Ethnopharmacology and toxicology of antimalarial plants used traditionally in Msambweni, Kenya
Nguta, J M
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Historically, compounds containing novel structure from natural origin represent a major alternative source for the discovery and development of new drugs for several diseases. This study was undertaken in order to compose detailed documentation on wild medicinal flora used against malaria, existing knowledge, attitudes and practices related to malaria recognition, control and treatment; ethnodiagnostic skill used by the Msambweni community as a lead to traditional bioprospecting and to evaluate the toxicological activity of the crude extracts in brine shrimp bioassay using Artemia salina Leach (Artemiidae). Study I was conducted with herbalists (Traditional Medical Practitioners) to document medicinal plants that are traditionally used by the Msambweni community of Kenyan South Coast to treat malaria, where the disease is endemic. Herbalists were interviewed by administration of semi structured questionnaires in order to obtain information on medicinal plants traditionally used for the treatment of malaria. Focused group discussions held with the herbalists supplemented the interview and questionnaire survey. Twenty six species of plants in twenty four genera distributed in 20 families were reported to be used in this region for the treatment of malaria. Labiatae, Rutaceae and Liliaceae families had each eleven percent of the plant species reported and represented the species that are most commonly used. Thirteen plant species, namely; Aloe deserti Berger (Liliaceae), Launea cornuta (Oliv and Hiern) C. Jeffrey (Compositae), Ocimum bacilicum L. (Labiatae), Teclea simplicifolia (Eng) Verdoon (Rutaceae), Gerranthus lobatus (Cogn.) Jeffrey (Cucurbitaceae), Grewia hexaminta Burret. (Tiliaceae), Canthium glaucum Hiern. (Rubiaceae), Amaranthus hybridus L. (Amaranthaceae), Combretum padoides Engl and Diels. (Combretaceae), Senecio syringitolius O. Hoffman. (Compositae), Ocimum suave Willd (Labiatae), Aloe macrosiphon Bak. (Liliaceae) and Laudolphia buchananii (Hall.f) Stapf. (Apocynaceae) are documented from this region for the first time for the treatment of malaria. Study II was conducted with community members to document herbal medicines used in the treatment of malaria as well as the existing knowledge, attitudes and practices related to malaria recognition, control and treatment in South Coast, Kenya. Data was collected using semi structured questionnaires and interviews. A focused group discussion held with the community members, one in each of the study villages supplemented the interview and questionnaire survey. The respondents were found to have a good understanding of malaria and could distinguish it from other disease conditions characterized by increased body temperature. They were also aware that malaria was spread by mosquitoes. Malaria prevalence was high, and affected individuals at an average of four times a year. Community members avoided mosquito bites by using mosquito nets, clearing bushes around their homesteads and burning plant parts to generate smoke. They prevented and treated malaria by taking decoctions or concoctions of traditional herbal remedies. Forty plant species in thirty five genera distributed in twenty four families were used as antimalarials in the study area. Five plant species, namely; Heeria insignis Del. (Anacardiaceae), Rottboelia exaltata L.F (Gramineae), Pentanisia ouranogyne S. Moore (Rubiaceae), Agathisanthenum globosum (A. Rich) Hiern (Rubiaceae), and Grewia trichocarpa Hochst ex A. Rich (Tiliaceae) are documented for the first time in South Coast, Kenya, for the treatment of malaria.