Traditional Medicine in Zambia: Pros & Cons

Categories: HealthMedicine

In this modern era, the traditional medicine is still important to society. Nowadays, most people in Zambia are resorting to traditional healers and herbalists who claim that are able to solve problems ranging from bringing good luck, penis enlargement, beauty enhancement, passing examinations among others. Traditional healers are people who make others believe in their customs and practices in order to make them get well or to heal them while herbalists give medicinal herbs which are mainly extracted from plants therefore, Traditional medicine is basically a combination of beliefs, facts, customs, practices as well as medicinal herbs.

These are usually passed on from one generation to another. Although most people are resorting to traditional medicine, it has its own merits and demerits as discussed below.

Most rural dwellers of the country still rely on traditional healers due to a number of constraints. One of which is lack of medical facilities or they simply reside too far away to access modern medical services during an emergency.

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For example most people in rural areas do not have an easy access to medical centers compared to traditional healers hence tend to go to them (traditional healers). Though it has been found that even people residing near modern medical facilities patronize these traditional health establishments. In fact, traditional healers live and practice their trade among the communities they live in and so understand their patients’ beliefs and customs better. Lower cost is another advantage to herbal medicine. Herbs cost much less than prescription medications.

Research, testing, and marketing add considerably to the cost of prescription medicines.

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Herbs tend to be inexpensive compared to drugs. Herbal medicines tend to be more effective for long-standing health complaints that don't respond well to pharmaceutical drugs. One example is the herbs and alternative remedies used to treat arthritis. Vioxx, a well-known prescription drug used to treat arthritis, was recalled due to increased risk of cardiovascular complications. Alternative treatments for arthritis, on the other hand, have few side effects. Such treatments include dietary changes like adding simple herbs, eliminating vegetables from the nightshade family and reducing white sugar consumption.

Among other reasons why people tend to resort to traditional medicine is that some of the needs can’t be met by the modern medical facilities. Problems such as bringing back lost lovers, bringing good luck, passing examinations as well as getting rich for prestigious reasons tend to be done in a spiritual way. The charms given have magical forces which evoke spirits to respond in a way they want them to depending on the incantations hence the services cannot be offered at modern medical facilities like Hospitals.

1 Most herbal medicines are well tolerated by the patient, with fewer unintended consequences than pharmaceutical drugs. it is true that since the healing process is closer to how Nature intended it, the contraindications are minimal when herbal medication is taken as per prescription and under the supervision of a qualified practitioner, Naturopathy or any other equivalent alternative healing method that involves the use of Mother Nature's bounties

Widespread availability: Yet another advantage of herbal medicines are their availability. Herbs are available without a prescription. You can grow some simple herbs, such as peppermint and chamomile, at home. In some remote parts of the world, herbs may be the only treatment available to the majority of people.

Natural Healing

As mentioned before, herbal medicine doesn't obstruct the body's self-healing abilities in any way. On the contrary, they enhance the biological healing machinery so that the recovery process gets accelerated and the body is able to maintain an ideal internal environment that is crucial for such recovery. A lot of herbs work by stimulating various glands so that appropriate hormones are activated. These hormones carry the distress signal to the relevant parts of the physiology to either induce or inhibit certain biological processes in order for the healing process to take place.

Continued Benefits

A lot of herbal remedies come with special instructions about diet, rest, and exercises that enhance the potency of the herb by preparing the body in such a way that it responds to the treatment in the most effective and desirable way. These dietary and lifestyle changes ultimately help the patient by getting their bodies into a healthy rhythm. When these changes become a habit and are followed even after recovery from the ailment, chances of future occurrences of the same malady are greatly reduced.

Better Immunity

Owing to their tendency of enhancing the body's natural healing process and correcting bad habits that lead to ill-health, herbs contribute towards strengthening the immune system. This, in turn, fortifies the body's natural defenses against pathogens that are responsible for primary as well as secondary infection.

Metabolism and Nutrition

A stronger immune system and a holistically regulated diet and lifestyle leads to improved metabolism, which in turn leads to better absorption of nutrition from one's diet. That is why most herbal treatment regimes forbid, or at least limit, the intake of junk food and food that is too oily or contains stimulants such as caffeine. The reason is twofold - junk food doesn't give the body the required quantity or variety of nutrition and stimulants interfere with the function of the medication. In essence, lack of proper nutrition gets in the way of the treatment's focus towards strengthening the biological defenses and by interfering with the action of the medicinal herbs, stimulants diminish the efficacy of the treatment. Hence, both are either limited or eliminated from the diet, leading to diminish one's psychological dependence on nutritionally deprived "comfort food". Read more at Buzzle:


Herbs are not without disadvantages, and herbal medicine is not appropriate in all situations. These are a few of the disadvantages to consider: Inappropriate for many conditions: Modern medicine treats sudden and serious illnesses and accidents much more effectively than herbal or alternative treatments. An herbalist would not be able to treat serious trauma, such as a broken leg, nor would he be able to heal an appendicitis or a heart attack as effectively as a conventional doctor using modern diagnostic tests, surgery, and drugs. Lack of dosage instructions: Another disadvantage of herbal medicine is the very real risks of doing yourself harm through self-dosing with herbs. While you can argue that the same thing can happen with medications, such as accidentally overdosing on cold remedies, many herbs do not come with instructions or package inserts.

There's a very real risk of overdose. Poison risk associated with wild herbs: Harvesting herbs in the wild is risky, if not foolhardy, yet some people try to identify and pick wild herbs. They run a very real risk of poisoning themselves if they don't correctly identify the herb, or if they use the wrong part of the plant. Medication interactions: Herbal treatments can interact with medications. Nearly all herbs come with some warning, and many, like the herbs used for anxiety such as Valerian and St. John's Wort, can interact with prescription medication like antidepressants.

It's important to discuss your medications and herbal supplements with your doctor to avoid dangerous interactions. Lack of regulation: Because herbal products are not tightly regulated, consumers also run the risk of buying inferior quality herbs. The quality of herbal products may vary among batches, brands or manufacturers. This can make it much more difficult to prescribe the proper dose of an herb.

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Updated: Aug 12, 2021
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Traditional Medicine in Zambia: Pros & Cons. (2016, Sep 25). Retrieved from

Traditional Medicine in Zambia: Pros & Cons essay
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