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Ethnobotanical survey of medicinal plants used in Kakamega County, western Kenya

Elizabeth Odongo, Nelly Mungai, Peggoty Mutai, Esther Karumi, Julius Mwangi, Joseph Omale.

Aim: This study was carried out to identify medicinal plants used by the Luhya community in Kakamega County and promote preservation of this traditional knowledge.
Methods: An ethnobotanical study was carried out between March 2016 and April 2016. Information from the 26 participants was obtained through face to face interviews, field observations and by the use of semi-structured questionnaires. Literature review was done to identify the previously reported traditional uses and pharmacological activities. The relative frequency of citation (RFC), use values (UV) and fidelity level (FL) values of the reported medicinal plants were calculated.
Results: A total of 94 plants from 41 botanical families were reported to be used as medicinal plants. 25.5% of the plants were from the Asteraceae and Fabaceae families and the plant parts commonly used were leaves (48%) and roots (29%). The herbal remedies were prepared mainly (65%) as decoctions while the preferred (80%) route of administration was oral. 25 medicinal plant species were reported for the first time in Kakamega County. Remedies for malaria, stomach aches, skin diseases and backache were frequently sought.
Conclusion: The ethnobotanical and pharmacological literature reviewed justify the use of these 94 species in traditional medicine for both the prevention and treatment of diseases.

Key words: medicinal plants, ethnobotanical information, Kenya, Kakamega County

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