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An ethnopharmacological survey of medicinal plants traditionally used for cancer treatment in the Ashanti region, Ghana

Agyare, Christian, Spiegler, Verena, Asase, Alex, Scholz, Michael, Hempel, Georg, Hensel, Andreas
Journal of ethnopharmacology 2017
Azadirachta indica, Entandrophragma, Khaya senegalensis, Terminalia superba, Triplochiton scleroxylon, chemical constituents of plants, clinical trials, health services, interviews, limonoids, medicinal plants, neoplasms, people, questionnaires, surveys, therapeutics, traditional medicine, Ghana
Cancer represents a major health burden and drain on healthcare resources in the world. The majority of the people of Africa still patronize traditional medicine for their health needs, including various forms of cancer. The aim of the following study is the identification of medicinal plants used for cancer treatment by the traditional healers in the Ashanti area of Ghana and to cross-reference the identified plant species with published scientific literature.Validated questionnaires were administered to 85 traditional healers in 10 communities within Ashanti region. For cross-validation, also 7 healers located outside Ashanti region were investigated to evaluate regional differences. Interviews and structured conversations were used to administer the questionnaires. Selected herbal material dominantly used by the healers was collected and identified.The ethnopharmacological survey revealed 151 plant species used for cancer treatment. Identified species were classified into different groups according to their frequency of use, resulting in the "top-22” plants. Interestingly group I (very frequent use) contained 5 plant species (Khaya senegalensis, Triplochiton scleroxylon, Azadirachta indica, Entandrophragma angolense, Terminalia superba), three of which belong to the plant family Meliaceae, phytochemically mainly characterized by the presence of limonoids. Cross-referencing of all plants identified by current scientific literature revealed species which have not been documented for cancer therapy until now. Special interest was laid on use of plants for cancer treatment of children.A variety of traditionally used anti-cancer plants from Ghana have been identified and the widespread use within ethnotraditional medicine is obvious. Further in vitro and clinical studies will be performed in the near future to rationalize the phytochemical and functional scientific background of the respective extracts for cancer treatment.