Zulu traditional medicines (or umuthi) have changed very little over the ages. The administrators of these traditions have various roles in the Zulu society. They are the inyanga or herbalist who is concerned with medicines made form plant and animals, the isangoma or witchdoctor who makes contact with the ancestral spirits and prescribes medicine according to their dictates and the isanusi who is a diviner capable of "smelling out" sorcerers and other evil-doers. Both the inyanga and isangoma must acquire their knowledge through a long apprenticeship, the isangoma however, must have been sacredly called to their profession, and have little choice when called. In modern society the status of these medicine men or woman has been translated into wealth. Most izinyanga (plural of inyanga) in urban areas have shops in which they have consulting rooms and from which they sell their medicines.
Tribal doctors use three main methods of diagnosis:
All tribal doctors have developed their unique methods of diagnosis and act intuitively. They seldom touch their patients to find the troubled part. To explain the phenomenon of those who have perceptive power is beyond rational understanding. It is an inborn gift which many Sangomas have inherited. These powers are called imimoya nayambibi.
The izinyanga have learnt a great deal from various animals - their behaviour patterns, their natural resistance to injuries and poison, their strength, agility and cunning. Thus, despite the toxicity of certain animal tissues, their bones, skin, teeth and viscera are often used ritualistically or medically. Many medicines include these animal ingredients, but particularly their fats or Mafutas.
Click here to learn more about Zulu animal remedies:
MAGICAL PLANT MEDICINES
Some plants are used as intelezi for their psychoactive virtues to keep evil away, calm fears, defeat rivals and shapes the future. Others are used for more scientific purposes to cure many illnesses. These herbal remedies can be prepared in many different ways. The main methods are:- mpuphu (powdered muti).
Click on the following illnesses to see their Zulu herbal remedies: