Ethnobotanical study of medicinal plants in southwestern Nigeria and traditional healers’ perception of indigenous knowledge digitisation
This paper investigated the ethnobotany of medicinal plants among traditional healers in southwest Nigeria. It identified plants, the diseases they are used to treat, and explored the indigenous healers’ perceptions of digitisation of their medical knowledge. Structured interview schedule was used to elicit information from 18 interviewees. The study showed that 44 families, comprising 82 genera and 96 species with Asteraceae, Malvaceae, Euphorbiaceae, Poaceae and Fabaceae having the highest number of genera and species. Species cited with high fidelity levels included Phragmanthora capitata (100%), Anacardium occidentale (100%), Anacardium occidentale (100%) and Gossypium hirsutum (80%). Interviewees possessed an appreciation for computer; and were in full
support of documentation and digitisation of traditional medical knowledge. They perceived documentation, digitisation and involving libraries as ways of preserving traditional knowledge. Barriers to traditional healers’ practice included use of herbicides, scarcity of medicinal plants, urbanisation, undefined dosages and/or side effects, deforestation, overgrazing activities, and bush burning. Documentation and digitisation of traditional healing knowledge should be treated with urgency thereby preserving the rich culture of Yoruba people for posterity. Libraries for indigenous knowledge systems should be established across Nigeria. Mounting courses at the general or first-degree levels can be contributory to medicinal plants preservation.
Keywords: Digitisation, documentation, ethnobotany, medicinal plants, nigeria, traditional healers.