A field-study of the use and understanding of umqalothi (Strychnos henningsii) by traditional healers in KZN and its relationship to the homoeopathic proving of the substance
Mdima, Sihle Velenkosini
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The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between the understanding and utilization of Strychnos henningsii (umqalothi, Red bitterberry) by Zulu traditional healers and the signs and symptoms induced by the thirtieth centesimal potency (30CH) homoeopathic dilution of the crude substance in a previously conducted triple-blind placebo-controlled homoeopathic proving. Methodology The study was carried out in four dispersed areas of KZN (Harding, Durban, Weenen and Melmoth). From each area one isangoma and one inyanga were interviewed, resulting in eight interviews. All visits were conducted by the researcher, who acted as principal communicator and translator, and his supervisor, who assisted him by doing live video recording of all interviews. The methodology employed was that of qualitative interviewing using semi-structured interviews. Each video was transcribed into Zulu text and subsequently translated to English text by the researcher and his supervisor. The data obtained from the interviews was then compared to data obtained from the previously conducted homoeopathic proving of Strychnos henningsii 30CH in order to evaluate the overlap between the traditional and the homoeopathic approach to utilisation of the plant. Results After comparison, it was found that there was an overlap in the gastro-intestinal system, cardio-vascular system, respiratory system and female/male genito-urinary system and in some mental symptoms. v However, there were no overlaps found in traditional usage of the plant as an antisnake venom, and in the proving symptoms related to scalp, hair, eyes, ear, nose, face, mouth, teeth and throat. Conclusion After comparison between the understanding and utilization of Strychnos henningsii by Zulu traditional healers and the signs and symptoms induced by the proving of Strychnos henningssi 30CH, it was concluded that while there are certain overlaps, the homoeopathic proving produced a wider range of symptoms which may either serve to extend the traditional use, or overlap with existing traditional use not exposed within the scope of this study. Interviews with a greater number of traditional healers in a wider geographic area may reveal a closer correlation between homoeopathic proving symptoms and patterns of use by traditional healers.