Armed with a small handbag in one hand, Joyce Twase quietly walked around the bush, picking small leaves off tiny plants as she stocks them inside her bag.
Armed with a small handbag in one hand, Joyce Twase quietly walked around the bush, picking small leaves off tiny plants as she stocks them inside her bag. In a few minutes, the bag is full and slowly, she heads for her home.
Twase is not a traditional healer, but a trained herbal medicine woman, who goes about the bushes of Kalinabiri in search for herbs to administer to people living with AIDS in the Anglican Diocese of Kampala.
A member of the dioceseâ€™s home-based caregivers, Twase is presently administering herbal therapies to over 40 people living with AIDS in Ntinda. She is also helping other caregivers in looking after some 560 others.
Twase started using herbal therapy in 2003 when she was trained together with 40 others in home-based care by the diocese in collaboration with World Vision. After her course, Twase came up with a group of five patients, whose lives had deteriorated tremendously. â€œI took them to the Joint Clinical Research Centre (JCRC) for testing and their results were shocking. Their CD4 counts had reduced to 12, 24, 48,64 and 90 respectively,â€ she recollects.
â€œTheir lives were in danger and yet JCRC officials told us the process to put them on ARVs would take about two months which was too long a time,â€ Twase adds.
Back home, Twase started her patients on herbal therapy, whose first dose comprised a mixture of honey; Aloe Vera leaves and locally distilled waragi. In just two weeks, the therapy produced wonders.
â€œWhen we returned to JCRC for more tests, the results were amazing. Their CD4 count had increased tremendously and doctors even wondered,â€ she explains before unveiling a file containing results of her patients.
According to the results, patient one whose CD4 count was 12 had risen to 420 while the others had their CD4 count going beyond 450.
â€œDoctors told us that there was no need for ARVs since their lives were no longer in danger. They encouraged us to continue with our therapy,â€ She says. Twase and her colleagues christened the wonder therapy a â€œmiracle therapyâ€ and started passing it on to others in need at no cost.
To make the â€˜miracle therapy,â€™ Twase says she gets aloe-vera leaves, which she roasts, over a hot charcoal stove. â€œI squeeze juice out of the roasted leaves. Once it is extracted, I get a glassful of this juice and mix it with the same amount of honey and wine or locally distilled waragi,â€ she explains.
Twase says a severely ill patient and one with a terrible cough is given two teaspoonfuls of this therapy twice a day. She says in less than two weeks, the cough is gone and the patient is up walking. â€œIn cases were we cannot afford waragi, we make pineapple wine,â€ she says. Twase says much of the honey is obtained from traders coming from northern Uganda.
â€œWe encourage our colleagues living with AIDS to take the therapy because it builds immunity,â€ she adds.
Today, together with other 45 home-based care, Twase is moving around the 23 congregations of Kampala Diocese educating, counselling and treating people.
Rev. Can. Job Mbukure, the Kampala diocesan secretary, admits many of their home-based caregivers are administering herbal therapies to persons living with AIDS. He says the church supports the use of herbs as long as they have no connection with evil practices like witchcraft.
â€œBut much as they are using the herbal therapies, they are also keeping very close with the check ups at JCRC. We are proud of JCRC for the continued technical assistance,â€ says the clergyman.
Rev. Simon Mwesigwa, a community counsellor and member of Ntinda Herbal Therapy, says there are many herbs that treat different complications among people living with AIDS. He says in case of wounds in the mouth and private parts, liquid therapies from plants like kafumitabagenda.
He says honey and droplets of kavawala leaves and roots are good herbs too. Rev. Mwesigwa says for skin rash, powder obtained from dry roots of kamunye, kanzirornziro, kafugankande and moringa once mixed with vaseline clear the rashes. In case of severe headache, leaves from a plant called kafumbe have produced good results when used in washing the head.
â€œWatery stool can be cleared using a mixture of clay with ekemi, aloe-vera and a mixture of boiled kamunye, omusasa and kifabakazi.â€ He says unlike the western medicine, herbal therapies have no side effects.
â€œWe also encourage our patients to visit health centres for more medication,â€ he says.
â€œI do not know of any herb that could increase the CD4 count although I have heard of herbs which treat HIV-related illnesses such as diarrhoea and patients say they get some relieve thereafter,â€ says Dr. Geofrey Kabuye, the head of research ARV JCRC.
Honey, aloe vera boost immunity in HIV patients