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Medicinal plants used by traditional medicine practitioners to boost the immune system in people living with HIV/AIDS in Uganda

: Anywar, Godwin; Kakudidi, Esezah; Byamukama, Robert; Mukonzo, Jackson; Schubert, Andreas; Oryem-Origa, Hannington


European journal of integrative medicine 35 (2020), Art. 101011
ISSN: 1876-3820
ISSN: 1876-3839
Journal Article
Fraunhofer IZI ()
medicinal plants; ethnobotanical survey; Immunomodulation; Herbalists; HIV; Uganda

Introduction: People living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV) widely use medicinal plants for boosting immunity and managing infections. The aim of this study was to document the medicinal plant species used by herbalists to boost the immune system of people living with HIV/AIDS in Uganda. Materials and methods: Semi-structured questionnaires were administered to 90 herbalists to obtain ethnobotanical information on medicinal plant species used in different parts of Uganda. A detailed literature review of the pharmacology, phytochemistry, toxicology and other traditional used of the documented medicinal plants was also conducted. Results: Seventy-one medicinal plant species from 37 families and 64 genera were identified. Trees contributed 38.0 % of the species used and herbs 35.2 %. The majority of the herbal medicines were made from leaves (35.6 %), bark (24.1 %) and roots (20.7 %). Zanthoxylum chalybeum Engl. and Psidium guajava L. were the most widely used species with citation frequencies (CF) of 11 each. These were followed by Warburgia ugandensis Sprague, Acacia hockii De Wild. and Bridelia micrantha (Hochst.) Baill (CF = 8 each), Mangifera indica L., Markhamia lutea (Benth.) K. Schum., Aloe vera (L.) Burm.f. and Erythrina abyssinica DC. (CF = 7 each). Most traditional medicine practitioners (TMP) (85.6%) used herbs for boosting immunity for PLHIV, whether or not the patients were on antiretroviral treatment. The patients often disclosed their sero-status to the TMP who considered all PLHIV to be immunocompromised. Conclusion: Herbalists widely prescribe medicinal plant species for boosting or restoring the immunity in PLHIV in Uganda.