The Chronicle

Thandeka Moyo-Ndlovu, health reporter
TRADITIONAL herbs and steaming have become popular home remedies for Covid-19, which killed 772 people in Zimbabwe.

Social media platforms are inundated daily with news about the effectiveness of Covid-19 home remedies such as steaming with umsuzwane / Zumbane, guava, mango or gum tree leaves and drinking ginger, garlic and lemon preparations.

After vaping, most people drink the mixes when they’ve cooled down.

The herbal product’s popularity has also turned many residents into business people as they sell 50g packets of Umsuzwane for $ 1.

One second

Others sell Umsuzwane tea for $ 5 per 250g bag.

Although there is no scientific evidence that the home remedies work, many people who have recovered from the pandemic have confirmed the use of the home remedies, and some believe that the same remedies were able to protect themselves from infection.

Steaming with traditional herbs at least twice a day is mandated by proponents of indigenous knowledge systems.

According to the Ministry of Health and Childcare, around 80 percent of Zimbabweans use traditional medicines, which continue to play an important role in meeting the basic health needs of local communities.

It remains the most affordable and easily accessible source of therapeutic treatments in the primary health system to the public.

With the advent of the new variant of Covid-19, traditional experts have said that steaming can kill the virus, especially when people add essential oils like eucalyptus and spearmint.

Although scientific research does not say anything about the proven effectiveness of these agents, traditionalists say that such agents have been used for centuries, even before modern medicine emerged.

One of the messages reportedly spread across the country by overwhelmed doctors said that Covid-19 variants are significantly weakened after 15 and 30 minutes of heating at 56 ° C in liquid environments, respectively.

“That’s why it’s very important to get steam that reaches the back of your sinuses. You need to use steam to kill this virus in your nose. At 50 ° C this virus is deactivated or paralyzed. At 60 ° C this virus becomes so weak that any human immune system can fight against it. At 70 ° C, this virus dies completely, ”the message said.

Well-known historian Pathisa Nyathi says that in the past, Africans always survived with their traditional herbs and plants, so they cannot be discarded as useless.

He said steaming is also an essential part of home remedies, which can also boost the immune system and protect people from viruses.

Mr Nyathi said it is important that people value their traditional knowledge systems even after global pandemics, the cure of which can only be certified according to scientific research.

“I think it is important that we are clear about what was part of our lifestyle even before we were introduced to conventional medicine.

“I also believe that just because Umsuzwane is readily available doesn’t mean it cannot be sold, which undermines the value of our traditional ways of dealing with disease,” said Nyathi.

Feed the buffalo

“However, since we still do not have access to the cure for this global pandemic, people can steam and use readily available natural remedies as they have been helpful in the past,” he said.

A traditional healer based in Bulilima, Mr. Obert Vundla, said steaming is highly recommended and a popular practice for many healers.

“We usually use Intelezi, iwohlo that grows next to bodies of water, Iphunga, and these are the readily available plants and herbs.

“We also used Umsuzwane for steaming to protect people from disease.

“The public should regularly subdue as the activity boosts the immune system and tends to deal with all diseases,” Vundla said.

Bulawayo health expert Professor Solwayo Ngwenya said people could use the natural remedies based on their beliefs, but all sick people would need conventional medical help.

“Home remedies are called complementary medicine and are not mainstream, although they are used from time to time.

“We know people have been using natural remedies for a long time, but using them shouldn’t encourage anyone to stay home if they have Covid-19 symptoms,” said Prof. Ngwenya.

“Anyone who feels uncomfortable shouldn’t rely on home remedies, but have to get tested.

“Those who are positive should seek medical help and not stay home thinking home remedies will help.

“Home remedies are for people who are healthy and, if used improperly, can cause more harm than good.”

While steaming, Prof. Ngwenya said the public should be careful not to get burned.

“Guava trees, gum tree leaves, etc. can be used as long as it does not harm our health as Covid-19 is real and kills.

“Vitamin C and zinc tablets are fine as they boost the immune system, but none of this should encourage people to be reckless and stay at home when they should see a doctor,” said Prof. Ngwenya.

In a statement last week, Vice-President Constatino Chiwenga, Minister of Health and Childcare, said the ministry was working with traditional leaders to conduct research in this area.

“Somebody asked me if traditional medicines like Mufandichimuka, Moringa, Zumbani and other herbs can be used to treat Covid-19 or as a substitute for Covid-19.

“Some traditional doctors also say that their patients have recovered after using herbs.

“My comment would be that you might know that some modern medicines are actually made from traditional herbs.

“Yes, it is possible that some traditional medicines could be used to treat Covid-19. However, scientific research must be done to determine its effectiveness.

“The Department of Health and Childcare has actually operationalized the traditional medicines division that conducts research in this area,” he said. – @thamamoe