

3. Frankincense (Boswellia sacra) or (B. carteri). Matthew 2:1011. Used for: Dysentery, gonorrhea, fever, polyps.

4. Garlic (Allium sativum). Numbers 11:56. Used for angina, cancer, colds, diabetes, flu, hypertension, infections. Garlic juice could be use  to treat intestinal infections, respiratory ailments, snakebites, melancholy, and hypochondria. According to the Talmud, there are five properties to the garlic that many Jews consumed on Fridays (Shabbat). Four of them is for medicinal purposes.

a. It keeps the body warm.

b. It brightens the face.

c. It increases semen.

d. It kills parasites. 

5. Milk thistle (Silybum marianum). Genesis 3:18. It is used in reducing  the  effects of alcoholism, asthma, cirrhosis, hepatitis, jaundice, kidney and urinary tract stones, psoriasis and so on.

6. Myrrh (Commiphora spp.). Esther 2:12. Used to treat analgesic, astringent, bronchitis, expectorant, high cholesterol and many more.

6. Turmeric (Curcuma longa). Song of Solomon 4:1415. Used for: Inflammation, flatulence, arthritis, bronchitis, diuretic, dyspepsia, expectorant, laryngitis, lymphoma, rheumatism and so forth.

Axe (2018) further lists  the following:

7. Anise Plant: It is used for cooling high temperature in human body,  helps  with digestion, used as an anti-flatulence agent. Its also used with some success for breast-feeding support, be helpful for coughs and bronchitis.

8. Cinnamon: It  helps in lowering  blood glucose levels.  its also employed in the natural treatment of yeast infections. It can also help to calm an upset stomach by relieving gas.

9. Cumim Seeds:  Very helpful in fighting diabetes.

10. Mustard Seeds: It helps to fight cancer.

11. Saffron: Very potential for treatment of  stomach upsets, bubonic plague and smallpox.  

 

THE CONTINUITY ON USAGE OF PLANTS  AS TRADITIONAL MEDICINE IN  AFRICA

Despite the drastic changes that have taken place in Africa as result of globalisation, the practice of herbal medicine is still widespread in Africa. It is well known that traditional medicine practitioners use herbs, plant seeds, tree barks, leaves, roots and many more to produce medicines for treatment of diseases. World Health Organization (WHO) (2001) recognizes  the effectiveness of  and integral role of traditional medicine in treating people. As a result, Ali (2011) states that WHO has acknowledged the contributions of traditional healers to the overall health delivery particularly in developing  countries. Ali (2011) further opines that  according to the World Health Organization  the native healers have contributed to a broad spectrum of health care needs that include disease prevention, management and treatment of non-communicable diseases as well as mental and gerontological health problems.  It could be said that there is  an upsurge of interest in traditional medicines in rural areas.   It could be observed that Christians patronize  traditional medical healers and their products as it is evident that the application of native herbs are effective. Akueshi (1999) observes that  presently in Nigeria,  several steps have been taken by health workers and in the National Assembly to give recognition to African indigenous healers  as there is a registered body of Traditional Medicine Practitioners in Nigeria known as National Association of Nigerian  Traditional Medical Practitioners (NANTMP)  who from time to time, organize seminars  to improve on the manufacturing of traditional medicine. NANTMP helps to fish out quacks in the country. The medicine manufactured by trado-medical practitioners such as  Dr. Bem Belle, Dr. Iwu, Dr. Iguedo, Dr. Agnes Nwama and so forth  are now being package to meet international standards . Most of the herbalist mentioned have modernise their business to suit the public.

 

Some Indigenous Plants And  Their Medicinal Values

Indigenous medicinal plants are sometimes combined with other natural resources like water for it to be effective in treating diseases. Some of the plants to be mentioned below will be given their botanical and  local names in indigenous language especially in Igbo.

1.  Scent Leaf ( Nchu awu) : When the leaves are dried and  lighted with fire, It helps to prevent mosquitoes from perching and sucking human blood. It can be used to prevent stomach ache, prevent dysentery and so forth.

2. Bitter Leaf (Onugbo): For de-worming the body system, stops stomach bite, helps to reduce sugar level and many more.

3. Bitter Kola (Garcinia kola) (Aki ilu): Olufunke,   Olarewaju and Van Staden (2018) state that it helps in nervous alertness and induction of insomnia. dried peels is used to treat cuts and sore throats, root soaked in gin for tooth decay, cough and gonorrhoea, tea (steamed leaves) for stomach ache, hepatitis, respiratory tract inflammation, diarrhea and as an aphrodisiac, seed (nuts) for liver cirrhosis, dried seed for asthma and fresh fruit as a broncho-dialator. The roots of the plant are commonly used as chewing stick as thus, help to prevent tooth decay.  It prevents people from vomiting, stop stomach ache, it helps to stop cough,  and so on 

4. Kola Nut ( Cola nitida) (Oji): Very useful to  people suffering from low blood pressure. Olufunke,   Olarewaju and Van Staden (2018) opine that  kola nut when chewed helps to stay awake, quenches thirst and hunger. 

5. Utabazi: Good  for diabetes patients, de-worm the body and regulate sugar level.

6. Plantain: Good for Diabetes patients.

7. Uha  leaves: It is  used in the process of  treating people who have psychiatric disorder 

8.  Opeta : The water squeezed from the plant is an antidote to poison, the plant itself is used in treating people who have psychiatric disorder. 

9. Alligator pepper (Ose oji)(Aframomum meleguata): according to Iwu cited by Olufunke,   Olarewaju and Van Staden (2018), the fresh fruit  of Alligator pepper   is used as an aphrodisiac and leaves for measles and leprosy.

10. Palm oil ( mmanu nri) . It is used as anti poison.

11. Ukpotoro:  The seeds when kept at in a house helps to wade off witches who may want to inflict people with sickness.

12. Sugar Cane: Good for those suffering from low sugar level.

13. Fluted Pumpkin (Ugu): Helps to boost blood. 

14. Garden Egg Seeds and Leaf ( Anara, afufa): Good for those suffering from lack of blood in the body.

15. Uda: It is  mostly used in preparing food for nursing mothers in order to flush out the remaining bad blood in their bodies during child birth.

16. Uziza:  It is also used to prepare food for nursing mothers as it has similar function as Uda.

17. Orange ( Oroma): The fruits when eaten helps to cure constipation. 

18. Henna (Lawsonia inermis): According to Olufunke,   Olarewaju and Van Staden (2018),  Its  leaves are used in the treatment of wounds, anaemia, ulcers, lumbago, rheumatagia, inflammations, bronchitis, diarrhoea, leucoderma, scabies, boils, haemorrhages, cough, fever and dysentery. It is used for alleviating jaundice, venereal diseases, skin diseases, smallpox and spermatorrhoea. 

19. Ephedra Alata (Lepidium sativum) is used  to treat asthma, hypertension, headaches and pulmonary diseases (Boulos, 1983). Lepidium sativum seeds crushed with honey is used as a treatment for cough and pulmonary affections, and skin problems (De Natale and Pollio, 2012). 

20. Branch and leaf decoctions(Globularia alypum) According to Bellakhdar, Claisse,  Fleurentin, and Younos (1991), are prepared for the treatment of intermittent fevers, arthritis and rheumatisms.  The decoction of the aerial parts is used for constipation, fever, and mycosis.

21. Leaf Decoction (Balanites aegyptica) is used  as an anthelminthic and for skin infections (De Natale and Pollio., 2012). It is also used as a cure for stomach, liver, pulmonary and spleen infections..

22. Marula tree (Sclerocarya birrea): For  treatment of dysentery and diarrhoea (Watt and Breyer-Brandwijk, 1962).  

 (Acalypha wilkesiana) is used in the treatment of headache and cold while the cold leaf extract is popularly used in Nigeria to bath babies with skin infection (Adesina, Idowu, Ogundaini, Oladimeji,  Olugbade, Onawunmi & Pais, 2000) such as eczema.  

 

 

 

CONCLUSION

God created plants for food and for medicinal purposes.   The Bible makes mention of so many valuable herbs. These are plants that can be used as food, medicine and other useful purposes. The paper concentrated more on the medicinal purposes of plants to man. The paper encourages Christians in Africa to use the indigenous   plants in their locality to treat themselves when they become sick. This does not  discourage the believe in divine healing nor  the use of scientific medicine  in treating sickness.

 This is summed up in Sirach 38:2-9 which will be paraphrased as thus:  For healing comes from the Most High.  The Lord created medicines from the earth, and a sensible man will not despise them.  Was not water made sweet with a tree,  in order that his power might be known? .  By them he heals and takes away pain;  the pharmacist makes of them a compound,  from him health is upon the face of the earth.  My son, when you are sick do not be negligent,  but pray to the Lord, and he will heal you. 

Christians in Africa are not to  exempt medicinal plants in their bid to secure good health. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

REFERENCES

Adamo, N. & Al- Ansari, N .(2020).  The Sumerians and the Akkadians: The forerunners of the first civilization (2900-2003BC). In  Journal of Earth Sciences and Geotechnical  Engineering, 10,3,17-39.

 

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