Medical Values In Africa

The medicinal values of Viscaceae in Africa have not been investigated to any significant extent. As in other parts of the world, mistletoes in general are considered to have magical properties and uses tend to be primarily for illnesses thought to be of mystic origin. Burkill (1995) gives a general account of the uses of Loranthaceae in West Africa and his remarks can be extrapolated to Viscum, which is relatively much less conspicuous in the region. They are used alone or in prescription. They are not used with the host plant, but the mistletoe has to come from the appropriate host and collection has to follow established ritual. The West African names for mistletoes generally include that of the host and group terms for mistletoes as a whole are often used.

Kokwaro (1993) notes that Viscum fischeri and V. tuberculatum have been used in Kenya as a poultice on the chest for pneumonia. The latter has also been used for liver troubles. Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk (1962) note minor uses in southern Africa by both African and European cultures. V. capense and V. rotundifolium have been used by Europeans to remove warts. The former species has also been used for bronchial problems and as an astringent, also as a blood coagulant. V. rotundifolium is used as a herbal tea, known as Teemohlware. It is believed to cure heart ailments and purify the blood (Oliver 1987). There is no doubt considerable scope for a more rigorous analysis of the putative values of Viscacae in Africa, where Loranthaceae are the more conspicuous group of mistletoes.

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