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Ethnomedicinal Flora of Otuo People of Edo State, Nigeria

M. Idu, H.I. Onyibe, O. Timothy and J.O. Erhabor
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The study reports oral information on the ethnomedicinal uses of plant remedies in traditional health-care among Otuo tribe of Edo State, Nigeria. Records of 51 plant species belonging to 47 genera of 34 families are presented with their local names, parts used, preparations, modes of administration, dosage and uses.

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M. Idu, H.I. Onyibe, O. Timothy and J.O. Erhabor, 2008. Ethnomedicinal Flora of Otuo People of Edo State, Nigeria. Asian Journal of Plant Sciences, 7: 8-12.

DOI: 10.3923/ajps.2008.8.12



The sampling area, Otuo, is inhabited by a clan in Owan East Local Government Area of Edo State, Nigeria. It is located between 712` N. and 555` W (Fig. 1). It is surrounded by a mountainous terrain; the climate is comparable with that of a rainforest zone, promoting the growth and development of a rich biodiversity. The natives are mainly involved in agriculture, weaving, pottery and blacksmithing.

Image for - Ethnomedicinal Flora of Otuo People of Edo State, Nigeria
Fig. 1: Location map of Owan east local government area

They are plagued with several diseases not uncommon among developing tropical regions. However, the near absence of modern health care facilities and personnel in the locality makes folk medicine practice the primary source of health care among the locals. Although some of the practices are beclouded with rituals and superstition, most of the remedies are based on rather simple preparation and application of certain plants, or plant parts commonly found around their immediate vicinity. However, the insight to such medicinal recipe is jealously guarded and controlled by a few individuals, predominantly in the class of the elderly who are often revered for their perceived `special powers`. They are referred to by various names such as herbalist, native doctor or witch doctor and they are popular among the natives.

Earlier records attest to the curative and ethnomedicinal practices of some tribes of the world (Ayensu, 1978; Keay, 1989; Gill, 1992; Sofowora, 1993; Kumar and Jain, 1998; Idu and Olorunfemi, 2000; Idu and Omoruyi, 2003; Idu et al., 2006). This report focuses on the medicinal folk use of some plant species among the Otuos of Edo State, Nigeria.


Ethno-medicinal data collection was based on oral interview, aided by structured questionnaire. Fifty local informants, mostly herbal practitioners and a few aged persons, both male and female, they were interviewed individually, under relaxed atmosphere. Their selection was geographically widespread to accommodate a good sample of the entire population. Any information provided was considered credible whenever there is correlation with another independent report. However, attempts to obtain more precise quantification for preparations and dose did not enjoy much coherence as the healers do not employ the use of standard measuring vessel or scale. For such, information were recorded in approximate terms such as one handful, two pieces of root, one cup three times a day etc. (Table 1).

The assistance of a colleague who is a native of the clan, coupled with the offer of cash incentive greatly facilitated the relative ease with which the informants divulged their ethno-medicinal knowledge. Fresh samples of the reported plants were collected from the field for proper identification by using standard texts (Olorode,1984; Keay, 1989; Akobundu and Agyakwa, 1998). The study was carried out between December 2006 and March 2007. The Voucher copies of plants collected were deposited in Botany Department Herbarium, University of Benin.

Table 1: Enumeration of plants used by the Otuos
Image for - Ethnomedicinal Flora of Otuo People of Edo State, Nigeria
* I = Internal, E = External, + = in use, - = not in use

1984; Keay, 1989; Akobundu and Agyakwa, 1998). The study was carried out between December 2006 and March 2007. The Voucher copies of plants collected were deposited in Botany Department Herbarium, University of Benin.


Plants have been used as a source of medicine since ancient times (Farnsworth and Bingel, 1997; Yesilada, 2005). TM is the source of primary health care to 80% of world`s population (Alves and Rosa, 2005). The present survey accounts for 51 plant species in 47 genera belonging to 34 families which are commonly used among the Otuos in traditional health care for a variety of disease conditions such as hypertension, renal problem, women`s reproductive health, visual defect, cough, etc. The popularity of these plant remedies among the natives attests to their efficacy. Trees, herbs and weed plant species were well represented in their choice of remedies, this contrast earlier report about the predominance of tree species in Bachama ethno-medicine (Idu et al., 2006). Most of the remedies were prepared from single plant source, whereas a few others had to be in combination with other common plants.

Many pharmaceutical products of modern time can be traced to insight derived from indigenous knowledge (Robbers et al., 1996). This study further substantiate the key place traditional medicine occupies in the adequate and sustainable delivery of health care services to the peoples of the world, especially those inhabiting the developing, rural communities.


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