Medicinal plants used in treatment and management of cancer in Kakamega County, Kenya.

Dominic O. Ochwang’I., Charles N. Kimwele. JOPGJMSKAKMG. "Medicinal plants used in treatment and management of cancer in Kakamega County, Kenya. ." Journal of Ethnopharmacology.. 2014;151:1040-1055.


Ethnopharmacological relevance: Traditional medicine plays a critical role in treatment of chronic
debilitating and life threatening conditions and diseases. Cancer is one such condition whose therapeutic
intervention is commonly through inexpensive traditional herbal remedies. Increasingly industrialised
societies are developing drugs and chemotherapeutics from these traditional herbal plants. Plant
biogeography determines the abundance and availability of medicinal plants which in turn determine
their use by local communities. The present study was carried out in Kakamega County of Kenya to
identify and document medicinal plants used for treatment and management of cancer states by
communities living adjacent to Kakamega Tropical rainforest of Kakamega County, Kenya.
Materials and methods: An ethnobotanical survey was done using semi-structured questionnaires
administered to 32 randomly selected herbalists from Kakamega County.
Results and discussion: Sixty five (65) plants of 59 genera and 32 families were identified as candidates in
therapeutic intervention against cancer states. Most commonly cited plant species were Spathodea
campanulata P. Beauv. ssp. nilotica (Seem), Microglossa pyrifolia (Lam.) Kuntze, Harungana madagascariensis
Lam. ex poir, Prunus africana (Hook. f.) kalkman, Cyphostemma serpens (A. Rich), Catharanthus
roseus (L.) G. Don and Aloe volkensii Engl. The following were documented for the first time;
Aeschynomene abyssinica (A. Rich.) Vatke, Synsepalum cerasiferum (welw.) T. D penn., Albizia coriaria
Welw. ex Oliv., Aloe volkensii Engl. Bridelia micrantha (Hochst.) Baill, Croton macrostachyus Delile,
Cyphostemma serpens (A. Rich), Dicliptera laxata C.B. Clarke, Ekebergia capensis Sparrm., Gardenia volkensii
K. schum. ssp. volkensii, Glycine wightii (wight & Arn.), Ocimum gratissimum Suave, Olea hotcsh spp.
hochstetteri, Pavetta abyssinica Fresen., Phyllanthus fischeri Pax, Psydrax schimperiana (A. Rich), Rhus
vulgaris Meikle, Senna didymobotyra (Fresen.) Irwin and Barneby, Solanecio nandensis (S. Moore) C. Jeffrey,
Solanum mauritianum Scop, Spathodea campanulata P. Beauv. ssp. nilotica (Seem), Spermacoce princea
(K. Schum.) Verdc., Tabernaemontana stapfiana Britten, Tragia brevipes Pax and Zanthoxylum gilletii (De
Wild.) P.G.Waterman. The most frequently used plant parts were fresh or dried leaves and stem barks.
Administration to patients was almost exclusively oral, with the exceptions being topical application
especially for breast cancer and skin sarcomas.
Conclusions: This study identified diverse medicinal plants used in therapeutic and management
intervention against cancer by communities living adjacent to Kakamega Tropical Rainforest. The
primary mode of administration was oral.

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