Knowledge of Herbal Medicine & Medicinal Plants in Fiche, Ethiopia


The current status of knowledge of herbal medicine and medicinal plants in Fiche, Ethiopia

Elizabeth d’Avigdor, Hans Wohlmuth, Zemede Asfaw, and Tesfaye Awas
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed
2014, 10:38
Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine

Researchers at Southern Cross University and Addis Ababa University conducted an ethnobotanical study in the rural town of Fiche in Ethiopia, which also explored the maintenance of tradition
and in the passing on of knowledge about medicinal plants. Community members and a professional herbalist provided information about 73 medicinal plants used locally.

Artemisia absinthium
Artemisia absinthium (Source: Wikimedia Commons user David Monniaux)

Medicinal species surveyed included Artemisia absinthium, Echinops kebericho, Glinus lotoides, Guizotia abyssinica, Lepidum sativum, Lippia adoensis, Nigella sativa, Ocimum basilicum, Olea europea, Otostegia fruticosa, Rhamnus prioides, Rosmarinus officinalis, Ruta chalepensis, Thymus schimperi, and Trigonella foenum-graecum. The team collected specimens of 53 of the plants for deposit with the Ethiopian Institute of Biodiversity Herbarium.

The authors note that “community members are knowledgeable about recognition of medicinal plants and their usage to treat common ailments, and they continue to use herbs to treat sickness as they have in the past. A willingness to share knowledge was demonstrated by both the professional herbalist and lay informants. Participants are aware of the threat to the continued existence of the plants and the knowledge about their use, and showed willingness to take steps to address the situation.”

From the conclusion:

“If Ethiopians lose their traditional herbal medicine – either the knowledge, or the plants or both – they will lose the ability to provide herbal treatment for their families. If they are also unable to access conventional medicine either through lack of affordability or availability, as is still the case in many rural areas particularly, they would be in an unenviable situation. Ethnobotanical, ethnomedical and anthropological research must continue in Ethiopia in order to understand the cultural, sociological and practical considerations that inform the wider community at institutional and governmental level. In the future, Ethiopians should be able to take advantage of opportunities to develop the potential of their rich medicinal plant resources via documentation of knowledge of use and pharmacological investigation of medicinal properties of the plants. Integration of traditional herbal medicine with outreach medical services may be a beneficial outcome of supporting further investigations in Ethiopia’s medicinal herb lore.”

Working with the Fiche community and local partners, and in joint partnership with the Global Development Group, the lead author, Elizabeth d’Avigdor, has developed a project, Botanica Ethiopia: A Living Pharmacy, focusing “on how traditional herbal medicine can continue to support the health of Ethiopian families and the wider community.”

Read the complete article at Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.