Herbs: Nature's phamarcy

HARARE - Very few people associate herbs with the Catholic church, let alone nuns.

But Sister Yullita Chirawu, 55, of the Little Children of our Blessed Lady (LCBL) has managed to bring herbal medicicnes into the church — through the front door.
Despite initial uneasiness on the use of herbal medicines, resistance quickly melted and herbs now fit snuggly into the Catholic church's health programmes.        

Announcements in churches in Harare these days include information that herbal medicines are available at the sisters' Blessed Hands Clinic at the Harare Showgrounds. The herbs are effective in treating high blood pressure, diabetes, athritis, ulcers, asthma, fibroids, cysts, malaria, flu, and fever, headache, stomach ache, backache and herpes zoster.  They can also be used to treat opportunistic infections.
The medicines come as teas  soaps, creams, dried leaves, as well as liquids. Prices range from $3 to $10.

Sister Chirawu's long journey to include herbs into the church's health programme  started in 2000 when she was appointed diocesan health co-ordinator for Chinhoyi. Uncomfortable with her new appointment because she was not medically trained, she quickly learned the ropes.

As HIV/Aids deaths peaked in 2003, sister Chirau, who was working on home-based care programmes in the Mashonaland West provincial capital saw many people who died unnecessarily because they had no money to buy prescribed medication.

Some died in remote areas far way from clinics as they waited for Anti Retroviral medication. To compound matters, many donors had pulled out, and there were no drugs in hospitals and clinics.

"And so we asked ourselves: How did people survive in the past. The answer was clear: They used herbs and were stronger and lived longer."
She sought permission from Bishop Rector to use herbs in treating ailments.

Having done some research, she found a person who was knowlegeable in herbs and could teach villagers how to use and plant them.

The team then went into the community to exchange herbal and traditional medicines knowledge with them.

"At first it was difficult for people to accept that the Catholic church could deal in herbs. And there was resistance from all corners.

"In line with their beliefs, many villagers would come at night just as they do when they visit their traditional healers," sister Chirawu said.

She was then asked to write a herbal manual so the church could determine whether the use of herbs was in line with Catholic doctrines.

The first 3 000 copies flew off the shelves, so too did a second and third print. At last count, 10 000 had been sold.

It was then decided to have the pamphlet printed in Shona under the title Makwenzi nekurapwa kwezwirwere. Some 15 000 copies were snapped up.

Sister Chirawu says they could not continue to print the vernacular pamphlet because in the end many copies were given for free to those who could not afford to pay for them.

Sister Chirawu then begun growing both exotic and traditional herbs in Chinhoyi and found somebody to help her in the garden.

"When I tried the herbs on people who had headaches and stomachaches, they quickly recovered and that encouraged me, " she said.

In the meantime, she had decided to further her education and studied for a three-year diploma with the UK Institute of Natural Healing.

She subsequently went to Nigeria where she worked with the Order of St Benedict (OSB) and came back with different herbal products. Nigerians are keen herbal users.

When she was transferred from Chinhoyi to Harare in 2006, she was given a hectare of land at Makumbe Mission, 52km outside the city, to grow herbs on a large scale. She now grows about 20 varieties of herbs, including some seasonal varieties.
A processing plant with a water purifier, grinding mill, tea bagger, driers,  refrigerators, and stoves was officially opened last year.

Herbal medicines are cheaper, she says, adding: “Our objective is to help people understand and appreciate the usefulness of herbal medicine as it has immense benefits and also provides good nutrition."

Obert Maturuzha, programme officer at the clinic  since 2012, says  a centre for the coordination of HIV/Aids programmes has been set up in Chinamora to provide counseling services to people living positively.

He says the programme works with support groups in Domboshava  and Harare with a membership of over 400 people. Most of the people are on herbs and clinic staff provide psycho-social support, apart from running livelihood sessions.

Those in Harare's  high density suburbs of  Mabvuku, Epworth, Rugare, Budiriro, Mbare, Dzivarasekwa, Highfield, Chitungwiza and Mufakose are  helped to start their herbal gardens and lodgers are encouraged to grow herbs as pot plants. Members of the groups are encouraged to express themselves through sporting activities , playing soccer, poetry and song and dance.

The group members also undergo health assessment every three months and are provided with food,  funds permiting.

Maturuzha says they plan to go to churches, companies and schools to market the herbal medicines but are held back by lack of funds. Plans are are afoot to work with hospitals, clinics and doctors.

The Chinese initially invaded the herbal medicines market a few years back, but Maturuzha  says the clinic's distributors are trained to go to the community and teach them how to grow and use the herbs.

The Chinese are also said to be exporting a lot of local herbs like the sausage tree fruit (mumvee) which was the tree of the year for 2011. The tree has various medicinal uses, apart from being used as fodder for livestock. It is also drought tolerant.

Mellody Billy, a nurse at the clinic who was trained in naturopathic medicine in Kwekwe, says the clinic can also manage cancer patients, but the patients often come when it's too late. She says such patients can still supplement their drugs with herbs.

According to Billy, South Africans appreciate going natural with their medicines. For many years, South African companies have been selling aloe vera products on the local market.

Billy says in Zimbabwe, the well-to-do  are aware of the advantages of using herbs which are naturally digested  in the gut. The clinic also offers counseling, massage and refleixology.

An interesting development has been that some members of the apostolic sects and prophets have been buying herbal ointments and medicines from the herbal clinic.

Comments (6)

what can i use for a fibroid uterus and for how long will i take the medicine

rachael ziunye - 31 January 2014

Rachael, I suggest visiting this website: http://www.earthclinic.com/CURES/fibroids.html

Ania - 24 March 2014

i would like to contact Sister Chirawu ;may i have her office numbers Or precise clinic location. Thanks

mrs M Jinguri - 15 September 2017

Reach out to priest eka for Herbs to cure Fibroid and other infertility problems, You can reach eka via (dreka14demons@gmail.com)

laverne - 26 February 2018

whatsapp him 2347036879479 drclimentscott@gmail.com drclimentscott@gmail.com He also cure (1) CANCER, Bladder cancer (2) DIABETES, Prostate cancer (3) HIV&AIDS, Esophageal cancer (4) URINARY TRACT INFECTION, (5) BARENESS / INFERTILITY./ Ovarian cancer (6) DIARRHEA / Ovarian cancer/Melanoma (7) ASTHMA / Breast cancer/ Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (8)SIMPLEX HERPES AND GENITAL HERPES

jessicaskype - 26 April 2018

whatsapp him 2347036879479 drclimentscott@gmail.com drclimentscott@gmail.com He also cure (1) CANCER, Bladder cancer (2) DIABETES, Prostate cancer (3) HIV&AIDS, Esophageal cancer (4) URINARY TRACT INFECTION, (5) BARENESS / INFERTILITY./ Ovarian cancer (6) DIARRHEA / Ovarian cancer/Melanoma (7) ASTHMA / Breast cancer/ Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (8)SIMPLEX HERPES AND GENITAL HERPES

jessicaskype - 26 April 2018

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.