Medicinal Plants Used in Traditional Medicine by Rural Communities in Cross River State, Nigeria

Ita P. B., Offiong E. E


Information on medicinal plants and the activities of the traditional healers in Iko Ekperem/Owai, Etara/Eyeyeng and Biajua communities in Akamkpa, Ikom and Boki Local Government Areas of Cross River State respectively were investigated. The study shows that 60 different medicinal plants were used in traditional medicine in these communities with Piper guinensis, Alstonia boonei,Spondia mombin,and Okoubaka aubrevillei having frequencies of 8, 8, 7 and 6 respectively. A total of 35 different ailments were treated using 52 medicinal plants with stomach pain having the highest number (11) of medicinal plants, followed by cough with 9 medicinal plants. The various plant parts used in traditional medicine include bark with the highest frequency of 55 followed by leaves with 44. Other plant parts used include stems (14), roots (21), fruits (9), seeds (36) and exudates/latex (8). The processing of traditional medicine involves grinding, pounding, chewing, boiling and roasting of the medicinal plants which are administered orally, topical, or by incision, excision and through enema. The study revealed that some conservation measures were adopted by the traditional herbalists to ensure the availability of these plant species at all times. Such measures include planting these plant species in home gardens which has the highest frequency of 10 followed by creation of sacred grooves with frequency of 7 and the lowest frequency of 4 were obtained for planting in the farmlands. Traditional medicine is deeply rooted in magic, superstition and dogma. It thrives under mystery and secrecy to the extent that herbalists hardly disclosed the knowledge of herbal cures to even their children talk- less of the outsiders.

Keywords: Herbalists, traditional medicine, traditional healers, ailments, medicinal plants

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