An ethnobotanical study of medicinal plants commonly traded in Kajiado, Narok and Nairobi counties, Kenya Medicinal Plant Species Traded in Kenya

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Ann Mwaura
Dr Joseph Kamau
Dr Omwoyo Ombori


Kenya; herbalist; Medicinal plants; use value; ailments


Over eighty percent of the world population depend on traditional medicine for their basic health care needs. A study was carried out in three counties in Kenya (Kajiado, Narok and Nairobi) to document the common plant species traded as medicinal or herbal remedies. Structured interviews and questionnaire were administered to herbalists with prior informed consent, who were willing to disclose information on the source, plant type and parts of the herbal medicine they were selling and ailments treated. The folk or common names were recorded and later translated to scientific names using para-taxonomists and previous published data. Majority of the herbalists interviewed were between the ages of 40-59 years and comprised of mostly women (54%). The investigations revealed that eighty-six (86) plant species were traded as medicinal plants out of which 51% were commonly traded across the three counties. The study further revealed that the most traded plant parts were stem, bark and roots which could pose a threat to conservation of the species due to complete or partial destruction of the trees during harvesting. Aloe species, Prunus africana and Osyris lanceolata were highly traded an indication of their preference by local inhabitants to treat particular ailments. The generated list of medicinal plants species will form baseline data that could be used to generate a comprehensive list of all plant species traded as herbal medicine in Kenya. The commonly traded plants can also be included in pharmacological studies which may lead to development of new and potential drugs.

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