Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 8
  • Cited by
    This chapter has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Alemu, Diress T. Nyariki, Dickson M. and Farah, Kassim O. 2000. Changing Land-use Systems and Socio-economic Roles of Vegetation in Semi-arid Africa: The Case of the Afar and Tigrai of Ethiopia. Journal of Social Sciences, Vol. 4, Issue. 2-3, p. 199.

    Giday, Mirutse Asfaw, Zemede Elmqvist, Thomas and Woldu, Zerihun 2003. An ethnobotanical study of medicinal plants used by the Zay people in Ethiopia. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Vol. 85, Issue. 1, p. 43.

    Suleman, Sultan and Alemu, Tamirat 2012. A Survey on Utilization of Ethnomedicinal Plants in Nekemte Town, East Wellega (Oromia), Ethiopia. Journal of Herbs, Spices & Medicinal Plants, Vol. 18, Issue. 1, p. 34.

    Bekele, Abreham Feyissa, Tileye and Tesfaye, Kassahun 2014. Genetic diversity of anchote (Coccinia abyssinica (Lam.) Cogn.) from Ethiopia as revealed by ISSR markers. Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution, Vol. 61, Issue. 3, p. 707.

    Araya, Solomon Abera, Balcha and Giday, Mirutse 2015. Study of plants traditionally used in public and animal health management in Seharti Samre District, Southern Tigray, Ethiopia. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine, Vol. 11, Issue. 1,

    Meaza, Gidey Tadesse, Beyene Maria, Adele Signorini Piero, Bruschi and Gidey, Yirga 2015. Traditional medicinal plants used by Kunama ethnic group in Northern Ethiopia. Journal of Medicinal Plants Research, Vol. 9, Issue. 15, p. 494.

    Kandari, Laxman Singh Negi, Tripti Thakur, Ashok Kumar and Yilma, Eshetu 2015. Ethnobotanical and indigenous knowledge of important plants in East Hararghe, Eastern Ethiopia. Journal of Mountain Science, Vol. 12, Issue. 6, p. 1521.

    Tewodros, Kelemu and Worku, Wolde 2018. Ethnobotanical study of indigenous knowledge on medicinal plants used to treat diseases in selected districts of Amhara Regional State, Ethiopia. Journal of Medicinal Plants Research, Vol. 12, Issue. 29, p. 528.

  • Print publication year: 1991
  • Online publication date: October 2009

6 - Plants as a primary source of drugs in the traditional health practices of Ethiopia



The maintenance of health by means of various techniques and substances is almost as old as the history of human evolution itself. Although the resources available were easily drawn from the natural environment, their efficacy for solving problems which reduce life expectancy was established only through rigorous trials over a considerable period of time, often involving Man himself as subject of the experiment.

Our ancestors, and millions of people in modern Africa, have relied heavily on plants, animals and minerals to ward off pathogens and to maintain the functional balance of each organ. Many species of plants had to be tested and retested in the endless search for drugs that could prolong life or, it was believed, even confer immortality. Many plants have been found to possess the desired effects as a result of well planned experiments, while some discoveries were just a product of serendipity. Many sacrifices had to be made, however, not only in terms of money and time, but also in terms of human lives.

Until a generation or two ago plants were the primary source of health care for entire populations in most African countries and such plants still remain important sources of drugs for nearly 80 per cent of the population in contemporary Ethiopia. In spite of this we still know very little, whilst many Africans who receive their education abroad believe that imported drugs are always superior, even if these are unaffordable to the large majority of the population.

Recommend this book

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this book to your organisation's collection.

Plant Genetic Resources of Ethiopia
  • Online ISBN: 9780511551543
  • Book DOI:
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to *