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Bitter RootsThe Search for Healing Plants in Africa$
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Abena Dove Osseo-Asare

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780226085524

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226086163.001.0001

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Take Bitter Roots for Malaria

Take Bitter Roots for Malaria

(p.131) Chapter 4 Take Bitter Roots for Malaria
Bitter Roots

Abena Dove Osseo-Asare

University of Chicago Press

Ghanaian scientists and healers vied for rights to a promising treatment for drug-resistant malaria, Cryptolepis sanguinolenta. During the colonial period, healers developed therapies for malaria even though government did not see the disease as a problem for Africans. Ghanaian scientists then re-examined traditional therapies for malaria and other diseases through a nationalized plant screening exercise in the 1950s and 60s. The co-founders of Ghana’s Centre for Scientific Research into Plant Medicine, the physician Oku Ampofo and pharmacist Albert Nii Tackie led research on roots of Cryptolepis. Given economic and political setbacks in the 1980s and 1990s, the team privatized their research through the US-based firm Phyto-Riker, leading to tensions with healers and other scientists. Because harvesting the plant’s roots is unsustainable, Ghanaian plant experts fear this promising treatment for malaria will flounder, even as the world looks increasingly to plant-based cures for the disease.

Keywords:   Alkaloid, Albert Nii Tackie, Centre for Scientific Research into Plant Medicine, Cryptolepis sanginolenta, Diane Winn, Ghana, Malaria, Oku Ampofo, Phyto-Riker, Plasmodium falciparum

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