Knowledge of Informants and Medicinal Plants
Eighty two percent of informants reported remedies for 52 aliments.
Of which 26% are females and 74% are males, which indicated that most
people continue to use traditional systems of health care including
medicinal plants alone or in combination with modern pharmaceuticals.
This continued reliance of many African people on traditional medicines
is partly due to economic circumstances, which place modern health
facilities, services and pharmaceuticals out of the reach of the
majority of the population. However, in many cases, it is also
attributable to the widespread belief in the effectiveness of many
traditional therapies. Even where western biomedical care is available,
many people still prefer traditional treatments for treating many
The females reported remedies to diseases associated to children
such as 'mich', stomachache, 'kuruba' (diarrhea, dysentery, stomach
disorder), dysentery, tonsillitis and babies' sickness (thinning, loss
of appetite). The males reported (mean = 6.7 ± 2.79) more number of
remedies than the females (mean = 2.3 ± 0.9) and there is a significant
difference (p = 0.004) between female and male and agrees with the
previous reports of ethnobotanical studies in northern and southern
Ethiopia [4,5]. This is because the traditional knowledge in the family or community is passed from male parent to his first-born son [25,26].
All the healers were male and the number of aliments reported by
them ranged from six to twenty. They also reported combination of
multiple medicinal plants to treat an illness, whereas most of the
non-healers, both females and males reported only a single medicinal
plant treatment (Table 1, 2).
The multiple prescriptions reported by the healers usually contain a
range of pharmacologically active compounds; in some cases, it is not
known which ingredients are important for the therapeutic effect and
some are used as adjuvants .
number of ethnomedicinally important plant species documented in Zegie
Peninsula was 67. These species belong to 64 genera and 44 families.
The genera Asteraceae, Euphorbiaceae, Fabaceae and Solanaceae were
families with four species each followed by Malvaceae with three
species and, Apocynaceae, Asclepiadaceae, Cucurbitaceae, Dracaenaceae,
Moraceae, Rhamnaceae and Rutaceae, each contributing two species.
The most frequently utilized plant part was the underground part (root/rhizome/bulb = 42%) (Table 4).
In studies conducted in Ethiopia, root (58.3%) is one of the most
extensively used plant part in preparation of traditional herbal
medicine . In this study, herbs are used predominantly (52%, Fig. 2) as in most part of Ethiopia (34.8%) [27,28].
largest number of remedies was used to treat gastrointestinal disorder
and parasites (22.8%) followed by external injuries and parasites
(22.1%), rabies and internal diseases (17.9%). The proportion of
remedies used for treatment of gastrointestinal related disease are
also high in most studies conducted in Ethiopia, accounting for 35%
compared to other type of remedies that were compiled as being used
against human aliments .
The rest were used to treat swelling and cancer (8.3%), evil eye and
devil sickness (6.2%), sensorial disease (6.2%), venereal disease and
impotence (4.8%), 'mich' and febrile diseases (4.1%), respiratory and
throat infection (4.1%), and snake bite (3.4%). Multiple plants
treatments with different combinations of medicinal plants were used to
treat seven external and internal illnesses. Seventy eight percent of
the multiple plants treatments were roots and were prepared by mixing
the ingredients with different proportions. Three were used to treat
evil eye and one of the poly-herbal remedy had nine medicinal plants
Route and dosage of administration
The administration routes are oral (51.4%), external (38.6%), nasal
(7.9%), and through the ear (2.1%). The remedies are taken with water,
skimmed milk, honey, tef injera (local thin bread made from tef, Eragrostis tef)
and boiled coffee. The measurements used to determine the dosages are
not standardized and depend on the age and physical appearance of the
patient, sociocultural explanation of the illness, diagnosis and
experience of individual herbalist [5,11].
Children are given less than adults, such as, one fourth of a coffee
cup (2 ml to 5 ml), whereas, an adult is given up to one glass
(approximately 250 ml) depending on the type of illness and treatment.
The quantity of plant part used is measured by number of leaves, seeds
and fruits, and length of root. For example, seven young leaves of Justicia schimperiana are used to treat ascaris, seven seeds of Calpurnia aurea are used to treat diarrhea and about 2 cm of root of Dorstenia barnimiana is
used to treat cancer. The frequency of treatment depends on the type of
illness and severity. In preparation of poly-herbal medicines, each
medicinal plant is dried, powdered and stored separately, and the
amount taken from each for any given disease varies.
Veterinary Important Traditional Medicines
Eight species of medicinal plants have veterinary importance. The
plant parts used were leaf (62.5%) and root (37.5%). These are used as
remedy for seven internal and external illnesses (Table 3).
The number of veterinary important medicinal plants is low compared to
those areas with culture of cattle raring. Giday and Ameni 
documented 83 medicinal plants that are used to treat 37 types of
livestock aliments. In our study area, people are not accustomed to
cattle raring and, therefore, have low knowledge of veterinary
important medicinal plants.
Informants consensus and Species Use Value
The medicinal plants that are presumed to be effective in treating a certain disease have higher ICF values. Table 5
shows disease categories with relatively higher ICF values: 'mich' and
febrile diseases (0.80), evil eye and satan beshita (devil sickness)
(0.70), and respiratory and throat infections (0.64). This may indicate
high incidence of these types of diseases in the region, possibly due
to the poor socio-economic and sanitary conditions of the people. The
categories of diseases that are only treated by the healers and those
that are rare have lower ICF values. These include swelling and cancer
(38), and sensorial disease (0.25). The medicinal plants that are
widely used by the local people have higher FL values than those that
are less popular. On the other hand, medicinal plants that are known as
remedies of a single aliment have 100% fidelity level than those that
are used as remedies for more than one type of aliment. For example, Plumbago zeylanicum is used to treat cancer, respiratory infection, swelling, and rheumatic pain and its FL value is 40% (Table 6).
Declaration of competing interests
The author(s) declare that they have no competing interests.
authors have made substantive intellectual contributions to this study
in data collection, identification of plants, preparation of the
manuscript and proof reading.
are very much grateful to all the local informants and healers who
shared their knowledge on the use of medicinal plants with us. Without
their contribution, this study would have been impossible. We would
also like to thank the Associate Vice President Office for Research and
Publication, Addis Ababa University for the grant to conduct this study.