Traditional Medicine


Traditional Medicine

Africa’s traditional medical practitioners connect intimately with the natural systems they inhabit.  They know each plant and the sickness it cures. They had ways to understand the medical benefits available within nature’s processes.  Their naturalistic sciences preserved vital understandings of ecological and social relationships between self, others (including other species) and the natural world: life and nature are in a continuous exchange of energies and outcomes.

Western biomedical treatment is compartmentalized into specialist systems and seeks ever-more technical and mechanistic solutions, yet treatments of mental distress, chronic disease, and even infectious diseases are beginning to fail.


As the art of healing has withered, indigenous medical practices and traditions are becoming critical resources for the modern world.  Our indigenous doctors learned to cure sickness and disease through intense observation, experimentation, communication with plant and spirit helpers, and cumulative experience in treating patients. They addressed psychological, social and spiritual needs, and, respected the patients’ own embodied healing capacities.


Healing is physical, mental and spiritual. Traditional healers understand that one of the best ways of healing is to engage the patient in the process of going to get the things needed for the treatment.  “Go and find this” …and in the process of going and finding the plants and specific combinations of water(s) needed, the patient starts to heal themselves.


WIACT will foster better understanding of Gonja and other indigenous medicinal traditions by working with medical anthropologists, ethnobotanists, linguists, and other researchers to:

•  Help traditional physicians working in Northern Ghana and elsewhere to explain and document what they know how to cure.

•  Understand and clarify the ways that people in rural Africa can best utilize the strengths of various medical systems available to them, including both indigenous medical practices and Western biomedical treatments, though access to the latter remains low in rural Africa as well as Savannah region.

•  Preserve and catalog plant species, capturing the knowledge of our elders about how these species can be used as food and medicines.

•  Study our naming practices for places and ecological processes so we understand why they were given the names we know them by: Naming practices capture important traditional medical science information.

And we will teach our young people so they can help Ghanaians, and the world, overcome dis-eases of all kinds—physical, social, and spiritual.


If you want to help during your visit to Savannah region, here are our planned projects:

• Photograph plant species and record elders explaining how they were used

• Investigate word etymologies for plant names

• Interview local doctors about their medical practices

Please send us an email to let us know of your interest,