Herbalism of Marakwet District, Kenya

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A study of the medicinal plants used by the Marakwet Community in Kenya

Wilson Kipkore, Bernard Wanjohi, Hillary Rono, and Gabriel Kigen
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed
2014 Feb 20;10(1):24
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3974104
Rift Valley Province, Kenya
Rift Valley Province, Kenya (Source: Wikimedia Commons User: TUBS)

Researchers from the University of Eldoret, Ministry of Health, and Moi University School of Medicine undertook a study on medicinal plants used by herbalists in Marakwet district of the Rift Valley Province, Kenya.

The authors describe the ecological diversity of Marakwet district:

“The district is one of the most forested in the country, with natural forests covering 43% of the land, a total of 65, 000 hectares. In addition, unlike other regions of Kenya such as the Mau forest, it has relatively not suffered heavy deforestation, and is a source of many streams which feed Lake Victoria in the Western part, and Lake Turkana in the East. Cherangani Hills is part of the five main closed forests areas in Kenya that are protected by the government. The others are the Aberdares, Mount Kenya, Mount Elgon and South West Mau. Although still heavily forested, Cherangani now faces risk of serious degradation due to illegal forest clearing. The escarpment region is about 1000 m, and is part of the Great Rift Valley. It is mainly semi arid with temperatures rising up to 35°C.
“The geographical landscape provides a uniquely wide topography, with a rich biodiversity comprising of different plant species, and in some instances largely undisturbed indigenous forests. The plant biodiversity in the Valley is particularly luxuriant and varied especially on the escarpment. Stunted trees, shrubs, succulents (Sanseviera spp.), and myriad of plants grow here in profusion. The herbalists use the numerous plants found throughout the diverse ecosystems from the Kerio Valley to the highlands.”

The team identified 111 plants with medicinal or related uses, based on interviews with more than a hundred practicing herbalists. The most commonly used medicinal plants were Warburgia ugandensis, Zanthoxylum chalybeum, and Indigofera arrecta, as well as six species of Acacia.

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

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