MUTETA; A POWERFUL BUT TOXIC FEBRIFUGE
Muteta is a shrub growing on hills and/or rocky areas in some parts of Ukambani. It is very popular in the region for the treatment of fever diseases combating malaria effectively.
It belongs to the same class with boxwood, another febrifuge for long used as a substitute for quinine.
The shrub which can grow to six feet tall is however uncommon and very few persons from the region can identify it.
It is well known among herbalists and aged persons who have used its products for decades before the arrival of modern medicine.
It produces dark green leaves and seeds which are considered most useful since the plant lacks a strong bark or roots.
A decoction of the leaves and/or seeds is taken in measurable amounts for the treatment of influenza and malaria.
It is also used in the management of arthritis alongside curing typhoid and amoeba
The decoction can also be used as bathing water to heal a soar body or aching joints and muscles.
It is however very toxic when used in large quantities just like the boxwood.
It causes severe damage to the digestive system and nervous disorders when used in excess.
Symptoms of an overuse of the decoction are vomiting and severe stomachaches which when not noticed and handled in time can lead to death.
The decoction should be consumed in measurable volumes but locals simply do it without consideration of the ratio of water to amount of leaves or seeds boiled.
Herbalists have gone to the extent of adding sugar or honey to sweeten the decoction and then selling it in some market centers.
However, due to its toxicity it is not recommended for children, pregnant or lactating women.