Here is a post on the medicinal plants that we learned about at the
Universidade Católica de Moçambique. Braund Mechendura took us on
a tour of the medicinal plants garden and explained that up until recently,
these plants were processed in the garden lab to make topical creams,
teas and food supplements to treat conditions from malnutrition to anxiety
in the local population. The garden was also used to teach medical and
pharmacy students as well as build credibility for Western medicine in
a population that traditionally entrusts its health to local curandeiros.
For the past few years, the garden lost its funding, but Mr. Mechendura
stays hopeful that the lab will resume its operation soon.
Following are some of the plants that we learned about from Mr. Mechendura.
If you are planning to use the plants for yourself or your patients, please
consult an expert in this field as some plants can be harmful or even deadly.
Moringeira (scientific name: moringa oleifera), or drumstick tree, was our favorite. Its dried leaves and fruit are added to stews as a dietary supplement to increase iron, protein, Vitamin A and C and calcium content. It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Its seeds are used to disinfect water and this method is supported by WHO and various scientific publications.
Papaya plant root boiled with sugar yields a liquid that aids with cough when ingested. Dry papaya leaves are burnt to produce smoke that when inhaled relieves nasal congestion and sinusitis. Papaya also has wound healing properties.
Iodine leaves mixed with vegetable oil produce an ointment used to disinfect cuts.
Chha balacate, or lemongrass, is used to decrease stress and anxiety. It is also known to raise blood pressure.
Babosa, or aloe vera, is used topically for burns, psoriasis and dandruff.
Tomateiro sauvage, or wild tomato plant, does not produce fruit. The leaves from this plant are used as suppository to treat fever in children. The leaves mixed with ashes, lemon juice and tincture of eucalyptus are also used to treat tuberculosis in conjunction with recommended TB treatment regimen.