Covid-19: More Zimbabweans resort to traditional medicine and tobacco snuffing


More and more people are resorting to traditional medicine for different ailments. At first it was Moringa and Zumbani, but there is a new popular powder in town – snuff or ‘bute’.

Though not scientifically proven, according to traditional healers snuff or bute has medicinal properties.

Muchembere Hungwe says the snuff has been used for centuries to treat various ailments, and is regarded as the pain stop version of traditional medicine.

“Our ancestors used this snuff to treat headaches, stomach aches, you name it. Everything can be treated using snuff even up to this day I use snuff to treat my family,” said Hungwe.

Another traditional healer, Sekuru Banda explains how snuff is made.

“There are different types of Bute but it is all made from tobacco, the tobacco is dried and made into powder,” he said.

But just like any remedies it should be taken with caution.

Sniffing tobacco addiction increasing in DRC

“Bute has got nicotine and should be taken in small doses because it might cause heart diseases or cancer. We don’t encourage people to sniff bute all the time. Even when our ancestors used bute for various ailments they administered it in small doses,” he explained.

Because of various myths going around Bute is now in high demand.

“Bute is now scarce in Bulawayo and it’s now in high demand because if you sniff it you are able to sneeze and clear your nostrils and chest hence some people are using it to treat covid-19 symptoms.

“But please note, bute is addictive because of the nicotine components, people should not take it all the time or else we will have people even small kids moving around with snuff boxes.”

The ministry of health and child care is on record saying there is need for scientific research to ascertain the effectiveness of traditional medicines, especially when it comes to the novel coronavirus.

A Traditional Medicines Department, which is spearheading research in that area, has since been operationalised. – ZBC