Medicinal Plants Used as Insect Repellents in Malaria-Endemic Localities of Cameroon

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Ethnobotanical survey of medicinal plants used as insects repellents in six malaria endemic localities of Cameroon

Youmsi RDF, Fokou PVT, Menkem EZ, Bakarnga-Via I, Keumoe R, Nana V, Boyom FF
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2017 Jun 8;13(1):3
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5465592

Investigators from the University of Yaoundé, University of Adam Barka-Abeche, and National Herbarium of Cameroon conducted an ethnobotanical survey of medicinal plants used as insect repellents in six malaria-endemic localities of Cameroon: Lolodorf, Bipindi, Kribi-Londji, Dimako, Kon-Yambetta, and Mbouda (Babete). The inhabitants of these regions include Bagyeli, Bakola, and Baka pygmies, among others.

Citrus limon
Citrus limon [Photo: WAH]
Working with 182 local informants, the team identified 16 plant species commonly used as insect repellents, including Canarium schweinfurthii, Chromolaena odorata, Citrus limon, and Elaeis guineensis. Important modes of administration included plants burnt to produce smoke inside the house (50%), smashed for topical application (31%), and hung inside the house (19%).

The authors concluded that the results have baseline potential for further scientific investigation of plant-based mosquito repellents, while urging caution regarding the use of one plant, Erythrophleum ivorense:

“[T]he insecticidal activity of the bark extract of Erythrophleum ivorense was previously reported in the Ashanti region of Ghana. Besides, Erythrophleum ivorense is resistant to fungi, dry wood borers and termites. This denotes repellency/insecticidal properties that might be explained by the presence of pharmacologically active alkaloids in the bark and seed such as cassaine, cassaidine and erythrophleguine. However, it should be noted that high doses of the bark extract are extremely strong, rapid-acting cardiac poison in warm-blooded animals causing shortness of breath, seizures and cardiac arrest in a few minutes. Furthermore, the seeds are reported to be more toxic due to a strong haemolytic saponin which acts synergistically with the alkaloids. Fresh bark of this plant was reported to be burnt by Mbamda (Bafia) people to repel in-house mosquitoes. Given the presence of toxic alkaloids in the bark, the resulting smokes are highly likely to be equally poisonous to insects and human, stressing the fact that it should be used with caution or simply discontinued.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

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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.

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