Review Article

The medical ethnobotany of Lesotho: a review

A. Moteetee, B. E. van Wyk
Bothalia | Vol 41, No 1 | a52 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/abc.v41i1.52 | © 2011 A. Moteetee, B. E. van Wyk | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 13 December 2011 | Published: 13 December 2011

About the author(s)

A. Moteetee, Department of Botany and Plant Biotechnology, University of Johannesburg, South Africa
B. E. van Wyk, Department of Botany and Plant Biotechnology, University of Johannesburg, South Africa

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Abstract

Traditional healing in Lesotho is reviewed, focusing on four aspects: 1, cultural practices; 2, traditional health care practitioners; 3, dosage forms; 4, the materia medica. Cultural practices are strongly associated with the belief that intangible forces are responsible for human happiness and misery. A total of 303 plant species are used medicinally (including 25 alien species), representing eight pteridophyte and 75 angiosperm families, of which the most important are Asteraceae, Fabaceae, Hyacinthaceae, Apocynaceae, Scrophulariaceae, Lamiaceae and Poaceae. Dicoma anomala (used mainly for digestive ailments) and Artemisia afra (used mainly for respiratory ailments) appear to be the best known and most widely used medicinal plants amongst a total of 37 species that have been cited four or more times in the literature. About 50 species are variously employed for magic and sorcery. There are no new species records but 36 new uses are reported. Our conclusion is that the medicinal plants of Lesotho are relatively well recorded and that this review will allow detailed comparisons with other African healing cultures.

Keywords

Ethnobotany; Lesotho; Magic; Materia Medica; Medicine; Traditional Healers

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