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Ethnomedicinal plants used by traditional healers in the management of HIV/AIDS opportunistic diseases in Lusaka, Zambia

Chinsembu, K.C., Syakalima, M., Semenya, S.S.
South African journal of botany 2019 v.122 pp. 369-384
Abrus precatorius, Albizia anthelmintica, Bauhinia thonningii, Carica papaya, Cassia abbreviata, Combretum, Flueggea virosa, Garcinia livingstonei, Human immunodeficiency virus, Kigelia africana, Mimosa pigra, Mundulea, Musa acuminata, Peltophorum africanum, Plumbago zeylanica, Ricinus communis, Securidaca, Syzygium guineense, Ziziphus mucronata, antimicrobial properties, bark, cough, data analysis, descriptive studies, diarrhea, ethnobotany, interviews, leaves, malaria, neoplasms, patients, public health, risk, secondary infection, skin diseases, traditional medicine, tuberculosis, weight loss, Zambia
Despite the use of ethnobotanical remedies to manage human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS), there is paucity of empirical data on the specific plant species used by traditional healers to manage HIV/AIDS opportunistic infections in Zambia. Therefore, this study documented putative plant species used to manage HIV and AIDS-related opportunistic diseases in Lusaka, Zambia. Exploratory, semi-structured interviews and detailed descriptive studies of 40 traditional healers were conducted. The following ethnobotanical data were recorded: plant species, parts used, modes of preparation, administration, and diseases treated. Data were analyzed by calculating percentage frequencies, familiarity index (Fi), and informant consensus factor (FIC). A total of 84 plant species from 38 families, mostly the Fabaceae, were used as ethnomedicines. Roots, leaves and stem bark were mostly harvested for the treatment of STIs including HIV, skin infections, diarrhea, malaria, tuberculosis, persistent cough, erectile dysfunction, oral infections, cancer and weight loss. Thirteen plants were used to manage three different diseases: Abrus precatorius, Albizia anthelmintica, Carica papaya, Cassia abbreviata, Combretum elaeagnoides, Flueggea virosa, Mimosa pigra, Mundulea sericea, Musa acuminata, Piliostigma thonningii, Ricinus communis, Securidaca longepedunculata, and Syzygium guineense. Garcinia livingstonei, Kigelia africana, Peltophorum africanum and Ziziphus mucronata were individually used to manage four different disease conditions. Only Plumbago zeylanica was used to manage five different disease conditions. These multi-use plants may have broad antimicrobial activities but risk over-exploitation. The results of this study urge a fundamental rethink of how patients and public health authorities view traditional plant medicines for HIV/AIDS management in Lusaka, Zambia.