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Review

Ethnomedicinal plants used for snakebite treatments in Ethiopia: a comprehensive overview

Abraham Yirgu and Jean-Philippe Chippaux

J Venom Anim Toxins incl Trop Dis, 2019, 25:e20190017
Received: 03 April 2019 | Accepted: 07 June 2019 | Published online: 05 August 2019
http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/1678-9199-JVATITD-2019-0017

Abstract

Traditional medicine plays an important role in the daily lives of people living in rural parts of Ethiopia. Despite the fact that Ethiopia has a long history of using traditional medicinal plants as an alternative medicine source, there is no checklist compiling these plants used for snakebite treatment. This review collected and compiled available knowledge on and practical usage of such plants in the country. A literature review on medicinal plants used to treat snakebites was conducted from 67 journal articles, PhD dissertation and MSc theses available online. Data that summarize scientific and folk names, administration methods, plant portion used for treatment and method of preparation of recipes were organized and analyzed based on citation frequency. The summarized results revealed the presence of 184 plant species distributed among 67 families that were cited for treating snakebite in Ethiopia. In this literature search, no single study was entirely dedicated to the study of traditional medicinal plants used for the treatment of snakebite in Ethiopia. Most of the species listed as a snakebite remedy were shrubs and climbers (44%) followed by herbs (33%) and trees (23%). Fabaceae was the most predominant family with the greatest number of species, followed by Solanaceae and Vitaceae. Remedies are mainly prepared from roots and leaves, through decoctions, infusions, powders and juices. Most remedies were administered orally (69%). The six most frequently mentioned therapeutically important plants were Nicotiana tabacum, Solanum incanum, Carissa spinanrum, Calpurnia aurea, Croton macrostachyus and Cynodon dactylon. Authors reviewed the vegetal substances involved in snakebite management and their action mode. In addition to screening the biologically active ingredients and pharmacological activities of these plant materials, future studies are needed to emphasize the conservation and cultivation of important medicinal plants of the country.

 

Keywords: Ethnobotany, Medicinal plant, Traditional treatment, Snakebite, Envenomation, Sub-Saharan Africa, Ethiopia.

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