Ethno-medicinal knowledge and plants traditionally used to treat anemia in Tanzania: A cross sectional survey

Type Journal Article - Journal of Ethnopharmacology
Title Ethno-medicinal knowledge and plants traditionally used to treat anemia in Tanzania: A cross sectional survey
Volume 154
Issue 3
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2014
Page numbers 767-773

Ethnopharmacological relevance: Indigenous communities have often served as rich repositories of empirical knowledge on medicinal plants used for anemia. Use of these plants need to be validated with respect to their efficacy and safety so as to provide scientific basis of their use. Quantifying presence of medicinal plants used for anemia treatment, validating indigenous knowledge and extent of its use in rural Mkuranga district, Tanzania is the main focus of this paper.


A cross sectional study conducted in May and December 2013 at Mkuranga District of Coastal region of Tanzania. Forty key informants including traditional healers, religious leaders, community members and healthcare workers were interviewed using semi structured questionnaire. Eight focus group discussions were also conducted. Both interviews and focus group discussion gathered data on socio-demographics, general knowledge of anemia and plants used to correct anemia. In a brief field visit, all plants mentioned during the interview were collected and later identified. Both NVivo 10 and STATA softwares were employed for statistical analysis.


Out of 40 participants, 31 were traditional healers, majority were male (77.4%). Mean age of the participants was 55.7±15 years. About 45% had no any formal education and majority (80%) were married. Twenty eight plant species are used to treat anemia. Hibiscus sabdariffa was the most mentioned species. The species belongs to 24 families, with Euphorbiaceae (14.3%) having the largest number. Lawsonia inermis, Aloe sp, Uvaria acuminata, Parinari curatellifolia, Ozoroa reticulata, Manihot esculenta, Canthium sp and Afzelia quanzensis were the plant species in which their claimed use for anemia were novel.


People in rural areas of Mkuranga district possess a rich traditional knowledge of medicinal plants species for anemia treatment. Researches on these plants showed promising anti-anemic activity. Analysis and documentation of this knowledge has not only helped the analysis and recognition of novel information, it also contributed to conserving it for future generations.

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