Open Access

Medicinal plants used by women from Agnalazaha littoral forest (Southeastern Madagascar)

  • Mendrika Razafindraibe1Email author,
  • Alyse R Kuhlman3,
  • Harison Rabarison1,
  • Vonjison Rakotoarimanana1,
  • Charlotte Rajeriarison1,
  • Nivo Rakotoarivelo1, 2,
  • Tabita Randrianarivony1, 2,
  • Fortunat Rakotoarivony2,
  • Reza Ludovic2,
  • Armand Randrianasolo3 and
  • Rainer W Bussmann3
Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine20139:73

https://doi.org/10.1186/1746-4269-9-73

Received: 23 April 2013

Accepted: 30 October 2013

Published: 4 November 2013

Abstract

Background

The country of Madagascar is renowned for its high level of biodiversity and endemism, as well as the overwhelming pressures and threats placed on the natural resources by a growing population and climate change. Traditional medicine plays an important role in the daily lives of the Malagasy for various reasons including limited access to healthcare, limited markets and traditional values. The objective of this study was to assess the modern utitilization of the Agnalazaha Forest by the local population in Mahabo-Mananivo, Madagascar, for medicinal plants used by women, and to establish a list of medicinal plants used by women sourced from Agnalazaha Forest.

Methods

Ethnobotanical studies were conducted over a period of five months in 2010 to determine the diversity of medicinal plants used by women in the commune of Mahabo-Mananivo. In all, 498 people were interviewed, both male and female ranging age from 15 to over 60 years old.

Results

152 medicinal plants used by local people were collected during the ethnobotanical studies. Among the recorded species, eight native species are widely used by women. These species are known for their therapeutic properties in treating placental apposition and complications during childbirth as well as tropical illnesses such as malaria, filariasis, and sexual diseases like gonorrhea and syphilis.

Conclusions

Littoral forests are rare ecosystems that are highly threatened on the island nation of Madagascar. Our investigation into the use of medicinal plants sourced from and around the Agnalazaha Forest by the women of Mahabo-Mananivo reinforces the need for this natural resource as a first line of health care for rural families.

Keywords

Medicinal plants Madagascar Littoral forest Traditional medicine Women’s traditional knowledge

Background

Traditional medicine is a term used to describe the use of natural resources, often in concert with ritual and spirituality, to prevent, treat and heal human diseases and ailments [1]. While the use of plant species for healing dates back further than the written record, with evidence the Neanderthals practiced plant medicine [2], it is still being used by many in our modern era. Eighty (80) percent of the world's population depends on traditional medicine for the treatment of pain [3]. And in developing countries such as Madagascar medicinal plants remain a primary source of medical care [4] especially in very remote areas or in case of limited health resources.

Medicinal plant use in Madagascar has the added concern of biodiversity loss, environmental degradation, and sustainability. The island nation of Madagascar separated from Africa some 170 million years and the Indian subcontinent nearly 88 million years ago and the isolated flora and fauna have evolved with a high degree of microendemism [5]. Current floristic calculations indicate Madagascar houses between 12,000 and 14,000 vascular plant species, of which 90% are endemic [6] and 96% endemism in tree species [7]. However, the increasingly intense population growth has led to rapid deforestation as land is cleared for agricultural fields and for fuel [8]. Biodiversity loss, in general, has severe implications on environmental stability which in turn affects human health [9]. When biodiversity directly adds to the wellness of a community as a resource for medicine, biodiversity loss can have even deeper consequences as medicinal plant species are lost or are no longer available [10, 11].

Within Madagascar, one of the most threatened ecosystems is the littoral forest [12]. Although the littoral forests of Madagascar once stretched 1600-km along the eastern coast as one single biological corridor, there is only 10% of the original forest remaining [13]. One such littoral forest, the Agnalazaha Forest, is located in the rural commune of Mahabo-Mananivo, 750 km southeast of the capitol city of Antananarivo. Approximately 72.3% of the flora of Agnalazaha is endemic to Madagascar [14].

The villages of Mahabo-Mananivo source timber and non-timber forest products from Agnalazaha Forest littoral forest. Furthermore, the community of Mahabo-Mananivo still practice and often prefers traditional medicine, especially for common diseases and infectious diseases [15]. As is the case with most familial systems, the first line of healthcare decisions and action is often administered by female household members [16]. The purpose of this study was to assess the modern utilization of this forest by the local population with a focus on the plants known and utilized by women in their everyday care giving. We focused on the women for this study while a study on the use of medicinal plants by men was carried out simultaneously. At times men were present during the interview process and would add information about plants used by women which we allowed.

Methods

Research was coordinated by and supported in large part by the staff at the Missouri Botanical Garden Mahabo-Mananivo Conservation research site. Field research was conducted over a period of five months (January – May) in 2010 with three field trips to the community. A ten day preliminary exploration was used to become familiar with the community and introduce ourselves, make contact with local officials and present the topic of our research. A hired local guide acted as our translator, introduced us to interview prospects and coordinated interview schedules. Consent was given by the tribal leaders, local government officials and by each individual we interviewed.

Study site

Agnalazaha Forest is located within the district of Farafangana, Atsimo Atsinanana region in southeastern Madagascar, in the Commune Rural Mahabo-Mananivo (Figure 1). The National Road 12, a paved highway connecting Farafangana and Vangaindrano borders the forest to the west while the Indian Ocean borders it to the east. It is between 47° 41′and 47° 45′ E, and 23° 09′and 23° 14′ S with an altitude of less than 50 m [14]. In 2003, it was measured that this coastal forest covered an area of 1,565 ha and represents approximately 17% land coverage of the rural area of the commune Mahabo-Mananivo. Agnalazaha Forest has the status of Forest Reserve under article number 129-SF/EF/CG since May 17, 1954, but has been under the management of the Missouri Botanical Garden (MBG) since 2002.
Figure 1

Map of study area. Location of Mahabo-Mananivo community within context of Madagascar and in relation to Agnalazaha Forest.

The southeast region of Madagascar is characterized as the eastern coastal plain and has a climate of high rainfall and high average temperature [17]. The Agnalazaha Forest experiences two seasons: the hot rainy season from December to April, and the cool season from May to November. The average annual rainfall in Agnalazaha Forest is 2,706 mm. The average annual temperature varies between 21°C - 24°C (69 °F – 75 °F). According to the bioclimatic division of Madagascar, this region belongs to the humid tropics and part of the humid warm bioclimatic type [18]. Agnalazaha Forest is classifed as a littoral forest, characterized by an open canopy and sandy soils [12], seasonally flooded wooded swamps, open marshes with Nepenthes madagascariensis and Lepironia articulata, savannas, remnants of secondary forest on lateritic soils and reforestation forests of Eucalyptus robusta and Acacia mangeum. There are 275 species of plants in Agnalazaha Forest [14] distributed within 188 genera and 82 families. The site contains species belonging to three endemic families, Asteropeiaceae (2 species), Sarcolaenaceae (6 species) and Sphaerosepalaceae (1 species). Furthermore, 199 species present in Agnalazaha Forest are determined to be endemic to Madagascar (72.3%).

An inventory of primates [19] conducted in Agnalazaha Forest identified four species of lemur all of which are considered to at least be threatened, including the critically endangered Eulemur albocollaris[20]. All are known to be hunted locally. A similar study identified seven species of endemic small mammals found in Agnalazaha Forest including Pteropus rufus, Hemicentetes semispinosus, Setifer setosus and Tenrec caudatus, Hova oryzorictes, all of which are also locally hunted [21].

Surrounding community

Commune Rural Mahabo-Mananivo surrounds Agnalazaha Forest to the west, north and south. There are 6,998 residents according to the 2009 census. Mahabo-Mananivo is primarily comprised of residents identifying with the Antesaka ethnic group, while Antefasy, Merina and Betsileo members have migrated to this area as well. The municipality of Mahabo-Mananivo consists of ten fokontany surrounding the Agnalazaha Forest; Mahabo, Vohimasy, Iabotako, Nosiala, Iambomary, Baboaka, Lohagisy, Karimbelo, Rorobe, and Agnateza. A “fokontany” is the smallest political distinction recognized by the government. It may compromise several small villages with an average 1,000 people [22]. Mahabo-Manaivo is primarily an agriculture economy. Approximately 99.74% of the population is farmers. Rice fields dominate the landscape with cassava, yams, and manihot as supplementary crops. Additional income is sought through handicraft production, largely basketry weaving. The most popular species used for basketry is Lepironia articulate, Cyperus sp, and Pandanus sp. Monthly income is less than 80,000 Ariary (approximately USD$35) for a majority of the population of Mahabo-Mananivo.

There is a relatively new community health center, built in 2009, in the fokontany Mahabo, located on Road 12. It has 2 rooms and accommodates one doctor and one nurse. However, a majority of the population of Mahabo-Mananivo relies on medicinal plants to cure common diseases. To this end, local people consult traditional healers called ombiasy to be treated with medicinal plants. Ombiasy can be distinguished into four different types of healers: tromba (spiritually possesed) healers, midwives, massage healers and premonition healers.

Ethnobotanical surveys

The Agnalazaha Forest provides the local population with firewood, timber for home construction, non-timber products and medicinal plants. In order to identify medicinal plants known to be used by and for women in the rural commune of Mahabo-Mananivo, inquiries on the therapeutic use of plants were conducted primarily with women and female healers, although some men were interviewed as well. Due to time limitations, not all fokontany were included in the study. Fokontany were selected using the following criteria: (a) proximity to Agnalazaha Forest (b) Distance to the health center located in Mahabo (c) presence of female healers in the village. Fokontany closest to Agnalazaha Forest were given priority. Field visits to each fokontany selected were scheduled so that the villages furthest from the forest were visited first. The interviews were structured as semi-direct interviews with open questions [23]. The interviews were conducted with both individuals and in group settings [24]. Interview questions were written with two different approaches, inquiry of plant specific use or through disease-specific and/or symptomatic description plant use. Questionnaires or survey forms were established, first on medicinal plants used by women and healers, then the socio-economic and cultural value for each species (Additional file 1).

Surveys focused on plants used in the treatment of common female diseases in the commune. They were conducted with traditional healers (ombiasy), birth attendants, women and men who know the medicinal plants used by and for women. The interviews were interspersed with forest walks with interview participants where species were identified by their vernacular names and photos were taken. Herbarium voucher were made and the identification of these species was then conducted in the national herbarium of Tsimbazaza (TAN).

Results

Demographic variables

In the community 498 people were surveyed, 301 (60.44%) were women and 197 (39.56%) were men and 90.56% of those interviewed responded that they utilize medicinal plants. Table 1 compares the number of those who utilize medicinal plants with those who do not use medicinal plants for each age group, level of schooling, marital status and income level.
Table 1

Demographic information of the ethnobotanical interviewees

  

Number of people interviewed

Percentage of total

Utilize medicinal plants (#)

Percentage of total

Do not utilize medicinal plants (#)

Percentage of total

Gender

Females

301

60.44

280

93.02

21

6.98

 

Men

197

39.56

171

86.8

26

13.2

Age group

[15-19]

35

7.03

16

45.73

19

54.27

 

[20–29]

84

16.87

73

86.91

11

13.09

 

[30–39]

111

22.29

105

94.59

6

5.41

 

[40–49]

117

23.49

115

98.29

2

1.71

 

[50–59]

104

20.88

100

96.15

4

3.85

 

[60 +]

47

9.44

42

89.36

5

10.64

Level of

Illiterate

328

65.9

316

96.34

12

3.66

Education

Primary

143

28.7

118

82.52

25

17.48

 

Secondary

24

4.8

16

66.53

8

33.47

 

University

3

0.6

1

33.33

2

66.67

Marital status

Single

105

21.1

80

76.21

25

23.79

 

married

384

77.1

368

95.83

16

4.17

 

widowed

9

1.8

3

33.07

6

66.93

Household

<80,000

371

74.5

349

94.07

22

5.93

Education (monthly income in Ariary)

80,000-160,000

123

24.7

99

80.49

24

19.51

 

>160,000

4

0.8

3

74.9

1

25.1

Comparison of age group, level of schooling, marital status and income level of the 498 interview respondents of Mahabo-Mananivo.

People aged 40 to 49 years have the highest frequency of use of medicinal plants at 98.29%. This age group was followed by the 50 – 59 year old age bracket (96.15%), the 30 – 39 year old age bracket (94.59%), 60 years and older bracket (89.36%), the 20 – 29 years old bracket (86.91%) and finally the youngest bracket, 15 – 19 years old at 45.73%. We found that people at least 30 years old have increased knowledge in terms of medicinal plants, while lower knowledge levels occur in the younger age groups.

Furthermore, the data analysis shows that in the Commune of Mahabo-Mananavio, the majority of women (65.90%) who use were interviewed are illiterate, with 96.34% of them using medicinal plants. This high percentage is directly correlated with the fact that girls receive less education than boys. Persons with at least a primary school level of education made up 28% of our interviewees, and have a significant percentage of use of medicinal plants (82.52%), while those with secondary level of education (4.8% of our respondents) make little use of medicinal plants (66.53%). This percentage decreases again and becomes less significant for those with a university level education (33%).

Married people have a broad knowledge of medicinal plants with a percentage of 77.10%, while persons listed as single use plants at a frequency of 21.10%. Most of these respondents are single mothers who prefer to practice traditional care during childbirth and/or childhood diseases.

Diversity of medicinal plants and their application

152 medicinal plants were recorded during our ethnobotanical interviews as part of the collective women’s pharmacopeia. The diversity of medicinal plants in the botanical groups shows that dicotyledons have a very high percentage of use (87%), followed by 8% of monocotyledons and finally 5% of pteridophytes. The most important medicinal families are: Asteraceae (11 species), Poaceae and (9 species), Myrtaceae, Euphorbiaceae and Fabaceae (6 species each), Rubiaceae (5 species), Apocynaceae and Zingiberaceae (4 species each), Anacardiaceae, Moraceae, Melastomataceae and Solanaceae (3 species each). Our findings illustrate the most well known and cited species by women have a high rate of endemism or regional nativity. (Table 2).
Table 2

Species known to be medicinal by women in Mahabo-Mananivo

Family

Scientific name

Vernacular name

Part used

Disease treated

Distribution[[6],[25]]

AMARANTHACEAE

Amaranthus sp

Anampatsa

bark

intestinal parasites

 

AMARANTHACEAE

Chenopodium ambrosioides L.

Taimboritsiloza

Entire plant

Placental apposition - Parasites - Nosebleeds

Naturalized in Madagascar

ANACARDIACEAE

Mangifera indica L.

Manga

Bark Root

Evacuation of the placenta - Diarrhea - Hemorrhoid - Leucorrhoea - Dental Disease - Gonorrhea

Naturalized in Madagascar

ANACARDIACEAE

Rhus taratana (Baker) H. Perrier

Taranta

Leaf

Poisoning - Convulsions - Epilepsy - Stomach pain

Endemic to Madagascar

ANACARDIACEAE

Sclerocarya birrea (A. Rich.) Hochst.

Sakoa

Leaf

Venereal diseases - Sedative - Astringent - Spider Bite

Comoros, Africa

ANNONACEAE

Annona reticulata L.

Coeur de Boeuf

Leaf

Evacuation of the placenta

 

ANNONACEAE

Annona sp.

Sarisoky

Leaf

Stomach pain

 

APHLOIACEAE

Aphloia theiformis (Vahl) Benn.

Fandramana

Leaf, Bark

Evacuation of the placenta - Malaria - Tuberculosis - Sore throat - Heartburn

Comoros, Mascarenes, Seychelles, Africa

APOCYNACEAE

Catharanthus roseus (L.) G. Don

Vonenina

Entire plant, Root

Stomach pain - Pancreas pain - Cancer

Endemic to Madagascar

APOCYNACEAE

Petchia erythrocarpa (Vatke) Leeuwenb.

Hentona

Bark

Malaria

Comoros

APOCYNACEAE

Petchia madagascariensis (A. DC.) Leeuwenb.

Kabokala

Leaf

Insect bites

Endemic to Madagascar

APOCYNACEAE

Voacanga thouarsii Roem. & Schult.

Kaboky

Leaf- Latex - Roots - Bark-seeds

Evacuation of the placenta - Hypertension - Heart problems-wounds - Boils - Gonorrhea-Eczema - Scabies - Fungal Infections - Rheumatism - Stomach pain

Africa

AQUIFOLIACEAE

Ilex mitis (L.) Radlk.

Hazondrano

Leaf

Bad luck

Africa

ARACEAE

Colocasia esculenta (L.) Schott

Saonjo

Leaf

Evacuation of the placenta

Naturalized in Madagascar

ARACEAE

Typhonodorum lindleyanum Schott

Via

Leaf, heart

Evacuation of the placenta - Burn - hip problems

Comoros, Mascarenes, Africa

ARALIACEAE

Schefflera longipedicellata (Lecomte) Bernardi

Membolo - vatsila

 

Epilepsy - Cold - Gonorrhea

Endemic to Madagascar

ARALIACEAE

Schefflera sp.

Memboloha

Leaf

Albumin - Worms - Plague - Evacuation of placenta

 

ASCLEPIADACEAE

Pentopetia sp

Tandrokosy

Leaf, Stem

Eye disease - Jaundice - Gonorrhea

 

ASPARAGACEAE

Dracaena reflexa Lam.

Hasina

Leaf - stem

Evacuation of the placenta - Malaria - Epilepsy

Mascarenes, Africa

ASPARAGACEAE

Dracaena reflexa var. cernua (Jacq.) Baker

Fananaraha

Leaf - stem

Placental apposition - Thinning

 

ASPLENIACEAE

Asplenium sp.

Apanga malemy

Entire plant

gonorrhea

 

ASTERACEAE

Acanthospermum hispidum DC.

Bakakely

Leaf

Diarrhea

Africa

ASTERACEAE

Ageratum conyzoides L.

Ananjazavavy

flowers

Stomach pain

Naturalized in Madagascar

ASTERACEAE

Emilia sp.

Kitsitsona

Leaf

Eczema - Ulcer

 

ASTERACEAE

Emilia sp.

Tsiotsio

Leaf

Apposition of the placenta

 

ASTERACEAE

Helichrysum sp.

Aferombohitra

Leaf

Scabies

 

ASTERACEAE

Mimosa pudica L.

Ramoria

Leaf

Hepatitis - Albumin

Naturalized in Madagascar

ASTERACEAE

Psiadia altissima (DC.) Drake

Dinga

Leaf

Wounds

Endemic to Madagascar

ASTERACEAE

Sigesbeckia orientalis L.

Tsindaory

Leaf

Wounds

Naturalized in Madagascar

ASTERACEAE

Vernonia appendiculata Less.

Asotry

Leaf

tooth decay

Endemic to Madagascar

ASTERACEAE

Vernonia exserta Baker

Seva

Leaf

Chickenpox - Parasites

Endemic to Madagascar

ASTERACEAE

Vernoniopsis caudata (Drake) Humbert

Maranitry atoraky

Bark

Chickenpox

Endemic to Madagascar

ASTEROPEIACEAE

Asteropeia micraster Hallier f.

Manoky mena

Bark, Leaf

Evacuation of the placenta - Diarrhea - Fatigue - Mumps

Endemic to Madagascar

ASTEROPEIACEAE

Asteropeia multiflora Thouars

Manoky fotsy

Leaf Bark

Evacuation of the placenta - Malaria - Parasites - Dental Disease - Gonorrhea Fatigue

Endemic to Madagascar

BIGNONIACEAE

Phyllarthron madagascariense K. Schum.

Resiriky/ Zahana

Leaf

Malaria - Breastfeeding-Cough - disease of the hip

Endemic to Madagascar

BROMELIACEAE

Ananas comosus (L.) Merr.

Mananasy

 

Intestinal parasites - diarrhea

Tropics

BURSERACEAE

Protium sp

Ambihitry

Bark

Abscess - poisoning

 

CALOHPYLLACEAE

Calophyllum inophyllum L.

Vintanina

 

trigeminal neuralgia

Comoros, Africa, New World

CANELLACEAE

Cinnamosma fragrans Baill.

Kanely

Bark

Cold - intestinal parasite - Headaches - Against poison

Endemic to Madagascar

CANELLACEAE

Cinnamosma madagascariensis Danguy

Fotsinana

Bark, leaf

Evacuation of the placenta - Malaria - Hepatitis - Epilepsy - Intoxication - Dysentery - Carrie dental

Endemic to Madagascar

CANNABACEAE

Cannabis sativa L.

Rongony

Leaf

Liver disease

 

CARICACEAE

Carica papaya L.

Paza

Leaf, Fruit, seeds, roots

Breastfeeding - Headaches - Wounds - Menstrual Pain - Stomach: Ulcer Constipation - Indigestion - Boil - Cysticercosis - Toxoplasmosis - Cough - Yellow Fever - Tooth Decay

Tropics

COMBRETACEAE

Terminalia catappa L.

Atafa

Leaf

Ovarian cycle disruption - Albumin - Tension - Stomach pain

Madagascar, Comoros, Seychelles, Africa

CONNARACEAE

Agelaea pentagyna (Lam.) Baill.

Rangahtsara

Bark

Gonorrhea - Aphrodisiac - Stomach ache

Comoros, Mascarenes, Africa

CONVOLVULACEAE

Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.

Vomanga

Leaf

Pregnancy - Evacuation of the placenta - Insect stings

Naturalized in Madagascar

CRASSULACEAE

Kalanchoe prolifera (Bowie ex Hook.) Hamet

Silafafa

Leaf

Asthma - Cough - Rheumatism

Endemic to Madagascar

CUCURBITACEAE

Cucurbita maxima Duchesne

Voatavo

Leaf

Fever - colic

Naturalized in Madagascar

CYPERACEAE

Cyperus papyrus subsp. madagascariensis (Willd.) Kük.

Zozoro

 

Difficulty after childbirth - painful spasms

 

CYPERACEAE

Pycreus mundtii Cherm.

Ahibita

Entire plant

Evacuation of placenta-Malaria - Tuberculosis

Mascarenes, Africa, New World

EBENACEAE

Diospyros sp

Hazominty

Leaf

Malaria

 

ERICACEAE

Agauria salicifolia (Comm. ex Lam.) Hook. f. ex Oliv.

Haronga-panihy

Leaf

Scabies (Adult) - Wounds - Ulcers

Mascarenes, Africa

ERICACEAE

Erica sp.

Anjavidy

Leaf Stem leaves

Evacuation of placenta-Pneumonia - Syphilis

 

ERYTHROXYLACEAE

Erythroxylum ferrugineum Cav.

Menahihy

Bark Leaf

Evacuation of the placenta - Diarrhea - Anemia

Endemic to Madagascar

ERYTHROXYLACEAE

Erythroxylum gerrardii Baker

Fanjoana

Leaf Bark

Yellow fever - Epilepsy

Africa

EUPHORBIACEAE

Croton noronhae Baill.

Tsiavadika

Bark-Leaf

Placental apposition - Malaria - Cough

Endemic to Madagascar

EUPHORBIACEAE

Euphorbia hirta L.

Jean Robert

Entire plant

Gonorrhea - Dysentery - Albumin

Naturalized in Madagascar

EUPHORBIACEAE

Jatropha curcas L.

Savoa

Leaf Latex

Evacuation of placenta Asthma - Dental Disease - Pneumonia

Naturalized in Madagascar

EUPHORBIACEAE

Macaranga oblongifolia Baill.

Mokarana

Leaf

Malaria - Diarrhea

Endemic to Madagascar

EUPHORBIACEAE

Macaranga sp

Mokarana

Leaf

Diarrhea

 

EUPHORBIACEAE

Manihot utilissima Pohl

Kazaha

Leaf

Gonorrhea - painful spasms - Pneumonia - Boil

 

EUPHORBIACEAE

Suregada boiviniana Baill.

Lelangana

Leaf

Placental apposition - Dysentery - Epilepsy-Malaria

Endemic to Madagascar

FABACEAE

Albizia gummifera (J.F. Gmel.) C.A. Sm.

Volomborona

Leaf

Fatigue - Cough

Africa

FABACEAE

Cajanus cajan (L.) Huth

Ambatry

Leaf

Evacuation of the placenta - Tension

Naturalized in Madagascar

FABACEAE

Chamaecrista mimosoides (L.) Greene

Quatre épingles

Leaf

Thrush - Schistosomiasis

 

FABACEAE

Intsia bijuga (Colebr.) Kuntze

Hintsy

Leaf

Placental apposition - Cough

Mascarenes, Africa

FABACEAE

Mimosa pudica L.

Ramoria

 

Pelvic pain - Nervousness - Diuretic

Naturalized in Madagascar

FABACEAE

Senna alata (L.) Roxb.

Quatre épingles

Leaf

Hypertension

Naturalized in Madagascar

GENTIANACEAE

Tachiadenus carinatus (Desr.) Griseb.

Malanilava

Entire plant

Diarrhea

Endemic to Madagascar

GLEICHENIACEAE

Sticherus flagellaris (Bory ex Willd.) Ching

Ringotra

Leaf

Diarrhea - Measles - Vomiting - Coughing

Mascarenes, Comoros

HYPERICACEAE

Harungana madagascariensis Lam. ex Poir.

Harongana

Bud Leaf

Gonorrhea - heart disease - Albumin - Asthma - Boil-Diarrhea

Comoros, Mascarenes, Africa

ICACINACEAE

Cassinopsis madagascariensis Baill.

Valotry

Leaf - Bark

Cough - Itching - Syphilis

Endemic to Madagascar

LAMIACEAE

Ocimum gratissimum L.

Romba be

Leaf

Placental apposition - Asthma - Albumin - Headache - Dental Disease

Comoros, Mascarenes, Seychelles, Africa, Asia

LAMIACEAE

Salvia coccinea Buc’hoz ex Etl.

Romba madinika

Leaf

parasites

Naturalized in Madagascar

LAURACEAE

Persea americana Mill.

Zavoka

Leaf

Diarrhea - Apposition of placental - Cough

Naturalized in Madagascar

LECYTHIDACEAE

Barringtonia racemosa (L.) Spreng.

Fotatry

Leaf

Placental apposition - Scabies - Tetanus

Comoros, Australiasia, Africa

LILIACEAE

Asparagus simulans Baker

Ahitsifantatry

Entire plant

Epilepsy - Stomach pain

Endemic to Madagascar

LOMARIOPSIDACEAE

Nephrolepis cordifolia (L.) C. Presl

Mitsisiloha

Entire plant

Malaria

Mascarenes, Australasia, Seychelle, Afria, Asia, New World

LORANTHACEAE

Bakerella sp

Velomiato

Entire plant

Convulsion - Cough - Boil

 

LYCOPODIACEAE

Lycopodiella cernua (L.) Pic. Serm.

Tongotsokina

Entire plant

Asthma - Epilepsy - Pelvic Pain - Gonorrhea - Cough - Hypertension

Mascarenes, Africa, Asia, New World

LYCOPODIACEAE

Lycopodium clavatum L.

Dito

Leaf

Pregnant - Placental apposition - Gonorrhea - Filariasis - Malaria

Comoros, Mascarenes, Africa

MELASTOMACEAE

Clidemia hirta (L.) D. Don

Voatrotrokala

Leaf

Wounds

Naturalized in Madagascar

MELASTOMACEAE

Dichaetanthera sp

Felabarika

Leaf

diarrhea

 

MELASTOMACEAE

Medinilla

Takasina

 

Cough

 

MELIACEAE

Melia azedarach L.

Voandelaka

Leaf

Fatigue

Naturalized in Madagascar

MENIPERMACEAE

Burasaia australis Scott-Elliot

Sompatry

Leaf

Intoxication - Convulsion - Dental Disease - Malaria - Medicinal plant magic

Endemic to Madagascar

MOLLUGINACEAE

Mollugo nudicaulis Lam.

Aferotany

Entire plant

Malaria - Albumin - Convulsion - Cough - Diarrhea - Diarrhea - Blood loss - Scabies

Australasia, Africa, New World

MONIMIACEAE

Tambourissa castri-delphinii Cavaco

Amborabe

Leaf

Placental apposition - Dysentery

Endemic to Madagascar

MONIMIACEAE

Tambourissa parvifolia Baker

Ambora

Leaf

Filariasis - Loss of blood

Endemic to Madagascar

MORACEAE

Artocarpus altilis (Parkinson) Fosberg

Soanambo

Leaf

Diarrhea

 

MORACEAE

Ficus polita subsp. polita

Mandresy

Leaf

Placental apposition - bilious - Gonorrhea - Syphilis

 

MORACEAE

Ficus reflexa Thunb.

Laza

Leaf

Pelvic pain - Gonorrhea

Comoros, Mascarenes, Seychelles

MUSACEAE

Musa × paradisiaca L.

Akondro

Leaf - fruit

Placental apposition - Diabetes - Prevents tooth decay - Diarrhea - Wounds

Naturalized in Madagascar

MYRICACEAE

Morella spathulata (Mirb.) Verdc. & Polhill

Hazosiay

Leaf

Placental apposition - Malaria - Cough - Stomach Pain - Dental Disease- Injury

Africa

MYRISTICACEAE

Brochoneura acuminata (Lam.) Warb.

Raraha

Leaf

Injury - Scabies - Abscess

Endemic to Madagascar

MYRTACEAE

Melaleuca

Kininy bonaky

Leaf

Placental apposition - Cold

Naturalized in Madagascar

MYRTACEAE

Psidium cattleyanum Sabine

Angavombazaha

Leaf

Diarrhea

Naturalized in Madagascar

MYRTACEAE

Psidium guajava L.

Angavogasy

Leaf

Malaria - Colic stomach - diarrhea - dysentery

Naturalized in Madagascar

MYRTACEAE

Psidium guajava L.

Angavofotsy

Leafs Roots

Diarrhea - Vomiting Boil

Naturalized in Madagascar

MYRTACEAE

Syzygium aromaticum (L.) Merr. & L.M. Perry

Jirofo

Leaf

Placental apposition - Dental Disease - Malaria

 

MYRTACEAE

Syzygium bernieri (Drake) Labat & G.E. Schatz

Rotry

Bark-Leaf

Placental apposition - diarrhea - Dentistry Diseases - Scabies

Endemic to Madagascar

MYRTACEAE

Syzygium emirnense (Baker) Labat & G.E. Schatz

Rotry

Bark-Leaf

Placental apposition - Dentistry Diseases - Scabies

Mascarenes

NEPENTHACEAE

Nepenthes madagascariensis Poir.

Kapilanomba

Entire plantEau dans l’urne

Adhesion of placental-malaria-Albumin - Filariasis - Gonorrhea Syphilis-ear disease

Endemic to Madagascar

NYMPHEACEAE

Nymphaea nouchali Burm. f.

Tatamo

Tubers

Hemorrhoids - Pelvic Pain

Comoros, Mascarenes, Africa, Asia

OLACACEAE

Olax emirnensis Baker

Soazanahary

Leaf

Placental apposition - Malaria - Hepatitis - Epilepsy - Self-defense against witchcraft - Dysentery - Fatigue - Medicinal plant magic

Endemic to Madagascar

OPHIOGLOSSACEAE

Ophioglossum L.

Tsipanga

Leaf

Childbirth

 

ORCHIDACEAE

Angraecum sp.

Valily

Entire plant

fortifying

 

PANDANACEAE

Pandanus sp

Vakoana

Leaf

Fatigue - Impotence

 

PASSIFLORACEAE

Passiflora edulis Sims

Garana

Leaf

Tension - Parasites

naturalized in Madagascar

PHYLLANTHACEAE

Phyllanthus sp

Masombero

Leaf

Apposition of the placenta

 

PHYSENACEAE

Physena madagascariensis Thouars ex Tul.

Resojo

Bark

Sore throat - Anemia - Against poison

Endemic to Madagascar

PIPERACEAE

Piper nigrum L.

Poivre

Seeds

Dental disease - Poultice - Joint pain

 

PITTOSPORACEAE

Pittosporum verticillatum Bojer

Memboloha

Leaf- Bark

Malaria - Adhesion of placental

Endemic to Madagascar

POACEAE

Cymbopogon citratus (DC.) Stapf

Veromanitra

Entire plant

Fever

Australasia/Pacific, Africa, Asia, New World

POACEAE

Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers.

Kindresy

Entire plant

Albumin - Malaria - Liver Disease - Menstrual Pain - Laxative

Australasia, Africa, New World

POACEAE

Eleusine indica (L.) Gaertn.

Tsipihipihina

Entire plant

Stomach pain

Africa, Asia, New World

POACEAE

Hyparrhenia rufa (Nees) Stapf

Verofehana

Entire plant

Epilepsy - Cracks skin of the feet

Africa, Asia, New World

POACEAE

Imperata cylindrica (L.) Raeusch.

Tenina

Leaf

Intoxication - Gonorrhea - Pneumonia - Tonsillitis - Measles - Tension

Naturalized in Madagascar

POACEAE

Oryza sativa L.

Vary

Bud

birth

cultivated in Madagascar

POACEAE

Panicum maximum Jacq.

Ahitry

Leafs

Wounds

Madagascar, Africa, New World

POACEAE

Sporobolus africanus (Poir.) Robyns & Tournay

Ahitry

Entire plant

Allergy

Australasia, Africa, New World

POACEAE

Zea mays L.

Katsaka

Barbe

gonorrhea

cultivated in Madagascar

POLYGONACEAE

Persicaria senegalensis (Meisn.) Soják

Fotsimbarinako

Root

Malaria

Naturalized in Madagascar

RUBIACEAE

Canthium sp.

Fotsikahitry

Leaf

Epilepsy

 

RUBIACEAE

Coffea sp.

Kafe

Leaf

Malaria

 

RUBIACEAE

Danais cernua Baker

Fangalalemy

Leaf Bark

Syphilis - Tooth Decay

Endemic to Madagascar

RUBIACEAE

Paederia foetida L.

Ahimembo

Leaf

Evacuation of the placenta - Headaches

 

RUBIACEAE

Psychotria sp

Sariloa

Leaf

diarrhea

 

RUTACEAE

Cedrelopsis grevei Baill.

Hafatraina

Leaf Bark

Stomachaches - Acne

Endemic to Madagascar

RUTACEAE

Citrus aurantium L.

Voasary makirana

Fruit

Cough - Malaria

Naturalized in Madagascar

RUTACEAE

Citrus sinensis (L.) Osbeck

Voangy gasy

Leaf

Evacuation of placenta-Malaria

 

SALICACEAE

Homalium axillare (Lam.) Benth.

Fotsiakara

Bark

burns

Endemic to Madagascar

SALICACEAE

Scolopia sp

Hazofotsy

Bark

Rheumatism

 

SAPINDACEAE

Litchi chinensis Sonn.

Letchis

Leaf

diarrhea

cultivated in Madagascar

SARCOLAENACEAE

Leptolaena pauciflora Baker

Fatra

Bark

Syphilis

Endemic to Madagascar

SARCOLAENACEAE

Sarcolaena multiflora Thouars

Hela

Leaf

Evacuation of placenta

Endemic to Madagascar

SCHIZACACEAE

Lygodium lanceolatum Desv.

Sofin’akanga

Leaf

Pancrea pain - Gonorrhea - Tension - Evacuation of placenta

Native to Madagascar

SIMARUBACEAE

Quassia sp.

Rembiky

Leaf

Aphrodisiac

 

SMILACEAE

Smilax anceps Willd.

Roindambo

Leaf

Convulsion - Pregnancy - Fatigue - Boil

Comoros, Mascarenes, Africa

SOLANACEAE

Capsicum annuum L.

Sakaipilo

Fruit

Rheumatism - Pain

Naturalized in Madagascar

SOLANACEAE

Datura inoxia Mill.

Ramiary

Leaf

Asthma - Calming

Naturalized in Madagascar

SOLANACEAE

Nicotiana tabacum L.

Paraky

Leaf

Nosebleed

Naturalized in Madagascar

SOLANACEAE

Solanum erythracanthum Bojer ex Dunal

Angivy

Fruit

Cough

Endemic to Madagascar

STILBACEAE

Nuxia capitata Baker

Valanirana

Leaf

Cough - Tonic - Tapeworm

Endemic to Madagascar

STRELITZIACEAE

Ravenala madagascariensis Sonn.

Ravinala

Leaf

Tension

Endemic to Madagascar

TACCACEAE

Tacca leontopetaloides (L.) Kuntze

Tavolo

Tuber

Malnutrition

Naturalized in Madagascar

THYMELACEAE

Gnidia danguyana Leandri

Avoha

Leaf

Bleeding - Parasites

Endemic to Madagascar

ULMACEAE

Trema orientalis (L.) Blume

Andrarezina / Vakoky

Leaf

Evacuation of the placenta - Dental Disease

Africa

VACCINACEAE

Vaccinium sp.

Voakaramy

Leaf

Anemia - Diabetes

 

ZINGIBERACEAE

Aframomum angustifolium (Sonn.) K. Schum.

Longoza

Leaf

Splinter

Africa

ZINGIBERACEAE

Curcuma longa L.

Tamotamo

Leaf

Albumin - Pregnancy - Malaria - Jaundice Viral

 

ZINGIBERACEAE

Hedychium coronarium J. Koenig

Longoza

Leaf

Evacuation of the placenta - Scabies

 

ZINGIBERACEAE

Zingiber officinale Roscoe

Sakaintany

Tuber - Leaf

Pregnancy: Nausea - Evacuation of placenta-cough-diarrhea

 

Complete list of the vernacular names, scientific identification, use and distribution of all the species mentioned during ethnobotanical interviews.

Medicinal plants are mainly used in the care of the digestive system (53.95%), followed by reproductive system (49.34%), then the circulatory system with 42.76%. Then, the plants used against skin diseases have a frequency of use of 28.29%, those used against diseases of the respiratory system with 20.39%. Eighteen percent (18%) of plants are taken for the care of diseases related to nervous systems, those used against diseases associated with hearing and visual are a minority (0.66% only) (Figure 2).
Figure 2

Frequency of diseases mentioned as treated by a medicinal species.

In the rural commune of Mahabo-Mananivo, leaves are most often cited as the part used for medicinal treatment, followed by bark and entire plant. Decoction is the most used method of preparation with a percentage of 51.60%. It is followed by infusions (13.07%), fumigation (12.40%), poultice (10.45%), maceration (4.58%), inhalation (3.90%), dusting (2.60%) and drops (1.40%) (Figure 3).
Figure 3

Distribution of type of plant part used (a.) and method of medicinal administration. (b.) Percentage of citations for plant parts used and method of administration for medicinal plant treatment as reported during the interviews. Some plants are noted as having multiple medicinal uses with multiple parts of plants utilized.

Among the medicinal plants collected, a majority are sourced from the littoral forest of Agnalazaha while the cultivated fields, weedy disturbed areas, marshes, savannah, savoka (fallow fields), and river follow up (Table 3).
Table 3

Frequency of localities where medicinal plants are sourced near and around Agnalazaha Forest

Sampled locations

 

Forest

Marsh

Savanna

Savoka

River

Cultivated

Disturbed areas

Frequency (%)

40

11

7

4

4

20

14

Discussion

Our focus on the use of medicinal plants by women of Mahabo-Mananivo reinforced the notion that female caregivers are the first line of health care in many Malagasy homes. We found that traditionally, men collect the medicinal plants while women were mostly responsible for the drying, storage and preparation of the plant to take care of the family members. Reproductive, prenatal and postpartum health were the most frequently cited use for medicinal plants in women’s health, a trend seen worldwide [26], however, the women’s pharmacopeia was not limited to reproductive and childbirth care and many medicinal species from Agnalazaha Forest are used to treat multiple diseases. We found eight native species that were very well known, and were used to treat multiple diseases. Voacanga thouarsii is used during childbirth and for the treatment of gonorrhea, syphilis, mycosis, wounds, hypertension and is also used for the care of the digestive tract and stomach ulcers. Cinnamosma madagascariensis treats dental decay and general oral care, malaria, and for care of complications after childbirth. Olax emirnensis is used during childbirth, and to treat malaria, hepatitis, epilepsy, dysentery, fatigue, and thought to have magical properties and to provide protection against witchcraft. Syzygium emirnense is used in childbirth, diarrhea, dental disease, and scabies. Nepenthes madagascariensis is used during childbirth, and for treatment of malaria, filariasis, ear infections, syphilis, and gonorrhea. Phyllarthron madagascariense is taken to support breastfeeding, to treat malaria and combat fatigue. Suregada boiviniana helps to evacuate the placenta and treat epilepsy, dysentery, and malaria. Asteropeia micraster also helps to evacuate the placenta and treat diarrhea, fatigue and mumps. Our study found that many of the medicinal species sourced from Agnalazaha Forest were also utilized for other daily living needs. Native medicinal species may also be used as timber, construction materials, and firewood. Conservation concerns mostly lie in the overuse of these valuable daily living species. Conversations with community members highlighted the concern and interest they had for protecting the natural resource of Agnalazaha Forest while ensuring the forest could still be used. It is our goal that through careful ethnobotanical studies of the modern use of Agnalazaha Forest, we can help the community of Mahabo-Mananivo understand their forest use and establish community driven sustainable conservation plans.

Conclusions

This study highlighted the diversity of medicinal plants used by women and female healers in the Commune of Mahabo-Mananivo. From the perspective of plant diversity, 152 species of medicinal plants in 134 genera and 79 families were identified during the ethnobotanical surveys. First, there is widespread use of medicinal plants that affect the digestive, reproductive and circulatory system. The eight native species widely used are Cinnamosma madagascariensis, Voacanga thouarsii, Nepenthes madagascariensis, Syzigium emirnense, Olax emirnensis, Phyllarthron madagarascariensis, Suregada boiviana, and Asteropeia micraster. This work is only the beginning of a comprehensive study on the ethnobotany of medicinal plants utilized by the community Mahabo-Mananivo from the Agnalazaha Forest. Further studies encompassing ecophysiological, pharmacological and ecological studies are necessary to build a more complete picture on how these rare and compelling littoral forests are used. By documenting the use littoral forest species, we hope to add to the value of these rare forests but also highlight the importance of biodiversity on the health and wellbeing of a community.

Declarations

Acknowledgements

We extend our thanks to the Missouri Botanical Garden and the Plant Biology and Ecology Department for their cooperation which allowed us to carry out research work. We thank our supervisors for their valuable advice, encouragement and methodological guidelines that have allowed us to push this work forward.

We also thank the people in Mahabo-Mananivo, particularly the women and female healers and local guides for graciously providing us with their time and invaluable information.

Authors’ Affiliations

(1)
Department of Plant Biology and Ecology, Faculty of Science, University of Antananarivo
(2)
Madagascar Research and Conservation Program, Missouri Botanical Garden
(3)
Missouri Botanical Garden, William L. Brown Center

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Copyright

© Razafindraibe et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2013

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.