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Ethnopharmacological uses of Erythrina senegalensis: a comparison of three areas in Mali, and a link between traditional knowledge and modern biological science

Section of Pharmacognosy, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, University of Oslo PO Box 1068 Blindern, 0316, Norway.
Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine (Impact Factor: 1.98). 02/2008; 4:6. DOI: 10.1186/1746-4269-4-6
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT This paper describes ethnopharmacological knowledge on the uses of Erythrina senegalensis DC (Fabaceae) in traditional medicine in three different areas (Dioila, Kolokani and Koutiala) in Mali. Data were collected using interviews of traditional healers selected randomly. The main reported diseases for which E. senegalensis was used by the traditional healers were amenorrhea, malaria, jaundice, infections, abortion, wound, and body pain (chest pain, back pain, abdominal pain etc). The fidelity level (which estimates the agreement of traditional healers on the same area about a reported use of the plant) was calculated to compare the results from the three areas. Certain differences were noticed, the most striking was the fact that amenorrhea was the most reported disease in Dioila and Kolokani with 21% of agreement for both areas, while this use was not reported in Koutiala at all. Similarities existed between the three areas on the use of the plant against malaria and infections, although with different degree of agreement among the healers. We also report the results of a literature survey on compounds isolated from the plant and their biological activities. A comparison of these results with the ethnopharmacological information from Mali and other countries showed that some of the traditional indications in Mali are scientifically supported by the literature. For instance, the use of E. senegalensis against infectious diseases (bilharzias, schistosomiasis, pneumonia etc.) is sustained by several antibacterial and antifungal compounds isolated from different parts of the plant. The comparison also showed that pharmacologists have not fully investigated all the possible bioactivities that healers ascribe to this plant.

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