Aims: The ethno botanical survey conducted was aimed at collecting, identifying ant malarial plants and documenting ethno botanical information on traditional herbal medicines used to treat malaria in Butebo County in Eastern Uganda.
Study Design: The ethno botanical survey was conducted using a questionnaire in five Sub Counties each consisting of 10 respondents.
Place and Duration of Study: The ethno botanical survey was carried out in Eastern Uganda, in Butebo County, in 2014.
Methodology: The plants collected and information documented was got by interviewing respondents using semi–structured, open and closed ended questionnaire that were administered to traditional healers and herb sellers using Snowball sampling method. The most important information collected included knowledge on the use of medicinal plant species, the local names of plant species, parts of plant used, dosage, methods of herbal preparation and drying, mode of administration, duration of treatment and traditional uses. A total of 50 households were interviewed using questionnaires, ten respondents were selected from each Sub County. Medicinal plants collected were identified and their Voucher specimens deposited at the Department of Botany herbarium Makerere University for future specifications.
Results: Thirty three plant species from 30 genera that consisted of (Flueggea virosa (wild) Voigt, Securidaca longipedunculata, Erythrina abyssinica, Melia azedarach, Carrisa edulis Fork, Harrisonia abyssinica Olive., Zanthoxylum chalybeum Engl., Psidium guajava, Citrus sinensis, Schkuhria pinnata (lam.), Lantana camara, Carica papaya, Mangifera indica L., Azadirachta indica., Persea americana Mill., Bidens pilosa, Cymbopogon citratus (DC), Plectranthus barbatus, Maytenus senegalensis, Citrus reticulate, Ocimum gratssiumum, Ocimum basilicum, Croton macrostachyus Olive, Oncoba spinosa Forssk, Steganotania araliacea, Acacia sieberiana, Ormocarpum trachycarpum, Acacia hockii De willd, Euclea latideus Staff, Cassia hirsuta, Chamaecrista nigricans Greene, Butyrospermuum paradoxum, and Aristolochia tomentosa (Sims) were identified as being used by communities as antimalarial plants. These belong to 23 families of: Rutaceae, Lamiaceae, Euphorbiaceae, Mimosaceae, Celastraceae, Meliaceae, Asteraceae, Papillionaceae, Polygalaceae, Flacourtiaceae, Umbelliferae, Sapotaceae, Apocynaceae, Simaroubaceae, Ebenaceae, Aristolochiaceae, Anacardiaceae, Caricaceae, Lauranceae, Myrtaceae, Verbenaceae, Poaceae and Celastraceae. The most frequently used medicinal plants were from the families; Rutaceae and Lamiaceae (13.0% each) that had three plant species each. Ten species (30.3%) were identified and documented for the first time in Uganda to treat malaria including: O. spinosa, S. araliacea, A. sieberiana, O. trachycarpum, A. hockii, E. latideus, C. hirsuta, C. nigricans, A. tomentosa and B. paradoxum. The most commonly used plant part was the root (44.68%), followed by leaves (38.30%), stem (6.38%) each, bark and whole plant (4.30%) each and the least was the seeds with 2.13%. The growth habits included; trees (48.48%), shrubs and herbs (24.24% each) and the climbers with the least percentage of (3.03%). The largest habitant of the medicinal plants was found in the homesteads (21.10%), followed by wooded grassland and garden with (18.20%), grasslands (15.20%), open grassland (9.10%), cultivated and road side (6.10% each), garden edge and forest had the lowest value of 3.0% each. Most of the plant materials were dried in the shade, pounded into a powder and taken orally as water decoctions (76.50%) and infusions (23.50%).
Conclusion: Many plants used traditionally for the treatment of malaria were identified and claims of some of the medicinal plants documented in the survey are supported by literature. However the scientific validation of the traditional claims of antimalarial activity of some of these plants not researched on is needed. This includes testing for efficacy, safety (toxicity), antiplasmodial screening and structure elucidation to find out the identity of active compounds present. This would make them considered for future research for active compounds and the possible synthesis of new, cheaper and more effective ant malarial drugs. This would help in conserving and sustainable use of the ant malarial plants. Therefore it is necessary to carry out research to solve these problems so that the lives of people are not at risk.