Charles Ngoro is a frequent user of Ngarua maarifa centre in Sipili. The 60 year old farmer lives in Karaba village of Muhotetu division, Laikipia County. Ngoro have been borrowing books and accessing information from the centre for a long time. He reads magazines and other publications. Whenever he returns the publication, he is always armed with a story to tell of what he has learned.
In august 2011, he borrowed a magazine; ‘‘footsteps issue 48’’. The magazine featured articles on traditional medicine. He was highly impressed by the title since he wanted to learn the relationships between modern medicine and traditional medicine. Immediately he signed the issuance book. I went with him to the Maarifa library to search for another book on poultry feeds formulation, I picked a pamphlet and he could easily pose; '‘I have already read that one’’.
‘‘After reading the newsletter, I discovered that traditional medicines are derived from trees! I had never estimated the great value in a tree, apart from the common traditional uses like constructions, fuel wood and other small domestic chores, not until I read the stories ’’, Said Charles.
He learned about Neem tree (Azadirachta indica). He even identified one in a neighbour’s farm. The tree is widely used for medicinal purposes. It is used to treat diseases like malaria, sleeping sickness, skin problems such as acne, fungal infections, psoriasis, scabies and eczema and infected burns. It can also be used to control head lice.
· Malaria:- Make one litre of tea with five grams tried leaves or 40 fresh single, small leaves (not whole bunches) and drink 1 litre of tea during the day.
· Sleeping sickness: - In addition to the recommended medical drugs, drink 1 litre of ‘‘Neem’’ tea each day.
· Head lice: - Make a tincture with 10g dried leaves and 100ml alcohol and leave for 7 days. Use the tincture as a hair lotion 3 times a day for five days or pound some Neem seeds into a paste. Wash the hair each evening and then rub about 1 tea spoon of paste into the hair and leave until the next evening. Repeat the necessary.
· To treat the skin problems mentioned above, make an ointment with 10g of Neem oil and 100g of ointment or make a tincture using 20g dried leaves and 100g alcohol 70% and leave to soak for a week. Apply ointment or mix 1 teaspoon of the leaves in 1 teaspoon of vegetables oil and rub in to affected areas.
· Infected burns: - To prepare the medicine make a decoction with a handful of fresh leaves in 1 litre of water. Filter while still very hot to avoid contamination and cool. Use to wash and infected burn. Keep the patient under mosquito net to avoid new infection.
Apart from its rich nutritional value Pawpaw (Carica papaya) is used to treat: intestinal worms, to clean dirty wounds, indigestion, Amoebic dysentery, open boils, infected wound and burns.
· Intestinal worms. Intestinal worms are nuisance parasites that infect the gastro-intestinal tract in human beings and animals. Though they can live throughout the body they mostly prefer the intestinal tract. Human and animals gets exposed to the worms through several means including: ingestion of undercooked meat, drinking infected water, and skin absorption. Pawpaw latex has been used as a de-wormer. To obtain latex, wash the large unripe fruit still attached to the plant, make several vertical cuts 1 mm deep in the skin and collect the drops of the white sap in a spoon or cup. The knife and spoon used must be stainless steel, as traces of dust destroy the active chemicals, papine. Be careful to keep the latex out of the eyes.
Dosage: - For adults take 4 teaspoonful of latex in the morning before eating. Repeat one week later. For babies of six months to 1 year give ½ teaspoon, for 1-3 years give 1 teaspoon, 4-6 years 2 teaspoons and 7 -13 year 3 teaspoons.
· Dirty wounds:- (to clean them) add a few drops of water to cool, boiled water.
· Indigestion:- Add 1 or 2 drops of latex to your food or chew 3 pawpaw seeds
· Amoebic dysentery: - Chew a teaspoon of fresh pawpaw seeds 3 times a day for 7 days for light cases. For serious cases, give 1 table’s spoon of ground seeds 3 times a day for 7 days.
· Open boils infected wounds and burns: wash and cut the unripe pawpaw. With a clean stainless steel knife, cut a slice a little as a Childs little finger. Lay over the wound and secure with a bandage. Leave for 4 hours: though if it causes pain remove earlier. Repeat 4 times a day until all the infected pus has disappeared. In between these treatment, cover the wound with a honey and sugar mixture.
Passions fruits passiflora edulis, not only supply the body with vitamin C, it also provides a traditional remedy for common colds, sleeplessness, anxiety, spasm (cramps), and asthma.
· Sleeplessness, anxiety and cramps. Make a tincture from 10g of dried young leaves in 100ml of alcohol. Use 30 drops 1-3 times a day. For sleeplessness alone make a decoction by boiling 1 handful of young leaves in just 1 cup of water for 10 minutes. Drink each evening.
· Asthma. To treat asthma and as a sedative (also for the previous condition), make a decoction by boiling 1 large handful of young leaves in 1 litre of water. Drink 1 litre of the decoction during the day.
Ngoro observed that the use of traditional medicine has greatly advanced in other countries like the democratic republic of Congo, where traditional medicines extracted from tree are used in hospitals. He believes Kenya lags behind when it comes to the use of traditional medicine.
To him the maarifa centre is a great resource centre, ‘‘without which he would be living in ignorance of many things’’ Said Ngoro.
He is of the view that the centre should be managing well and the library section improved and to enable easy access, follow up of books lend out.
Source; footsteps issue 48.