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Traditional Medicinal Plants Used to Treat Maternal and Child Health Illnesses in Ethiopia: An Ethno-Botanical Approach
ISSN: 2573-4555

Journal of Traditional Medicine & Clinical Naturopathy
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Traditional Medicinal Plants Used to Treat Maternal and Child Health Illnesses in Ethiopia: An Ethno-Botanical Approach

Asmare TW1*, Yilkal BA2, Mekuannint T3 and Yibeltal AT4
1Department of Midwifery, College of Health Sciences, Debre Markos University, Debre Markos, Ethiopia
2Departments of Biotechnology, Debre Markos University, Debre Markos, Ethiopia
3Department of Public Health, Debre Markos University, Debre Markos, Ethiopia
4Department of Medical Laboratory Sciences, Debre Markos University, Debre Markos, Ethiopia
*Corresponding Author: Asmare TW, Department of Midwifery, College of Health Sciences, Debre Markos University, Ethiopia, Tel: +251 -921524150, Fax: 251-058-771-16-64, Email: [email protected]

Received Date: Apr 09, 2018 / Accepted Date: Jun 22, 2018 / Published Date: Jul 05, 2018

Keywords: Ethno botany; Ethiopia; Maternal health; Child health; Medicinal plants


Based on WHO traditional medicine is defined as the sum total of all knowledge and practices, whether explicable or not, used in diagnosis, prevention and elimination of physical, mental, or social imbalance and relying exclusively on practical experience and observation handed down from generation to generation, whether verbally or in writing. The emphasis on the use of medicinal plants had been focus on the treatment rather than prevention of diseases [1].

Maternal and child morbidity and mortality is highest in sub Saharan Africa including Ethiopia due to shortfalls in modern hospitals, women improperly use of medicinal plants About (80%) of the Ethiopia people and (90%) of livestock depend on traditional medicine for their health care and more than 90 and of traditional medicine preparations are made from plant origin. Similarly, there has been a continuous growth of demand for traditional medicines globally and in many developing countries health care system [2].

But when we use in scientific way, traditional medicine continues to play an important role in improving and maintaining health in developing countries. High income and knowledge of medicinal plants are important determinants of use of traditional medicine. This challenges the common assumption that poor and marginalized people are most dependent on traditional medicine due to its availability [3].

Ethiopia is believed to be home for about 6,500 species of higher plants of which 12% are endemic [4] making the country among the most diverse floristic regions of the world [5]. However, conservation of these plants and knowledge of their use have generally been neglected since it was considered irrelevant in earlier times [6]. Moreover, the attitude of the society towards the traditional medicine healers was negative and this forced healers to keep the knowledge secret [7].

But currently different studies have been conducted on Ethnobotany of medicinal plants used to treat various human diseases in different parts of Ethiopia; Traditional medicine is commonly assumed to be a crucial health care option for poor households in the country. However, there has not been any review done that comprehensively expresses the Ethno-botany of plants used to treat maternal and child health illnesses. Therefore, there is a need to assess the overall traditional preparation techniques and types of plants used in the country scientifically. So this review was aimed to provide an overview of Ethno-botany of medicinal plants used to treat maternal and childhood illnesses among the diversified population in Ethiopia. It gives a comprehensive information on the scientific name of plants, method of preparation, route of administration, plant part used and the habit of the plant used and the study will be an input for further study/ call attention of other investigators on traditional medicine on the treatment of maternal and child diseases and increase quality of care on maternal and child health (MCH) service delivery system in Ethiopia.

Materials and Methods

Search strategy

Databases (Pub Med, Google Scholar, Research Gate, and HINARY) were searched for published studies done on Ethno-botany of medicinal plants in Ethiopia. Some studies were also identified through a manual Google search. No restriction was applied on the year of publication, methodology, or study subjects. Primary search terms were “maternal and child health review”, “Ethiopia”, “medicinal plants”, and “Ethno botany”.

Inclusion/exclusion criterion

Studies which do not contain full information about Ethno botany (method of preparation, growth form, plant part used, route of administration), surveys which did not address maternal and child health illness as a disease treated traditionally by practioners were excluded. Plants which are out of flora list of Ethiopia were also excluded from this review.

Data abstraction

The authors screened the articles based on the inclusion/exclusion criteria. The details of medicinal plants were extracted from each study using an abstraction forms: Scientific, Family and Local name, habit of plant, plant part used, methods of preparation, specific use and route of administration (Table 1).

No Names Habit Part(s) used Specific use Method(s) of preparation and Dosage ROA Reference
Scientific Family Local
1. Justicia schimperiana (Hochst.ex Nees) T. Anders Acanthaceae n H R Retained placenta n oral [4]
2. Acacia nilotica (L.) Fabaceae N HA L,R Retained placenta n Oral,Nasal [1]
3. Senna italica Mill Fabaceae n T S Retained placenta n Oral [1]
4. Ziziphus mauritiana Lam Rhamnaceae n CA L Retained placenta n Oral [1]
5. Ziziphus spina-christi (L.) Desf Rhamnaceae n H L Retained placenta n Oral [1]
6. Premna oligotricha Baker Verbenaceae n n L Retained placenta n Oral [1]
7. Hippocarteaafricana (Wild.) Loes n Aadeeguratii n Leaf To remove the blood after birth Crushing Oral [1]
8. Sidaovata Forssk n Baleenbulaa H Root To prevent Abortion crushing &Powdering Oral and dermal [1]
9. Zehneria scabra [L.f.] Sond. Cucurbitaceae Aregresa (Haregresa) N Leaf To induce labour Boiled with water and steam inhaled Leaf with awazie half-filled teaspoonful once Inhalation [5]
10. Cynoglossum coeruleum Hochst. ex A. DC. Boraginaceae Mexene Tiro HA Leaf Kwashiorkor Concocted wtith verbascum sinaiticum Orally [6]
11. Verbascum sinaiticum Benth. Scrophulariaceae Muka loni, Gura Haree Sh   Kwashiorkor Ap Concocted with Cynoglossum coeruleum Orally [6]
12. Ziziphus spina-christi (L.) Desf. Rhaminaceae Kurkura T Leaf Hemorrhage Crushed and bath the anal opening Anal [6]
13. Pousolzia parasitica(Forssk)scheweinf Urticaceae Dirba HA Root ,leaf Infertility in female Concoction taken to increase chance of fertility Orally [6]
14. Lagenaria siceraria (Molinia)Standl. Curcurbitaceae Buqee CA Leaf Obstructed labour Crushed and filtrate   [6]
15. Capsicum annuum L. Solanaceae Berbere Shrub Leaf Infertility small quantities of fruit chewed and swallowed once (small fruit once) Orally [7]
16. Anoigissus leiocarpa (A. DC.) Guill.& Perr. (Combretaceae Sigga Hu Stem bark Retained placenta Stem bark is crushed, diluted in water and one cup is taken(diluting) Orally [9]
17. Cissampelos mucronata A Rich. Menispermaceae Siyapewa Hu Root Children (Milk feeding) diarrhea Root is crushed, squeezed with water and one cup of watery juice is given (crushing and squeezing) One cup Orally [9]
18. Combretum collinum Fresen. Combretaceae Abasteya (hafa) HA Fruit Obstructed labour Fruits are crushed, diluted in water and 1/2 cup is taken (diluting) Orally [8]
19. Combretum collinum Fresen. Combretaceae Abasteya (hafa) HA Root Retained placenta Root is crushed, squeezed with water and one cup is taken ( crushing &squeezing) Orally [9]
20. Cordia africana Lam. Boraginaceae Wanza HA/goat Root bark Children (milk feeding) diarrhea Root bark is crushed, squeezed with water and given to drink (crushing and squeezing) Orally [9]
21. Ficus sycomorus L Moraceae Fuga HA Root Children (milk feeding) diarrhea Root is crushed, soaked in water and one cup is taken Orally [9]
22. Grewa mollis A.Juss. Tiliaceae Gediya HA Stem bark Retained placenta Stem bark is soaked in water and one cup is taken (maceration) Orally [9]
23. Kigelia africana (Lam.) Benth. Bignonaceae Endehua HA Fruit Infertility in female Fruits are crushed, soaked in water and (maceration) one bottle taken in morning Orally [9]
24. Lonchocarpuslaxiflofus Guill. &Perr. Fabaceae Beewa HA Stem bark Infertility in female Stem bark is crushed, soaked in water, filtering one cup is drink Orally [9]
25. Sorgum bicolor (L.) Moench Poaceae Awut HA Seed Retained placenta Malt seeds are crushed with table salt, diluted one bottle is taken Orally [9]
26. Trichodesma zeylanicum (Burm.f.) R.Br., Boraginaceae Jgewusha HA Root Infertility in female Roots are crushed with garlic, boiled and (decoction) one cup is taken Orally [9]
27. Ruta chalepesis L. polygonaceae Tult   Root Umbilical cord laboring Tying fresh root around west   [36]
28. Vemonia adoensis Sch.Bep.ex Walp. Asteraceae Etse Mossa   Root Menstrual disorder Root are chewed with honey Orally [36]
29. Ajuga integrifolia Buch.-Ham.Ex D.Don Lamia ceae Orsha Herb leaf Retained placenta n Orally [36]
30. Bidens pilosa L. Asteraceae GURDAY Herb Leaf/seed Retained placenta n Orally [8]
31. Rumex nepalensis spring polygonaceae Germach Herb Root Child diarrhea n Orally [8]
32. Colocasiaesculenta(L.)Schott Araceae Haleko   Root To detach retained fetal membrane Root dried, ground and mixed with powdered root of Momordica spp.and all soaked in warm water and One cupful Orally [8]
33. SolanumacuminatumRuiz&Pav Solanaceae Raki Sh Root To detach placenta Root chopped,mixed with cold water One cupful Orally [8]
34. XimeniaamericanaL Olacaceae Hudhaa Sh   Menstruation disorder Crushed and mixed with water one cup of tea takenfor1–5 days until the blood stop Orally [37]
35. XimeniaamericanaL Olacaceae Hudhaa Sh   Contraceptive Exudates drunk for five days 2cup per a day Orally [37]
36. AchyranthesasperaL. Amaranthaceae Telenj/qaytele n   Treatment of RH incompatibility The herbs are dried, chopped together and put in a cotton pouch to be hung around the pregnant woman’s neck in the seventh month. When the baby is born it is taken off the mother and put on the baby thought. Dermal [38]
37. Datura stramonium L. Solanaceae mestenager Herb Seed Abortion Half tea spoon of seeds are ground into powder, mixed with water half of cup is drink once Oral [39]
38. Gomphocarpus fruticosus (L.) Aiton f. Asclepiadaceae Demaito bereka Herb Root Abortion Chew the root and taken stat Oral [39]
39. Linum usitatissimum L. Linaceae Entatie Shrub Seed Retained placenta Seeds roasted on iron sheet and grinding into powder, then cooked in t-he presence of honey taken for a month before delivery Oral [39]
40. Rumex nervosus Vahl. Polygonaceae Huhot Shrub Leaf Breast Cancer Leaves are crushed and paste applied on affected area Dermal [39]
41. Solanum nigrum L. Solanaceae Alalemo Wezero Shrub Leaf PPH Leaves are crushed and inserted into vagina Dermal [39]
42. Cucumis ficifolius A. Rich. Cucurbitaceae Ramboramb, lomin bita Herb Root Abdominal cramp after delivery Roots are chewed Oral [39]
43. Aloe trichosantha A. Berger Aloaceae N N Leaf, stem Breast infection Oral, nasal, body wash Oral, dermal [40]
44. Aloe trichosantha A. Berger Aloaceae N N Leaf, root Retained placenta N Oral [40]
45. Aerva javanica (Burm.f.) Schultes Amaranthaceae N n Leaf Breast infection Nasal ,body wash Nasal, dermal [43]
46. Celosia polystachia (Forssk.) C.C. Amaranthaceae N n Leaf Breast cancer n Oral,nasal,topical [40]
47. Calotropis procera (Ait.) Ait.f. Asclepiadaceae N n Leaf Breast swelling n Nasal,topical [40]
48. Balanites aegyptiaca (van Tieghem) Blatter Balanitaceae N n Root Infant sickness n Oral [40]
49. Balanites aegyptiaca (van Tieghem) Blatter Balanitaceae N n Leaf Breast cancer n Oral ,nasal, body wash [40]
50. Boscia coriacea Pax. Capparidaceae N _ n Root Retained pl n Tying [40]
51. Cadaba farinosa Forssk. Capparidaceae   n Leaf Breast cancer not mentioned Oral [40]
52. Senna accidentalis(L)link Fabaceae Assenmeka H Root Excessive menstruation Fresh root powder with butter is taken a drink before breakfast for three days Oral [41]
53. Sida schimperiana Hochst. ex A.Rich. Malvaceae Tifraria Shrub Root RH disease Crush ,filter & drink a cup of fluid Oral [10]
54. Phytolacca dodencandraL.Herit. Phytolaccaceae Indod N Root Abortion Crush the root and mix with water and drink Oral [42]
55. Pentaslanceolata(Forssk.)Deflers, Rubiaceae jamto,dori-charo,jamto Herb Root Retained placenta not mentioned Oral [11]
56. Amaranthus caudatus Combretaceae Akuba shukfa (Ku), Eshok mergem T leaf Prolonged labour Pounding ,homogenize the powder with water and wash the vagina thoroughly or apply a half cup of solution nasaly Vagina ,nasal [43]
57. Acalypha fruticosa Euphorbiaceae Timigidda (Ku) T Leaf Excess menstruation Add the leaf into fire and expose the vagina to smoke Vagina [43]
58. Ageratum conyzoides Asteraceae Gugisha (Ku) H Root Reduce pain during labour   Vagina [43]
59. Entada abyssinica Fabaceae Sesenaffa (ku) T Root Treat children diarrhea Pounding the root and drink a bottle cup of the juice in the morning Oral [43]
60. Nigella sativa Ranunculaceae Tselim Aweseda (Tig) H Stem Children abdominal pain Adding the seed into boiled water, add small amount of sugar to the decoction, cool and drink a tea spoon of the solution during pain Oral [43]
61. Pentatropis nivalis Asclepiadace Amemmeka(ku) H Root Rx loss of appetite in children Pounding the root drink a tea spoon of the juice in the morning Oral [43]
62. Pterolobium stellatum Fabaceae kuka (Ku) Sh Root Retained placenta Pounding the root, mix with water and drink a bottle cup of it in the morning. Oral [43]
63. Rhamnus prinoides Rhamnaceae Gesho (Tig) T Leaf Fever in children Adding the leaf in to water, stay for a while and give the drop of this Concoction to the child Oral [43]
64. Ipomoea obscura (L.) Ker-Gawl Convolvulaceae N Herb Leaf Malnutrition in Child &Diarrhea N Oral [44]
65. Indigofera zavattarii Chiov., Fabaceae Kechine T Root Rh factor   Oral [45]
66. Phytolocca dodecandra Phytolaccaceae n CA Root Abortion Root of Indod and seed of Gomen Oral [46]
67. Cynoglossum lanceolatum Forssk. Boraginaceae N Herb Root Mastitis Chopped root or crushed and dried root mixed with butter Topical [47]
68. Solanum anguivi Lam. Solanaceae n Shrub   Mastitis Dried and crushed leaves mixed with butter Topical [47]
69. Periploca lineari folia Quart.Dill. & A. Rich Asclepiadaceae n Climber Leaf Mastitis Crushed leaves mixed with water and then applied Topical [47]
70. Dodonaea angustifolia L. f. Sapindaceae Eticha Shrub Leaf Retained placenta & Chopped leaves mixed with water and filtered Oral [47]
71. Urera Philodendron (A. Rich.) Wedd. Urticaceae n Shrub Leaf Retained placenta Chopped Leaves and mixed with water Oral [47]
72. Cucumis ficifolius Cucurbitaceae Yemidir Embuay Climber Root Infertility in women Juice Oral [48]
73. Achyranthes aspera Amaranthaceae Telenji Herb Stem Retained placenta Juice with water Oral [48]
74. Withania somnifera n n n Root Refusing to give milk the child by mother Washing the breast with this dilute Dermal [49]
75. Phytikacca Dodecandra n n n Fruit, stem, flower Abortion, STDs n Oral [50]
76. Ureta hypselodendron Urticaceae Hajijaa Li Leaf Retained placenta Chopping the leaves, making solution, adding magado salt and giving one liter orally at once Oral [12]
77. Aloe Vera L. Aloaceae Ret H Root Rh disease Crashed and mixed with butter, then eating in three month interval during pregnancy Oral [51]
78. Calpurnia aurea (Aiton) Benth. Fabaceae Cheketa S Leaf Mastitis n   [52]
79. Ekebergia capensis Sparrm. Meliaceae Olonchoo T B Weight loss in children n   [52]
80. Olea europaea subsp. cuspidata (Wall. ex G.Don.) Cif. Oleaceae Ejersu T B Kwashiorkor n   [52]
81. Artemisia absinthium Asteraceae Naatiruwa Herb All parts Retained placenta crushed and mixed/concoted with butter and taken Oral [53]
82. Brucea antidysentrica J.F.mill Solanaceae Shureshuupiya Tree Root Parasitic disease in children crushed and taken Oral [53]
83. Stephenia abyssinica Menisperm aceae Bazo tura/Ado tura Climber Root Stomach ache in children crushed, decocted and mixed with fresh Oral [53]
84. Impatients tinctoria n Ensosila n Root Abortion The roots are chopped, crushed, mixed with water and drunk once or twice. For arthritis (Rih) the roots are chopped, boiled, crushed and drunk. Oral [54]
85. Achyranthesaspera n N H Root Hemorrhage at birth Pounded and squeezed leaf is filtered with water to be drunk in a half size of water cup Oral [55]
86. Asparagusafricanus n N Hi Root Rh disease It is pounded with the root of other species likeA.pulcherrima Oral [55]
87. Cucumisficifolia n N H Root Birth control Is chewed and absorbed with ripe fruit of Solanumanguivi before sexual intercourse at the end of menstrual –cycle Oral [55]
88. Jasminumgrandiflorum n N H Leaf Hemorrhage at birth It is crushed with the leaf of Solanumin canumandC.pepoand applied as cream on the vagina Vaginal [55]
89. Blepharis edulis (Forssk.) Pers. Acanthaceae Harar H Leaf Tiredness during labour Hanging on the ceiling of the house to avoid exhaustion during labour Hanging on roof [56]
90. Leucas neuflizeana COlll'bon Lamiaceae Hebrud H Leaf Infertility in women fresh leaves crushed and squeezed with water and orally taken Oral [56]
91. Barleria eranthemoides R. Br. ex C.B. Clarke Acanthaceae N H Root Women infertility and Rh disease Smoke bath smoke Smoke bath [57]
92. (Hochst.)A.Rich Malvaceae N Ha Leaf Rh disease Decoction taken orally Oral [6]
93. CadabarotundifoliaForssk.C apparidaceae N Sh B ,L Extended flow of menstruation/Menometrorrhagia Concocted together with Withania somnifera and a cup of filtrate is taken oral [6]
94. Ximenia americana L. Olacaceae Hudhaa Shrub Leaf Menstruation broblem not mentioned Oral [58]
95. Clerodendrum myricoides (Hochst.) Vatke Lamiaceae Tulange Shrub   Mastitis Chopped root is mixed water Topical Oral [59]
96. Cucumis ficifolius A.Rich cucurbitaceae Yemidr Embuay n Root Retained placenta Crushed fresh root mixed with water and given Oral [35]
97. Rumex nervosus Vohal Polygonaceae Tult n Root Retained placenta Fresh root is inserted vaginally for few minutes Vaginal [35]
98. Rumex nervosus Vohal Polygonaceae Tult n Root Retained placenta Fresh root is inserted vaginally for few minutes Vaginal [35]
99. Combretum adenogonium Steud. ex A. Rich. / C. Combretaceae Weyeba n Root stem or stem bark Disease of the uterus Inhale the smoke Oral [13]
100. Combretum adenogonium Combretaceae Weyeba n   Uterus disease (mahtsen) Fumigate and inhale the smoke Oral [39]
101. Cucumis ficifolius A. Rich. Cucurbitaceae Ramboramb, lomin bita Herb Root Treat Stomach ache after delivery Roots are chewed Oral [59]
102. Solanum nigrum L. Solanaceae Alalemo Wezero Shrub Leaf Treat bleeding after delivery (PPH) Leaves are crushed and inserted into vagina dermal [60]
103. Rumex nervosus Vahl. Polygonaceae Huhot Shrub Leaf Breast cancer Leaves are crushed and paste applied on affected area Dermal [61]

Sh-shrub, T-tree, CA-climber/annual, CP-climber/perennial, HA-herb/annual, HP-herb/perennial, CH-creeper herb, n=not mentioned, Hb=Habit, Pu=Parts used, Cp=Condition of preparation, Ra=Route of application, T=Tree, H=Herb, Hcl=Herbaceous climber, Li=Liana, Hu=Human, F=Fresh, D=Dried, F/D=Fresh/Dried, O=Oral, Dm=Dermal, Na=Nasal, Op=Optical, L=Leaf, R=Root, St=Stem, Ba=Bark, Fl=Flower, Fr=Fruit, S=Stem, Bu=Bulb, Rh=Rhizome, La=Latex, HI=both   (Human/Livestock )

Table 1: List of traditional medicinal plant species used to treat maternal and child health illnesses in Ethiopia.


Literature search results

The search of the Pub Med, Google Scholar, Research Gate, and HINARY databases and Google provided a total of 350 studies. After adjustment for duplicates, 105 remained. Of these, 40 studies were discarded, since after review of their titles and abstracts, they did not meet the criteria. .The full texts of the 66 studies were reviewed in detail. Finally, 38 studies were included in the review (Figure 1).


Figure 1: Flow diagram of study selection.

Study characteristics

Methodological validity of all the reviewed articles were checked prior to inclusion in the review by undertaking critical appraisal using a standardized instrument adapted from [8]. These studies differed significantly in the number of plants identified. From these 38 articles, almost all were conducted to assess the Ethno-botany of medicinal plants used to treat human diseases. All the studies were conducted in different parts of Ethiopia and are qualitative and mixed type. The studies used purposive sampling to select study articles. The detailed description of each plants collected from different studies is given below (Table 1).

Method of preparation and route of administration

Traditional medicinal practioners in Ethiopia apply different techniques of preparation like drying, crushing, concoction, decoction and eating with some other plants or animal products (Table 1). They use simple methods and equipments during their remedy preparation. Of the routes commonly used to administer remedies in the treatment of maternal and child health illnesses, oral route was the common route which consists 71 (73.13%) followed by dermal 6 (6.18%) way of administration. About 6% of the medicinal plants among 103 reviewed from published articles, the rout of administration is not specified (Figure 2).


Figure 2: Rout of administration of medicinal plants for the treatment of maternal and child health illnesses in Ethiopia.

Maternal and child health illnesses treated by traditional medicinal plants

In this study, the investigators were intended to deal both maternal and child health disease treatments of traditional medicinal plants. Based on the information reviewed on published research results, medicinal plants which were abundant for the treatment of retained placenta 24 (24.72%) species followed by treatment of abortion, infertility in women, Menstrual disorder and treatment of Rh disease which comprise the same 6(6.18%) plant species (Table 2).

No Disease Treated Number %
1. Retained Placenta 24 24.72
2. Prevent Abortion 6 6.18
3. To induce Labour 1 1.03
4. To remove blood after birth 1 1.03
5. Infertility in Women 6 6.18
6. Child milk feed diarrhea 3 3.09
7. Obscured labour 1 1.03
8. Umbilical cord 1 1.03
9. Menstrual Disorder 6 6.18
10. Contraceptive 2 2.06
11. To treat Rh incompatibility 6 6.18
12. To detach placental Fetal membrane 1 1.03
13. Breast cancer 5 5.15
14. Abdominal crump after delivery 1 1.03
15. Breast infection 2 2.06
16. Breast swelling 1 1.03
17. Infant sickness 1 1.03
18. Prolonged labour 1 1.03
19. Reduced contraction  during labour 1 1.03
20. Malnutrition and Diarrhea  in children 1 1.03
21. Mastitis 4 4.12
22. Refusing lactation by the mother 1 1.03
23. Fever in child 1 1.03
24. Abortion/STDS 1 1.03
25. Weight loss by child 1 1.03
26. Parasitic disease in child 1 1.03
27. Stomachache in child 1 1.03
28. Hemorrhage at birth 3 3.09
29. Tiredness during labour 1 1.03
30. Infertility/Rh disease 6 6.18
31. Disease of the uterus 1 1.03
32. PPH 1 1.03
33. Kwashiorkor 3 3.09
34. Total 103 100

Table 2: Maternal and child health illnesses diseases treated by traditional medicinal plants in Ethiopia.

Habits of medicinal plants which treat maternal and child illness

In this review paper shows that the most widely used Medicinal plants habit in the reviewed articles the collected plants found to be herbs 25 (25.75%) followed by shrubs 19 (19.57%) (Figure 3).


Figure 3: Habits of medicinal plants used for the treatment of maternal and child illness in Ethiopia.

Plant parts used in the reviewed articles

Every part of different plant species are used against a variety of diseases. In this review the commonly used plant parts were found to be root 40 (41.2%) followed by leaves 32 (32.96%), and stem bark 4 (4.12%) respectively. Among 103 reviewed medicinal plants about 7 (7.21%) were not identified their parts used for the case mentioned. In some cases, more than one organ of the same plant species, particularly a combination of parts, is used in the preparation of different therapies.

Diversity of medicinal plants in terms of families

In this paper review different families of medicinal plants were collected from published research articles. Among them Fabaceae is the most dominant family that holds 8 (7.77%) plant species followed by Solanaceae having 6 (5.82%) species and Cucurbitaceous having 6 (5.82%) species. From the documented medicinal plants 7 (6.79%) plant species at which their family was not clearly stated in the reviewed papers (Table 3).

No Family name Number %
1. Acanthaceae 1 0.97
2. Fabaceae 8 7.77
3. Rhamnaceae 4 3.88
4. Verbenaceae 1 0.97
5. Malvaceae 3 2.97
6. Cucurbitaceae 6 5.82
7. Boraginaceae 3 2.91
8. Scrophulariaceae 1 0.97
9. Uriticaceae 1 0.97
10. Solanaceae 6 5.82
11. Combirtaceae 4 3.88
12. Menispermaceae 2 1.94
13. Moraceae 1 0.97
14. Tiliaceae 1 0.97
15. Bignonaceae 1 0.97
16. Poaceae 1 0.97
17. Polygonaceae 4 3.88
18. Astraceae 5 4.85
19. Lamiaceae 3 2.91
20. Araceae 1 0.97
21. Olacaceae 3 2.91
22. Amarantaceae 4 3.88
23. Asclipiadaceae 4 3.88
24. Lanaceae 1 0.97
25. Aloacease 1 0.97
26. Blanitaceae 2 1.94
27. Capparidaceae 2 1.94
28. Phytolaceae 2 1.94
29. Rubiaceae 1 0.97
30. Euphorbiaceae 1 0.97
31. Ranculaceae 1 0.97
32. Convolvulaceae 1 0.97
33. Spindaceae 1 0.97
34. Uriticaceae 2 1.94
35. Meliaceae 1 0.97
36. Apparidaceae 1 0.97
37. Olacaceae 1 0.97
38. Not identified 7 6.79

Table 3: Diversity of medicinal plants in terms of families used for the treatment of maternal and child health diseases in Ethiopia.

Based on this systematic review, there is plant species used for food and drink purpose in addition to traditional treatment of maternal and child illnesses. Solanaceae, Berbere (local name) [7], Boraginaceae Wanza (local name) [9], Phytolaccaceae Indod (local name) [10] Rhamnaceae, Gesho (local name) [11] Aloaceae, Ret (local name) [12].


This review indicated that about 103 plant species find applications by the traditional medicinal practitioners of Ethiopia to treat maternal and child health illnesses. Of the plants used traditionally, none of them were proven scientifically which shows the less attention given to the problem and the traditional practitioners in general. According to this review there is high species diversity of medicinal plants used which may be due to the climate variation that exists with the different parts of Ethiopia. In this study based on diversity of medicinal plants, Fabaceae is the most dominant family that holds 8 (8.24%) plant species followed by Solanaceae having 6 (6.18%). Similarly, a study done in Nigeria 22.5% [13], Afar [4], Harare regional State [14], Fiche Town [15], southern region, Konta [15], four districts of Jimma Zone 625% [16], Dire Dawa (8.5%) [17], Benishangul Gumuz (8.3%) [9] and Chifra District, Afar Region15% [18], evidenced this.

In this review, the commonly used plant part was found to be root 41.2%. Similarly the study conducted in Tanzania [19], Bale zone (35.71%) [20], South Omo (40%) [8], Benishangul Gumuz (39%) [9], Shewa Zone, ‘Boo sat’ sub-district 38% (48) and Chilga District 89% [12] dominant plant part used by traditional healers. On the other hand leaf is the most plant part used by traditional healers in the studies conducted in 57.2% Harari regional state (48%) [4,14] Afar 52% (14), Fiche Town (34.68%) [21], Tehuledere district, South Wollo (50%) [22], in Dire Dawa (29.4 %) [19], Gamo Gofa (44%) [23], Mirab-Badwacho district (41%) [24], Nekemt town 35% [25] and Alma-Ata, Southern Tigray 52% [26].The reason for this difference is might be due to knowledge (awareness) of traditional healers, geographical difference, and availability of plant parts in the area.

Based on this study, the most widely used medicinal plants growth forms harvested in the reviewed articles found to be herbs (26%). This result is similar with the study conducted in Uganda 51.9% [27], Nigeria (68.5%) [16], Uganda 80% (55), Delanta 52.6% [28], Guzman District 51% [29], Hadiya zone 52% [30], Jimma 84% and Tehuledere district, South Wollo (48%) [31] herbs were dominantly used. Whereas shrub had highest dominancy in studies conducted Shewa Zone, ‘Boo sat’ sub-district 46% [19], Abaya district, Borena Zone 48.8% [22] and Dasa forest, Tigray 48.8% [32] and study in South Omo trees 29% [8] highly used. The reason for this difference is it might be due to the plant species exhibit high level of abundance and easy to access them. This review revealed that, most commonly route of administration is internal particularly oral that accounted for 71%.This was similar with the studies conducted in Nigeria (84.6) [33] Mexico 26% [34] and Uganda 100% [35].

Conclusions and Recommendations


The plant parts used for treatment of maternal health and child illness in this review was found to be root followed by leaves and it was unlike with other ethno-botanical studies which were leaf was the dominant plant part used and the common rout of administration was through orals. Most of the medicinal plants in this review were herb. The most common maternal illness treated by medicinal plant was retained placenta and whereas in children milk feeding diarrhoea and Kwashiorkor.


From this review the authors suggested to carry out similar studies in areas not previously covered in order to get a full picture of the country’s medicinal plants potential for a particular disease like maternal illness. There is a need to conduct clinical trials to support traditional claims and to analyse cellular and molecular mechanisms involved.

There should be photochemical analysis in order to determine the bioactive component which could heal the disease.

The combination effect of traditional medicinal plants (pooled effect of medicinal plants) on maternity health and other health problems should be studied. In this review, some papers were incomplete so for those authors it is better to incorporate some family names, local names, etc. for better work.


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Availability of data and material

No additional data are required; all information is clearly stated in the main manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors have declared that there is no competing interest.


No funding was obtained for this study.


Citation: Asmare TW, Yilkal BA, Mekuannint T, Yibeltal AT (2018) Traditional Medicinal Plants Used to Treat Maternal and Child Health Illnesses in Ethiopia: An Ethno-Botanical Approach. J Tradit Med Clin Natur 7: 277. DOI: 10.4172/2573-4555.1000277

Copyright: © 2018 Asmare TW, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.