Ethnobotanical survey of plants used for the treatment of constipation within Nkonkobe Municipality of South Africa
Constipation is the commonest gastrointestinal complaint in most developed and poor countries including South Africa. An ethnobotanical survey of plants used by herbalists, traditional healers and rural dwellers for the treatment of constipation was conducted in the Nkonkobe Municipality, Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. The study revealed 10 plant species belonging to eight families, namely; Asphodelaceae, Apiaceae, Asteraceae, Amaryllidaceae, Sapindaceae, Dioscoreaceae Polygonaceae and Longaniaceae. Out of these, the member of Asphodelaceae, Apiaceae, Asteraceae and Amaryllidaceae were the most commonly used. The use of decoction of leaves and roots are the most preferred methods of herbal preparation. In all cases, the treatment involved oral administration of the extracts 2 to 3 times per day, for a short period of time, but usually not more than two weeks, or as soon as the condition disappears. Aloe ferox, Boophane disticha, Alepidea amatymbica and Artemisia afra were repeatedly mentioned by the traditional healers as the most widely used for the treatment of constipation in the study area. There was a general belief in the efficacy of the extracts either prepared as infusion, decoction or poultice.
Key words: Medicinal plants, herbalist, traditional healer, constipation.