Exploratory Survey of Forest Plants in Traditional Treatment of Guinea Worm Infections (GWI)(Dracunculus medinensis Linn): Experiences from Nigeria and Ethiopia.

  • M F Adekunle
  • S A Oluwalana
  • N Aklilu
  • H Mengisteab


Traditional medicines using forest plants as the major source of raw materials has been the system of Medicare especially in treating guinea worm (Dracunculus medinensis LINN) infections in endemic areas of Africa such as Nigeria and Ethiopia. This system is age long and predates the advents of modern Medicare. With the problems of drug resistances and inability of poor people's access to modern Medicare, traditional medicines could still be the only source of succor. hence the relevance of this study which investigated the forest plants used in the traditional treatment of guinea worm infections (GWI) in some endemic areas of Nigeria and a cross check with the situation in Ethiopia. A total of 92 plant species were recorded representing 68 families. They were, trees (43species), shrubs (18species), herbs (24species) and climbers (7species).Majority of the species were sourced from the wild forests and fallow lands. Different parts of the plants such as roots, leaves, barks, fruits and sometimes whole are prepared and administered in various ways such as oral applications, rubbing, ingestion and therapeutic washing. Twenty nine of these species were found to be available and have similar uses in traditional Medicare in some parts of Ethiopia where water borne diseases are endemic. These findings has posed some challenges to African scientists especially in the area of knowledge and products developments .The conclusion was reached that with current rates of deforestation in Nigeria and Ethiopia, these plants could become ‘lost crops' before their potentials are realized.

African Research Review Vol. 1 (3) 2007: pp. 108-124

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eISSN: 2070-0083
print ISSN: 1994-9057