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Medicinal Plants Used to Treat Neurological Disorders in West Africa: A Case Study with Guinea-Bissau Flora

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DOI: 10.4236/ajps.2012.327122    7,536 Downloads   12,432 Views   Citations

ABSTRACT

The sub-Saharan region holds a wide variety of indigenous plant species, still offering the possibility to discover very interesting new natural products with potential therapeutic value. Most of the African population depends on traditional medicine for primary health care, however, neurological disorders are often not considered as common diseases and many people with mental illnesses, like epilepsy, are severely affected by health-related stigma and discrimination. Epilepsy is the most common serious chronic brain disorder, estimated to affect at least 10 million people in Africa. Guinea-Bissau is located in West Africa, and its population is mainly rural with very few health services available. Since the earliest times, Guinea-Bissau flora has constituted the main source of materials used in folk medicine and the local population, who is well versed in the uses of these plants and their properties. The aim of this study was to document the existing knowledge and practices related to the treatment of neurological disorders, namely epilepsy and seizures, in Guinea-Bissau and in other West African countries. The results presented from this study provide information not only on the specific plants used to treat neurological disorders, but also on social knowledge brought in by various ethnic groups, each one having its own culture, beliefs and ways of nature appropriation. Taking into account the existing knowledge on the medicinal properties of plants for treatment of neurologic disorders, it is believed that research in the areas of ethnomedicine and ethnopharmacology in Guinea-Bissau can bring promising results capable of adding value to the very rich natural resources of this country of West Africa.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Cite this paper

M. Romeiras, M. Duarte, B. Indjai and L. Catarino, "Medicinal Plants Used to Treat Neurological Disorders in West Africa: A Case Study with Guinea-Bissau Flora," American Journal of Plant Sciences, Vol. 3 No. 7A, 2012, pp. 1028-1036. doi: 10.4236/ajps.2012.327122.

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