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Healing Trees and Plants of the Lowveld

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Moira de Swardt
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Healing Trees and Plants of the Lowveld

Unread post by Moira de Swardt » Fri Nov 20, 2009 5:34 pm

Fundis may find this fascinating but it’s not for ordinary folks.

The authors are a medical doctor (David Cumes) who is also trained as a sangoma; Rael Loon who is an ecologist/conservationist/and birder specializing in the Lowveld; and Dries Bester, an sociology academic, multilinguist and an environmental impact assessor and a registered tour guide specializing in the Soutpansberg region.

The opening page gives one a map of the area which is referred to as “the Lowveld”, and the Soutpansberg, an auspicious start for a book with filled with information for the non-specialist reader. In the preface the reader learns that what follows is a distillation of healing knowledge drawn from the Venda and Shangaan peoples living in the Lowveld and Soutpansberg.

Unfortunately that’s where this book’s accessibility ends. In the introduction the reader is given the reason for the lack of further information. “This publication is not intended for self-medication and hence no therapeutic regimens are given. The concentration of active substances varies according to season and rainfall. Safe dosages can only be decided by an experienced traditional healer who known when to collect the medicine and how to prepare it. Some plants are highly toxic and the gap between therapeutic effectiveness and severe side effects and even death is often very narrow. Hence the authors urge extreme caution with the poisonous plants listed in the text indicated by the symbol (skull and bones).”

The list that follows makes use of the National Tree List numbers. There are no illustrations and no descriptions. Identification depends on another source altogether (the National Tree List). The full Latin names are given for accurate identification, together with some local names and uses. The one for Cannabis sativa reads as follows: “Marijuana, Dagga, Nsangu The plant is used for glaucoma, to alleviate nausea induced by chemotherapy, to stimulate the appetite, and improved wellbeing in AIDS patients. It is also used for asthma, depression and many other conditions.”

The latter part of the book contains a list of plant uses according to systems and symptoms, a glossary and, of course, a list of sources which may make for more informative and entertaining reading than the little volume that draws on them.

Whether one is visiting the Lowveld for recreation or whether one is particularly interested in the complementary medicine aspect of the subject, this book is for the specialist, not the dabbler, and certainly not for the uninitiated!

Title: Healing Trees and Plants of the Lowveld
Authors: David Cumes, Rael Loon, Dries Bester
Publisher: Struik Nature, Random House Struik
ISBN No: 978-1-77007-833-8
Recommended Selling Price: R105.00
I don't get to the Parks nearly often enough, despite two trips to the KNP and one to Golden Gate this year.

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Re: Healing Trees and Plants of the Lowveld

Unread post by Meandering Mouse » Sat Nov 21, 2009 8:07 am

Moira, thank you for that. It sounds like fascinating reading for those curious about traditional healing. There is so much more interest shown and acceptance of centuries of passed down knowledge. This is definately going onto my "reading list".
The bird doesn't sing because it has answers, it sings because it has a song.

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