The traditional use of southern African medicinal plants in the treatment of viral respiratory diseases: A review of the ethnobotany and scientific evaluations
Cock, Ian E.
Van Vuuren, Sandy F.
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Ethnopharmacological relevance: Viral respiratory infections are amongst the most common infections globally, with most of the world’s population contracting at least one infection annually. Numerous plant species are used in traditional southern African healing systems to treat these diseases and to alleviate the symptoms. Despite this, the therapeutic potential of these plants against viral respiratory diseases remains poorly explored. Aim of the study: The aim of this study was to document the southern African plant species used in traditional medicine to treat viral respiratory infections. We also examined the extent of scientific evaluations of southern African plant species against the respiratory-infective viruses, with the aim of stimulating interest in this area and focusing on future studies. Materials and methods: We undertook an extensive review of ethnobotanical books, reviews and primary scientific studies to identify southern African plants which are used in traditional southern African medicine to treat viral respiratory diseases. This information was used to identify gaps in the current research that require further study. Results: Two hundred and fifty-seven southern African plant species were identified as traditional therapies for viral respiratory diseases. Surprisingly, only one of those species (as well as twenty-one other species not recorded for these purposes) has been evaluated for the ability to block respiratory virus production. Furthermore, most of these studies screened against a single viral strain and none of those studies examined the mechanism of action of the plant preparations. Conclusions: Despite well documented records of the use of southern African plants to treat respiratory viral diseases, the field is poorly explored. Nearly all of the plant species used in traditional healing systems to treat these diseases are yet to be tested. Substantial further work is required to verify the efficacy of these traditional medicines.
Link to resourcehttps://doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2020.113194
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