Outcry as herbal plants now at risk of extinction
For centuries, the use of herbal medicinal products and supplement’s has increased tremendously, with most people relying on them for some part of primary health care.
Despite the adoption of a modern health system in Nandi County, majority of the locals still prefer seeking medical attention from the herbalist.
The herbal medicines, which were once in plenty, can hardly be found these days. This is attributed to the degradation of natural resources as a result of rising population and human activities including logging for charcoal.
Grace Kosgei, a respected herbalist with over 40 years in the trade, states that the trees majorly classified in the herbal category have been destroyed.
She says locals have been removing indigenous plants from their settlements and growing exotic trees like cypress and blue gum for commercial purposes, because they mature faster.
Like other herbalists in the region, Kosgei (75)who has been forced to crisscross other counties like Elgeiyo Marakwet, Kericho in search of herbal medicines, says that government forests were the only places where one can get the medicinal trees for extraction.
“Most of our natural forests are not fenced and this exposes them to intruders who destroy indigenous trees and encroach forest land. In the process medicinal plants that are rare to find are destroyed,” she says.
Kosgei says that some of the vital trees that no longer exist in the locality include Murguiywet (Anacanthecea), whose leaves are used to make concoctions to treat skin rashes and coughing in children. Patients from as far as Nairobi, Kisii, Kisumu, Trans Nzoia and Kericho counties travel to Nandi to seek her services.
Wilson Lelei, another herbalist operating in Kapsabet town states that he is forced to travel long distances to look for various medicinal extractions from specific trees to use in his herbal clinic. He says his clients normally seek medication for common diseases like ulcers, back-ache, dental ache, skin diseases and fertility problem among others. “Since most of our forests are depleted, I am forced to travel far and wide in search for the combination of various medicinal tree’s barks, roots and leaves for my clients,” said Lelei.
According to Nandi Herbalist Association, over 4, 000 traditional home medicine men and women, have found it impossible to access government forests to extract the medicine following the implementation of the environment policies, which banned the encroachment of the forest in Nandi since 2006.
County Environment Director, Dr James Meli, states that the county, alongside the ministry of environment is targeting to rehabilitate a total of over 26,000 acres of public forests negatively affected by human activities.
Early last week, National Environmental Complaints Committee led by its chairman Dr Lumumba Nyaberi vowed to stop encroachment of wetlands in the county.—KNA