Medicinal Plant Knowledge in Ankober District, Ethiopia


Ethnomedicinal study of plants used for human ailments in Ankober District, North Shewa Zone, Amhara Region, Ethiopia

Ermias Lulekal, Zemede Asfaw, Ensermu Kelbessa, and Patrick Van Damme
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed
2013 Jan 10;9:4
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3846447
Amhara Region of Ethiopia
Amhara Region of Ethiopia (Source: Wikimedia Commons User: TUBS)

Researchers at Ghent University, Addis Ababa University, and Czech University of Life Sciences Prague undertook a study aimed at documenting and analyzing the medicinal plant knowledge of the indigenous people of the Ankober District in the Amhara Region of north-central Ethiopia.

From the Introduction:

“The knowledge on traditional medicinal plants of Ethiopia which was developed for millennia is now subjected to loss since it has mainly been stored in the memories of elderly peoples and handed down mostly by word of mouth for successive generations. Moreover, deforestation, overexploitation, overgrazing, habitat loss and degradation, agricultural land expansion and acculturation continuously threat Ethiopian traditional medicinal plants and linked knowledge. Hence, it is a timely endeavour to investigate, document and analyze traditional knowledge on medicinal plants and associated knowledge drivers, so that sound medicinal plant utilization and management practices can be maintained. Moreover, it provides the opportunity for recognition, promotion, management and protection of indigenous knowledge of a community on medicinal plants as vital part of a nation’s heritage, beside calling policy makers, natural resource managers, stake holders and cultural practitioners for conservation actions.”

Hagenia abyssinica
Hagenia abyssinica (Source: Wikimedia Commons; Franz Eugen Köhler, Köhler’s Medizinal-Pflanzen [public domain])
The team identified 135 medicinal plant species used to treat human diseases including gastrointestinal, parasitic, and dermatological diseases among others. Important medicinal plants included Zehneria scabra, Hagenia abyssinica, Podocarpus falcatus, and Olea europaea.

This comprehensive paper covers the diversity of medicinal plants in the region, the indigenous knowledge of the community, disease types and treatment methods, the plant parts used for remedy preparation, modes of preparation and application, marketability of medicinal plants, efficacy of medicinal plants, indigenous knowledge transfer, and conservation practices.

An extensive discussion section concludes with a number of practical recommendations:

“Generally, although Ankober District was found to be rich in medicinal plant diversity, the effort to conserve the plants and associated indigenous knowledge was observed to be very poor. The effort from some traditional practitioners to cultivate medicinal plants at home gardens calls for a sustained governmental support to promote overall in situ and ex situ conservation strategies for medicinal plants of the District. It is also recommended to establish a traditional healers’ association in the District and strengthen members by providing professional support and land to establish as much medicinal plant nurseries as possible so as to conserve the fast-eroding medicinal plant wealth of the area.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

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.