By Angela Mwakatobe, Njiro Wildlife Research Centre, Tanzania
In many cultures of the world honey has been used as a medicine since ancient times. Recently the medical profession has “rediscovered” honey as a therapeutic substance and it is gaining acceptance as an antibacterial agent for treatment of different diseases. In conventional medicine, honey is also used as a carrier for other drugs.
Arumeru District is in the Arusha Region of northern Tanzania. Major tribes in the District include the Wameru and Waarusha. Some clans of Wameru are traditionally beekeepers. In Arumeru District the use of honey for medicinal purposes is widely understood.
It is important to document what the various tribes in Tanzania know. This is the first time this traditional knowledge has been recorded: data was collected through a questionnaire and semi-structured interview.
Traditional healers in Arumeru use honey in many ways. It is used in its pure form and mixed with other ingredients to cure coughs, stomach ulcers, malaria, and burns. Honey is used also to improve assimilation and is well known for its effectiveness in chronic intestinal cases such as constipation, duodenal ulcers and liver disturbances. In its pure and unprocessed form, honey helps against infections, promotes tissue regeneration and reduces scarring.
In most cases traditional healers hesitate to disclose the recipes for their medicines. They pass them on to family members by word of mouth. It is confirmed that local people have been using these medicines for many years and have proved them to be effective.
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