Use of herbal remedies in the management of sleeping sickness in four northern provinces of Angola

Vahekeni, Nina and Neto, Pedro Menezes and Kayimbo, Malilo Kaluiji and Mäser, Pascal and Josenando, Théophile and da Costa, Esperança and Falquet, Jacques and Van Eeuwijk, Piet. (2020) Use of herbal remedies in the management of sleeping sickness in four northern provinces of Angola. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. p. 20.

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Ethnopharmacological relevance: This study reports for the first time on the use of folk medicine to treat sleeping sickness and its symptoms in four endemic provinces in northern Angola. By interviewing both traditional practitioners and confirmed patients, it highlights reasons to recourse to folk medicine, the plant species used for this affection as well as arises awareness about the use of particular plants showing potential risks. Aim of the study: The aims of this explorative study were three-fold. Firstly, it informed on access to, and use of plant-based medicine as first-choice treatment by infected persons. Secondly, it aimed at collecting comprehensive data from patients and traditional healers on herbal remedies in order to identify plant species used in the management of the disease. Thirdly, it served as contribution for primary indication of potential risk of use associated with the studied plants and their preparation. Materials and methods: The study was conducted in 4 endemic provinces of Angola, namely Bengo, Zaire, Kwanza Norte and Uíge. We explored the use of herbal remedies by conducting structured and semi-structured interviews within two distinct study populations. The first group comprises 30 patients who had been diagnosed for trypanosomiasis and treated by the reference treatment. The second group included 9 traditional practitioners who had already treated sleeping sickness. The plants that were cited during the interviews were collected during field walks under supervision of a traditional healer, then authenticated and deposited at the National Herbarium in Luanda. Results: Of the 30 included patients, 12 (40%) had turned to folk medicine in the management of trypanosomiasis and related symptoms. 7 medicinal plants were reported by this group. Considering the key motivation to consult a traditional practitioner, two main factors accounted for half of the cases: "past experience with folk medicine" and "family habit". Out of 9 traditional practitioners' interviewees, 26 medicinal plants were cited. Roots and leaves were the most used plant parts, and decoction was the common mode of preparation. Evidence for antitrypanosomal activity in the scientific literature was found for 56% (17 of 30) of the identified plant species. The most cited plant was Crossopteryx febrifuga (UR = 6). Some of the cited plants, as for example Aristolochia gigantea, raised concern about potential toxicity. Conclusions: With 40% of infected persons having turned first to folk medicine before consulting a medical doctor, this explorative study points out that plant-based medicines play an important role in local dynamics of health care. It highlights the need for primary assessment of potential risk of use related to the herbal recipes, and for reporting it to the concerned population. This first ethnobotanical study on trypanosomiasis in endemic provinces of Angola provides information on 30 plants, of which some had been identified as promising for further pharmacological research. Our results provide a first step towards the validation and valorization of Angolan herbal remedies for sleeping sickness.
Faculties and Departments:04 Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Departement Gesellschaftswissenschaften > Ehemalige Einheiten Gesellschaftswissenschaften > Medizinethnologie (Obrist)
09 Associated Institutions > Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH)
09 Associated Institutions > Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH) > Former Units within Swiss TPH > Medical Anthropology (Obrist)
04 Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Fakultär assoziierte Institutionen > Zentrum für Afrikastudien Basel
UniBasel Contributors:Van Eeuwijk, Piet and Mäser, Pascal and Vahekeni, Nina
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
edoc DOI:
Last Modified:22 Dec 2020 04:10
Deposited On:09 Dec 2019 15:56

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