A Survey of Traditional Health Remedies Used by the Maasai of Southern Kaijiado District, Kenya

John Warui Kiringe

Abstract


This study investigated the use of traditional health remedies
among the Maasai of Kuku Group Ranch of Southern
Kajiado District, Kenya. A structured and semi—structured
questionnaire was administered to heads or adult members of households in the study area as well as key people who are knowledgeable in Maasai traditional medicine.
Use of ethno-medicine was prevalent, with 73% of the respondents indicating this was their preferred type of treatment. Traditional medicine was the primary health care system for the community even though 98% of the respondents mentioned that they frequently sought modern
medical care provided by local dispensaries and clinics.
Knowledge on traditional plant health remedies was immense, and a wide variety of illnesses and body conditions
were treated and managed using locally available
medicinal plants. The community had an elaborate and complex pharmacopoeia supported by a wide range of plant species majority of which were readily harvested
within the group ranch. Knowledge about the use of ethno-medicinal resources and the resources themselves appeared to be threatened by rapid changes in traditional lifestyles and cultural practices particularly the spread of Christianity, formal education and emphasis on reliance of modern medical care. Plants recognized to be of medicinal
value by the community appeared to be equally threatened
by a myriad of factors particularly land use changes. There is great need to conserve the rich plant biodiversity in the ranch as well as preserve knowledge on the value and use of traditional plant based remedies amidst a rapidly
changing society.

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Ethnobotany Research and Applications (ISSN 1547-3465) is published online by the Department of Ethnobotany, Institute of Botany, Ilia State University.
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