Indigenous Knowledge Systems for the Treatment of Hypertension in Lusaka, Zambia: Perceptions, Knowledge and Practice.
Kalungia, Chichony Aubrey
Bwalya, Angela Gono
Mutati, Ronald Kampamba
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Indigenous knowledge systems and traditional technologies have made and can continue to make a significant contribution to modern medicines with discovery of novel molecules in the treatment of various conditions. The traditional knowledge in our communities is passed on from generation to generation. Scientific evaluation of these compounds from traditional medicines can lead to discovery drugs with better efficacy and novel mechanism. The study aimed at determining the indigenous knowledge based preparations used for hypertension in Lusaka, Zambia. The specific objectives were: a). To determine the knowledge and practice of Traditional Health Practitioners in the management of HTN, b). To identify the parts of the plants utilized in the preparation of the IKS-based preparation used in the management of hypertension. c). To determine the procedure employed in preparing the IKS-based preparations used in the management of hypertension. d). To recommend for further elucidation of the possible active compounds in the indigenous based preparations and postulate possible pharmacological mechanisms of actions. The study adopted structured interviews complemented by non-participatory observations. Samples used by traditional healers were collected for identification and characterization A total of twelve (12) traditional healers registered with Traditional Health Practitioners of Zambia who manage hypertension were interviewed. The traditional healers interviewed had knowledge of causes of hypertension, only three (3) indicated bewitchment as one of the causes. spiritual method constituted an important method of diagnosis. The beliefs of Traditional Healers with regard to hypertension indicates their alignment to agreeing the scientific understanding of hypertension in terms of its causes, risk factors and complications. Traditional Healers in Zambia believe hypertension can be managed by some mode of action of the herbs. Common themes that emerged to determine the effectiveness of the herbs used included; patient feedback, physical appearance, confirmation at local clinic and increased urine output. Majority (5/12) felt that there herbs take atleast 7-14 before the effects are seen. All the traditional healers indicated using atleast two (2) types of herbal preparations to manage hypertension. Of the preparations mentioned three (3) were not of plant origin. These include; crocodile fat, pebble and honey. This study observed that the traditional healers of Zambia knowledge of causes and complications of hypertension are alligned to the scientific knowledge. Divination is however still the most important (50%) method used for diagnosis and witchcraft/ spiritual method forms an important method for some for diagnosis of hypertension. It is noteworthy that traditional healers in Zambia believe hypertension can be managed by some mode of action of the herbs a belief shared by the conventional management.