Author(s): Sofowora A
China and India have standardized their own indigenous medicine and pharmacopoeia yet countries in Africa, despite the pressures of disease and the abundance of plant species, have not followed suit. Most of the existing texts on traditional medicine in Africa deal only with medicinal plants and their uses, ignoring chemical and pharmacological studies. Reflecting the current interest in developing traditional medicine, the author attempts to fill this gap by providing a text for pharmacy, medical and other students which details procedures that are common to many countries rather than discussing differences in the practice of traditional healing methods in Africa. After a historical review of traditional medicine, its methods and techniques the author discusses the scientific evidence supporting some remedies and practices used in traditional medicine, the traditional roots of some modern drugs, the advantages and disadvantages of traditional medicine (although he hardly touches on their toxicity and adverse reactions) and integration of traditional and modern medicine. Returning to the practical level that he stresses in his introduction, he includes chapters on the standardization of herbal potions, methods of obtaining information (locally and from the scientific literature) about medicinal plants, practical methods of screening plants for bioactive agents and a 42-page chapter on medicinal plants that are in common use in African traditional medicine in which he does discuss toxic side-effects. Other chapters set out guidelines for research on plants for local drug production and research trends in the field.