Herbal and Nutritional Guide for Kenyan Households to prevent common illness launched

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The Trust for Indigenous Culture and Health (TICAH) has updated the Herbal and Nutritional guide to provide Kenyan families with comprehensive and practical information to prevent and treat common illnesses with food and plants.

The new edition of the Guide, formally referred to as: ‘Using our Traditions’ A Herbal and Nutritional Guide for Kenyan Families, is a product of rigorous research with expert and community engagements that began two years ago.

“The book represents the main goal of TICAH’s work which is linking culture and health,” TICAH Executive Director Ms. Jedidah Maina said during the launch of the Guide at the National Museum of Kenya in Nairobi.

“The second edition of the herbal and nutrition guide combines information and strategies that are from our Kenyan traditions and cultures, and what is useful and available to us for the purpose of building healthy individuals, families and communities,” Ms. Maina said.  Adding that: “These household remedies can be valuable in keeping families healthy, at a time when the cost of healthcare continues to rise.”

The second edition is an improvement of the first, introducing new remedies and strategies, and providing better description of the conditions. The initial Guide was published in 2006. The new edition is more comprehensive and more practical than the first version.  Its coverage is broader and includes more diseases, more lifestyle diseases, and more on reproductive health.  Many new remedies and plants have been added to the existing work. This new edition has a total of 127 plants in it, of which 41 are new additions.

According to TICAH Founding Director Mary Ann Burris, the most notable development has been the introduction and use of ointments and tinctures that we have learned about from our plant medicine experts and partners.

“This Guide is for countless Kenyan families. It is for all of us. It represents the spirit of our work; listening and learning from different community groups, herbalists, botanists and medical practitioners, and sharing what we learnt on nutrition, strategies for self-care, home and herbal remedies and recipes for preventing, managing and treating a wide range of illnesses or conditions that could be dealt with safely at home,” Mary Ann Burris said.

The book is divided into four sections, with information for practicing self-care at home for individuals and families. The first section touches on healthy living looking at nutrition, dietary recommendations, hygiene and setting up a kitchen pharmacy and garden to support our herbal and nutritional self-care. The second section looks at harvesting and preservation of medicinal plants, and preparation of different herbal medicine and recipes. The third section contains information on 66 conditions prioritised as common health challenges facing Kenyans in their daily lives; causes, mode of transmission, symptoms, issues specific to children, red flag conditions, and information on herbal therapies and remedies, food and dietary recommendations for preventing and managing each condition. 

“Many of the plants growing abundantly in our communities as ‘weeds’ are an amazing source of medicine that can support us in building resilient good health, says Ms. Tara Fitzgerald, Author of the Guide.  “The plant medicine and recipes, and advice in this book are a way of bringing some of our traditional ways of treating illnesses and promoting health into our households. Sharing strategies that are valuable, effective and safe in keeping our families healthy,” Tara noted.

Over the past 15 years, TICAH has trained hundreds of participants who have honed their skills in herbal and nutritional self-care and treatment. They have taken their knowledge and shared it with their communities through both voluntary and supported programs. They have become key players in helping people manage their healthcare and develop healthier lifestyles.