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Animals 2013, 3(1), 158-227;

Ethnopharmacological Survey of Plants Used in the Traditional Treatment of Gastrointestinal Pain, Inflammation and Diarrhea in Africa: Future Perspectives for Integration into Modern Medicine

Lehrstuhl für Lebensmittelchemie und Molekulare Sensorik, Technische Universität München, Lise-Meitner Str. 34, D-85354, Freising, Germany
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID 83844, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 4 January 2013 / Revised: 6 February 2013 / Accepted: 7 February 2013 / Published: 4 March 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Combination of Western and Chinese Medicine in Veterinary Science)
Full-Text   |   PDF [330 KB, uploaded 4 March 2013]

Simple Summary

This review provides an inventory of numerous plant species used as traditional remedies for pain and diarrhea in Africa. Africa can emulate advances in traditional Chinese medicine through research, commercialization, teaching traditional medicine in medical schools, and incorporating botanical products in treating veterinary and human patients. Prioritized research of plant species with proven folklore in treating pain and diarrhea using high throughput screening to identify and test bioactive compounds to verify their effectiveness, mechanisms of action and safety and translational research are needed to facilitate these advances and the integration of traditional African botanical preparations for treating pain and gastrointestinal disorders into western medicine.


There is a growing need to find the most appropriate and effective treatment options for a variety of painful syndromes, including conditions affecting the gastrointestinal tract, for treating both veterinary and human patients. The most successful regimen may come through integrated therapies including combining current and novel western drugs with acupuncture and botanical therapies or their derivatives. There is an extensive history and use of plants in African traditional medicine. In this review, we have highlighted botanical remedies used for treatment of pain, diarrheas and inflammation in traditional veterinary and human health care in Africa. These preparations are promising sources of new compounds comprised of flavonoids, bioflavanones, xanthones, terpenoids, sterols and glycosides as well as compound formulas and supplements for future use in multimodal treatment approaches to chronic pain, gastrointestinal disorders and inflammation. The advancement of plant therapies and their derivative compounds will require the identification and validation of compounds having specific anti-nociceptive neuromodulatory and/or anti-inflammatory effects. In particular, there is need for the identification of the presence of compounds that affect purinergic, GABA, glutamate, TRP, opioid and cannabinoid receptors, serotonergic and chloride channel systems through bioactivity-guided, high-throughput screening and biotesting. This will create new frontiers for obtaining novel compounds and herbal supplements to relieve pain and gastrointestinal disorders, and suppress inflammation. View Full-Text
Keywords: folk medicine; alternate medicine; analgesia; cramping; diarrhea; colic folk medicine; alternate medicine; analgesia; cramping; diarrhea; colic
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Stark, T.D.; Mtui, D.J.; Balemba, O.B. Ethnopharmacological Survey of Plants Used in the Traditional Treatment of Gastrointestinal Pain, Inflammation and Diarrhea in Africa: Future Perspectives for Integration into Modern Medicine. Animals 2013, 3, 158-227.

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