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Current trends of Traditional Herbal Medicine Practice in Kenya: A review. Afr. J. Pharmacol. Ther. 2013. 2(1): 32-37



The use of herbal medicine is increasingly finding more relevance today, especially with the recognition that we are facing more challenges in the treatment of some medical conditions such as diabetes and cancer. To date, there are not many publications or records on the traditional herbal medicine use among the various Kenyan communities despite the widespread use. There is therefore an urgent need to document traditional medicines in Kenya for future reference and research. The main objective of this review is to examine the current state of traditional herbal medicine practice in Kenya, the challenges facing the sector and the possible solutions to streamline the practice and maximize on the benefits. The method adopted in this research involved the analysis of the available records on herbal medicine in Kenya from various sources including internet and the available books. This information was then compared with those in other countries with established systems in order to establish the existing inadequacies. The various efforts to document herbal medicine incorporate into mainstream healthcare and the legal framework was also reviewed.
Kigen et al. Afr. J. Pharmacol. Ther. 2013. 2(1): 32-37
A KeSoBAP Publication ©2013. All rights reserved.
ISSN 2303-9841
Current trends of Traditional Herbal Medicine
Practice in Kenya: A review
Gabriel K. Kigen
*, Hillary K. Ronoh
, Wilson K. Kipkore
, and Joseph K. Rotich
Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, School of Medicine, Moi University, Kenya
London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, London, UK
Kitale District Hospital, Ministry of Medical Services, Kenya
Schools of Science and Technology, United States International University, Kenya
Department of Epidemiology & Nutrition, School of Public Health, Moi University, Kenya
* Corresponding author:
Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, School of Medicine, Moi University, P.O. Box
4606-30100, Eldoret, Kenya. Tel: +254-53-2030786; Fax, 254-53-2030786; Email:
The use of herbal medicine is increasingly finding more relevance today, especially with the recognition that we are
facing more challenges in the treatment of some medical conditions such as diabetes and cancer.
To date, there are
not many publications or records on the traditional herbal medicine use among the various Kenyan communities
despite the widespread use.
There is therefore an urgent need to document traditional medicines in Kenya for future
reference and research.
The main objective of this review is to examine the current state of traditional herbal medicine practise in Kenya, the
challenges facing the sector and the possible solutions to streamline the practice and maximize on the benefits. The
method adopted in this research involved the analysis of the available records on herbal medicine in Kenya from
various sources including internet and the available books. This information was then compared with those in other
countries with established systems in order to establish the existing inadequacies. The various efforts to document
herbal medicine incorporate into mainstream healthcare and the legal framework was also reviewed.
Key words: Herbal medicine, documentation, research
Received: November, 2012
Published: March, 2013
1. Introduction and Review
Ethnopharmacology may be broadly defined as the
study of the indigenous drugs from plants and animals
used in past and present cultures (Bruhn et al, 1982).
The practice of traditional medicine (TM) is as old as
the human race itself (Vickers et al, 2001). Several
drugs have been derived directly or indirectly from
plants including digoxin, taxol, vinblastine, nabilone and
artemesin. It has been estimated that over 60% of the
current anticancer and antihypertensive drugs are of
plant origin (Cragg et al, 2005; Newman et al, 2003).
Medicinal plants have therefore become important
source of research and development of new drugs
(Ebadi, 2006). Currently, many plants are being
investigated for potential therapeutic effects including
the Graviola plant which has shown evidence of
anticancer activities (Torres et al, 2012).
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that
up to 80% of the population in some developing
countries use TM. In addition, trade in herbal medicine
is gaining acceptance globally and is now a lucrative
business generating lots of revenue. In sub-Saharan
Africa, the traditional healers still play a major role in
the provision of healthcare. This has been attributed in
part to the unavailability of healthcare facilities and
affordability (WHO, 2008; WHO, 2002).
African Journal of Pharmacology and Therapeutics Vol. 2 No. 1 Pages 32-37, 2013
Open Access to full text available at
Review Article
Kigen et al. Afr. J. Pharmacol. Ther. 2013. 2(1): 32-37
A KeSoBAP Publication ©2013. All rights reserved.
ISSN 2303-9841
The Kenyan situation is not any much different, and
many communities especially from the poor rural areas
still rely on herbal remedies. In addition, many Kenyans
believe in the potency of herbal medicine, even when
they can access modern medicine. In many cases they
would choose to combine both herbal and modern
medicine, especially if they are afflicted with chronic
ailments such as HIV/AIDS, hypertension, infertility,
cancer and diabetes (Nagata et al, 2011).
Like most other African countries, Kenya has a large
number of tribes and each has its own peculiar customs
and beliefs. The use of herbal medicine is equally
different among the communities. Despite this, most of
the medications have not been documented and
scientifically evaluated to determine their efficacy and
dosage vis-à-vis the alleged indications by the
practitioners. These medications have been in use for
centuries and it is quite possible that they could possess
some degree of potency, and can potentially be used in
therapy of some of the current conditions. Hence there
is need to identify these plant and document them for
future reference and research (IEA, 2011a).
Currently, there is little information regarding literature
on the use of medicinal plants in Kenya, with only a few
and far between authors having contributed. However,
there are some few books that have been written on the
subject (Dharani et al, 2010; Gachati, 1989; Gachati,
2007; Kokwaro, 2009; Watt et al, 1962); including other
reference books on use of the plants which may provide
some valuable information for researchers (Beentje,
1994; Blundell, 1992; Maundu, 1999). A number of
authors have also published papers on the
ethnobotanical plant use among the some select Kenyan
communities (Bussmann et al, 2006; Heine et al, 1988;
Jeruto et al, 2008; Jeruto et al, 2007; Johns et al, 1990;
Keter et al, 2011; Lindsay, 1978; Nanyingi et al, 2008;
Okello et al, 2009). In addition, there are some
important databases which provide information on
some Kenyan medicinal plants including the KENRIK
database at the National Museums of Kenya (NMK;
However, the most encouraging bit is that there are
several publications with regards to the products
obtained from the extracts of these plants, with quite a
number showing pharmaceutical activities and
potential for the development of new pharmaceutical
products (Irungu et a., 2012; Langat et al, 2012;
Matheka et al, 2012). The development of a database
containing information on both the ethnobotanical and
the properties of the extracts from the plant is
important for future research and development.
The regulation of herbal medicine practise is still a
major challenge in Africa (Madiba, 2010). Several Asian
countries have incorporated herbal medical practice
into their National Drug Policies, but this is yet to be
effected in Kenya (Xiaorui, 2000). TM was officially
recognized in the 1990’s and the patent law was revised
to include TM in the 1999 (WHO, 2001). Since then,
there have been little developments in the regulation of
the TM practice in Kenya. Recently, a task force was
constituted to draft the laws to regulate and practice
with a view to incorporating the herbal practitioners in
mainstream healthcare. However, this is still in
formative stages as there are several challenges to be
overcome (Mwangi, 2004; NCAPD, 2008).
Currently, the Kenyan Pharmacy and Poisons Board
(PPB) is involved in the registration of herbal and
complementary products [the medicinal products that
have been formulated in commercial manner] (PPB,
2010). Most of these products are imported from Asia,
with the bulk coming from India and China. The
registration of herbalists is done by the Ministry of
Social services, but in essence most of the traditional
herbalists are not even aware of this, unless they are
practicing in urban areas whereby the local authorities
enforce the registration. Hence there are scant records
on the actual number of practicing herbalists. In
addition, there are several fake herbalists. The
regulating authority should develop guidelines and legal
framework for the registration of herbalists in order to
streamline the herbal practice and protect the citizen
from this type of herbalists.
Sociocultural issues
The practice of herbal medicine in Kenya, unlike Asia,
has largely been considered primitive by the elite. Over
the years, the practice of herbal medicine has been
downgraded as a result of the introduction of
conventional medicine that are available in more
patient friendly (compliant) formulations such as
syrups, capsules and tablets as opposed to traditional
roots, barks and leaves which are often bitter to taste. In
addition, the practice is also no longer a major income
earner as it was previously. It has therefore been
downgraded to poor and illiterate people (Thairu,
In most Kenyan communities, perhaps due to cultural
reasons, the practice was considered a family affair and
the practitioner would prefer to transfer the talent to
one close relative. Unfortunately, most of the young
people are not willing to take up the art for lack of
financial gain, are engaged in other income generating
activities, have trained in other professions, or are
simply not interested as the practice as it is generally
considered outdated (Lindsay, 1978; Nyamwaya, 1992).
Sadly, most of these practitioners end up dying with
their valuable knowledge that may probably have been
used to treat some of the conditions that currently have
no cure such as cancer. Indeed most of the “true”
herbalists are now at advanced age, perhaps over 70
years (Muchae, 2000). On the contrary, the Chinese
traditional medicines were recorded and thanks to this
we now have a leading cure of malaria from the
wormwood (Atemesia annua spp.) that was used in
China more than a thousand years ago (Hsu, 2006).
However, due to the recent upsurge of some chronic
conditions such as diabetes, asthma, infertility, cancer
and HIV/AIDS that do not respond very well to
conventional medicine, there has been considerable
interest in traditional medicine in Kenya. This has led to
the emergence of several “quack’’ traditional healers
especially in urban areas who are out to fleece and
make quick bucks from desperate patients. Indeed, it is
not easy to identify a genuine herbal practitioner in
Kenya nowadays, especially in urban areas. Most have
Kigen et al. Afr. J. Pharmacol. Ther. 2013. 2(1): 32-37
A KeSoBAP Publication ©2013. All rights reserved.
ISSN 2303-9841
put up adverts with claims that they can literally treat
all known conditions, but for a fee (NCAPD, 2008). The
genuine traditional healers tend to be more specific in
their treatments, for example they may specialise in
women’s diseases, children diseases, asthma and other
conditions (Sindiga, 1995).
Herb - drug interactions
Several patients with chronic diseases often combine
conventional medicine with TM. Herbal medicines like
any other drugs are known to interact with
conventional drugs through various mechanisms. The
herbs may alter their pharmacokinetics leading to an
increase or decrease in plasma concentrations, thus
altering the therapeutic outcomes. The interactions may
also lead to several other short or long term adverse
effects (Chen et al, 2011; Hu et al, 2005; Izzo et al, 2009;
Tsai et al, 2012). Despite this, to date there is little
research that has been carried out to determine their
active ingredients and document the potential
interactions involving the Kenyan herbal products and
prescription drugs.
The wanton destruction of forests in Kenya is of serious
concern for Kenya’s biodiversity. Currently there are
several non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that
are actively involved in the conservation of forests
including International Union for Conservation of
Nature (IUCN), World Wide Fund for nature (WWF) and
the Greenbelt Movement that was founded by the late
Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai. The Kenyan forest
cover has reduced drastically and now stands at about
2.5% down from about 12.5% in the sixties mainly due
to rapidly expanding population, illegal logging and
acquisition of land for cultivation (FSK, 2008; KFWG,
1999). This has had a major impact on the medicinal
plants, like has happened in many other parts of the
world. Indeed some of the species may have
disappeared completely (Rukangira, 2001a; Shanley,
There is yet another form of commercial exploitation
that targets the medicinal plants that have been
identified to have direct medicinal uses. This practice is
unlike that of early traditional herbalists who collected
medicinal plants according to tradition ethics, and
therefore protected the plants (Watt et al, 1962). An
example of such a plant is the Prunus africana bark
whose bark was discovered to be effective in the
management of benign prostatic hyperplasia 35 years
ago. The extract is formulated and sold as capsules
(Pygeum africanum) by pharmaceutical companies
mainly in Europe. This has led to increased harvesting
to the extent that it was declared endangered by the
Convention of International Trade in Endangered
Species (CITES) in 1995 (K.M, 2003). Similarly, the
sandalwood tree (Osyris lanceolata) has been illegally
harvested for both medicinal and cosmetic purposes in
Kenya and exported to Europe or Asia (WildlifeDirect,
2009). Several other plants have been exploited for
medicinal uses including Warburgia ugandensis,
Pausinystalia johimbe (used as an aphrodisiac), Griffonia
simplicifolia (mood disorders), and Harpagophytum
procumbens [pain management] (Wamalwa et al, 2006).
Uncontrolled harvesting of Mondia (Mondia whytei)
locally referred to as “Mukombero’’, has been reported
in Western Kenya. The local communities believe that
its roots have aphrodisiac capabilities (RNW, 2011).
Several Aloe species in Kenya have also been listed as
threatened due to overexploitation for commercial
activities (CITES, 2003).
In order to address this problem, the recognition of
medicinal plants and establishment of medicinal
botanical gardens and farms may have to be undertaken
in order to achieve sustainable utilization and
conservation of the plants. The participation of the local
communities is pivotal in this process. This has been
tried in Egypt with some measure of success
(Rukangira, 2001a).
Research on TM is not very well co-ordinated in Kenya.
The Kenyan universities and the Kenya Medical
Research Institute (KEMRI) are currently undertaking
some research in TM. Generally most of the research is
academic, that is screening for active ingredients from
the plant extracts for pharmacological and related
activities. This is because of the fact that there is not
much funding for the research on TM from the
Pharmaceutical companies, unlike the Universities in
the West. Indeed it is difficult to do research in most
African countries owing to limited resources and
specialized equipment. There have also been reports
that some bioprospectors, both local and international
have been individually collecting the medicinal plants
from practising herbalists for purposes of research. In
most cases, they do not reveal their findings to the
herbalists who provided them with the samples
(allAfrica, 2005; IEA, 2011b; Rukangira, 2001a).
Modern research in herbal medicine is quite expensive.
It usually involves a random selection of plants and
screening them for any active ingredients, followed by
biological assays for targeted activities such as
antibacterial, anticancer and other groups (Farnsworth,
1966). Natural Cancer Institute U.S.A (NCI) screened
over 35,000 plant species for evidence of anticancer
activity between 1960 and 1981. Some of the plants
including taxol and campothecin showed some
pharmacological activity (Boyd, 1995). However, this is
a very expensive method and sometimes considered
wasteful since the plants in question may have other
important pharmacological activities other than the
targeted activity (Fabricant et al, 2001).
This kind of mass screening may not be applicable in
most African countries owing to limited funds
(Rukangira, 2001b). However, if there were
documented records on the information from the plants
and the conditions that the herbalists use, then it might
provide an easier option for researchers in Africa. This
is in terms of corroborating the extracts from the
sample plants and the alleged medical uses or any other
The most challenging step for any potential researcher
of TM in Kenya is the collection of ethnomedical
information. This is because there are so many fake
practitioners, and the identification of “genuine’’
herbalists is not an easy task. In addition, there are
Kigen et al. Afr. J. Pharmacol. Ther. 2013. 2(1): 32-37
A KeSoBAP Publication ©2013. All rights reserved.
ISSN 2303-9841
currently no reliable records of herbal practitioners.
One might therefore quite easily collect information
from fake practitioners who would readily provide the
information in exchange of some little token. They
exploit the old tradition practised in many Kenyan
communities whereby one was expected to offer some
token of appreciation upon treatment by a herbalist
(NCAPD, 2008).
Since most of the current practitioners operate within
the rural areas, it is important for researchers to engage
the opinion leaders who command the respect of their
local communities. These include the provincial
administration (local chiefs), religious leaders and local
professionals such as teachers. This cadre of people
would provide credible information about the genuine
practising herbalists as well as the medical conditions
by which they are known to treat. The use of
inducements should be discouraged as much as possible
as this would open way for the fake practitioners.
Education is also very important in order to encourage
the herbalists to provide the information without fear to
other persons who are not members of their families.
Educated close relatives of the herbalists may also be
used to convince the herbalists on the need to provide
the information. Renowned herbalists should be first
approached and questionnaires may be used as a guide
to select the eligible herbalists (IEA, 2011b).
Where there is evidence that an herbalist may have
actually treated some specific conditions such as
infertility, some form of patenting of the plant products
in the name of the practitioner may be encouraged in
order to stimulate them to provide the information. The
herbalists should also be requested to provide the
samples for identification by botanists from local
universities and other institutions such as the East
African herbarium. Databases on this can then be
developed for future research (Christian, 2009).
2. Discussion
It is clear that there is a lot of potential in Kenyan herbal
medicine judging from the published laboratory results
from the screening of the plant exudates that have been
analysed in our various institutions. However, in as
much as we are doing well on this, there is need to
document the information from herbalists in order to
provide a database for future research and potential for
the development of new drugs. There are some genuine
concerns arising from the realisation that the old
generation that holds this knowledge is fast aging and
the young generation do not seem to take much interest
in advancing this knowledge. The rapid deforestation
exacerbates the situation. The knowledge for the
potential cures for diseases such as cancer may
therefore be extinct before it is even discovered. This
could be replicated in other sub-Saharan African
countries, as there are no proper records in most of
these countries. This will certainly not be an easy task
owing to the costs involved, and the pharmaceutical
industry may not be willing to fund since it may not
provide immediate gains. However, in the long run this
will provide a very useful reservoir for future research
and development of new drugs. Databases on the
ethnomedical information from every region of the
country should be compiled with a view to the
development of centralised records for ease of
reference. The Universities, NGOs and perhaps WHO
should take lead in this worthwhile project.
3. Conclusion
There is an urgent need to document information on
traditional Kenyan herbal medicine because there are
genuine concerns that this knowledge may be
completely lost. There should also be development of
legal frameworks to regulate the herbal practice in
Kenya and possibility of incorporating herbal practise in
mainstream health services as it has been successfully
done in Asian countries.
Conflict of Interest declaration
The authors declare no conflict of interest
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... The practice of traditional medicine is as old as the human race itself (Kigen et al., 2013;Mir et al., 2013). Traditional medicine is an important source of potentially new useful compounds for the development of chemotherapeutic agents (Orakwelu, 2011;Jain and Amita, 2012;Sharma and Kumar, 2008). ...
... Traditional medicine is an important source of potentially new useful compounds for the development of chemotherapeutic agents (Orakwelu, 2011;Jain and Amita, 2012;Sharma and Kumar, 2008). About 80% of the population in the developing world is still dependent upon the traditional medicine available in their surrounding (Reema and Adel, 2011; Kiringe, 2006;Musyimi et al., 2008;Kigen et al., 2013;Kaigongi, 2014), vegetation, to meet their demands. Plants are considered the greatest source to obtain new antimicrobials. ...
... Most rural communities depend on traditional medicine for the cure of diseases and ailments because most of the modern equipment's are expensive and service delivery too expensive to afford (Osazee et al., 2013;Kigen et al., 2013). Traditional medicine is widely used in Kenya and about 400 plant species have been recorded to be used in traditional remedies (Kaigongi, 2014). ...
... Herbal and indigenous medicines are an important part of health seeking and healing in Kenya. 7 Much research has been done documenting the ethnobotanical knowledge of geographically isolated Kenyan communities [8][9][10][11] but less is known about how and why people use herbal medicines, especially in contexts where biomedicines are widely available. 9 There is some research detailing the ways in which over-harvesting of medicinal plants might negatively impact the environment. ...
... The potential dangers to humans and livestock using either ineffective or potentially poisonous levels of herbs cannot be overstated. Given the continued widespread use of herbal medicines throughout Kenya, 10,12,14,18 there is a need for a government-level push to ensure effective and safe medicines are available to all, 7 especially so in contexts where people fear biomedicines due to widespread infiltration of counterfeits. 6 Herbal and indigenous practitioners could be vital sources of primary healthcare when properly trained and equipped: their local knowledge and situation within most communities make them ideally positioned in ensuring access to care for all humans and their livestock, especially so given the very low numbers of qualified biomedical doctors in Kenya. ...
... Moreover, it serves as a cheaper means of treatment for low-income earners who cannot afford the cost of modern therapies used for the treatment of typhoid fever. The widespread use of herbal concoctions or medicines calls for the assurance of sustainable availability of quality and safe preparations of these herbs in order to guarantee their continued access especially for rural or low-income communities, without compromising patient quality and safety [6]. Many microbial contaminants can alter the physicochemical features which can then lead to mischievous changes to the quality of herbal preparations [7].The rapidly expanding markets for herbal preparations use clearly necessitate assessing issues concerning the quality and safety of these products for end-users [8]. ...
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The use of herbal plants has been growing rapidly worldwide; it has been widely and extensively used locally as medicinal products in the treatment of different diseases. The extensive use of herbal medicinal products in the treatment and management of disease made it imperative to investigate the microbial analysis of locally prepared herbal cocktails sold in Akoko South West. Nigeria Different samples of local herbs were randomly collected from different locations into sterile polythene and transported to the microbiology laboratory for further microbial analysis. The samples were analyzed using pour plate techniques. The bacteria isolates were characterized and identified based on their colonial, morphological characteristics, and biochemical tests according to Bergey’s Manual of Determinative Bacteriology. Antibiotic susceptibility test of the isolates was carried out using the disc agar diffusion method. The killing rate and growth dynamics of the bacterial isolates were determined using a Ultra-violet spectrophotometer. Twelve species of the isolates were recovered. Staphylococcus aureus and Clostridium sporogenes showed a high susceptibility rate to Ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin, Gentamicin, ampiclox, rifampicin, and Amoxillin while they were both resistant to Streptomycin, Norfloxacin, chloramphenicol, and Erythromycin. The Gram-positive isolates were 100% resistant to Norfloxacin, chloramphenicol, Erythromycin and 100% sensitive to Ciprofloxacin. UV-VIS spectrophotometer was used to measure the material of absorbance and quantitative analysis at the visible or ultraviolet light (200 ~ 760nm). Ultra-violet (UV) spectrophotometer was used to determine the growth dynamics and killing kinetics of isolated organisms, and to predict the wavelength of killing ratio of organisms isolated from the herbal cocktail. The addition of antibiotics to the isolated organisms at the 84th-hour speed up the death rate of the isolates from commercially sold herbal cocktail between 450-480nm wavelengths. Water used for production of herbal cocktail needed prolong hours of exposure to Ultraviolet rays/ light is necessary, to reduce microbial load drastically, with a great effect on the quality and safety of commercially sold herbal cocktail. There is a need for constant monitoring and quality control of herbal medicinal products being manufactured, sold, and used in Nigeria so as to reduce and or eradicate the effect of the organisms on human health.
... However, a recently published systematic review study pointed out the dissatisfaction with conventional medicines and positive attitudes towards complementary alternative medicines (CAM) as the reason for using CAM worldwide [12]. Moreover, many countries, such as the USA, Kenya, Japan, etc., have been raising concerns over the increasing prevalence and cost of using alternative medicines including HMs based on their self-medication [25][26][27][28]. ...
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Background: The consumption of herbal medicines (HMs) is increasing worldwide, especially in developing countries. This study attempts to investigate and evaluate the patient's perception with regard to the security of HMs, their attitudes towards the concomitant use of HMs with modern medicines, and counseling about their use. Design: Self-administered questionnaire-based cross-sectional survey study. Setting: A self-administered structured questionnaire was administered to 200 patients who received HMs from four different government and private hospitals in the Riyadh region of Saudi Arabia, over a period of three months. Results: The response rate was 74.5%. Out of these, 76.83% of respondents reported using HMs in some form for a variety of conditions. There was no statistically significant relationship between various demographic characteristics and the use of herbs. The majority of the respondents (76.72%) reported using HMs without any professional supervision. This exposes them to the risk of harmful side effects and drug interactions. Conclusions: Physicians and pharmacists should work to provide evidence-based information about HMs to patients about effectiveness and side effects and be vigilant while writing prescriptions and dispensing drugs to them. Patient counseling and education about medication use are required to augment their awareness about their use.
... Although the number of species mentioned is small compared to what is recorded elsewhere in Uganda and other regions in Africa [10,17,32,33], at least a database of the medicinal plants used for treating TB treatment in Kitgum and Pader district is initiated. However, the low number of plant species registered could imply that traditional knowledge for TB treatment is a closely guarded secret [34] and is likely a specialized practice, known only by few people. Knowledge of these plants may also be seen as a source of income to help lift the households out of poverty. ...
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Background Tuberculosis (TB) caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis is the 13th leading cause of death worldwide. The emergence of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) poses a major health security threat. Plants have traditionally been used as a source of medicine, since olden days and 80% of the communities in Africa still rely on herbal medicines for their healthcare. In many parts of Uganda, some plants have shown ethno-pharmacological prospects for the treatment of TB, and yet they have not been fully researched. Aim This study aimed to document plant species used traditionally by the herbalists and non-herbalist communities of Kitgum and Pader districts for managing symptoms of TB. Methods An ethnobotanical study was carried out in 42 randomly selected villages in Kitgum and Pader districts between August 2020 and January 2021. Information was obtained by administering semi-structured questionnaires to 176 respondents identified by snowball and random sampling methods. Data were analysed and presented using descriptive statistics and Informant Consensus Factor (ICF). Results Overall, only 27% of the respondents were knowledgeable about plants used for managing symptoms of TB. Nine plant species belonging to six families (Mimosaceae, Apiaceae, Lamiaceae, Rutaceae, Loganiaceae and Rubiaceae) were used to manage symptoms of TB. The most representative family was Rutaceae with three species, followed by Rubiaceae (two species) and the rest of the families were represented by one species each. The most frequently recorded species were Steganotaenia araliacea Hochst. (8.5%), Gardenia ternifolia Schumach. & Thonn (6.8%) and Albizia adianthifolia (Schum.) W.Wight (6.8%). Most of the medicinal plants were trees, and roots (69%) were the most frequently plant part used, followed by the bark (16%) and leaves (15%). The most common method of preparation was by pounding and mixing concoction with water. The administration of the concoctions was mostly done orally. Conclusions The results established the existence of few medicinal plants for managing symptoms of TB among the Acholi communities which could be used in developing new, effective plant-based antimycobacterial drugs. The few plants mentioned might face conservation threats due to exploitations of the roots. Phytochemical and toxicological studies are recommended to identify active compounds responsible for antimycobacterial activity.
... Kenya is rich in medicinal biodiversity which has traditionally been used by practitioners for the management of various diseases and conditions among them helminthosis [8,11,12] . However, most of these traditional remedies are yet to be scientifically validated or developed into viable products for the market. ...
There has been widespread resistance to anthelmintics by pathogenic helminths to an extent where there is multi-drug resistance against all major classes of conventional anthelmintics. This world-wide phenomenon calls for urgent search for different approaches to the control of helminthosis including novel anthelmintic products. The purpose of the study was to determine the efficacy and safety of selected plants, which are frequently used in the treatment and control of helminthosis, in artificially infected sheep under controlled laboratory conditions. The selected plant species were, Albizia anthelmintica Brongn, Embelia schimperi L., Myrsine africana L. and Rapanea melanophloeos (L.) Mez. Thirty six male Dorper lambs, aged between 6 and 8 months, artificially infected with mixed gastrointestinal nematodes (GIN) under controlled laboratory conditions, were used for the study. Efficacy was determined using percentage fecal egg count reduction test (FECRT %) and percentage total worm count reduction (TWCR %). Safety of the remedies was assessed using health, hematological and biochemical parameters. The FECR % against the mixed gastrointestinal nematodes was -55, 7.6, 34.2, 69.3 and 83.3% for Albizia anthelmintica, Embelia schimperi, Rapanea melanophloeos, albendazole and Myrsine africana respectively. TWCR% of 60.7, 44.6, 66, 69.7 and 35.6 percent were recorded for Albizia anthelmintica, Embelia schimperi, Myrsine Africana, Rapanea melanophloeos, and albendazole groups respectively. It was concluded that some of the remedies like M. africana have good efficacy at safe levels and should further be evaluated to determine the most optimum dosages. The gastrointestinal nematodes used in this study were resistant to albendazole
... Kenya is endowed with a variety of indigenous medicinal plants which are used by the local herbalists for the treatment of various diseases among them helminthosis [17][18][19] . However, most of these herbal remedies have not yet been scientifically validated or developed into viable products for the market despite the looming threat of disappearance of traditional knowledge. ...
The use of plants, or their extracts, for the treatment of human and animal ailments, including helminthosis is steeped in antiquity. Anthelmintic resistance in pathogenic helminths has been spreading in prevalence and severity to a point where there is multi-drug resistance against the three major classes of anthelmintics. This globe-wide phenomenon calls for urgent search for different approaches to the control of helminthosis including novel anthelmintic products. The objective of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of plants, which are commonly used in the treatment and control of helminthosis, under the natural grazing conditions in Loitoktok Sub-County of Kenya. The plant species (Albizia anthelmintica, Myrsine africana, and Embelia schimperi were selected based on their availability and ethnopharmacological uses, as anthelmintics, by the traditional health practitioners in the area. Fifty sheep of mixed breeds, belonging to local herders, and naturally infected with mixed gastrointestinal nematodes were recruited for the study. The herbal remedies were prepared and administered by methods prescribed by the traditional practitioners. Their efficacy was determined using faecal egg count reduction test (FECRT). The percentage faecal egg count reduction against the mixed gastrointestinal nematodes was 59, -11, -31 and 87 for Myrsine africana, A. anthelmintica, E. schimperi and albendazole respectively. It was concluded that some of the remedies have some efficacy and further studies are needed to evaluate their potential as anthelmintics. There was also suspicion of development of anthemintic resistance to albendazole and herders needed to be advised accordingly on the proper use of conventional anthelmintic products
... [2], reported that WHO identified over 21,000 medicinal plants globally. The use of herbal medicines is increasing worldwide due to the readily availability of raw materials and low cost compared to the synthetic industrial preparation [3][4][5]. It was estimated that over 80% of the population in Asia and Africa countries depend on traditional medicines for primary health care [6] Nearly half of Nigerians use herbal medicine and nearly 70% of people taking herbal medicine and were reluctant to tell their doctors that they used complementary and alternative medicine [1].The emerging of drug resistant bacterial as a result of antibiotics use has promoted the use of herbal medicines [7][8][9][10]. ...
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This study evaluates the quality of herbal recipes used for the management of diabetes from the six geo-political zones of Nigeria. Ninety eight recipes were collected and eighteen of them were mono plant components based on information from the practitioners. Those eighteen recipes were analyzed for total aerobic and anaerobic bacteria count. The bacterial load and presence of pathogenic microorganisms were determined using standard techniques. The bacterial isolates were screened for antimicrobial susceptibility using disc diffusion techniques. The mean total microbial load was 19.6 x 10 5 cfug-1 and anaerobic bacteria were not isolated from any of the samples. The total aerobic bacteria count was significant (p> 0.001; 95%CI: 1.83 to 4, 57 x 10 5 cfug-1) when compared with acceptance values of 10 4 cfu g-1. The bacteria isolated include Bacillus subtilis, Citrobacter freundii, Enterococcus sp, Enterobacter aerogenes, Micrococcus luteus, Actinomycetes sp Flavobacterium sp, Alcaligenes sp, Bacillus coagulans, Arthrobacter simplex, Bacillus cereus and Staphylococcus epidermidis and absence of indicator pathogens. The bacterial isolates were found to be resistance to commonly used antibiotics. The result of this study is an indication of poor handling from the point of plant collection to the point of packaging and storage. It is evidenced that these herbal preparations can pose health threat to their users. Adequate training on how to improve the packaging, storage is recommended for traditional medicine practitioners in Nigeria.
... Therefore, owing to the high prevalence rates of pain across the world and the bottlenecks of conventional drugs, there is a dire need for safe, accessible, affordable, and efficacious alternative for pain management. Medicinal plants have a rich history of folklore usage, are relatively safer, inexpensive, and readily available [11][12][13][14][15] . In fact, over 80% of the global human population in the developing countries, and over 40% of individuals from developed countries use plant-derived traditional medicines for their primary healthcare needs, including pain management [16,17] . ...
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Pain is the most widely diagnosed and managed symptoms of human diseases, with various debilitating effects. Current analgesics agents have shown low efficacy, are inaccessible, unaffordable, and elicit deleterious side effects which limit their use, thereby warranting the need for alternative and complementary strategies. Mystroxylon aethiopicum is widely utilized in the Agikuyu community of Kenya to treat stomachache, chronic pain, coughs, among other conditions; however, its analgesic efficacy and safety data are scanty, hence the present study. The analgesic activity of the aqueous and methanolic stem bark extracts of M. aethiopicum were determined using the standard acetic acid-induced writhing technique. Further, qualitative phytochemical screening for various phytocompounds in the studied plant extracts was done following standard phytochemical screening methods. The aqueous and methanolic extracts of M. aethiopicum possess noteworthy analgesic activity as demonstrated by the higher percentage inhibitions of writhing in the treated mice; however, the aqueous extract exhibited significantly lower analgesic efficacy than the methanolic extract (P<0.05). Qualitative phytochemical screening revealed presence of antioxidant-associated compounds including phenols, flavonoids, terpenoids, among others, which exhibit analgesic activity. All the studied plant extracts did not cause acute oral toxicity effects in experimental mice, hence safe (LD50>2000 mg/Kg bw). The specific mechanisms of analgesic action, the responsible compounds should be elucidated. Moreover, extensive toxicological studies involving the studied plant extracts should be conducted to fully profile and assure their safety.
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Though the majority of people in Kenya and at Kopsiro Division in particular, rely on ethnomedicinal plant species to manage human ailments, the indigenous knowledge largely remains undocumented. Therefore, an ethnobotanical study was conducted on medicinal plant species used to manage human ailments at Kopsiro Division Mt. Elgon District Kenya. The objectives were to identify and document plants traditionally used for medicinal therapy by the Sabaots, to find out the method used for preparing and administering the drugs and to find out the conservation practices for the medicinal plants. Observations and semi-structured interviews were used to gather ethnobotanical data. 107 plants belonging to 56 families were identified and reported to be of medicinal value to the locals. Roots (47.3%) were the most frequently used parts of the plant followed by the bark (23.35%) then leaves (22.75%). The whole plant (1.8%), seed (1.2%), fruit (1.2%), sap (1.2%), flower (0.6%) and wood (0.6%) are least used in that order. The study revealed other hitherto undocumented medicinal plant species that may be new records for treating various ailments. Traditional medicine in Kopsiro division offers cheap, accessible and convenient remedy that suits the traditional lifestyle of the local community in comparison to the conventional medicine. Most medicinal plant species reported in this study were found to be under threat and this calls for urgent conservation measures so as to maximize the sustainable use of these vital resources in the study area.
Since 1955, the US National Cancer Institute (NCI) has provided screening support to cancer researchers worldwide. Until 1985, the NCI screening program and the selection of compounds for further preclinical and clinical development under NCI auspices had relied predominantly on the in vivo L1210 and P388 murine leukemias and certain other transplantable tumor models (1). From 1975–1985, the in vivo P388 mouse leukemia model was used almost exclusively as the initial or primary screen. With few exceptions, agents that showed minimal or no activity in the P388 system were not selected by the NCI for further evaluation in other tumor models or alternative screens. Most of the available clinical anticancer agents are active in the P388 system; however, most were discovered prior to 1975 or by observations initially in test systems other than the NCI-operated P388 primary screen.
Warburgia ugandensis is one of the ten species identified as high priority medicinal plants in Kenya for detailed study. Although locally common in some areas, the populations of this species have been wiped out in many areas due to the use of its bark by traditional healers for medicinal purposes against malaria and other ailments as well as skin cream. It has been commercialised in Kenya although it has shown variation in active ingredients associated with its medicinal properties. It grows over a wide altitudinal range, from high altitude to the lowlands. The question addressed in the research is whether this is just phenotypic variation due to site differences or genetic variation. Preliminary results showed genetic variation, meaning that it is important to promote the best material from the available wild resources to facilitate optimal, cost-effective use in cultivation and protection of the important wild populations. It will be mainly cultivated for incorporation into farming systems as well as in natural forests. The impact of the cultivation will be monitored both on the farms and in the wild. Other current studies include germination and rooting ability through tissue culture.
The majority of people in Africa use plant based traditional medicines for their care. Demand for medicinal plants is increasing in Africa as the population grows. The threat posed by over-exploitation of medicinal plants has serious implications on the survival of several plant species, many of which are faced with extinction. The pharmaceutical potentials of African medicinal plants are immense. But constraints and challenges exist at all levels. This paper discusses these constraints and challenges in relation to conservation, science and technology, use of medicinal plants at the local level, the domestic drug production sector, marketing, safety and efficacy requirements. Measures and strategies for enhancing the development of a medicinal and aromatic plants industry in Africa are suggested.
Background and Aims: The use of herbs and dietary supplements (HDS) alone or concomitantly with medications can potentially increase the risk of adverse events experienced by the patients. This review aims to evaluate the documented HDS-drug interactions and contraindications. Methods: A structured literature review was conducted on PubMed, EMBASE, Cochrane Library, tertiary literature and Internet. Results: While 85 primary literatures, six books and two web sites were reviewed for a total of 1,491 unique pairs of HDS-drug interactions, 213 HDS entities and 509 medications were involved. HDS products containing St. John’s Wort, magnesium, calcium, iron, ginkgo had the greatest number of documented interactions with medications. Warfarin, insulin, aspirin, digoxin, and ticlopidine had the greatest number of reported interactions with HDS. Medications affecting the central nervous system or cardiovascular system had more documented interactions with HDS. Of the 882 HDS-drug interactions being described its mechanism and severity, 42.3% were due to altered pharmacokinetics and 240 were described as major interactions. Of the 152 identified HDS contraindications, the most frequent involved gastrointestinal (16.4%), neurological (14.5%), and renal/genitourinary diseases (12.5%). Flaxseed, echinacea, and yohimbe had the largest number of documented contraindications. Conclusions: Although HDS-drug interactions and contraindications primarily concerned a relatively small subset of commonly used medications and HDS entities, this review provides the summary to identify patients, HDS products, and medications that are more susceptible to HDS-drug interactions and contraindications. The findings would facilitate the health-care professionals to communicate these documented interactions and contraindications to their patients and/or caregivers thereby preventing serious adverse events and improving desired therapeutic outcomes.
Data based on independent interviews with 45 herbalists of the Luo of Siaya District, Kenya, comprised 1129 remedy reports and related to 330 species of plants. While 49% of the remedies were encountered only once we list here 66 remedies (49 taxa) that were confirmed through independent reports from three or more individuals. A log-linear model was applied to these data in order to establish criteria for evaluating the likely efficacy of specific remedies. A quantitative interaction effect was calculated for each remedy as a measure of its degree of confirmation. The validity of the values derived from the mathematical model is considered in relation to classical criteria for evaluating ethnomedicinal reports. Les résultats d’enquêtes individuelles avec 45 herboristes Luo du district de Siaya au Kenya ont permis de répertorier 330 espèces de plantes médicinales utilisées dans quelques 1129 traitements herboristes. Puisque 49% de ces plantes médicinales n’avaient été mentionnées qu’une seule fois, nous avons bâti une liste de 66 plantes médicinales (49 taxa) dont chacune a été rapportée par plus de trois herboristes. Les résultats obtenus ont été incorporés dans un modèle logarithmique linéaire afin d’identifier des critères d’evaluation de l’efficacité de ces plantes médicinales. Pour chacune des plantes médicinales “l’effet de l’interactíon quantitative” a été utilisé comme mesure de son degré de confirmation. La validité des résultats obtenus à partir de ce modèle mathématique a été comparée aux critères classiques d’évaluation des rapports ethnomédicinaux.