Skip to main content


Fieldwork among the Aka

Research Achievements

Fieldwork among the Aka

An interdisciplinary team (Hagen, Hewlett, and two non-IPEM grad students [one of whom may apply]) conducted fieldwork last summer among the Aka of the Central African Republic. Their most important finding was that smoking is associated with reduced intestinal parasite load among the Aka. A second finding was that the Aka recreationally smoke one local plant, Polyalthia suaveolens, that they also use to treat intestinal worms and which has demonstrated antifilarial activity in vitro. (Tobacco and marijuana were apparently introduced by Europeans.) Both findings encourage further research into "recreational" drug use as a form of human pharmacophagy.