262771 Maintenance of health and treatment of chronic conditions with indigenous medicine in South African urban and rural communities

Monday, October 29, 2012

Gail Hughes, DrPH, MPH , South African Herbal Institute and Medicine Institute, University of Western Cape, Belville, South Africa
Oluwaseyi Aboyade, PhD, MSc , South African Herbal Science and Medicine Institute, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa
Thandi Rose Puoane, DrPH, MPH , School of Public Health, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa

Indigenous medicines (IM) are widely used throughout South Africa for minor pains to chronic conditions. Chronic diseases (CD) are growing burden worldwide and account for 63% mortality globally and 86% in South Africa. The objective of this study was to investigate the use of IM targeting key CD to provide better understanding of the treatment patterns of IM by participants in communities in South Africa.


A cross-sectional design study using Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) cohort was conducted to determine the prevalence and reasons of IM use among South African adults for the management of chronic health conditions. Participants (n= 443) were recruited from rural Eastern Cape and urban Western Cape regions of South Africa.


The overall prevalence of IM use was 31%, of which 17% was for chronic health conditions. Most participants indicated using IM for a variety of reasons: prevention/maintenance of good health (30%) and treatment (34%). Interestingly, IM was prescribed by family/friends/self-administered (45%); not prescribed by traditional practitioner.


Most patients used IM for the prevention, management and treatment of chronic conditions. The use of IM for specific chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes was not indicated. Health care professionals need to be aware of the potential dualistic use of IM and conventional drug use by patients. Patients should be queried and educated about potential effects of drug/herb use and interaction.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Chronic disease management and prevention
Provision of health care to the public
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
To identify and describe the use of traditional herbal medicine for maintenance of health and treating chronic conditions in urban and rural communities in South Africa

Keywords: Chronic Illness, Herbal Medicine

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am prinicipal investigator for this research project and conducted research in this topical area in South Africa for more than 7 years, and research in the country for more than 20 years. I am also director for South African Herbal Science and Medicine Institute
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.