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Anowi, Chinedu Fredrick1 , Ekwueme, Precious Oluomachi1
1Dept of Pharmacognosy and Traditional Medicine, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Nigeria
In Umuahia, malaria constitutes a major public health problem just like in other part of Nigeria but, until now, the population still mostly relies on herbal medicines for healing. This study aimed to document medicinal plants used for malaria therapy in Umuahia, and for search of new antiplasmodial herbal medicines (HMs) for further investigation.
Semi-structured questionnaire interviews were used to gather ethnobotanical and sociodemographic data from traditional healers of the study area.
A total of 37 plant species belonging to 25 families were mentioned by respondents that cure malaria. Rutaceae, Asteraceae and Apocynaceae families, with 3 species each were the most represented, followed by Lamiaceae, Gentianaceae, Fabaceae and Costaceae with 2 species each. For the rest, 18 families were represented by only one species. The calculated RFC (Relative frequency of citation) indicated that species such as Sarcocephalus latifolius (RFC = 0.33), Cymbopogon citratus (RFC = 0.33), Carica papaya (RFC = 0.27), Azadirachta indica (RCF = 0.27), Chromolena odorata (RFC = 0.27) and Uvaria cheame (RFC = 0.27) were the most used in the treatment of malaria by traditional medicine healers in Umuahia.
Investigations results had identified 36 species commonly used in Umuahia traditional medicine to treat malaria.
Traditional Medicines Practitioners - TMPs of Umuahia understand and treat malaria using the available plant diversity from their huge forest and the herbal gardens within. The healers are very keen at plant conservation which is a good practice. Species like Uvaria chaeme may be investigated further for antiplasmodial assays to justify its efficacy.
Plant parts used could either be the barks, roots, leaves, or whole plants. The recipes also could be a combination of various species of plants or plant parts.
Keywords: RFC, Malaria, Herbal medicines, Umuahia, Traditional Medical Practitioners
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