Medicinal Plants Used by the Oromo People of Ethiopia’s Ghimbi District

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Medicinal plants used in traditional medicine by Oromo people, Ghimbi District, Southwest Ethiopia

Abera B
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2014 May 8;10:40
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4060869
Map of Ethiopia highlighting the Oromia Region
Map of Ethiopia highlighting the Oromia Region (Source: Wikimedia Commons User:Golbez)

Balcha Abera of Jimma University conducted an ethnobotanical study to identify the most effective medicinal plants used by the Oromo people of Ethiopia’s Ghimbi District, within the Oromia National Regional State.

Allium sativum
Allium sativum [source: William Woodville: „Medical botany“, London, James Phillips, 1793, Vol. 3 Plate 168: Allium sativum (Garlic), Wikimedia Commons]
Working with 30 key informants and 165 community members, Abera documented 49 medicinal plant species used to treat various human ailments, the majority of which were collected from the wild and the rest from homegardens. Three species demonstrated particularly high healing potential: Glinus lotoides (against tapeworm infection), Croton macrostachyus (against malaria), and Allium sativum (against malaria and other diseases).

Abera notes that the transfer of indigenous ethnobotanical knowledge in the region is declining from generation to generation, from a number of causes:

“Regarding the current transfer of indigenous knowledge [this study] confirmed that the traditional knowledge is declined from elder to younger age groups. On top of this, during specimen collection, interview and field visits elders express their interest by demonstration how to collect, process, administer, and prescribe medicinal plants and with great beliefs of the traditional medicine on its effectiveness on treating the diseases while the young generation showed low participation in all aspects. Thus, decreasing positive attitude towards use of medicinal plants in traditional medicine by young generation indicate the loss of vital indigenous knowledge…. Moreover, the decline of the traditional knowledge in generation is due to the … interference of and shifts to the use of more synthetic drugs not only in the urban but also extending to the rural areas…. Moreover, most of the African modern health professionals greatly undermine the contribution of traditional medicine in health care system while the scientists of developed nations intensively search for medicinal plants to seek a solution for the old and newly rising diseases. All these factors may result to a loss of this rich and useful knowledge which has been accumulated over many generations.”

He recommends incorporation of indigenous ethnobotanical knowledge into formal education before it is lost.

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

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