Dr. Anthony Kweku Andoh’s life was definitely preordained that he be a healer. Ethnobotany, shamanism and the very rainforest that he was born in, were all destined to be part of his elaborate journey. Born the son of one of Africa’s foremost botanists, the young Andoh was introduced to the secret life of plants at an early age. As a child, the traditional healers of his village, in the Ashanti Region of Ghana, taught Andoh about the ways in which his ancestors used the native plants. This knowledge was further enhanced by the many field expeditions he went on with his father, a member in the Ghanaian Forest Ministry. Sometimes on these expeditions with his father, they would play a game where Andoh’s father challenged him to identify plants with their common and botanical names as he randomly pointed at them along their route. To the amazement of his peers and colleagues, young Andoh got it right everytime.
It was no surprise that with his innate connection to the flora around him Andoh was selected to attend Oxford and the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew just like his father before him. There he would learn the essential practices of running one of the largest herbariums in the world. He would then take that knowledge and use it in his homeland and play an instrumental role in the development of the Botanical Gardens at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and technology in Kumasi, Ghana. Throughout this time, Andoh’s name began to gain popularity and recognition in specializing in the medicinal plants of Africa. Dr. Andoh has written many books to help students of botany and laypersons become more aware of the fascinating flora around them and how they can be beneficial to one’s physical and spiritual needs.
One such plant that comes to mind, and is covered in his book, The Science And Romance Of Selected Herbs Used in Medicinal and Religious Ceremony, (1986,2021), is Tabernanthe Iboga. The people of Gabon, W. Africa have cultivated this plant for centuries for use in religious ceremonies as a psychotomimetic and as a medicine with analgesic effects. In the mid to late 90’s, as Dr. Andoh began to talk more about Iboga plants ability to cure severe drug addictions like heroin, the plant's popularity began to take off. The extracted alkaloids of the plant are administered to addicts with completed cures reported. It is said that the plant works to “reset” the part of the brain associated with the addiction making the individual no longer crave the urge to use.
Dr. Andoh was also instrumental in popularizing Moringa oleifera here in the states. The World Church Service was tasked with a humanitarian effort to increase the birth weight of babies born in Senegal, W. Africa. They called on Dr. Andoh to assist in finding a plant that could help nourish a constant stream of malnourished babies. His answer was Moringa oleifera, a plant with so many nutrients that it is like taking nature's multivitamin. The mission was a success and now 20 years laters, you can find Moringa oleifera in your grocers health food aisle. This is just the tip of the iceberg in describing a healer that has provided so much to the herbalist community at large and I hope to share more of his great works as time provides.