Native poisons and native medicines of Tanganyika
Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 42(19): 295-303
ISSN/ISBN: 0022-5304 Accession: 025053269
This report is a survey of poisons in the territory with some very interesting notes on the practice of native medicine. The background of arrow poisons is reviewed and a description of the poison lore of some tribes is given. The basis of illness according to native medicine is bewitchment and this fact underlies the use of powders with supposed magical properties. The incorporation of these powders into the simple herbal remedies makes up the usual combination of their materia medica. The social position of the African doctor or mganga is replete with ceremonial, apprenticeship and secret societies. The paper then procedes to a review of the plants in common use, and to a discussion of the known chemistry of the active principles of the common extracts. The antihelmintics appear to be on firmer specific ground than any of the other medicines. Rapanea rhododendroides, which contains embelic acid, is used successfully. The poisons include (1) the deliriants involving alcoholic or fermented beverages made from various grains, (2) the drugs used in trial by ordeal among which are extracts from Datura, the active material of which is hyoscine, Erythrophloeum or sassybark, which has been known to kill off i of a village population during the ordeals, (3) fish poisons, used by adding to the stream being fished and then waiting for the dazed fish to rise to the surface where they are picked out by hand (extracts of Tephrosia, Mundulea and Euphorbia) and (4) the homicidal poisons made from extracts of Euphorbia, Phytolacca, and Dioscorea.