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Review
, 119 (3), 559-74

Ethnoveterinary Use of Southern African Plants and Scientific Evaluation of Their Medicinal Properties

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Review

Ethnoveterinary Use of Southern African Plants and Scientific Evaluation of Their Medicinal Properties

L J McGaw et al. J Ethnopharmacol.

Abstract

Aim of the study: Livestock keepers in many developing countries with restricted access to orthodox veterinary healthcare services commonly use traditional remedies to treat their animals when disease is encountered. This review collates the documented use of plants in South Africa for healing various ailments in domestic animals, and records bioactivity testing that has been carried out on these plants.

Materials and methods: A literature survey was conducted on the use of plants in South African ethnoveterinary medicine (EVM), as well as on biological activity investigations relating to their ethnoveterinary use where available.

Results: The ethnoveterinary application of plants, and results of screening studies of EVM plant extracts in various bioassays is presented. For diseases such as coughs, wounds, skin diseases, mild diarrhoea and reproductive disorders, EVM may be a cheap and easily accessible alternative to expensive pharmaceuticals. Studies on biological activity of EVM plants can provide indications of promising leads for extracts that can be developed into standardized medications to be used on a commercial basis. Isolation studies on active plants may yield pure active compounds that could be chemically modified to optimize medicinal value and reduce possible toxic effects.

Conclusion: In South Africa, a large proportion of the population relies on traditional remedies to treat themselves and their animals for common diseases. Only a small percentage of EVM plants have been analysed for biological activity or toxic effects, and hence research in this field offers fertile possibilities for future investigation.

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