Diet and Herbs

Diet & Herbs: For African People
by A. Kweku Andoh, Ph. D.
The North Scale Institute

Plants and people have more in common than meets the eye. Every living entity on earth requires air, water and sunshine. Plants extract additional life force from the earth; humans take most of our sustenance second-hand from the plant world.

Like plants, people require certain elements specific to their particular make up. African rain forest plants do not thrive in the cold climates of Europe and America. Medicinal pants from tropical environs do not produce the healing alkaloids if the plants are grown outside of their natural habitats.

It is my contention that many ailments that affect mostly African Americans can be directly traced to nutritional deficiencies. African Americans do not eat foods indigenous to their ancestral lands, the original home of their "gene pool".

One nutrient, dietary thiocyanate, common in foods indigenous to the African diet, can be directly associated with "dis-ease" reactions in African people in America. The most commonly know of these thiocyanate deficient "dis-eases" is sickle cell anemia.

Other indigenous peoples who suffer disproportionately from diabetes and hypertension, as much as African Americans, are the aboriginal people of Australia and the Native American Indians. They have experienced a great change in diet from their natural traditional foods because of the loss of their lands and cultures.

It is well known that Asians who come to America begin to suffer from diseases uncommon to their birthplace. Those who adhere closely to their traditional diets when they emigrate, remain healthier than those who adopt the American meat based diet.

It is possible for African Americans to adopt a diet rich in thiocyanate. In many urban areas of the United States, African and Caribbean foods can be found. Many health food stores carry foods rich in thiocyanate. Following is a short list of foods to increase your dietary thiocyanate:

Butter beans, lentils, black-eye peas, garbanzo beans (chick peas), millet, buckwheat, sorghum, pigeon peas, African yam, African cassava, lima beans, cow peas, peanuts (ground nuts and plantain.

There are many wonderful traditional herbal remedies that help to alleviate the symptoms of diabetes, hypertension, arthritis and rheumatism. The most effective treatment still remains dietary changes. The biggest single change in your diet should be a reduction of fats (especially animal fats) and a reduction or elimination of meats altogether.

Cassia occidentalis, commonly called Senna coffee or Florida coffee, is native to Africa and is found in the warmer parts of the United States and the Caribbean Islands. The seeds from the fruits are used by people for hypertension, liver and kidney dysfunctions. Other parts of this plant are used for the treatment of stomach disorders, yellow fever, malaria, sexually transmitted diseases and colitis. Details about this plant and many others can be found in my book, The Science & Romance of Selected Herbs Used in Medicine & Religious Ceremony.

Momordica charantia , commonly called carailie, corailee or cerasse in the Caribbean Islands, is a native to tropical Africa. It is now naturalized throughout the tropics. It is known as the bitter gourd or bitter cucumber. In Ghana the local name is Nyanya. It is used by all the African people (on the continent and throughout the Diaspora) for diabetes, as a blood purifier, anti microbial, anti cancer and as an abortifacient agent. This herb is found in small produce shops and local health food stores in urban cities of America that cater to Caribbeans.

Reproductive problems have become rampant throughout the African Diaspora. Before World War II, African people took pride in producing many children. The pressures of the modern environment have reduced the fertility rate. More common, however, is the side effect from allopathic medications given for hypertension and diabetes that often results in impotence in men.

At our laboratories at the All African Healing Arts Society in San Francisco, we have developed several all natural herbal products from the tropical rain forests of Africa that address the modern sexual dysfunctions of impotence, sterility, infertility and low libido.

Some of these formulations are based on Corynanthe, the best known natural treatment for impotence; Aframomum (infertility and sexual stimulant; antibiotic), and Xylopia (fertility and sexual stimulant; anti microbial and antibiotic). Details of these formulations are found in my book, The Rejuvenating Plants of Tropical Africa.

Other herbal treatments that have shown excellent results is Tabernanthe iboga, a plant from tropical Africa, effective in the treatment of substance abuse, and which is now undergoing clinical trials.

Tabernanthe iboga has to be the gift of the African ancestors to the descendants in the Diaspora. This is the "plant that heals the human Spirit:. Drug addiction is closely linked to despair, unhappiness and lack of self-esteem, the basis of mental illness within the African American community. This herbal decoction works directly on the medulla oblongata, where habits are formed in the brain.

The most important habit that African people must now develop is to return to the traditional diet. Our indigenous foods and herbs will do more to bring us into harmony with the universe than any allopathic remedy developed by western pharmaceutical laboratories. Let us begin the long trek "home".