Villagers’ Knowledge of Medicinal Plants Around Madagascar’s Analavelona Forest Shows Promise for Conservation


The most used medicinal plants by communities in Mahaboboka, Amboronabo, Mikoboka, Southwestern Madagascar

Randrianarivony TN, Ramarosandratana AV, Andriamihajarivo TH, Rakotoarivony F, Jeannoda VH, Randrianasolo A, Bussmann RW
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2017 Mar 9;13(1):19
PubMed Central: PMC5345199

Investigators from the Missouri Botanical Garden and University of Antananarivo conducted a study to document local use of medicinal plants in three communities around Madagascar’s Analavelona Forest.

Writing in the Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine, Tabita N. Randrianarivony and co-authors note that while Madagascar hosts one of the world’s richest natural heritages, the island nation is one of the world’s poorest:

Madagascar hosts one of the richest natural heritage in the world but is classified among the least developed countries with low Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita estimated at 409$ in 2015. This poverty contributes to a rapid loss of biodiversity in a country, where exploiting natural resources are the unique available sources of incomes for most of people living in rural areas. Due to health facilities that do not meet standards, together with poor sanitary infrastructures and unmotivated medical staff, unaffordable drug costs and high consulting fees, use of medicinal plants is now often part of the first resort delivered and the only accessible therapy to people from several localities in Madagascar including communities from remote areas like Mahaboboka, Mikoboka and Amboronabo.

Based on interviews with villagers in the Mahaboboka, Amboronabo, and Mikoboka communities, the team documented 235 medicinal plant species used to treat various ailments including disorders of the blood and cardiovascular system; digestive system disorders; dental health and cranial system problems; general ailments; infectious diseases; musculoskeletal disorders; nervous system disorders; problems of pregnancy, birth, and puerperium; reproductive system disorders; respiratory system disorders; sensory system disorders; and veterinary ailments.

Leonotis nepetifolia
Leonotis nepetifolia [Source: Kurt Stueber, Wikimedia Commons]
Widely reported medicinal plants included Acridocarpus excelsus, Cedrelopsis grevei, Henonia scoparia, Leonotis nepetifolia, and Strychnos henningsii.

The authors point a way forward to sustainable use of Madagascar’s medicinal plants, many of which are endangered, encouraging collaboration with the local inhabitants, who have a sophisticated system of transmitting and preserving ethnobotanical knowledge:

Knowledge of medicinal plants in areas surrounding Analavelona forest is well transmitted orally from elders to youngers, from dominant ethnic group to immigrants and from illiterate people to school going and to the other members of society. This work is significant as it helps the conservation of medicinal plants knowledge and constitutes a written document for the next generation. Results of this study will ease decision making for the conservation of Analavelona forest. For the continuation of the project, local communities will be aware of known plants properties which exist in the area. They could benefit traditional knowledge they disclose to the scientific community especially regarding the discovery of new medicines.

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

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