Mau ecosystem is one of the remaining indigenous forests in Kenya. It is also home to rare indigenous trees such as cedar, African olive, bamboo, dombeya, and shrubs. Exotic trees such as cypress, pine, grevillea robusta, and eucalyptus are regularly planted by the Kenya Forest Department mainly for commercial purposes. The complex also contains a good number of medicinal plants.
Over the years, the forests rich with indigenous trees and medicinal plants has been a sources of natural herbs to residents of south rift but the area has lately been encroached and destroyed through farming activities and lumbering.
This despicable act has caught an eye of a renowned herbalist from Seremek village, Kericho County, who has been using traditional herbal medicine from the forest to treat residents suffering from various diseases.
Rachael Koros well known as chepo Kitonyi whose way of living has largely been dependent on herbal medicine regretted how the 21st generation has been reluctant to conserve the forest which is also a major water tower in the region.
While narrating her story, she cited many instances where herbal medicine played a key role in saving the lives of many people. She recalls how the herbal medicine cured a persisted ailment that affected her husband after attempting treatment at various health facilities in vain.
“We visited various hospitals seeking treatment for my husband but we never found any remedy to his swollen limps. We resorted to trying herbal medicine as the last an option which proofed efficaciously,” said Rachael.
Imminent recovery of her husband became a revelation on the power of using natural herbs and this prompted her to confidently offer her services to the villagers.
She explained that medical check-ups are done prior to a patient being introduced to herbal medication and this enables her to understand the patient’s ailment and which herbs to administer. She alluded that patients who have been cured have gone the extra mile to recommend friends and relatives to try herbal medicine.
“The main challenge I face is a lack of permit and license to carry out my business smoothly and just like most herbal products in Kenya, many of the medicinal plants used by traditional medical practitioners have not been documented or researched and several other challenges that are now threatening the sustainability of the practice,” she added.
Rachael said allergies, arthritis, migraine, fatigue, wounds, burns, gastrointestinal issues, and skin infections were a few of many diseases she treats with herbal medicines and called on medical experts to research more on the herbs and herb products.
Speaking to KNA, Christopher Langat a resident of Seremek village acclaimed the efforts by the traditional herbalists who have proved to be the other option in terms of healing.
“I had a problem with skin infection and arthritis and after taking the herbs, I recovered well. The cost of these herbs is less compared to pharmaceutical drugs. I had to visits a local herbalist since I was not able to pay for the expensive drugs,” Langat said.
Rachael says she has benefited majorly by treating patients in different parts of Rift Valley which has enabled her to pay the school fees for her children and also provide house shopping.
Mrs. Koros called the government and stakeholders concerned in conservancy to play a pivotal role in ensuring that the ecosystem is restored to its past glory, saying eradicating forest means destroying rivers and streams and furthermore destroying the source of herbal medicines