For generations now, native medicine has been a controversial subject.....there is no let up yet.....
[ROCHE CAIMAN 16/03/2008] This morning I met a woman trying to remove bark from some bwa sousouri trees we have growing at the Centre for Environment and Education at Roche Caiman. She put forward a desperate case for the medicine which can apparently be derived from this species.
Bwa sousouri is not an endemic plant but has become rare on the populated islands because its bark is thought to induce abortions. On other protected islands it occurs in small forests. In fact, many species of plants are becoming rarer because of over collection.
Forests around the world contain over 20,000 green plant species. At least 175 species of plants have been used by pharmaceutical companies, and their ingredients included in medicines, vitamins, and other supplements. In the United States these natural products have a sale of $3 billion annually.
The use of the active ingredients of plants by modern pharmaceutical firms is proof that traditional healers and herbalists who use plants for healing are by and large on the right track. There are several sources of information on medicinal plants of Seychelles including practicing herbalists like Mr. Ferdinand Vidot who is helping Nature Seychelles propagate knowledge of medicinal plants though the Heritage Garden project in schools.
In Seychelles, people have used at least 250 species of plants for healing and magical purposes. But nowadays only about forty to fifty species are in common use. Despite being part of Seychellois folklore as “raspay” and “lafresisan” most are plants imported from overseas. Knowledge of their use has come from other countries such as Madagascar.
It seems about 15 endemic species have also been used for a variety of purposes ranging from poison and magical rites to aphrodisiac. These endemic species includes bwa zoliker and bwa sagay believed to be useful in treating hypertension, kafe maron gran fey, bwa dir blan and bwa kato for anemia and weakness, koko maron against dysentery and bwa merl for skin diseases.
Many plants are collected from the wild in large quantities and many species are highly endangered. An endemic plant known to Seychellois as bwa marmay has already become extinct. Over collection for use in herbal concoctions is probably the cause. Another species which is also called bwa marmay is still in existence and is consumed as an aphrodisiac. With Viagra now on the market, perhaps people will stop harvesting this endemic plant!
Not all medicinal plants work in the way they are supposed to. Also, some may be dangerous if improperly utilized. People should be very careful when they use medical plants on a regular basis. In particular, they should not replace medicine prescribed by physicians.[ENDS]