Medicinal Plants of the Oromo People in Harla


Ethnomedicinal plants used to treat human ailments in the prehistoric place of Harla and Dengego valleys, eastern Ethiopia

Anteneh Belayneh and Negussie F Bussa
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed
2014 Feb 5;10(1):18
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3933041
Dire Dawa Administrative Region, Ethiopia
Dire Dawa Administrative Region, Ethiopia (Source: Wikimedia Commons, USAID Ethiopia Map Room)

Researchers at Haramaya University undertook a comprehensive ethnomedicinal investigation of the indigenous Oromo community living in the prehistoric Harla and Dengego valleys “in an attempt to safeguard the deteriorating ethnomedicinal knowledge that can be used as a steppingstone for phytochemical and pharmacological analysis.”

The team identified a total of 83 traditional medicinal plant species against human ailments, based on interviews with 55 informants including 10 traditional herbalists, discussions, and guided field walks.

Aloe harlana
Aloe harlana (Source: Wikimedia Commons User Raffi Kojian (

Medicinal species with the highest frequency of citation included Aloe megalacantha, Cissampelos mucronata, Aloe harlana, and Ocimum lamiifolium.

The authors discuss the historical context of the medicinal plant knowledge of the Oromo people:

“The Oromo people who currently inhabit the prehistoric Harla and the entire catchments might be the descendents of the former Harla people of the Harla kingdom which had been ruled between 13th to 16th centuries. They are expected to be the guardians of valuable indigenous knowledge on the use of traditional medicinal plants of their surroundings, which they use for treating human and livestock ailments. Scientific investigations indicated that there is an endemic plant species named after this prehistoric place called Aloe harlana Reynolds due to its availability only in Harla locality. It has been traditionally used by the Oromo people in Harla for the treatment of various infectious and inflammatory diseases. The latex and isolated compounds of A. harlana possess promising antimicrobial activity particularly against the Gram-negative bacterial strains such as Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhi and Vibrio cholerae. Unpublished documents suggested that there are many more potential medicinal plants in this unique geographic setting and complex landscape areas.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

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