Maasai Medicine Research at Noonkodin
The Maasai are famous in East Africa for their traditional herbal medicines, which have been scientifically proven to contain active ingredients effective against a wide range of diseases – from high blood pressure and diabetes to viral, bacterial, fungal and parasitic infections, including malaria and TB.
The knowledge of these plants is passed on orally and few written records exist. As young people migrate to the cities, opportunities for elders to pass on their expertise are disappearing, and Maasai healing traditions may be lost forever.
But Noonkodin staff and students are determined not to let that happen!
In 2010, we launched an ambitious Maasai Medicine Documentation Project, with partners from public, private and voluntary sectors:
- National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR): Ngongongare Traditional Medicine Research Station, Usa River, Tanzania
- Luther College, Decorah, Iowa, USA
- Gibb’s Farm, Karatu, Tanzania: Osero Forest Clinic and African Living Spa (a destination spa that employs three Maasai traditional healers, two of whom are Noonkodin graduates!)
- Gemma Burford – a co-editor of the WHO Global Atlas of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicine, who works with the project (for free) as an independent consultant
The project aims to collect data on over 200 plants used by the Maasai for medicinal purposes, and to create illustrated booklets that can be used by Noonkodin School and the local community.
Students in Form 3 (17+ years) interview elderly traditional healers and midwives in rural villages after being trained in research skills.
We are also hoping to bring herbal medicine into our Sustainability Projects…