Main content area

Diversity of Hypoxis species used in ethnomedicine in Tanzania

Pereus, D., Otieno, J.N., Ghorbani, A., Kocyan, A., Hilonga, S., de Boer, H.J.
South African journal of botany 2019 v.122 pp. 336-341
Human immunodeficiency virus, Hypoxis, corms, diabetes, ethnobotany, focus groups, gout, headache, herbal medicines, human diseases, humans, hypertrophy, interviews, neoplasms, traditional medicine, urinary tract diseases, Tanzania
The corms of different Hypoxis species (Hypoxidaceae) are used for the treatment and management of a variety of human ailments and disorders in African traditional medicine. However, the used corms are morphologically similar and it is not known whether this has resulted in different species being harvested, prescribed and sold as the same species. Ethnomedicinal information regarding its use in Tanzania is scanty and the available ethnobotanical information about the plants is mostly from various studies done outside Tanzania. The objective of the study was to document the diverse uses of Hypoxis in Tanzania and study what species are used and whether preferences exist for specific species. Focus group discussions and in depth interviews with informants were done in 15 regions of Tanzania to document local uses of Hypoxis species and collect vouchers for identification. Traditional practitioners use Hypoxis to manage a variety of human illness in Tanzania, and appear to use different species indiscriminately for medicine, socio-cultural applications and for food. Medicinal uses include treatment of benign prostate hypertrophy, cancer, diabetes, gout, headache, HIV/AIDS, infertility, ringworms, stomachache, and urinary tract infections. In Tanzania, different Hypoxis species are used indiscriminately for a range of socio-cultural and medicinal purposes. The reported medicinal uses could aid testing and evaluation of traditional herbal medicine and more research is needed to test their pharmacological effects.