New lamps for old

The west exports lifestyle assumptions to the world, constantly. This includes medical accessorising, designer brands for every conceivable disease or malaise. The Ghanaian population are more and more hooked on the flagrantly disseminated notion, “new cures good, old cures bad.” Despite drugs growing on trees all around, they are quickly forgetting their bio-heritage and opting for packaged alternatives. There is an extraordinary advertisment on television at the moment for paracetamol, finishing with an entire, grinning, happy family celebrating the father’s cure of a headache, by synchronised dancing and the father holding up the product and pointing to it. It is truly bizarre. (Equally strange is the activity of a friend of ours, a famous veteran of Ghanaian folk songs who has gone round the isolated villages, singing and play acting about Unilever products – followed by a lorry from which villagers can buy them.)
Back to drugs. There is a cultural battle going on. Old treatments or new? Doctors here are trained mostly in allopathic medicine and few GPs give credence to the old ways. Meanwhile, foragers from the drug companies go trekking round the outer limits, sniffing out traditional treatments in the hope of finding new cures – to be packaged in glistening cellophane, in tablets and capsules. It is worth remembering that these companies cannot patent the natural world but CAN patent extractions.

Anyway, here are two natural drugs that grow on trees in our garden. I am starting with the caveat that I cannot be held responsible for the efficacy or otherwise of the two. You can start searching the internet for verification.

The first is bitter leaf. Now this shrub (I grow a hedge of it) is the natural killer of parasites in the blood and so is helpful in preventing malaria. It also cleans out the organs, reduces sugar in the system for diabetics and cures most skin diseases.

The second involves the dark green leaves of the soursop fruit tree. Boil ten of these in a litre of water for 30 minutes and drink a cup or two every day of the concentrate. Soursop is vaunted to be 1,000 times more effective than chemotherapy against 8 of the major cancers.

Are these just folk lore or is there something almost magical in their essence. Am I living in false consciousness (see the last blog) by taking bitter leaf and no anti-malarial prescription from the chemist? Likewise with my daily dose of soursop? Is it any worse than going to the pharmacy and believing what is scripted on the wrappers?

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