The Desmondium intortum grows in Ethiopia and has promising anti-parasitic properties (Copyright: Forest and Kim Star, 2004)
Vets turn to African herbs as animal drugs stop working
19th February, 2010
The west's veterinary drug drive is not working, say animal disease scientists who have started researching the effectiveness of plant-based treatments used in Ethiopia
Traditional plant-based treatments used by Ethiopian farmers are to be tested by a team of scientists from the Scottish Agricultural College (SAC).
Researchers will visit the East African country and select 30 plants used by native herdsman to control parasites in their animals. These will then be taken to laboratories in Ethiopia and Scotland to test for their effectiveness.
'Like farmers across the world they often do things because their fathers and grandfathers did. Our idea is to find out if and how they work and to feed that information back to the farmers,' said project leader Dr Jos Houdijk.
Drugs not working
Dr Houdijk said the project was a recognition that it was time to look for alternatives to the veterinary drugs on which farmers in industrialised countries had become reliant to control animal diseases.
'When these drugs were introduced in the west in the 1960s we thought they would solve all our problems but we couldn't have been more wrong.
'Nowadays the parasites are becoming resistant and the consumer is becoming more aware about having products that have a minimum use of drugs. Alternative medicines are coming into fashion again.'
The project is one of 16 others given funding to look into helping Sub-Saharan and South Asian farmers tackle the spread of livestock diseases.
Sheep and chicory
The SAC has already undertaken research on how sheep grazed on chicory have fewer worm problems that those grazed on conventional pastures.
Dr Houdijk said farmers in Ethiopia and other less industrialised countries did not have the same reliance on veterinary drugs because of access, cost and knowledge about their proper use.
'What we've done is come a full circle where we are looking into using the kind of medicines that were used 70 years ago.
'We now need to demonstrate and prove to all farmers that these alternatives do work,' he said.
Natural ways to treat colds and flu
Before you start popping Lemsip Max, experiment with these herbal and spicy alternatives. Or there's always good old chicken soup...
Cancer drug: the other use for mistletoe
Mistletoe is not just for kissing under. In some European countries the plant is a respected and widely used treatment for cancer. Will it catch on in the UK?
FDA supports ban on growth antibiotics in livestock
The US Food and Drug Administration has said that antibiotics should not be administered to livestock except to prevent or treat disease
Grow your own drugs: an interview with James Wong
Plants can be much more than a pretty backdrop to life. Read this and you'll never look at a garden in the same way again...
Drugs on tap
Britain has a serious and unnecessary drug habit, but the implications of our pill-forevery-ill culture go far beyond the adverse effects on human health. The complex chemicals in modern pharmaceuticals, as well as the manufacturing processes involved, leave a massive industrial footprint on the natural world that is largely ignored by both science and government.
Using this website means you agree to us using simple cookies.