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Cupressaceae expectorant, rheumatism ; ES fragrance, medicinal B. Brassicaceae headache, asthenia, Ethiopia measles, rheumatism Lessertia frutescens L. Ochnaceae Lamiaceae Africa Merwilla plumbea Lindl. Hyacinthaceae Momordica charantia L. Congo B. Myrtus communis L. Leroy Meliaceae erectile dysfunction Nerium oleander L. Tunisia, Libya 11 Ocimum gratissimum L. Congo Olea europaea L.

Greene; roots ophthalmia, tapeworm ; SA 11 subsp. Lamiaceae oregano Origanum syriacum L. Bullock ogbo other uses Apocynaceae B. Pierre aphrodisiac Rubiaceae Peganum harmala L. Moore Geraniaceae Pelargonium sidoides DC. Pentadiplandraceae postnatal care ; CH D. Congo, Equatorial Guinea Pistacia lentiscus L. Mastic tree, lentisc Gum resin roots, TM stomach ulcers ; gum NA Tunisia, Morocco 1, 5 Anacardiaceae leaves, fruits resin mastic : dietary and commercial cosmetic preparations production mostly on Chios, Greece Plantago afra L.

Fabaceae bark, roots, leaves: numerous uses Prunus africana Hook.

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Rosa canina L. Rubiaceae D. Aizoaceae Sclerocarya birrea A. Meeuse Acanthaceae sweetener, now synthesized B. Link Fabaceae tsotsorinangatra many other countries Senna italica Mill. Daniell miraculous berry taste modifier Sapotaceae Syzygium cordatum Hochst. Congo, asthenia; conjunctivitis and Equatorial Guinea other ailments Tamarindus indica L. Combretaceae mususu bark diarrhea, many other Mozambique, ailments South Africa, Zimbabwe Congo, Taub. Congo, Marantaceae Nigeria Thymbra capitata L. Lamiaceae inflammatory ; ES aromatherapy Toddalia asiatica L.

Congo, 1, 2, 8 Delile, V. Bertol Chiov. Aiton f. Ziziphus mucronata Willd. Table 1 provides a brief overview of the most important species of African ori- gin, their main uses and region s of origin. The list includes products of interna- tional trade, such as phytomedicines Fig. The choice of species is partly based on the statistics provided by Van Wyk , who used a combina- tion of Google Scholar and Scopus to determine the relative popularity and scien- tific interest in species from sub-Saharan Africa.

These publications can be consulted for detailed information on the botany, chemistry, traditional uses and biological activities of the plants. Medicinal plants have been used in Africa since ancient times but the documenta- tion of the knowledge generally dates back to the last two centuries. Colonial floras are often viewed as inventories of plants with potential commercial value and these publications are still of considerable historical value. Major contributions made dur- ing the twentieth century were those of Burkill , — for West Africa and Watt and Breyer-Brandwijk for southern and eastern Africa.

General works include Sofowora and Iwu , , as well as the first African pharmacopoeia in two volumes African Pharmacopoeia , The year marked a turning point in the tempo of publications on African medicinal and aromatic plants. An ambitious project to document the useful plants of tropical Africa was initiated in Medicinal plants have been published in two volumes out of a planned total of four , namely volumes 11 1 and 11 2 of the PROTA series.

No less than primary use species were included in Volume 1 Schmelzer and Gurib-Fakim , while species were included in reviews in Volume 2 Gurib-Fakim and Schmelzer Detailed information on the chemistry and biological activity of African plants can also be obtained from the database developed by Ermias Dagne at Addis Ababa University Natural Database for Africa Books and publications with a global scope also included several African species of commercial relevance.

Twelve of a total of species i. Aloe vera is an ancient cultigen of North African and Arabian origin, while Ricinus communis is almost certainly of Ethiopian origin, given the extreme morphological variation in this region Van Wyk Another global review of medicinal plants was published by Van Wyk and Wink Seven African species were listed amongst the 43 phytomedicines presented by Van Wyk and Wink , namely Centella asiatica, Griffonia simplicifolia, Harpagophytum procumbens, Pelargonium sidoides, Prunus africana, Trigonella foenum-graecum and Withania somnifera.

In addition, Sceletium tortuosum and Xysmalobium undulatum may also qualify for inclusion in the list of phytomedi- cine.

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Numerous other scientific publications and books provide additional insights into the most popular and important African medicinal and aromatic plants Van Wyk , and references cited therein. Surveys of the informal and unregulated markets that exist in African countries are a valuable source of information on the most popular medicinal plants and the large volumes of material that are traded. Although some African medicinal and aromatic plants have become important items of international trade, the full diversity and commercial potential of the entire flora have yet to be explored.

The strong scientific interest in African plants, as reflected in the large numbers of recent publications, indicates an awareness of the potential for developing novel treatments and for making new discoveries that can be of ben- efit to mankind. Much remains to be discovered, especially in poorly known plants from remote regions of the African continent. Traditional uses are based on oral-traditional knowledge that has been passed down through many gen- erations. This cultural context adds to the complexity of the patterns of plant use and is particularly relevant to understanding the origins of medicinal plant use and aro- matherapy as practiced by our early ancestors in Africa.

The available wisdom and experience should not only be studied and documented but also used to inspire new innovations. It seems reasonable to expect that African medicinal and aromatic plants will gradually rise to more international prominence and that they will even- tually rival the large number of herbal products of European and Asian origin. The rapid development of more sophisticated technologies will open up new frontiers of scientific exploration. It can be anticipated that new tools and more holistic approaches will become available for gaining insights into the efficacy and pharma- cological activities of many of the popular African plants that have not yet been subjected to rigorous scientific study.

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E, Addis Ababa African Pharmacopoeia , vols 1, 2. Strelitzia Investigational Report No. An index of accepted names and synonyms. Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, U. Updated list of species and commodity group- ings. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. A working list of all plant species, version 1. The celebration of life events involve the presentation and sharing of several culturally significant items such as honey, salt, Cola and other medicinal plants and their prod- ucts. In this chapter, the rich and unique culture of African countries is discussed in relation to the use of medicinal and aromatic plants.

As a special feature, the major medicinal and aromatic plants endemic to Western, Northern and Southern Africa are reviewed with regards to their manifold uses. The disposition of African people to traditional medicine, formulation of policies to support the growth of traditional medicine and the progress made so far are highlighted. As a result of the acceptance of African traditional medicine by a vast majority of African populace and support gained from the African Union, World Health Organization and the United Nations; African traditional medicine will in the near future be highly valued just like the Chinese traditional medicine system.

Africa is one of the seven continents of the world, the second largest after Asia, with about a billion people of diverse tribes, language, tradition and culture. Africa, as a. Fajinmi et al. These cultures and tradi- tions have been passed from one generation to another and are still maintained to date, irrespective of colonization and civilization.

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One of the most important aspects of African culture is its use of traditional medicine TM or medicinal plants MP which is an ancient practice. African TM is one of the oldest and unique systems across the world. It is diverse, as it is shaped by cultural beliefs of different countries in Africa. Some African countries have similarities in the use and practice of TM and therefore utilize similar plants for the cure of diseases and infections.

This, however, is common in countries with linked histories. For example, some African countries were formed as a result of migration from another African country during wars and tribal conflicts arising from royal battles and land ownership.

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This migration to exile led to the birth of subtribes, tribes and countries. While in exile, diseases and infections were treated either with plants found in their place s of refuge or dried MP taken from their home country. Furthermore, this similarity often arises from the common diseases that affected certain regions of Africa.

These have been the cause of high mortality. Although, treatment for these diseases have been developed in clinical practice, MP endemic to Africa offer varieties of bioactive compounds capable of addressing such health issues at an affordable price.

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In addition to afford- ability, TM is more accessible, as compared to orthodox medicine. Hence, more preferred by most African people, especially those living in the rural areas. Africa is blessed with a vast amount of plant resources with an estimated number of species between 40,—45,, out of which some species are used medici- nally Mahomoodally Several patents have been developed from MP endemic to Africa and formulations tinctures, teas and infusions derived from African MP are utilized both across Africa and the developed world.

Some of the highly utilized MPs constitute a crucial part of African pharmacopeias.

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Acacia senegal, Artemisia herba-alba, Aspalathus linearis, Centella asiatica, Catharanthus roseus, Cyclopia genistoides, Momordica charantia, and Pelargonium sidoides are some MP with commercial importance that form part of the African herbal pharmacopeia Mahomoodally Apart from the above species, there are also several other plants that are highly valued by African TM and revered as export materials which add to the economy of several African nations. Some of these species are endemic e.

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  7. Acalypha sp. Aloe ssp. The Aloe species exist abundantly in SADC countries and are also medicinally utilized extensively in these countries. It has been used since ancient times and is one of the few plants found in San rock paintings Mahomoodally Globally, it is a valuable raw material used in the pharmaceutical, food, and cosmetic industries. Both aloe production and tapping form an important means of livelihood in some rural communities of Southern Africa.

    The finished product obtained from aloe tapping, aloe bitters, has remained an important South African export product since when it was first exported to Europe Mahomoodally The fleshy leaf is the main part of the plant utilized for medicinal and cosmetic purposes. Wedding is an important traditional ceremony among Africans. In West Africa, traditional wedding takes place before the court wedding as the couple are regarded as husband and wife once the traditional wedding has taken place.

    Traditional wedding is done in a unique way in West Africa. The use of certain MPs during the cer- emony is common in almost all West African countries, as they constitute an impor- tant part of the culture of these countries. Kola nuts Cola nitida , nuts of bitter kola Garcinia kola and alligator pepper Aframomum meleguata are frequently used during traditional weddings across West Africa. The genus Cola belongs to the family Sterculiaceae which is one of the most important genera of this family.


    Kola nut is highly revered during traditional ceremonies in West African culture. It has a unique place amongst West Africans as a result of its specific importance in the social life and religious customs of the people in the tropics of West Africa Adebayo and Oladele It is an important commodity presented before and during traditional wedding ceremonies in West African culture.

    During the wedding ceremony, Kola nut is broken to seal the friendship between the two families and blessings are pronounced on the couple.