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Native African Medicine

Nature volume 150, pages 3637 (11 July 1942) | Download Citation



NATIVE African medicine is still an unexplored territory, and it is doubtful if any single individual can arrive at a sound evaluation of native medical practice in any particular area. This would require an entire mission of persons qualified in chemistry, botany, medicine, anthropology and a few other sciences. Nevertheless, a good deal of preliminary investigation has been accomplished by individuals. Thus in South Africa considerable progress has been made in the work of determining the active principles of native drugs and of studying them chemically and experimentally on animals. J. M. Watt and M. G. Breyer-Brandwijk in 1932 published a volume on medicinal and poisonous plants used by the natives of South Africa, with information on 1,713 species which had been investigated in various laboratories. In 1934, D. G. Steyn published a work on the toxicology of plants in South Africa, and in West Africa there is J. M, Dabziel's “The Useful Plants of West Africa”, with notes on the medicinal use, by natives, of more than seven hundred species ; and so on.

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