Ethno-medicinal study of plants used for treatment of human and livestock ailments by traditional healers in South Omo, Southern Ethiopia
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Background: Plants have traditionally been used for treatment of human and livestock ailments in Ethiopia by different ethnic and social groups. However, this valuable source of knowledge is not adequately documented, which impedes their widespread use, evaluation and validation. Here, we recorded indigenous knowledge and standard practices for human and livestock disease control, of three ethnic groups (Aari, Maale and Bena-Tsemay) in South Omo Zone of Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Regional State, Ethiopia. Methods: A cross-sectional study was carried out using a semi-structured questionnaire to document knowledge of 50 traditional healers (40 male and 10 female) in medicinal plant use for treatment of human and livestock ailments. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze and summarize the ethno-botanical data. Results: Ninety-one plants, with claimed medicinal properties against a total of 34 human and livestock ailments, were reported and botanically identified as belonging to 57 genera and 33 plant families. Most of the plant species reported belonged to one of seven major families: Lamiaceae, Solanaceae, Menispermiaceae, Fabaceae, Asteraceae, Plumbaginaceae and Geraniaceae. Woody plants (shrubs 21% and trees 29%) were the major growth form used, whilst roots (40%) and leaves (35%) were the major plant parts used in the study areas. Healers mostly practice oral administration of plant preparations (65%). Multiple medicinal plants were cited against particular ailments, and mixing of two or more different medicinal plants (14.3%) against a single ailment was also commonly reported. Conclusion: This study showed that traditional medicine, mainly involving the use of medicinal plants, is playing a significant role in meeting the primary healthcare needs of the three ethnic groups. Acceptance of traditional medicine and limited access to modern healthcare facilities could be considered as the main factors for the continuation of the practice. Documented knowledge of the traditional healers can be used to support the country’s human and livestock health care system and improve lives and livelihoods. Information generated will be used in future studies to validate bioactivity of selected medicinal plants used by traditional healers, so to increase their acceptability in health care systems both nationally and internationally.
Journal Title/Title of Proceedings
Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine
Copyright © 2013 Tolossa et al.; licensee 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.