Open Access

Medicinal plants of Otwal and Ngai Sub Counties in Oyam District, Northern Uganda

  • Maud M Kamatenesi1,
  • Annabel Acipa2Email author and
  • Hannington Oryem-Origa1
Contributed equally
Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine20117:7

https://doi.org/10.1186/1746-4269-7-7

Received: 17 July 2010

Accepted: 17 January 2011

Published: 17 January 2011

Abstract

Background

An ethnobotanical study was carried out in four parishes in the Ngai and Otwal Sub Counties in Oyam district, Northern Uganda, where insurgency has been prevalent for the past 20 years. Documenting medicinal plant species used in treating various health conditions among the local people.

Methods

Information was obtained from mainly the local population, the traditional healers and other experienced persons through interviews, formal and informal discussions and field excursions.

Results

Seventy one plant species were reported for use in the treatment of various diseases in the study area. These plant species belongs to 41 families, with Asteraceae being the most represented. Roots were ranked the commonest plant part used. Oral administration was the most frequently used route of administration. A total of 41 different health conditions were reported to be treated by use of medicinal plant species. Thirty nine percent of the recorded plant species were reported for treating stomach related ailments.

Conclusion

The use of medicinal plants in primary healthcare is still a common practice in Ngai and Otwal Sub Counties. The trust they have is built on the curative outcome properties claimed, poverty and armed conflict that lead to inadequate healthcare facilities. The generation gap caused by the over 20 years of insurgency in the area has brought about knowledge gap on the usage of medicinal plant species between the young and the older generation.

Background

World wide over 80% of the people depend on medicinal plant species to meet their day today healthcare needs [1]. Rural household of Uganda rely heavily on plant resources for food, fodder and herbal medicine [2]. Tabuti [2] further asserted that savanna environment contains many plant resources of economic values such as foods and medicines. These resources are widely relied on by rural communities in developing countries because of inefficiencies in service delivery or because social services and goods are unaffordable. For this reason many people are currently resorting to traditional medicine for primary health care due to high costs in accessibility, cultural compatibility, self-reliance among others [3]. They also employ herbal medicines because of cultural preferences and perceived effectiveness [4, 5].

Medicinal plant species form a main part of treatment for the rural poor. Traditional medicine usage in rural Ugandan population for day-to-day health care needs is close to 90% [6]. Kamatenesi and Oryem [6] further reported that women and children form the bulk of the people reliant on herbal medicine. According to Katuura et al [7], malaria was reported to be the most common condition treated by traditional healers in Mbarara District. The use of traditional herbal remedies is encountered in both rural and urban areas in Mali and that traditional medicine is one of the surest means to achieve total health care coverage for African's population [8].

Discourses on the future of traditional medicine in Africa and other indigenous societies often assume government recognition and integration into the formal health care systems [9].

In certain areas in Nigeria, the only health care providers close to the people are the traditional medical practitioners [10]. However, it should be noted that medicinal plant species have also been discovered to have other uses as some could be used as vegetables, fruits, trees and ornamentals [11].

Health services in Oyam District are inadequate, and only 15 out of the 43 parishes in Oyam District have health facilities. Maternal mortality rate is still high because clean and safe deliveries are at only 14% because it is mainly the traditional birth attendants (TBA) who play a significant role [12].

Methods

Study area

This study was carried out in Ngai and Otwal sub counties in Oyam District which is situated in northern Uganda on coordinates 02°14'N 32°23'E (Figure 1) [13]. The sampling sites were located in the Parishes of Aramita, Akuca and Omac from Ngai Sub County and Abela from Otwal Sub-County. The study was conducted between August 2007 and February 2008 in Oyam District, Northern Uganda.
Figure 1

Location of Ngai and Otwal Sub Counties in Oyam District in Northern Uganda.

Data collection

Ethnobotanical information was obtained through informed consent semi-structured interviews with key informants. The key informants consisted of health workers, renowned herbalists, and local leaders. However, the bulk of the respondents were local residents who were identified through household numbers. Knowledge on the use of medicinal plant species was documented, the local name of plant species, diseases or ailments they treat, part of plant used, methods of preparation and administration were recorded.

In addition, a total of 84 households were interviewed using questionnaires, after being randomly chosen from the total household list from the LC I (Local Councilor One) chairperson. Forty four households from Ngai and another 40 from Otwal Sub Counties were interviewed through the use of questionnaire. Some questions asked included; village of respondent, level of education, knowledge on medicinal plant species among others.

For more studies and information, three focus group discussions were conducted in Acandano village in Ngai Sub-County and Abela primary school and Ojwi centre in Otwal Sub-County. In this case the respondents were asked research guided questions. The groups comprised of children 15, women 20 and men 12. The groups participated voluntarily at the invitation of LC 1 chairman. The focus group discussion helped discover the extent of distribution of knowledge on medicinal plant species.

Voucher Specimens and Sample Collection

Voucher specimens of the documented plant species were collected according to standard practice, including roots, flowers, and fruits where possible [14]. Collection only involved samples that were identified by the respondent. The voucher specimens were delivered to Makerere University Botany Herbarium where further identification and classification was done. Scientific names of plant species were identified based on International Plant Name Index (IPNI: http://www.ipni.org).

Results

A total of 110 respondents were interviewed from the study area; 46 were females and males were 64 as shown in table 1.
Table 1

Total number of respondents that were interviewed in the study area

Respondents

Total

Males

Females

 

64 (58%)

46 (42%)

110

Age Characteristics of Respondents

13-24 years

25-37 years

38-49 years

50 years and above

17 (15%)

32 (29%)

27 (25%)

34 (31%)

From the research findings, 71 medicinal plant species both wild and cultivated belonging to 42 families were documented and identified in the study area (Table 2). The family Asteraceae (5 species) was the most represented followed by Leguminosae and Lamiaceae (4 species) plant species each; Solanaceae, Poaceae, Eurphorbiaceae, and Zingiberaceae had 3 plant species in each family, and the remaining families had two and one species. With regard to growth habits, the plant species consisted of shrubs (39%), herbs and climbers (36.6%), trees (21%) and grasses (4%).
Table 2

Medicinal plants their habits, growth habit, frequency of mention, plant part used, diseases treated, methods of preparation and administration.

Family

Taxon

Habitat

Habit

Plant part used

Disease

Number of diseases treated

Freq of mention of plant

Methods of Preparation

Administration

Amaranthaceae

Pupalia lappacea Juss. AA-49-07

Wooded grassland

SH

R

Syphilis

1

2

Crushed, boiled*

Extract drunk

Anacardiaceae

Mangifera indica L. AA-53-07

Homestead

T

B

Diarrhoea

2

8

Crushed, mixed in cold water

Extract drunk twice a day

    

R

Cough

  

Crushed, mixed in cold water

Extract drunk

Apocynaceae

Carissa edulis (Forssk) Vahl. AA-59-07

Grassland

SH

R

Epilepsy

2

3

Crushed, mixed in cold water

Extract drink

    

S

Abdominal pain

  

Crushed, mixed in cold water

Extract drunk

Asclepiadaceae

Mondia whiteii Skeels AA-57-07

Forest

C

R

Flu, cold

4

8

Crushed , mixed in cold water

Extract drunk

    

R

Abdominal pain

  

Crushed, mixed in cold water

Extract drunk twice a day

    

R

Headache, cough

  

Picked, cleaned

Chewed

Asparagaceae

Asparagus africanus Hochst. ex.A. Rich AA-48-07

Open grassland

SH

R

Swollen body

1

4

Crushed, mixed in cold water

Extract drunk one glass twice a day , rub on skin cuts

Asteraceae

Acmela canlirhiza Delile AA-64-07

Garden edge, road side

H

R, L

Cough

2

2

Dried, powdered

Extract drunk three teaspoon twice a day

    

R

Retained placenta

  

Crushed, mixed in warm water*

Extract drunk

 

Biden pilosa L. AA-47-07

Garden

H

L

Wounds

1

3

Dried, powdered

Applied on wound

 

Echinops amplexicaulis Oliv. AA-07-07

Open grassland

SH

R

Hydrocelle

7

7

Crushed, mixed in cold water

Extract drunk three times a day

    

R

Hernia scrotal

  

Crushed, mixed in cold water*

Extract drunk

    

R

Stomachache

  

Crushed , boiled

Extract drunk 200 ml once a day

    

R

TB

  

Crushed, boiled

Extract drunk quarter glass for adults twice a day, two spoonful twice a day for children

    

R

snake bite, whooping cough, syphilis

  

Crushed, mixed in cold water

Extract drunk one glass twice a day

 

Conyza sumatrensis (Retz.) E.Walker AA-35-07

Open grassland

SH

L

Wounds

3

12

Crushed

Juice onto fresh wound

    

L

Sore throat

  

Picked, cleaned

Chewed, juice swallowed three times a day

    

L

Ring worm

  

Crushed

Extract rubbed on affected part once a day

 

Aspilia africana C.D Adams AA-37-07

Open grassland

Abandoned gardens, road side

SH

R

Sore throat

8

3

Crushed, mixed in cold water

Extract drunk

    

R

Diarrhoea, dysentery

  

Crushed, mixed in cold water

Extract drunk quarter a glass three times a day

    

R

Body cleanser

  

Crushed, mixed in cold water

Extract drunk

    

R

Antidote

  

Crushed, mixed in cold water

Extract drunk

    

R

Wounds

  

Crushed

Juice squeezed onto wound

    

R

Induce appetite

  

Picked, cleaned

Chewed, juice swallowed

    

R

snake bite

  

Crushed, mixed in cold water

Extract drunk

 

Microglossa pyrifolia (Cam) O. Ktze AA-36-07

Wooded grassland

SH

R

Anti venom

2

2

Crushed

Rubbed on skin cuts

    

L

Epilepsy

  

Crushed, added in bath water

Used for bathing, burnt in patient room

 

Vernonia amygdalina Del. AA-46-07

Open grassland

SH

R

Cough

9

10

Crushed, mixed in cold water

Extract drunk

    

R

Abdominal pain

  

Crushed, mixed in cold water

Extract drunk twice a day

    

L

Wound

  

Crushed

Extract applied on wound

    

L

Malaria

  

Crushed, mixed in cold water

Extract drunk

    

R

Swollen stomach

  

Crushed, mixed in cold water

Extract drunk

    

R

Hernia

  

Dried, powdered

Extract drunk 10 ml twice a day, extract rubbed on skin cuts

    

R

Headache

  

Crushed, mixed in cold water

Extract drunk 2 spoonful thrice a day

    

R

STI

  

Crushed, mixed in cold water

Extract drunk 500 ml thrice a day

    

R

Diarrhoea

  

Crushed, mixed in warm water

Extract drunk 500 ml once a day

 

Vernonia sp. AA-02-07

Open grassland, garden

H

R, L

Backbone disease

1

3

Crushed, boiled , Heated over fire

Extract drunk , heated leaves massage body twice a day

Bignoniaceae

Markhamia platycalyx Sprague AA-54-07

Wooded grassland

T

R

Ease child bearing, Induces labour

1

1

Crushed, mixed in warm water

Extract drunk one glass once a day

 

Stereospermum kunthianum Cham. AA-55-07

Wooded grassland

T

R

Wounds

1

1

Dried, powdered

Applied on wound

 

Kigelia africana (Lam.) Benth AA-60-07

Wooded grassland

T

L

Eye disease

3

2

Crushed

Squeezed in eye

    

B

Poison antidote

  

Crushed, boiled

Extract drunk once a day

    

S

Impotence

  

Dried, powdered

Extract drunk, eaten.

Caesalpiniaceae

Cassia siamea Lam. AA-56-07

Semi cultivated

T

R

Sore throat

2

4

Crushed and mixed in cold water

Extract drunk

    

L

Abdominal pain

  

Picked, cleaned

Chewed, liquid swallowed

Capparaceae

Cleome gynandra L.AA-61-07

Homestead, garden

H

L

Headache

3

5

Crushed

Rubbed on forehead

    

L

Ring worm

  

Crushed

Rubbed on affected area

    

R

Eye disease

  

Crushed

Dropped in eye

Caricaceae

Carica papaya L. AA-43-07

Homestead

T

R

body pain by witch craft

1

3

Crushed

Rubbed on body twice a day

Celastraceae

Maytenus senegalensis (Lam) Exell AA-45-07

Forest

T

R

Epilepsy

2

1

Crushed, mixed in cold water*

Extract drunk 50 ml three times a day

    

R

Miscarriage

  

Crushed, mixed in cold water

Extract drunk 300 ml two times a day

Chenopodiaceae

Chenopodium ambrosioides L. AA-50-07

Around home stead

H

L

Headache

2

4

Crushed, mixed in hot water

Steam inhaled, heated leaves placed on face

    

L

Epilepsy

  

Crushed, mixed in cold water

Extract drunk 25 ml twice a day, applied on skin cuts

Combretaceae

Combretum molle R.Br.G. Don AA-44-07

Swampy area, forest edge

T

R

Cough

1

1

Dried, powdered added into one glass of water

Drunk twice a day

 

Combretum collinum Fresen AA-42-07

Open grassland

T

L

Cough

4

12

Crushed, mixed in cold water*

Extract drunk twice a day

    

R, B

Wounds

  

Crushed

Juice squeezed on wound

    

R, B

Diarrhoea,

  

Crushed, mixed in cold water

Extract drunk 4 teaspoon twice a day

    

R, B

Abdominal pain

  

Crushed, mixed in cold water

 

Cucurbitaceae

Cucurbita maxima Wall. AA-38-07

Gardens, antihill

C

R

Abdominal pain

1

1

Crushed, mixed in cold water

Extract drunk

 

Momordica foetida Schum. AA-52-07

Antihill

C

R

STI

3

2

Crushed, mixed in cold water

Extract drunk one glass once a day

    

R

Cough, abdominal pain

  

Crushed, mixed in cold water

Extract drunk one glass twice a day

 

Kedrostis foetidissima Cogn. AA-41-07

Open grassland

C

R

Measles

1

1

Crushed, mixed in cold water

Extract drunk once a day

Dioscoreaceae

Dioscorea sp AA-62-07

Garden

H

L

Loss of appetite

1

1

Crushed, boiled

Eaten

Eurphorbiaceae

Euphorbia hirta L. AA-71-07

Garden, along roadside

H

R

Cough

2

6

Crushed, mixed in cold water

Extract drunk three times a day

    

St

Fresh wound

  

Sap collected

Applied on wound two times a day

 

Fluggae virosa (Willd.) Voigt AA-40-07

Wooded grassland

SH

R

Miscarriage

1

2

Crushed, mixed in cold water

Extract drunk 250 ml twice a day

Fabaceae

Piliostigma thonningii (Schumach.) Milne-Redh.

AA-44-07

Open grassland

T

L

STI

2

6

Crushed, mixed in cold water

Extract drunk 750 ml thrice a day

    

St

Diarrhoea

  

Crushed, mixed in warm water

Drink one teaspoon a day

 

Cassia nigricans Vahl. AA-31-07

Open grassland

SH

St

Wound

3

2

Crushed

Apply on skin cuts

    

L

Worms

  

Crushed, mixed in cold water

Extract drunk

    

L

Stomachache

  

Crushed

Smear on stomach

 

Erythrina abyssinica Lam. AA-29-07

Grassland

T

R

Toothache

1

2

Crushed, boiled

Massage tooth

Labiatae

Hoslundia opposita Vahl. AA-09-07

Open grass land

H

R

Epilepsy

2

6

Crushed, mixed in cold water

Extract drunk two times a day, applied as nasal drop.

    

R

Whole body swelling

  

Crushed, boiled

Extract drunk

Lamiaceae

Clerodendrum myricoides R.Br. & Vatke AA-30-07

Open grassland

S

R

Body pains

2

4

Crushed

Rub on skin cuts

    

R

Cataracts

  

Crushed

Extract dropped in eye twice a day

 

Ocimum basilicum L. AA-32-07

Compound edge

H

L

Eye cataract

3

3

Crushed

Extract squeezed, dropped in eye twice a day

    

L

Fever

  

Crushed, mixed in warm water

Massage body, add in bathing water

    

L

Malaria

  

Crushed, mixed in warm water

Extract drunk

 

Vitex doniana Sweet AA-25-07

Wooded grassland

T

R

Eye disease

1

1

Crushed, mixed in cold water

Extract dropped in eye

Leguminosae

Rhynchosia densiflora Wall. AA-27-07

Wooded grassland

SH

R

Dysentery

1

8

Crushed, mixed in cold water

Extract drunk two teaspoon twice a day

 

Indigofera arrecta Hochst.ex. A. Rich AA-26-07

Open garden

SH

L

Body swelling

4

5

Crushed

Rubbed on skin

    

R

Round worms

  

Crushed, mixed in warm water

Extract drunk 200 ml once a day

    

R

Headache

  

Crushed, mixed in cold water

Extract drunk

    

R

Sore throat

  

Crushed, mixed in cold water

Extract drunk twice a day

 

Acacia hockii De Wild AA-24-07

Open grassland

T

R

Malaria + cough

1

1

Crushed, mixed in cold water

Extract drunk two times a day

 

Acacia sieberiana Tausch AA-23-07

Wooded grassland

T

R

Epilepsy

2

1

Crushed, mixed in cold water

Extract drunk

    

R

Dysentery

  

Crushed, mixed in cold water*

Extract drunk half a

Aglass two times a day

Loganiaceae

Strychnos innocua Delile. AA-12-07

Swamps

T

R

Witchcraft

1

1

Crushed, mixed in cold water

Extract sprinkled on patient

Meliaceae

Trichilia capensis Pers. AA-22-07

Grassland,

SH

R

Stomachache

8

6

Crushed , mixed in cold water

Extract drunk 50 ml once a day

    

R

Stops miscarriage

  

Crushed , mixed in cold water

Extract drunk half glass twice a day

    

R

West pain

  

Dried , powdered

Powder added in water making 10 ml , drunk two times a day

    

R

Urine pain

  

Crushed , mixed in cold water

Extract drunk two times a day

    

R

Back ache after birth

  

Crushed , mixed in cold water

Extract drunk

    

R

Worms

  

Crushed, mixed in water

Extract drunk

    

R

Diarrhoea, cough

  

Crushed , boiled

Extract drunk 200 ml once a day

 

Trichilia emetica Vahl. AA-21-07

Open grassland

H

R

Snake bite

3

11

Crushed , mixed in cold water

Extract drunk, crushed leaves rubbed on skin cuts

    

R

Stomachache

  

Crushed , mixed in cold water

Extract drunk once a day

    

R

prevent poison

  

Crushed , mixed in cold water

Extract drunk

Menispermaceae

Cissampelos mucronata A.Rich. AA-33-07

Garden edges

H

R

Abdominal pain

1

1

Crushed , mixed in cold water

Extract drunk three times a day

Mimosaceae

Albizia coriaria Welw. AA-58-07

Wooded grassland

T

B

Diarrhoea

1

1

Crushed , mixed in cold water

Extract drunk

Moraceae

Ficus vallis Chaude AA-20-07

Wooded grassland

T

R

Dysentery, diarrhea

3

7

Crushed , mixed in cold water

Extract drunk half glass once a day

    

B

Ring worm

  

Sap collected

Smeared on affected area twice a day

Musaceae

Musa spp AA-69-07

Garden

T

F

Diarrhoea

3

1

Sap collected

Sap drunk thrice a day

    

Fl

Wound

  

Crushed , mixed in cold water

Extract applied on wound

    

B

Ring worm

  

Crushed

Smear on affected area once a day

Myrtaceae

Eucalyptus globulus Labill. AA-68-07

Home stead

T

L

Cough

1

5

Crushed , boiled

Extract drunk four teaspoon twice a day

Papilionaceae

Crotalaria ochroleuca

G.Don AA-04-07

Garden

SH

L

Stomachache

1

1

Crushed , boiled

Eaten

 

Cajanus cajan (L.) Druce AA-17-07

Garden

SH

L

Malaria

1

1

Crushed , mixed in cold water

Extract drunk 100 ml once a day

Poaceae

Imperata cylindra P.Beauv. AA-67-07

Open grassland

G

R

Abdominal pain

1

1

Crushed , mixed in cold water

Extract drunk

 

Pennisetum trachyphyllum Pilg. AA-66-07

Garden, dry land

G

R

Abdominal pain

1

1

Crushed , mixed in cold water

Extract drunk

 

Sporobulus africanus (Poir.) Roebyns AA-65-07

Open grassland

G

R

Retained placenta

1

2

Crushed , mixed in cold water

Extract drunk500 ml once a day

Polygolaceae

Securidaca longipedunculata Fres. AA-19-07

Open grassland

T

R

Body pains,

4

19

Crushed

Rubbed on skin cuts once a day

    

R

Headache

  

Crushed

Rubbed on skin cuts once a day

    

R

Skin disease

  

Crushed , mixed in cold water

Rubbed on affected area three times a day

    

R

Body ache due to witchcraft

  

Crushed , mixed in cold water

Rubbed on skin cuts once a day

Ranunculaceae

Clematis hirusta Guill. & Perr. AA-05-07

Anthill on

Open grassland

H

R

Swelling

4

14

Crushed

Massage affected area

    

R

STI

  

Crushed , mixed in cold water

Extract drunk two glass thrice a day

    

R

Cough

  

Crushed , boiled

Extract drunk twice a day

    

Fl

Flu

  

Crushed

Inhaled

Rubiaceae

Sarcocephalus latifolius (SM.) E.A. Bruce AA-51-07

Grassland

SH

R

Piles

8

12

Burnt together with millet husk

Direct smoke to anus

    

R

Scrotal hernia

  

Crushed , mixed in cold water

Extract drunk 20 ml once a day for a month

    

R

Cough, stomachache

  

Crushed , boiled

Extract drunk 200 ml once a day

    

R

STDs, worms

  

Crushed , boiled

Extract drunk one glass twice a day

    

R

Diarrhoea

  

Crushed , mixed in cold water

Extract drunk half glass thrice a day

    

R

Dysentery

  

Crushed , mixed in cold water

Extract drunk 200 ml thrice a day

 

Vangueria apiculata K. Schum AA-16-07

Forest edge

 

S

Swollen feet , body

1

1

Crushed , mixed in cold water

Extract drunk half glass three times a day

Sapotaceae

Vitallaria paradoxum (C.F. Gaertn) Hepper AA-14-07

Wooded grassland

T

B

Diarrhoea

1

3

Dried , powder mixed in water

Drunk 20 ml two times a day

Simaroubaceae

Harrisonia occidentalist (Eng) L.AA-15-07

Ant hills

SH

R

Worms

2

2

Crushed , mixed in warm water

Extract drunk 500 ml a day

    

L

Sores on head of children

  

Crushed

Rubbed on affected area twice a day

Solanaceae

Capsicum frutescens Rodsch. AA-13-07

Under big trees

SH

S

Backache

1

1

Crushed

Crushed bark rubbed on skin cuts

 

Solanum sp AA-10-07

Ant hills , open grassland

SH

R

STI

5

2

Crushed , mixed in cold water

Extract drunk

    

R

Ear disease

  

Crushed , mixed in cold water

Extract dropped in ear thrice a day

    

R

Epilepsy

  

Crushed , mixed in cold water

 
    

R

Diarrhoea

  

Crushed , mixed in cold water

Extract drunk two teaspoon twice a day

    

R

Headache

  

Crushed , mixed in cold water

Extract drunk

 

Solanum aculeatissimum Jacq AA-28-07

Homestead

SH

R

Witchcraft

5

5

Crushed

Rub on skin cuts

    

R

Hydrocelle

  

Crushed , mixed in cold water

Extract drunk

    

R/F

snake bite

  

Crushed , mixed in cold water

Extract drunk

    

F

Bone , muscle inflammation

  

Crushed , mixed in cold water*

Extract drunk

Tiliaceae

Grewia mollis Juss. AA-70-07

Open grassland

T

R

Swollen body part

1

1

Scraped

Plastered on swelling

Tricholomataceae

Termitomyces microcarpus AA-71-07

Forest

 

R

Boils

1

1

Crushed

Smeared on affected area

Umbellifereae

Steganofaenia oraliacea AA-63-07

Open grassland

SH

R

Measles

2

2

Crushed

Rubbed all over skin

    

R

Swollen body

  

Dried , powdered

Added in one glass of water, drunk twice a day

Urticaceae

Urtica massaica Mildbr. AA-08-07

Forest, swamp

SH

L

Headache

4

4

Crushed

Rubbed on forehead

    

R

Menstrual pain

  

Crushed

Extract drunk four teaspoon twice a day

    

R

Boils

  

Crushed

Extract smeared on affected area once

    

R

Cough

  

Crushed , mixed in cold water

Extract drunk

Verbenaceae

Lanatana camara L. AA-03-07

Garden edge, roadside

SH

L

Ringworms

4

5

Dried , powdered

Smeared on affected area

    

L

Cataracts

  

Crushed , mixed in cold water

Extract dropped in eye

    

R

snake bite

  

Crushed , mixed in cold water

Extract drunk 250 ml

    

R

Epilepsy

  

Crushed , mixed in cold water

Extract drunk

 

Clerodendrum umbellatum Poir AA-06-07

Gardens

SH

R

Cough

3

28

Crushed , boiled

Extract drunk third a glass

    

L

Poison

  

Crushed , mixed in cold water

Extract drunk

    

L

Abdominal pain

  

picked , cleaned

Chewed

Vitaceae

Cyphostemma adenocaule Descoings. ex Wild & R.B.Drumm.

AA-01-07

Open grassland

C

R

Wounds

4

3

Sap collected

Rubbed on skin cuts

    

R

Abortion

  

Crushed , mixed in cold water

Extract drunk three teaspoon three times a day

    

R

Boils

  

Crushed

Extract smeared on affected area once

    

R

Cough

  

Crushed , mixed in cold water

Extract drunk

Zingiberaceae

Zingiber officinale Roscoe AA-34-07

Homestead

H

R

Meningitis

2

4

Crushed

Rubbed on skin cuts once

    

R

Cough

  

Crushed, warm water added

Drunk

 

Aframomum angustifolium K. Schum AA-39-07

Open wooded grassland

 

S

Cholera

2

11

Crushed , mixed in cold water

Drunk

    

S

Diarrhoea

  

Crushed , mixed in warm water

Drunk 50 ml two

times a day for four days

Key: Plant Habit: SH-Shrub T-Tree C- Climber H-Herb G-Grass

Plant part used: R-Roots L-Leaves B-Bark S-Seeds F-Fruit S-Stem F-Flower

Mode of preparation: (1*2*3*) - Used in combination with other plant species

4x- Mixed in oil

These plant species were mainly obtained from open grassland area (41%), garden or farms (21%), homestead (13%) wooded grassland 11%, forest (7%) and least number was obtained from swamps (4%) and forest edge (3%).

The most commonly mentioned plant species by respondents were Clerodendrum umbellatum Poir (25%) Securidaca longipedunculata Fres. (17%) while the least mentioned among respondents includes; Crotalaria ochroleuca G.Don, Albizia coriaria Welw (0.9%). Fifty five percent of the plant species mentioned were used to treat more than one disease and 45% to treat only one disease.

A total of plant species documented, 25% were edible and formed part of local diet (Table 2). Fifty five percent of these were used in the treatment of more than one disease while 45% were believed to treat only one particular disease. The conservation status of the medicinal plant species is such that only 10% were cultivated and 90% were collected from the wild (Table 2).

Roots were the commonest plant parts (57%) being used; followed by leaves (23%) (Figure 2). The most underutilized plant part were found to be flowers with only 2% usage, fruits making up 3% and the rest of plant parts harvested making up 4%, 5% and 7% of stems, seeds and bark respectively.
Figure 2

Different plant parts used for medicinal purpose and their percentages

Records reveal that a total of 41 conditions were treated with medicinal plant parts in Otwal and Ngai sub-counties in Oyam District. The common condition being treated in Ngai and Otwal sub counties was found to be abdominal pains and this was reported by 11% of the respondents, followed by cough at 10%. Other conditions such as wounds had 5.6% headache; epilepsy and STD/STI at 4.6%. Those least mentioned at below 1% were impotence, toothache, cholera, fever among others.

The most common way of preparing these medicinal plant species was mainly by crushing and extracting using cold water making up an overall 48%. This was followed by crushing plant parts and applied in that form at 20%. The least mode was found to be burning, and adding the ashes into bath water making up less that 1%.

On administration, oral administration through drinking was found to be the most frequently used at 69% and the least were through bathing with, massaging and smoking at less than 1%.

The main sources of indigenous knowledge of medicinal plant species were parents at 40%, grandparents at 35% (Table 3). The least sources of information about medicinal plant species were through dreams at 3.8% and in-laws 2.9%.
Table 3

Source of knowledge on medicinal plant species among the people of Ngai and Otwal sub counties in Oyam District.

Source of information

Frequency

Percentage

Parents

42

40

Peers

5

4.8

Grandparents

37

35.6

Traditional healers

13

13

In laws

3

2.9

Dreams

4

3.8

Total

104

100.1

The use of medicinal plant species was found to be driven mainly by its perceived effectiveness (34%), poverty, medical facilities being far (23%) and lack of medicines in hospitals (5%) (Table 4). The least use of medicinal plant species was due to referral from medical personnel (3%).
Table 4

Showing why medicinal plant species are in use

Reason for use

Frequency

%

Medical facilities far

35

23

Poverty

35

23

Conventional medicine don't work

7

5

Medicinal plant species effective

51

34

Hospitals lack medicines

7

5

Advice from medical workers

4

3

Easy to access

12

8

Discussion

The 71 medicinal plant species of cultivated and wild types were greatly utilized by people of Oyam District as herbal remedies. These plant species fall under 42 families, with the family Asteraceae having the highest number of medicinal plant species. The family Asteraceae was also recorded as having the most number of medicinal plant species as other studies in other areas also reveals [15, 16]. Clerodendrum umbellatum, Securidaca longipedunculata, Clematis hirsuta and Conyza sumaternsis were among the most frequently utilized species. The frequency of mention of a given plant species could be an indication of the prevalence of a given condition it can treat and its therapeutic values.

Roots were the most commonly harvested plant part of the medicinal plants compared to any other part. This form of harvesting however, is threatening to the survival of the plant. Plant species such as Lantana camara, Urtica massaica had leaves and roots being harvested. Harvesting of two or more plant parts can be more damaging especially when the roots and barks/stem are harvested. Thus from the conservation point of view, the high utilization of roots of plant species in Oyam District put these plant species at a risk because of the damages inflicted on the plant species. This was also noted in other areas [6].

Many of these plant species treated more than one condition and are being used in combination. This pattern of using medicinal plant species for varying conditions was also observed among the local communities in Mabira Forest Reserve area [15]. However, it was found that locals usually mix the medicinal plant species to ensure effectiveness in treating a given ailment [17, 18]. This was also observed in Ngai Sub County, where the extent of knowledge of medicinal plant mixing determined the success of a traditional healer. Medicinal plant are strongly believed by the local people of Ngai and Otwal to be effective and this among other reasons explain why they have continued to use them, thus their reliance on them for basic healthcare. This trend was also observed among the people living around Queen Elizabeth National Park in western Uganda [3, 6]

Abdominal pain and cough were the most frequently treated ailments. These are diseases associated with personal hygiene. The study area has had IDP camps which was always associated with poor hygiene and over-crowding. The high frequency of mention of these diseases were directly associated with the high prevalence of these diseases in the area. This goes on to explain why many of the medicinal plant species mentioned were used for treating these ailments indicating widespread knowledge of medicinal plant species used for their treatment. For example, 25% of respondents mentioned that Clerodendrum umbellatum was used for treatment of abdominal pain.

The most common method of preparation of medicinal plant species before being administered was found to be applied to most plant species. This involved crushing and extracting plant materials using cold/warm water and boiling. Those that were boiled were effectively extracted compared to use of cold water, since boiling also preserves the medicine longer. Oral administration was noted as number one mode of dispensing of herbal medicine. This mode of administration of herbal medicine was also reported elsewhere [6, 18].

Some of these plant species are popular and used all over Uganda and are on sale in most markets. For instance Cleome gynandra, Cajanus cajan, Vitallaria paradoxum, Capsicum frutescens were found to be sources of food and were being eaten not only locally but also nationally and internationally [3].

Some studies carried out in and outside Uganda showed that some of these plant species were potent as medicine. A plant like Aspilia africana, is said to have high antiplasmodial activity [19]. Some other plant species mentioned elsewhere as medicine include Cassia occidentalis which is used in Burkina Faso as stimulant [3].

Conservation issues

It should be noted that a high percentage of these plant species are harvested from the wild, but with no consideration for domestication hence threatening their existence. The plant species are being overexploited, and the rapid environmental degradation coupled with insurgency has put mounting pressure on the environment. This may lead to the disappearance of many species of medicinal plants of economic value. According to one of the local traditional practitioners, Okello Okiko, the use of medicinal plant species is becoming expensive since some of the plant species are hard to find and one has to risk going to restricted conservation areas to get the plant species. Since the knowledge comes at a price, many people are even too poor to pay for the herbalist services, hence a reduction in number of clients.

The disappearance of medicinal plant species can also be attributed to over use, agricultural activities and insecurity. Domestication of medicinal plant species is probably not taken seriously. Some medicinal plant species which have been proved potent have been over used [4, 20]. The mode of harvesting which involves the use of roots also posed a threat to the existence of these plant species. In most of the plant species, their roots were being used.

Conclusions

The 71 medicinal plant species of cultivated and wild types were greatly utilized for treating a total of 41 different ailments by people of Ngai and Otwal Sub Counties. Thirty nine percent of the recorded plant species were reported for treating stomach related ailments. The most commonly mentioned plant species by respondents were Clerodendrum umbellatum Poir (25%). Of the total of plant species documented, 25% were edible and formed part of local diet. The main sources of indigenous knowledge of medicinal plant species were parents at 40%.

Roots were the most commonly harvested plant part of the medicinal plant species compared to any other part. The most common method of preparation of medicinal plant species before being administered was found to be applied to most plant species. However, it was noted that some of these medicinal plant species are disappearing very first. The disappearance of medicinal plant species can be attributed to over use, agricultural activities and insecurity. Domestication of medicinal plant species is probably not taken seriously.

The use of medicinal plant species in primary health care is still a common practice in Ngai and Otwal Sub-County. The inadequate health services and abject poverty still make these people dependent on herbal medicine for their day to day health needs.

The generation gap caused by the over 20 years of insurgency in the area has brought about knowledge gap between the young and the old with regard to medicinal plant species.

Recommendations

  • There is need for ex-situ conservation of the useful medicinal plant species

  • There is need for community awareness and education concerning the values of medicinal plant species of the area especially among the young people.

  • Further studies should be done on the medicinal plant species to determine their pharmacological potentials.

  • Government should develop policy to integrate use of medicinal plant species in health care at national level

Notes

Declarations

Acknowledgements

Our most sincere gratitude to the sponsor, NORAD Medicinal plant species Project through the Department of Botany Makerere University, The Staff of Ngai Health Center III, Field assistant, leaders of Lango Cultural Center, local leaders, traditional healers, traditional birth attendants, the resource users and all respondents, in Ngai and Otwal Sub counties in Oyam Districts who provided the information.

Authors’ Affiliations

(1)
Department of Botany, Makerere University
(2)
Institute of Environment and Natural Resources Makerere University

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