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Pharmacy in the middle of the Maasai steppe

While Zanthoxylum Chalybeum Mil. is the most favoured plant for smoke-treating calabashes, it also has numerous therapeutic effects. The Maasai also appreciate food and drinks made from its leaves. | © Veterinarians without Borders

Olea europaea subsp. Africana - the wild olive serves the Maasai to smoke-treat calabashes, for construction and for traditional ceremonies. | © Veterinarians without Borders

In his doctoral thesis at the Vetmeduni Vienna, our Tanzanian employee John Laffa examined which plants the Maasai use to smoke-treat their calabashes. Calabashes serve as vessels to store the milk of the Maasai's cattle.

The trees and shrubs used are also important medicinal plants for the Maasai. They have a wide range of healing properties, including analgesic, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects. Thus, their therapeutic applications are broad, including respiratory and gastrointestinal disorders. Very interesting is also the use for pregnant and nursing women and their babies to promote their general health. The Maasai also use these plants for construction, as firewood or for ritual ceremonies.


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