Traditional medicine and HIV/AIDS in Ethiopia: Herbal medicine and faith healing: A review


  • Helmut Kloos
  • Damen Haile Mariam
  • mirgissa Kaba
  • Getnet Tadale


Abstract Background: Traditional, complimentary and alternative medicines (TCAMS) are increasingly being promoted by various Sub-Saharan African governments as a promising health resource in the control and amelioration of HIV/AIDS. The accessibility and cultural acceptability of both herbal medicines and faith healing and the scarcity of antiretroviral treatment (ART) in many communities have made them a favorite treatment option for people living with HIV (PLHIV). Objectives: This paper reviews the literature on the utilization and potential contribution of plant medicines and faith healing for treatment of HIV and opportunistic infections in Ethiopia. Methods: The published and unpublished literature on TCAM, faith healing and HIV/AIDS was reviewed from online sources and several bibliographies. Results and Discussion: Several studies indicate that both plant medicines and faith healing are widely used in Ethiopia for the treatment of HIV-related illness due to the long history, prevailing illness perceptions and religious beliefs. Primary phytochemical tests have identified several plant species with anti-HIV, anti-mycobacterial and anti-protozoal properties but their development as safe and effective medicines will require extensive toxicological and pharmacological drug interaction studies. Increasing evidence of positive outcomes of faith healing involving holy water and prayer reported by PLHIV, particularly spiritual and mental benefits, has potential application for chronic patient care but needs further study. Conclusion and Recommendations: Prevailing and evolving indigenous practices indicate the need for the implementation of appropriate policies and guidelines for the development of safe and effective herbal medicines and the integration of traditional medicine into the health services. Several areas requiring further study are identified. [Ethiop. J. Health Dev. 2013;27(2):141-155]


How to Cite

Kloos, H., Haile Mariam, D., Kaba, mirgissa, & Tadale, G. (2016). Traditional medicine and HIV/AIDS in Ethiopia: Herbal medicine and faith healing: A review. The Ethiopian Journal of Health Development, 27(2). Retrieved from

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