Medicinal plants used for dogs in Trinidad
, Tisha Harper
, Karla Georges
17 Cadiz Road, Belmont, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
Faculty of Medical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of the West Indies,
Mt. Hope, Trinidad and Tobago
Received 10 March 1999; accepted 15 February 2000
This paper documents ethnoveterinary medicines used to treat dogs in Trinidad and Tobago. In
1995, a 4-stage process was used to conduct the research and document the ethnoveterinary
practices. Twenty-eight ethnoveterinary respondents were identified using the school-essay method,
which is a modified rapid rural appraisal (RRA) technique. Semi-structured interviews were held
with these respondents as well as with 30 veterinarians, 27 extension officers and 19 animal-health
assistants and/or agricultural officers, and the seven key respondents that they identified. The final
step involved hosting four participatory workshops with 55 of the respondents interviewed to
discuss the ethnoveterinary data generated from the interviews and to determine dosages for some
of the plants mentioned. Supplementary interviews were conducted in 1997 and 1998.
Seeds of Carica papaya, and leaves of Cassia alata,Azadirachta indica,Gossypium spp.,
Cajanus cajan and Chenopodium ambrosiodes are used as anthelmintics. The anthelmintics
Gossypium spp. and Chenopodium ambrosiodes are the most frequently used species. Crescentia
cujete pulp, Musa spp. stem exudate, the inside of the pods of Bixa orellana, leaves of Cordia
curassavica and Eclipta alba plant tops are used for skin diseases. Musa spp. stem exudate, seeds of
Manilkara zapota,Pouteria sapota and Mammea americana and leaves of Cordia curassavica,
Scoparia dulcis and Nicotiana tabacum are used to control ectoparasites. Dogs are groomed with
the leaves of Cordia curassavica,Bambusa vulgaris and Scoparia dulcis.Psidium guajava buds and
leaves and the bark of Anacardium occidentale are used for diarrhoea. Owners attempt to achieve
milk let-down with a decoction of the leaves of Stachytarpheta jamaicensis. The plant uses parallel
Preventive Veterinary Medicine 45 (2000) 201±220
Corresponding author. Tel.: 1-868-624-7880.
E-mail address: email@example.com (C. Lans)
Tel.: 1-868-645-2640, ext: 4303.
0167-5877/00/$ ± see front matter #2000 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
those practised in human folk medicine in other Caribbean countries and in other tropical countries.
#2000 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Medicinal plants; Ethnoveterinary medicine; Folk medicine; Dog; Trinidad and Tobago
Over the centuries livestock raisers have developed their own ways of keeping animals
healthy and productive. These include plant-based remedies, surgical and manipulative
techniques, husbandry strategies and associated magico-religious practices (McCorkle
et al., 1996). Caribbean folk medicine and ethnoveterinary medicine are derived from
pan-Caribbean culture and history and include elements taken from the indigenous
peoples of South America, and from Asia, Africa and Europe (Longuefosse and Nossin,
1996; Morton, 1980). Research such as that documented by IIRR (1994) and by Robineau
(1991) is needed before medicinal plants can be declared safe and effective. Additional
research is also needed before placebos and inactive preparations can be separated from
active ones, and before Third World countries can set about encouraging the production,
collection and manufacture of plant-based drugs (Waller, 1993; Bakhiet and Adam, 1995;
Coe and Anderson, 1996).
A brief review of the literature on canine health indicates the following. One hundred
and thirty dogs presented to the small animal clinic of the School of Veterinary Medicine
were divided into two groups of 65 diarrhoeic and 65 non-diarrhoeic (Adesiyun et al.,
1997). Rectal swabs taken from both groups were positive for E. coli (76.2%), Salmonella
(4.6%) and Campylobacter (13.8%). The study also reported resistance to tetracycline
(59.6%) and ampicillin (50.5%) (Adesiyun et al., 1997).
Rawlings et al. (1983) conducted a general study of screwworm myiasis in Trinidad
and Tobago, Guyana, and Suriname. Annual estimates of losses ranged from US$4.82 to
10.71 per animal (dairy, beef, pigs, dogs, cats, sheep, goats, horses, and jaguars). Of all
the respondents in Trinidad and Tobago, 47% said that their dogs were infected with
myiasis. Cuts, tick-bite wounds, umbilicus of neonates, and bites from vampire bats were
the main sites of the infection in Trinidad and Tobago. The fly species that cause
screwworm myiasis were considered a distant second in importance to the Boophilus
spp. tick as animal pests.
Government statistics for 1996 record that (in dogs), there were three cases of
salmonellosis, 11 cases of suspected Campylobacteriosis C. Fetus Venerealis, 25 cases of
suspected salmonellosis and one case of suspected dermatophilosis (Ministry of
Agriculture, Land and Marine Resources, 1996). S. scabiei var canis can transfer from
its primary canine host to its accidental host (man) (Haynes, 1985); therefore, it is of
interest that there were reports in the human population of epidemic levels of scabies
infestation in Trinidad of 410±709/100 000 from 1986 to 1988, and 1124/100 000 in
Tobago in 1988 (Reid et al., 1990).
This paper documents research conducted in 1995 and throughout 1997 and 1998 into
ethnoveterinary medicines that are used as anthelmintics, for skin diseases, for
202 C. Lans et al. / Preventive Veterinary Medicine 45 (2000) 201±220
ectoparasite control and milk let-down, and as anti-diarrhoeal agents for dogs. The
research involved interviews with veterinarians, field staff of the Ministry of Agriculture,
Land and Marine Resources, and key respondents. The study is part of an on-going effort
to conduct first-hand research into ethnoveterinary medicines (Lans and Brown, 1998).
2. Materials and methods
2.1. Study area
Trinidad and Tobago is a twin-island republic. Trinidad lies 18 km north-east of
Venezuela, and has an area of 4769 km
. Tobago is situated 35 km north of Trinidad and
has an area of 301 km
. The terrain of both islands comprises of low mountain ranges and
plains. The rainy season lasts from June to December. The population is currently
estimated at 1.26 million and increases at 1% annually.
There is no comprehensive published information available on the number of dogs in
the country. There are pets, pet/watch dogs, watchdogs, security dogs, and hunting dogs
receiving various levels of care.
2.2. Data collection
The initial ethnoveterinary research was conducted from April to October 1995. In
1995, the data collection took place over 5 months and can be divided into four parts:
(1) The school-essay method was used to generate a purposive sample of key
respondents. A purposive sample entails finding respondents who know about the
research topic (Lans and Brown, 1998). Key respondents in this research are individuals
who are more knowledgeable about ethnoveterinary remedies for dogs than the general
population (Etkin, 1993). Even within a diverse research sample, long-term, intensive
collaboration with one or more key respondents is considered to be an effective research
strategy (Etkin, 1993). The school-essay method is a rapid rural appraisal (RRA) tool
(Lans and Brown, 1998). The RRA system was developed in the 1980s to use the
knowledge of farmers and other lay people when planning development interventions
(Catley and Mohammed, 1996). The sampling frame used to select schools in both
Trinidad and Tobago was the national telephone list of 95 secondary schools. Letters were
written to the principals of the initial sample of 26 schools explaining the research into
ethnoveterinary practices, outlining what was required of the students, why their
participation would help the study, and asking permission for their students to participate.
Nine schools from both islands were selected as a final sample, and were chosen to
guarantee variability in ethnicity of students and geographical location (Fig. 1). The age
group 12±15 years (forms 2, 3 and 4) was selected to obtain students who were free of
national exams. At the nine schools, the first author spoke to one or two classes per
school. The principal or the designated teacher made the choice of class. The total
number of students spoken to was approximately 242. During the presentation to the
students, they were told the reason for the choice of research question, what the end result
of the research would be, and the differences between participatory and conventional
C. Lans et al. / Preventive Veterinary Medicine 45 (2000) 201±220 203
research. The students were also told that their help would be useful in assisting to locate
key informants, and in increasing the amount of information that could be collected in a
short period of time. At the end of each presentation, all the students were asked to talk to
their neighbours and parents about ethnoveterinary remedies and then write an individual
or group essay on what they found out.
(2) The first author conducted semi-structured interviews with the key respondents
identified from the school-essay method. Selection was based on whether the essay or
questionnaire indicated that a respondent had potentially useful information on dogs.
Group and individual interviews were held with officials from the Ministry of
Agriculture, Land and Marine Resources. Nineteen agricultural officers (AOs) and
agricultural health assistants (AHAs) (50% of all employed in this category) and 27
extension officers (EOs) (50% of all those employed in this category) from the one East
Office and the two South Regional Offices in Trinidad. These officials were field-based
staff. These staff members were considered by their peers and superiors to know about
ethnoveterinary practices. No information was obtained from the North Trinidad
administrative zone or from extension officers in Tobago. The officials interviewed
discussed what they knew and indicated which veterinarians were likely to know of
ethnoveterinary practices; this type of sampling by referral is called a ``stepwise'' or a
``snowball'' sample. Thirty veterinarians (50% of all practising in 1995) were then
Fig. 1. Geographical location of the chosen schools and additional research areas used to study ethnoveterinary
uses of plants in dogs.
204 C. Lans et al. / Preventive Veterinary Medicine 45 (2000) 201±220
contacted (including both of the veterinarians located in Tobago), and 19 discussed what
they knew. Seven respondents were identified from this set of interviews with the
Ministry of Agriculture staff and the veterinarians, and these seven were also interviewed
about their ethnoveterinary knowledge. All the key respondents knew details of
ethnoveterinary remedies for dogs, but were not otherwise different from the general
(3) The third step of the data collection was to hold four focus group workshops and
one seminar that were hosted by the first author. The purpose of each focus group was to
discuss and confirm the data gathered with the key respondents. A focus group is an
exploratory discussion designed to obtain perceptions on a specific theme in a small and
informal, yet public forum (Etkin, 1993). The workshops followed the outline established
by IIRR (1994). The seminar served to inform staff and students at the School of
Veterinary Medicine of the preliminary research results.
(4) Collection of secondary data from the University of the West Indies library and
other sources has been on-going since 1995. Details of the methods used in 1995 have
been previously reported (Lans and Brown, 1998).
In 1997 and 1998, interviews were held with 43 new respondents together with the co-
authors, to obtain more details on and more instances of the plant-based remedies. Nine
key respondents were concentrated in Paramin, the area designated A (Fig. 1). One key
respondent in area A was recognised and consulted by her community as a specialist in
folk medicine and also sold medicinal plants. The other respondents in this area had dogs
and used some of the plants mentioned in this paper to treat their pets. Group and
individual interviews were held with the respondents in area A. Area A is a part of
Trinidad with a higher density of descendants of French and Spanish speaking people
than the areas covered by the school-essay method conducted in 1995. Area A was not
part of the research area covered in 1995. Area A was visited five times over the 2-year
period, 1997±1998. The sample from area A was obtained by referral and so is a snowball
sample. Thirty-four respondents were resident in area B (Fig. 1). Information from these
respondents was obtained when they presented their dogs to a clinic in Arima. These
respondents came from Arima, Sangre Grande, Guanapo, Aripo, Talparo, Valencia and
Tamana, and supplemented the two respondents obtained from this area in 1995. This
sample is best described as a convenience sample. Area B is of interest because it has
remnants of the original native Amerindian inhabitants of Trinidad, and their knowledge.
Plants were collected on 25% of the visits to area A to verify that the common names
used by each respondent were the same as those recorded in the literature. The plants
described in this paper are common and well known.
3.1. School-essay method
The students who participated in the school-essay method produced 53 essays and 25
questionnaires. Because each student spoke to one or more parents, relatives and
neighbours, these essays resulted in 80 potential respondents and information on farm
C. Lans et al. / Preventive Veterinary Medicine 45 (2000) 201±220 205
animals and pets (Table 1). Of these 80 potential respondents, 28 were interviewed as key
respondents. The key respondents were identified from the student responses. For
example, if the essay or questionnaire indicated that a respondent had potentially useful
ethnoveterinary information, the person would be interviewed as a key respondent. The
interviews with officials from the Ministry of Agriculture and with veterinarians
produced seven additional key respondents. These latter key respondents did not differ in
any way from those provided from the school-essay method (Lans, 1996).
3.2. Ethnoveterinary medicine for dogs
When queried about plant preparation, many respondents used the description ``boil''
the plant parts, which in scientific terms is a decoction. The decoction is allowed to cool
and the resulting liquid is used. The respondents' term ``putting the plant to draw'' is
more properly described as an infusion. An infusion is defined as resulting when the plant
parts are steeped in boiling water. The resulting solution is allowed to cool before
Interviewees claimed that they used the ``leaves'' of a particular plant in their
remedies. Further investigation revealed that the top piece of the plant was used in the
case of large plants. The respondents demonstrated to the authors that the entire plant
minus the roots was used if it was a small plant. These demonstrations imply that plant-
stem material was used in addition to the leaves. The most common dose described was
``some''. Even the population of the convenience sample at the Arima clinic was reluctant
to give details of dosages.
The term ``grooming'' as used in Trinidad and Tobago is broad enough to cover the use
of fly repellents applied to the coat. However, in this paper the term is confined to
``making the coat shiny and removing the loose hairs''. Aqueous solutions of plant leaves
Chosen schools in Trinidad and Tobago and number of responses obtained from the school-essays and
School No. of students
spoken to or
questionnaires given, Q
No. of diseases
130Q 17 6 676
230 8 12 5204
434Q 2 4 350
519Q 2 4 351
630Q 4 7 390
7 39 21 19 8 21 14
9 60 24 11 7 15 3
In school 8, the teacher assumed responsibility for the method, and the researcher did not speak to the
In school 8, the one essay done was lost by the teacher.
In school 3, the teacher assumed responsibility for the method, but could not be contacted subsequently.
206 C. Lans et al. / Preventive Veterinary Medicine 45 (2000) 201±220
used as fly repellents are categorised in this paper as ectoparasite prevention as opposed
When talking about the efficacy of the plants, three respondents claimed that what
worked for one dog might not work for all, and also that the effective dose depended on
the individual dog. The ethnoveterinary uses and the number of times the plants were
described for a particular use are presented in Table 2.
3.2.1. Plants used for diarrhoea
The bark of the cashew tree is boiled for 15±20 min, until it is reddish brown in colour;
then, the decoction is given to the dog to drink. Guava leaves are boiled and the resulting
decoction is given to the dog as the drinking water.
3.2.2. Milk let-down
A decoction of ``some'' leaves of the vervine plant is given to dogs to achieve milk let-
Medicinal plants used for dogs in Trinidad and Tobago
Common name Plant part used Latin name Claimed use Prevention (P)
or treatment (T)
Cashew Bark A. occidentale Diarrhoea T 6
Guava Buds, leaves P. guajava Diarrhoea T 7
Vervine Leaves S. jamaicensis Milk let-down T 11
Black sage Leaves C. curassavica Skin problems T 4
Bamboo Leaves B. vulgaris Grooming 3
Black sage Plant tops C. curassavica Grooming 1
Sweet-broom Plant tops S. dulcis Grooming 4
Roukou Inside of pods B. orellana Mange T 6
Calabash Pulp C. cujete Mange T 4
silk fig, banana
Stem Musa spp. Mange T 5
Congo lala Plant tops E. alba Mange and fungal
Sapodilla Seeds M. zapota Myiasis P and T 4
silk fig, banana
Stem Musa spp. Myiasis T 4
Black sage Leaves C. curassavica Ectoparasite P 4
Congo lala Leaves E. alba Ectoparasite P 1
Mammy-apple Seeds M. americana Ectoparasite P and T 4
Tobacco Leaves N. tabacum Ectoparasite T 4
Mammy-sepote Seeds P. sapota Ectoparasite P and T 4
Sweet-broom Leaves S. dulcis Ectoparasite P 1
Neem Leaves A. indica Anthelmintic T 10
Pigeon-pea Leaves C. cajan Anthelmintic T 4
Papaya Seeds C. papaya Anthelmintic T 4
Senna Leaves C. alata Anthelmintic T 6
Worm grass Leaves C. ambrosiodes Anthelmintic T 28
Cotton-bush Leaves Gossypium spp. Anthelmintic T 63
C. Lans et al. / Preventive Veterinary Medicine 45 (2000) 201±220 207
3.2.3. Plants used for skin diseases and mange
Four plants used to treat mange are administered via baths. Bamboo leaves are
combined with black sage and Congo lala leaves to bathe dogs. This combination is used
if the dog is being bathed in a river. The bamboo leaves are taken from the river bottom
and are only used if they are available.
Black sage and sweet-broom are used to bathe animals with skin problems. A
``bundle'' of leaves (judged sufficient for the size of the animal) is used. The leaves are
pulverised in water, and the resulting solution is used to bathe the animal. During the
bath, the leaf residue is used to scrub the dog. In this bundle, the black sage is seen as the
essential component and the leaves of the plant were reported to have fine hairs and oils.
It is claimed that when black sage is used the loose hairs in the coat fall off and new ones
grow. Black sage is used before dog shows to make the dog's coat shiny.
Two tree fruits are used to treat mange. One of these tree fruits is called roukou locally,
but is known commercially as Annatto. The roukou pod is broken open and the inside of
the pod with its small seeds is rubbed on the area of the dog that shows signs of mange.
One pod is used per affected site and the application is done once or twice, while the dog
is being treated. Some respondents bathe their dogs first with various products, then apply
the roukou. Because rokou is a plant dye, a dog with a severe case of mange can have up
to 60% of its skin dyed red.
The second tree fruit used to treat mange is calabash. The pulp of the calabash fruit is
applied externally on the affected dogs. One respondent claimed that the calabash pulp
was in a decayed condition when used.
Mange is also treated with the ``water'' from banana stems. The trunk or stem of the
banana plant is cut diagonally with a machete. The stem juice or exudate that oozes out is
collected and then applied to dogs with minor cases of mange. The respondents described
the stem used as ``rotton moko'' (meaning that the banana plant chosen had been
previously harvested and cut to knee height). This cut surface had therefore been exposed
to the elements, which may have altered the amount and quality of the stem juice
collected. Dogs are bathed with leaves of Congo lala crushed in water to treat mange and
fungal skin infections.
3.2.4. Plants used for ectoparasites
Sapodilla is a tree fruit. The seeds of the fruit are dried and pounded until fine. The
resulting powder is put on cuts to prevent myiasis.
The exudate from the cut stem of the banana trunk is collected on a piece of cotton, and
the cotton is then placed in a deep wound to cure myiasis. When the fly larvae have died,
the wound is covered to prevent further infections. The exudate-soaked cotton is also used
in wounds to prevent infection.
Dogs are bathed with black sage, Congo lala, or pounded sweet-broom leaves to repel
flies and ticks. The method of administration used for these three plants is similar. A
``bundle'' of leaves and stems (judged sufficient for the size of the animal) is rolled and
placed in a bucket of water. The resulting solution is then rubbed into the coat. Sweet-
broom leaves are reported to produce lather.
Seeds of the tree fruits mammy-apple or mammy-sepote are sun-dried, grated and mixed
with coconut oil. The resultingpaste is rubbed on the dog to keep away flies and ectoparasites.
208 C. Lans et al. / Preventive Veterinary Medicine 45 (2000) 201±220
Hunting dogs and dogs that are allowed to stray are reported to get parasites in their
noses from drinking in puddles. The parasite is possibly an unidentified species of leech
(Prof. P.R. Bacon, pers. comm., 1999). Pounded tobacco leaves are steeped in alcohol and
kept until needed. If the dog appears to have a parasite in its nostrils, some of this solution
is placed in the dog's nose.
3.2.5. Plants used as anthelmintics
The leaves/plant tops of three plants and three trees are used as anthelmintics. A handful
of the leaves of the neem tree is ground and the solution put into the food or water.
Pigeon-pea leaves are used infrequently as an anthelmintic. ``Some'' pigeon-pea leaves
are ground, the juice squeezed out, and this liquid is mixed with salt and honey and
administered for internal parasites. Alternatively, a decoction of the tip of a pigeon-pea
branch is given to the dog to drink.
Seeds from the papaya fruit and leaves from the senna tree are also used to deworm
dogs. Worm grass is another commonly used anthelmintic. Two respondents pounded
``some'' worm grass leaves with olive oil and with salt and gave the resulting liquid to the
dog. More often, a decoction of the leaves made with water or milk is given to the animal.
Milk is favoured for puppies.
The most commonly used remedy is a decoction of cotton-bush leaves which is given
to dogs as the drinking water with milk or in food. The most frequently described dose
given was ``some'', followed by ``one or two leaves''. Three respondents suggested two
leaves as a dose for a small dog (<16 kg), four or five leaves was considered by four
respondents to be the dose for a large dog (>25 kg). Only three respondents pounded four
or five leaves to make a dose of half of a teaspoon or 2.5 ml that was then administered.
Dogs are sometimes tied for several hours after administration of the plant-based
anthelmintics. There were respondents who followed up the administration of the
anthelmintic plants with a purgative. These anthelmintic plants are often administered
when the moon is waning. The parasites are said to be more susceptible to the medication
when the moon is waning or in the full-moon phase. Other respondents felt that dogs are
more likely to become infected during the full-moon phase.
There were some concerns expressed by the veterinarians interviewed about the plant-
based anthelmintics. Veterinarians reported that they had cases of weak pups dying after
being given Gossypium barbadense or G. hirsutum. Two veterinarians felt that the plant-
based anthelmintics paralysed and eliminated roundworms, but three others reported that
after clients had used the plant-based anthelmintics to deworm their animals, stool-
sample analyses conducted at the clinics still showed positive values for hookworms and
roundworms. The veterinarians also claimed that the dewormed puppies were still in poor
condition when brought in, and that the client or the veterinarian saw roundworms after
the puppies had been dewormed with the plant-based anthelmintics.
There was no indication of overlap of respondents and key respondents. Previous
research (Lans, 1996) indicated that folk medicinal tradition in Trinidad and Tobago
C. Lans et al. / Preventive Veterinary Medicine 45 (2000) 201±220 209
rarely includes recognised healers who train others in their knowledge. The most
common occurrence is for children to learn from the grandparents or older relatives that
they live with (Longuefosse and Nossin, 1996), and for adults to learn from neighbours,
older relatives, or immigrants from India, Venezuela or the other West Indian islands
(Lans, 1996). The emphasis on obtaining many respondents from as wide a cross-section
as possible was to increase the possibility of meeting key respondents who would be
willing to discuss dosages and techniques and would be able to show researchers a sample
of the medicinal plant. The research methods used partially achieved this objective.
Lanusse and Prichard (1993) consider that a major disadvantage of self-administration
systems is the wide variation in consumption between individual animals. Dosages given
in tropical countries and in the Caribbean are usually imprecise or non-standardised
(Eldridge, 1975; Bakhiet and Adam, 1995; Longuefosse and Nossin, 1996) and
veterinarians sometimes criticise this characteristic of ethnoveterinary medicine (Lans,
1996). The work of Niwa et al. (1991) revealed that establishing an ethnomedicinal dose
is more complex than anticipated by Lanusse and Prichard (1993). Niwa et al. (1991)
recorded that natural plant-medicinal products were more effective in some patients than
others, because patients who respond well have larger amounts of acid and pepsin in their
gastric juices. These more effective gastric juices degraded the medicinal-plant extract
into bioactive low-molecular weight compounds with anti-oxidant activity from repeating
polymers (such as a-tocopherol, b-carotene and flavoproteins).
While discussing the efficacy of their plant-based remedies, several key respondents
claimed that ``what works for some does not work for others, and each individual has to
work out their own dose''. According to Strobel (1985), the idea that each individual (in
collaboration or not with a healer) has to determine which plant and which dosage is
effective for the complaint being treated, comes from the Hippocratic tradition.
The administration of anthelmintic plants during the waning phase of the moon has
been previously reported (Longuefosse and Nossin, 1996; Lans and Brown, 1998).The
respondents description of ``boiling'' the plant parts is confirmed by Morton (1980) who
claims that decoctions are more commonly used than infusions. Morton (1980) and
Eldridge (1975) emphasise that it is an error to think that the word ``leaves'' as used by
respondents is literal, unless respondents are referring to individual leaves of large trees.
Both Eldridge (1975) and Morton (1980) claim that the whole above-ground herb, or
leafy stems or branch tips are the most common translations of the respondent term
4.2. Scientific testing of natural remedies
Various studies have shown immunosuppression in dogs with demodectic mange and
other infectious or parasitic skin diseases (Toman et al., 1998), however, it is not known if
immunostimulation plays a role in the mange remedies based on Bixa orellana,
Crescentia cujete or Musa spp. The use of ``rotton moko'' by the respondents for mange
and myiasis is borne out by experiments conducted by Haynes (1985). Haynes (1985)
210 C. Lans et al. / Preventive Veterinary Medicine 45 (2000) 201±220
studied various ways of treating sarcoptic and demodectic mange in dogs in Trinidad such
as sulphur in molasses, kerosene and sevin powder, kerosene and coconut oil, and banana
stems. Experiments of the effects of banana-stem extracts on ticks were also conducted.
The complete study on mange treatments included 40 dogs of both sexes and various ages
and breeds (both pets and strays). Mange mites were identified from all dogs: 26 dogs had
S. scabiei var canis, nine had D. canis and five had dual infections. Haynes' (1985)
research is best described as exploratory and responsive to the conditions of the dogs.
Haynes' (1985) experiments on the use of the sap of the banana stem will be briefly
reviewed. Eight dogs were used: one with demodectic mange, five with sarcoptic mange
and two with dual infections. Their weights ranged from 3 to 9 kg. Five dogs were treated
at the University, while three were treated at their homes. Two methods of testing the
banana stems for mange were used. In method 1, a bath was prepared by soaking sections
of banana stem in water for 30 min. The banana stem was squeezed to remove the fluid
and the residue discarded. The formula used was 1 kg banana stem to 4 l water/3 kg body
weight. The resulting banana-stem extract was applied with a cloth to the dog. Method 2
involved the direct rubbing of pieces of decomposed banana stem directly onto the dog
(avoiding all sensitive areas). The Binomial and Fisher Exact non-parametric tests were
applied to the results. Results were that 1±3 kg of very decomposed banana stem applied
directly to the dogs twice weekly, cured one dog with demodectic mange in 15 weeks,
two dogs with sarcoptic mange were cured in 6 weeks, and two dogs with dual infections
were cured in 7 weeks (Haynes, 1985).
A series of experiments was conducted to determine the effect of the water-soluble
components of decomposed banana stems on the larvae of the R. sanguineus (dog tick)
and Boophilus microplus (cattle tick). The weight of the extracted material from one stem
was 8.6 kg and the volume 5.8 l. Two methods were used in the testing: the Fielder (1968;
cited by Haynes (1985)) tea-bag method used by Wright and Riner (1979; cited by
Haynes (1985)) and the filter-paper method of Granett and Sacktor (1947; cited by
Haynes (1985)). Haynes (1985) used the results of the tick-larvae experiments to suggest
that the banana-stem extract contained compounds that controlled mange, rather than the
mange mites being killed by mechanical injury.
4.3. Review of the ethnomedicinal literature
This section reviews the available literature on the plants identified in this study and
compares their Trinidad and Tobago ethnoveterinary use to the folk medicinal use in
other countries. All the folk medicinal uses are human uses unless otherwise specified.
The chemical constituents identified from previous scientific studies will be given, in
addition to the active compound if known. Some plants were not previously studied in
great detail. This type of ethnopharmacological review and evaluation is based on that
developed by Heinrich et al. (1992). The ethnoveterinary uses of Psidium guajava and
Anacardium occidentale for diarrhoea have transferred directly from the human use.
A. occidentale bark decoction is drunk for diarrhoea in Curac,ao, Suriname and
Trinidad (Morton, 1981). The human dose in Suriname is a 105cm
piece of bark
boiled in 1 l of water (Morton, 1981). The bark contains phenols (cardanols, cardols, and
anacardol) which have bactericidal, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, vermicidal,
C. Lans et al. / Preventive Veterinary Medicine 45 (2000) 201±220 211
protozoicidal, parasiticidal and anti-enzymatic properties (Oliver-Bever, 1986; Wagner,
1993; Bakhiet and Adam, 1995). The plant also contains tannins and catechin (flavonoid)
which have anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects (Souza Brito and Souza Brito, 1993).
The active compound in the bark is tannin (Tan, 1981).
P. guajava has been so well studied it is recommended for human use in diarrhoeal
cases (Robineau, 1991). The plant contains cineol, three flavonoids with strong anti-
bacterial action: quercetin, its 3-L-4-arabinofuranoside (avicularin) and its 3-L-4-
pyranoside (Oliver-Bever, 1986). It also contains b-sitosterol, triterpenoids (oleanic,
ursolic, crataegolic and guayavolic acids) and 10% ellagic tannins (Robineau, 1991).
Crataegolic, ursolic and oleanic acids have an activating effect on the human complement
system which plays a role in the immune defence system (Wagner, 1990). Oleanolic and
ursolic acids were shown to have anti-inflammatory properties in laboratory animals (Liu,
1995). The anti-diarrhoeal activity of an aqueous extract of the leaf of P. guajava is
thought to be due to its inhibition of the increased watery secretions that occur in
diarrhoeal diseases (Lutterodt, 1992). The aglycone quercetin in P. guajava has anti-
inflammatory and spasmolytic activity (Duke, 1989; Lozoya et al., 1994; Morales et al.,
1994), but might have long-term adverse effects (Waller, 1993).
6-Hydroxyluteolol-7-glucuronide, apigenol-7-glucuronide and luteolol-7-glucuronide
have been identified in Stachytarpheta jamaicensis (Duke, 2000). Other plant chemicals
include a toxic heteroside (stachytarphetin), a glycoside (stachytarphine), an iridoid
(tarphetalin), dopamine, caffeic acid, choline, ipolamiid, phenolic acids, flavones,
catechic tannins, the hypotensive g-amino-butyric acid and chlorogenic acid (Morton,
1980; Robineau, 1991; Heinrich et al., 1992; Duke, 2000). The LD
is 100 mg/kg
intraperitoneally in rats. The plant has febrifuge and analgesic effects (Robineau, 1991),
which might help alleviate the signs associated with mastitis. Another reason for its use as
a lactogogue might be that ipolamiid (a bitter iridoid glycoside) acts as a mild stomachic
(Heinrich et al., 1992) and this compound may have anti-inflammatory properties
(Schapoval et al., 1998). Research conducted in 1990 did not find the anti-lactagogue
compound dopamine (Robineau, 1991). The cultural reasons for the use of S. jamaicensis
as a lactogogue are recorded (Hodge and Taylor, 1957; Eldridge, 1975; Morton, 1981).
In Trinidad and Tobago, the ethnoveterinary use of plants for mange and skin diseases
seems to parallel human folk use for burns and skin problems. De Verteuil (1889)
reported the use of Scoparia dulcis in Trinidad as a lotion against impetigenous and
herpetic eruptions. Morton (1990) reported that S. dulcis whole plant soaked in water
releases mucilage and the resulting liquid was claimed to be cool and refreshing. Water-
rich plant mucilages with high polysaccharide content might be protective of normal cells
and stimulate regeneration of these (Morton, 1990) and might have bactericidal properties
(Ortiz de Montellano, 1986). Wagner (1990, 1993) lists polysaccharides as one of the
plant-drug constituents that might act as immunostimulators. High osmolarity promotes
collagen formation by decreasing oedema and other inflammatory exudates (Oryan and
Zaker, 1998). S. dulcis is used for skin rashes in Martinique (Longuefosse and Nossin,
1996), and in Trinidad (Wong, 1976) as an emollient in Brazil (Hirschmann and Rojas de
Arias, 1990), for skin irritations in Brazil (Kainer and Duryea, 1992) and as part of a
multi-ingredient remedy for burns in eastern Nicaragua (Coe and Anderson, 1996). It is
said to kill lice and fleas and is used against vermin in Paraguay (Morton, 1981). Freire
212 C. Lans et al. / Preventive Veterinary Medicine 45 (2000) 201±220
et al. (1991) reported analgesic and anti-inflammatory activity from water and ethanolic
extracts of the plant and hypothesised that these activities might be related to the
triterpene glutinol. Other compounds are identified in Asano et al. (1990), Hayashi et al.
(1988, 1990), Heinrich et al. (1992), Lachman-White et al. (1992), Mahato et al. (1981),
Morton (1981). Nishino et al. (1993) found antitumour-promoting compounds and
Hayashi et al. (1988, 1990) found anti-viral agents. Betulinic acid in the plant has anti-
inflammatory properties (Duke, 2000). Little information was obtained on Bambusa
vulgaris, however, the undersides of the leaves are hirsute (Kapoor, 1990). This physical
property of the leaves might have a positive effect on the dog's coat.
B. orellana seeds applied locally are widely used against burns and skin diseases
(Morton, 1981; Tan, 1981; Robineau, 1991), and these uses are recommended by
Robineau (1991). The tannin content in the seeds would make it useful for external
wounds (Tan, 1981). Wax-like substances from the seed coat of B. orellana paralyse
intestinal parasites (Oliver-Bever, 1986) and could possibly suffocate mange mites. The
seed coat contains norbixin, a volatile oil, a fixed oil, and an apocarotenoid (bixin) (Tan,
1981; Weniger et al., 1993; Mercadante et al., 1996), these oils might also suffocate
mange mites. Four C
-carotenes were tentatively identified in the seeds (Mercadante
et al., 1996). The seeds contain a volatile oil, saponin, tannin, carotenoids, bixin and
traces of alkaloids (Tan, 1981; Mercadante et al., 1996). Many saponins are toxic to
insects (Robbers et al., 1996). One of the seed alkaloids is reported to be toxic(Morton, 1981).
Research published in 1987 suggested that an extract of B. orellana experimentally
produced hyperglycaemia in dogs (Morrison et al., 1987). The seed extract was prepared
in the following manner. The seeds were sun-dried, extracted with chloroform, which was
evaporated off before the dried residues were dissolved in 95% ethanol. The ethanol
extract was then filtered and the filtrate dried. The product, a crystalline solid, was
dissolved in chloroform and extracted with 0.5 M sodium hydroxide solution. Then the
aqueous layer was neutralised with dilute hydrochloric acid and fed to the dogs. This seed
extract was claimed to cause hyperglycaemia in undernourished dogs when fed in
quantities of 2 g of the extract per day for 14 days. The dogs weighed between 9 and
16 kg. A control group was given the same amount of extract plus 3 mg riboflavin per
day. The extract caused damage to the liver and pancreas of the experimental group
(Morrison et al., 1987). The hyperglycaemic effects of the extract were greatly reduced
by the concomitant administration of the riboflavin in the control group. The preparation
of the seed extract seems quite different from traditional preparations. Weniger et al.
(1993) quoted Morrison et al. (1987), but found no cytotoxic substances. Robineau (1991)
gave the LD
intraperitoneally in rats at 700 mg/kg. B. orellana is traditionally used in
the Caribbean and South America as a food colouring and spice in cooked food (Kainer
and Duryea, 1992; Weniger et al., 1993). The seed paste is consumed daily by the
ÂIndians (Duke, 1970). B. orellana has been used by pre-Columbian
natives to the West Indies, Central and South America as body paint to repel insects for
protection against sunburn and for what Morton (1981) calls ``social reasons''.
The pulp of C. cujete is applied on dermatitis, coral cuts, sunburn, itchy skin conditions
of dogs and cattle and has flea repellent properties (Morton, 1981). The pulp contains
polyphenols, lipophile chromophores, quaternary alkaloids, hydrocyanic acid, crescentic,
tartaric, citric, tannic and chlorogenic acids (Morton, 1968; Robineau, 1991). The cut
C. Lans et al. / Preventive Veterinary Medicine 45 (2000) 201±220 213
open calabash fruit and the seeds are used to treat dogs with mange (Morton, 1968; Duke,
1970). Tree cutters rub the pulp on their skin as a protection against the caustic sap from
H. mancinella (Morton, 1968, 1981). Hydroalcoholic maceration of the fruit pulp inhibits
S. pneumoniae and is considered emetic, purgative and toxic (Morton, 1981; Robineau,
The trunk sap of various Musa spp. is used for burns in eastern Nicaragua (Coe and
Anderson, 1996), in India (Pal and Jain, 1989), and in Rodrigues (the Republic of
Mauritius in the Indian Ocean) (Gurib-Fakim et al., 1996). The sap is used against ulcers
in Venezuela and has antibiotic activity (Morton, 1981; Robineau, 1991). In The
Philippines and India, the juice of the pseudostem is used on wounds (including to bring
about clotting in bleeding wounds) and might contain tannin and mucilage (Tan, 1981;
Borthakur, 1997). In Thailand, ``water'' from the rotting stem is rubbed on ruminant
fungal skin infections (IIRR, 1994). The sap/stem juice contains dopamine, noradrena-
line, leucodelphinidin, leucocyanidin, deoxyxanthincyanidin, potassium nitrate, magne-
sium nitrate, tannins, and three amino phenols (which are sympathomimetic and might
have vasoconstrictive properties) (Oliver-Bever, 1986; Singh et al., 1993). The plant
contains 5-hydroxytryptamine (which has insecticidal and vasoconstrictive properties),
caprylic acid (with fungicidal and pesticidal properties) and kaempferol (with anti-
bacterial properties) (Duke, 2000). The pith contains calcium and iron and the hull husk
contains a-tocopherol, ascorbic acid, b-carotene, carbohydrates, chlorophyll, fat, fibre,
niacin and norepinephrine (Duke, 2000). It would seem that banana stems have some of
the properties of natural remedies that promote the healing of skin tissue. These are
reported to be anti-bacterial action, acidic pH, and high carbohydrate levels (to provide
nutrients and energy for healing tissue) (Oryan and Zaker, 1998). Amino acids and iron
play a role in collagen formation and maturation (Oryan and Zaker, 1998).Action of an
extract from the banana trunk resembled that of a potent local anaesthetic (Singh and
Dryden, 1985, 1990).
Eclipta alba entire plant is used externally in India, Suriname and The Philippines to
treat swelling of ears on cattle, wounds, bruises and sores on the shoulders of draft
animals, for skin diseases and to stop bleeding (Morton, 1981; Tan, 1981; Kapoor, 1990;
Lachman-White et al., 1992; Pal, 1997). The plant was used during the Vietnam war as an
antiseptic and haemostatic (Tan, 1981). The plant improves hair growth and colour
(black) (Kapoor, 1990; Pal, 1997; Abdel-Kader et al., 1998). Constituents of the plant
include large amounts of resin, sulphur-containing peptides, coumestans (including
desmethylwedelolactone and its glucoside and wedelolactone), triterpenoids (which have
insecticidal activity), flavonoids (including apigen), polyacetylenes, luteolin, anti-viral
ingredients including thiophenes, a-terthienylmethanol, b-amyrin, steroidal alkaloids,
phenols, tannins, polypeptides, steroids and the insecticidal compound nicotine (Morton,
1981; Oliver-Bever, 1986; Wagner et al., 1986; Hudson, 1990; Kapoor, 1990; Lachman-
White et al., 1992; Saxena et al., 1993; Melo et al., 1994; Abdel-Kader et al., 1998). The
wedelolactone from E. alba might have anti-inflammatory properties (Wagner, 1993). A
triterpenoid glucoside (ecliptasaponin C), daucosterol and stigmasterol-3-0-glucoside
were isolated from E. alba (Zhang and Chen, 1996). Daucosterol has anti-tumour
properties (Kay, 1996). The polyacetylenes have strong UV-mediated toxicity to bacteria
and C. albicans and are also toxic to insects and larvae (Oliver-Bever, 1986) and may
214 C. Lans et al. / Preventive Veterinary Medicine 45 (2000) 201±220
have anti-inflammatory properties (Wagner, 1993). One of the steroidal alkaloids also
showed good activity against C. albicans (Abdel-Kader et al., 1998). This would imply
usefulness against secondary fungal infections in dogs with mange. Perrucci et al. (1995)
claimed that natural monoterpenes with free alcoholic or phenolic functional groups have
the best miticidal activity.
Manilkara zapota seeds are poisonous and contain HCN, sapotin and saponin (Morton,
1981; Duke, 2000). Some triterpenoids including saponins are poisonous to insects
(Robbers et al., 1996).
Smith (1974) reported that weekly grooming of cattle with leaves of C. curassavica
reduced tick populations. Cordia spp. contains phenolic compounds (Ficarra et al., 1995)
and terpenoid quinones (Lachman-White et al., 1992). Branches are reported to be
resinous and leaves are aromatic and have stiff hairs on their upper sides (Morton, 1981).
The use of the seeds of P. sapota,M. zapota and M. americana for ectoparasite control
in dogs is possibly derived from the human folk use against the chiggoe flea (Tunga
penetrans Linn.) (Lans, 1996). This practice is also reported for M. americana seeds in
Suriname (Morton, 1981) and by the Choco
ÂIndians (Duke, 1970). Tungiasis is still
present in south-western Trinidad (Chadee, 1998). Another related human use is for hair
lice: grated seeds are suspended in coconut oil (Wong, 1976). Morton (1981) and
Alvarado-Panameno et al. (1994) reported on the insecticidal and ectoparasiticidal
properties of M. americana seeds. After conducting a controlled study using hexane plant
extracts of M. americana, Greenspan Gallo et al. (1996) claimed that components in the
extracts of seeds, leaves and roots were insecticidal. The seed extracts contained the
largest amount of mammein (a derivative of coumarin (Morton, 1981)) and were the most
insecticidal (Greenspan Gallo et al., 1996). Tetracosanyl±tetracosanoate has also been
identified in M. americana seeds (Duke, 2000). Seeds of P. sapota contain amygdalin,
sinaptose, tannin, glucose, albumin and casein (Morton, 1981).
Enzymatic hydrolysis of amygdalin yields hydrocyanic acid and benzaldehyde
(Robbers et al., 1996). The crushed leaves of tobacco in a decoction was recommended
as an insecticidal spray by Tan (1981), and is used as a parasiticide and ascaricide in the
Netherlands Indies, Vietnam and Mauritius (Watt and Breyer-Brandwijk, 1962). Tincture
of tobacco is used in Latin America to remove ticks (Duke, 1989). Nicotine, anataline,
nicotianin, the minor alkaloids nornicotine and anabasine, a polyphenoloxidase, and a
coumarin (scopoletin) have been identified in N. tabacum (Watt and Breyer-Brandwijk,
1962; Oliver-Bever, 1986; Duke, 1989).
A. indica contains triterpenoids called limonoids, all of which are active against more
than 200 insect species (BOSTID, 1992; Berger and Mugoya, 1995; Robbers et al., 1996).
Neem compounds (including azadirachtin, salannin, deacetylazadirachtinol and melian-
triol) act as metamorphosis disruptants, feeding deterrents, pesticide and toxicants
(BOSTID, 1992; Berger and Mugoya, 1995). Neem limonoids (nimbin and nimbidin)
have anti-viral activity (BOSTID, 1992). Deacetylnimbine and a lactone (nimbolid) were
found in the fresh leaves (Oliver-Bever, 1986). Trials in Germany showed that neem
preparations with high concentrations of azadirachtin were effective against intestinal
nematodes in animals (BOSTID, 1992).
The use of C. cajan as an anthelmintic appears to be of recent origin (Lans, 1996). A
decoction of seven to nine leaves is used against intestinal parasites in humans (Gurib-
C. Lans et al. / Preventive Veterinary Medicine 45 (2000) 201±220 215
Fakim et al., 1996). The leaves contain tannins, phytosterols and triterpenes (Robineau,
1991). Triterpenes are found in some anthelmintic plants (Oliver-Bever, 1986). The leaf
decoction has an in vitro activity on S. flexneri and S. aureus (Robineau, 1991).
C. papaya is considered an effective and well-known anti-parasitic remedy (Heinrich
et al., 1992). C. papaya seeds are given with honey to humans in India to expel
roundworms (Kapoor, 1990), and an infusion of the raw seeds is taken for intestinal
parasites in Martinique (Longuefosse and Nossin, 1996). These uses are the equivalent to
the ethnoveterinary use. A decoction of papaya seeds or the powdered seeds are used as
anthelmintics in Africa, and Watt and Breyer-Brandwijk (1962) claimed that these
preparations are not purgatives. The seeds have fixed oils (containing oleic, myristic,
palmitic and stearic acids), carbohydrates, carpaine (which has anthelmintic activity),
carpasemine, tropaeolin (a sulphur heteroside), an enzyme (myrosin), benzyl senevol, a
glycoside (sinigrin) and a glucoside (caricin) (Watt and Breyer-Brandwijk, 1962; Oliver-
Bever, 1986; Duke, 1989; Kapoor, 1990). A benzylthiourea compound isolated from the
seeds (the author did not indicate whether this compound is carpasemine) showed
anthelmintic activity when tested against A. lumbricoides (Kapoor, 1990). The aglycone
of tropaeolin (a benzylisothiocyanate) is active against a wide range of microorganisms
and is eliminated in the urine 3±6 h after administration (Oliver-Bever, 1986). IIRR
(1994) included dosages for large and small ruminants and the warning that the seeds
should not be used to deworm pregnant animals. Some research has indicated anti-
fertility effects of the seeds on male rats after an aqueous suspension of the seeds had
been given to the male rats for 8 weeks (Oliver-Bever, 1986). LD
of the seed extract in
rats is greater than 10 ml/kg (Robineau, 1991).
Comley (1990) claimed that some plant anthelmintics are primarily purgatives that
eject some of the intestinal worm burden. One example of this might be the use of the
leaves of C. alata as an anthelmintic (as leaves are purgative) (Watt and Breyer-
Brandwijk, 1962; Ortiz de Montellano, 1975; Oliver-Bever, 1986; Koch, 1993). A
decoction of leaves of C. alata is used as a human vermifuge in Trinidad (Morton, 1981),
and this use has been transferred to ethnoveterinary medicine. Relevant compounds are
the cathartic anthraquinone gylcosides, chrysophanic acid, rhein and its glucoside, aloe-
emodol, aloe-emodin and sitosterol (Ortiz de Montellano, 1975; Oliver-Bever, 1986).
Other compounds in the stems and leaves of C. alata are recorded in Hemlata and
Kalidhar (1993), Oliver-Bever (1986), Morton (1981), Tan (1981). Senna was used as an
anthelmintic by the Aztecs (Ortiz de Montellano, 1975).
C. ambrosioides is considered an effective and well-known anti-parasitic remedy
(Duke, 1989; Heinrich et al., 1992). The fresh aerial parts of the C. ambrosioides contain
an essential oil that has ascaridol as its main component (Oliver-Bever, 1986). Five grams
of the plant is reportedly equivalent to 17.5 mg of ascaridol (Robineau, 1991). The
monocyclic terpene ascaridol kills and paralyses Ascaris and hookworms (Ankylostoma)
and to a lesser extent oxyurides (Oliver-Bever, 1986). It forces cestodes to emigrate, but
does not destroy them (Oliver-Bever, 1986). The most effective treatments of dogs by the
respondents perhaps combined the anthelmintic plant with a purgative after administra-
tion (Oliver-Bever, 1986).
Gossypium spp. plant leaves and stems contain several insecticidal and pesticidal
compounds such as a-phellandrene, a-pinene, camphene, chlorine, cyanidin, delphinidin,
216 C. Lans et al. / Preventive Veterinary Medicine 45 (2000) 201±220
myrcene, catechin, rutin, quercetin, p-coumaric acid, palmitic acid and tannin (Duke,
2000). This review of the ethnomedicinal literature indicates that ethnobotanical,
phytochemical and/or pharmacological information provides some support of the
ethnoveterinary use of the majority of the plants discussed in this paper.
The plants used for ethnoveterinary remedies in dogs are also used in Caribbean folk
medicine and in other tropical countries for similar reasons. There are indications that
some of the plants mentioned contain chemicals that may explain the popular use. These
merit further scientific testing and verification. Little phytochemical information is
available for B. vulgaris and C. curassavica.
The 1995 data collection was done as partial fulfilment of a M.Sc. in Ecological
Agriculture, Landbouwuniversiteit, the Netherlands. The support provided is appreciated.
Thanks are due to all the respondents who shared their information. Dr. Lionel Robineau
of ENDA±Caribe provided valuable database searches. Credit is owed to the anonymous
reviewers for their helpful comments and criticisms of the first draft of this paper.
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