Traditional Use of Insect-Repellent Plants Against Malaria in Ethiopia

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Insect repellent plants traditional usage practices in the Ethiopian malaria epidemic-prone setting: an ethnobotanical survey

Karunamoorthi K, Hailu T
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2014 Feb 12;10:22
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3932844

Jimma Zone, southwest of Addis Ababa
Jimma Zone is southwest of Addis Ababa (center of map) [source: USAID/Ehiopia Map Room, Wikimedia Commons]
Kaliyaperumal Karunamoorthi and Teklu Hailu of Jimma University conducted an ethnobotanical survey to document and evaluate knowledge and usage practices of the local inhabitants on insect-repellent plants in Bechobore Kebele, Jimma Zone, Ethiopia, an area where malaria remains a leading cause of morbidity and mortality.

From the Background:

“In Ethiopia, burning of dried repellent plants is one of the common phenomena to drive away insects and mosquitoes. It is usually performed by using the traditional charcoal stove (thermal expulsion) in the early evenings. In the recent years, a revived interest has been observed among the health-conscious consumers with the plant-based repellents because of their low mammalian and non-target toxicity than their synthetic counterparts. Consequently, the exploding demands and falling supply insists to conduct more ethnobotanical survey in order to formulate risks-reduced/green pesticides and repellents from the traditionally used repellent plants.”

Cupressus lusitanica
Cupressus lusitanica [source: Toby Hudson, Wikimedia Commons]
The team identified 22 plants used by the local inhabitants against mosquitoes and other insect and arachnid pests, including ticks, bedbugs, and houseflies. Commonly used insect-repellent plants included Gatirra Habasha (Cupressus lusitanica), Akaakltii Adii (Eucalyptus globulus), and Bakanissa (Croton macrostachyus). A number of respondents reported using a mixture of various repellent plants stem, root, resin, leaves and bark, called Shita.

The authors note that their findings suggest “a steady decline/erosion of knowledge and practices of repellent plants,” against which ethnobotanical surveys such as this one “may serve as a connecting-link to transfer the practical knowledge and traditional practices from the older to younger generations,” and “lay the first stone to devise affordable user-friendly next generation vector control tools to minimize the vector-borne disease burden especially malaria in the near future.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

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