Covid-19 has got most of us extremely innovative and desperate.
No one wants to be infected by the coronavirus, perhaps except a few who seem not to mind given their care free attitudes.
So apart from wearing face masks, sanitising, socially distancing and locking ourselves in our homes to minimise our risk of getting an infection, a good number is returning to the roots, literally and figuratively.
Returning to the roots has meant more and more people are taking herbal formulations and eating healthful foods not only to prevent infection by the coronavirus, but also to manage it in the event that one is positive to the pathogen.
Herbs are generally despised in the country, treated as backward, rustic and associated with witchcraft. Healthful foods are shunned because they too are treated as backward. In addition, they are shunned because they aren’t as tasteful as modern foods.
Yet, herbs tend to be good to the body, cheaper than modern medicines and offer holistic treatment. Traditional foods are good to the body as well and are cheaper than the modern ones.
To be fair, traditional remedies and foods have, for some time, been getting back into the limelight, but there is no doubt that the Covid-19 outbreak is accelerating that return.
Many of us are now steaming over herbs such as umsuzwane/zumbane/zimbani, guava, mango or gumtree leaves. We are also drinking ginger, garlic and lemon concoctions more often.
People have been told that the efficacy of these remedies has not been scientifically proven. They understand that, but protest that modern medicine which must validate umsuzwane and others like it, is not the only science under the sun.
In any case, they say, Covid-19 is a new disease which modern scientists are still trying to fully understand and against which they are still to find a conventional treatment that is safe, more widely distributed and accepted.
At least 700 people have lost their lives to Covid-19 out of the more than 27 000 who have been infected in the country since the outbreak of the disease in March 2020.
It therefore makes sense for every sensible weapon to be deployed against Covid-19, hence the rising popularity of home remedies.
We encourage our people to get back to the basics that have served us well, while, we must emphasise, not forgetting the equal importance of modern medicine. Measures such as correct use of face masks when one is out in public places, washing of hands with soapy water or appropriate hand sanitiser and observing social distancing are essential.
Vice-President, Dr Constantino Chiwenga, who is also the Minister of Health and Child Care said:
“Someone asked me whether traditional medicines such as mufandichimuka, moringa, zumbani and other herbs can be used to treat Covid-19 or substitute drugs for Covid-19. Some traditional doctors were said to be claiming that their patients recovered after administering herbs. My comment would be that, you might be aware that some modern medicines are actually derived from traditional herbs.
“Yes, it is possible that some traditional medicines can be used to treat Covid-19 however, there is need for scientific researches to be done to ascertain their efficacy.
The Ministry of Health and Child Care actually operationalised the Traditional Medicines Department, which is pre-occupied with researches in this area.”
It is reassuring that the Government recognises the contribution that umsuzwane, ginger, garlic, eucalyptus, lemon and other alternative remedies can make in the fight against Covid-19.
However, while these alternatives can work in suppressing Covid-19 in some people, it is important, as noted earlier, to also seek treatment at a hospital when someone is infected.
It is possible that home remedies when applied together with modern drugs, the face mask, hand hygiene and social distancing, can assist.