African Traditional Healing Systems and Green Medicine

Nelson Mandela University

Course Description

  • Course Name

    African Traditional Healing Systems and Green Medicine

  • Host University

    Nelson Mandela University

  • Location

    Port Elizabeth, South Africa

  • Area of Study

    African Studies, Field Component, Global Health, Government, Health Administration, Health Science, Public Health

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

    Hours & Credits

  • US Credits

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview


    The “Green Medicine” revolution is vibrant in South Africa with its plant diversity and vast array of indigenous medicinal plants and traditional practices. The African Traditional Healer portrays the mystical African psyche through ancestral practices and the application of “natural” remedies to meet present day needs more especially of primary health care in a cultural setting. The challenges faced in the postmodern world with its quest for a scientific or pseudo-scientific empirical understanding of the mysticism in which African Traditional Healers and their medicines are enshrouded, present several fascinating facets to the art of traditional medicine in the 21st century.

    Within the South African context, different cultures with different beliefs in healing and medicinal practices and a society influenced by western cultures because of its history will be explored in this programme.  The programme will engage the post-colonial medicine and healing environment within South Africa focusing on the following:

    • The traditional medicine landscape
    • Historical traditions from early colonial times to present day
    • The epidemiological state of health and healthcare
    • Traditional Healers and their calling
    • Cultural beliefs and traditional health care practices
    • Formal and informal indigenous knowledge systems
    • Traditional Medicine Research
    • Regulatory issues in health governance
    • Complementary integrative Health Care
    • Herbal Renaissance: Herbal remedies vs modern medicine

    The presentation of the programme is based on a highly interactive mode of delivery. Opportunity will be given for discussion and debate. Lectures will be supplemented with team work, the use of multi- media, and strategic visits that will afford students an opportunity to engage with the content in a practical way. 

    Incorporated in the programme are also visits that will immerse students into South Africa’s rich cultural and wildlife heritage. 


    On completion of this programme students will gain insight into South Africa’s:

    • Historical influence on health care system and the health status of its diverse population;
    • Indigenous Knowledge System (IKS) and its traditional beliefs, customs and practices in healthcare;
    • The challenging potential for developing and Integrative Health Care system amidst the prevailing legislative landscape;
    • “Green Medicine” revolution from bush to modern day phytopharmaceuticals and research endeavors toward the development of safe and effective medicines of acceptable quality standards, fir for public consumption.

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.