African healers and traditionalists have time immemorial used herbs to deal with postpartum depression after pregnancy. Postpartum depression remains one of the major challenging maternal problems confronting many African women in rural settings.
These ancient remedies have brought relief to many women who experienced pregnancy, especially for the first time. This knowledge about plant species and the power to heal and improve the mental health of nursing mothers has been passed down from generation to generation.
Key among these traditional medicines that have been applied to heal postpartum depression are Acacia Senegal, bitter aloe, Africa wormwood, rooibos and centella.
Acacia Senegal is a popular herb in many African nations. In some Sub-Saharan countries, it is known as ong-ongoing, greeti bitter and agogwe.
Temidayo Adedokun, a researcher, who has been looking at the healing powers of African herbal medicine, explained that Acacia Senegal has been used to treat postpartum conditions such as perineal tears, episiotomies and hemorrhoids.
He noted that science may not explain the potency of this herb as proper scientific studies have not been carried out into its efficacy, but, traditional healers have relied on it to improve the health of nursing mothers. He indicated that Acacia Senegal has the benefit of improving the cardiovascular health, inflammation and general wellness of women.
The same can be said about the bitter aloe or African aloe which is widely used by traditional healers in South Africa, Ghana, Namibia and Angola. It is used to treat postpartum constipation and reduce cramps associated with menstruation and childbirth.
The African aloe has soft green leaves with attractive flowers and is widely known for its nice fragrance. On how it helps minimize post-pregnancy depression, Adedokun said this plant is also beneficial for postpartum women and reduces inflammation as well.
Closely linked to it is the African wormwood known scientifically as Artemisia afra. It is used to reduce postpartum bleeding and menstrual cramps. It originated from Ethiopia but it is now widely used in Uganda, Ghana and Tanzania. The plant characteristically grows about two feet tall and has dark green leaves with silvery white undersides.
It is sometimes taken as tea and is known for its strong smell and bitter taste. It is relied on in some homes as an insecticide.
Adedokun said another plant women battling postpartum depression must be interested in is the rooibos. According to him, it helps in healing the womb after childbirth, flattens the belly and promotes lactation.
It can be taken as tea or used as stew to deal with postpartum depression. It has other health benefits and can be used as an antioxidant.
With the centella, it grows mainly in Africa and Asia. It helps nursing mothers to prevent stretch marks and heal their bodies after childbirth. Scientific studies have found out that the centella helps women dealing with postpartum depression.
This is not the only benefit centella offers. It helps with wounds, skin ulcers and burns too.