Plants Used by Bapedi Traditional Healers to Treat Asthma and Related Symptoms in Limpopo Province, South Africa

19 Nov 2019

To the best of our knowledge there are presently no ethnobotanical surveys focusing on the utilisation of herbal remedies for asthma in South Africa. The present study is therefore an attempt to fill this gap in knowledge. A total of 140 Bapedi traditional healers (THs) practicing in the Capricorn, Sekhukhune, and Waterberg districts of the Limpopo Province (South Africa) were queried using semistructured questionnaires, supplemented by field observations during face-to-face interview. A total of 104 medicinal plant species (92 indigenous and 12 exotics) belonging to 92 genera, distributed across 54 botanical families, mostly the Asteraceae and Fabaceae (18.5%, for each) as well as Malvaceae (12.9%), were used as antiasthmatics and related symptoms by these THs. Most of the plants were trees and herbs (37.5%, for each), with root (57%), leaf (15.8%), and bark (7.5%), respectively, being the saliently used parts for preparation of remedies. Clerodendrum ternatum , Cryptocarya transvaalensis , Lasiosiphon caffer , Enicostema axillare , Mimusops obovata , Sclerocarya birrea , and Stylochaeton natalensis were widely used and valued by all THs across the surveyed districts. Furthermore, these taxa also scored both the highest use value and fidelity level indexes as asthma therapies. Overall, the larger number of species documented in the present study is recorded for the first time in literature as asthma and/or related symptoms remedies. Our study finding generally contributes towards an establishment of South African database of herbal therapies used traditionally against these conditions.