From: Esther Tola, SciDevNet, More from this Affiliate
Published January 30, 2013 06:10 AM

Medicinal Plants Being Studied to Fight Malaria

Traditional healers in Benin possess sophisticated knowledge regarding the treatment of malaria with medicinal plants, and strategies should be developed to exploit this and promote the plants' conservation, says a study.

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Researchers at the University of Abomey-Calavi, Cotonou, documented more than 80 plants, which are believed to be antimalarial and used by traditional healers in southern Benin's Allada plateau, to evaluate traditional knowledge and techniques for treating malaria.

With the increase of viral resistance to antiretroviral medicines, the recourse to medicinal plants has become a therapeutic option in medicine in Benin, says the study, which was published last month in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology.

Marius Yetein, a researcher at the university and lead author of the study, tells SciDev.Net that his team used a questionnaire to collect data from 23 traditional healers and 30 medicinal plant sellers.

The team documented 82 plant species in 43 plant families as being used by traditional healers to treat malaria. The families of Rubiaceae and Caesalpiniaceae were the most represented, with seven species each, although Dichapetalum madagascariense was the species most cited by traditional healers. The team found that the healers mainly use decoction, a method of extracting medicinal chemicals from plants by boiling, to prepare remedies.

Photo shows South African traditional healer.  Credit Pregnancy and Childbirth Around the World.

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