Bapedi Phytomedicine and their use in the Treatment of Sexually Transmitted Infections in Limpopo Province, South Africa
Thirty four traditional healers from 17 municipalities, covering three districts of the Limpopo Province, were interviewed during the first half of 2011. Fourty seven plant species belonging to 32 families, mostly from the Asteraceae (9%), Asphodelaceae, Fabaceae and Hyacinthaceae (6% for each) were used to treat sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as gonorrhoea, HIV/AIDS, nta (unspecified verneral disease - Bapedi terminology) and syphilis. Eighty seven percent of the species were used to treat a single STI, with the remainder being used to treat two STIs. Double-used species include: Aloe marlothii (gonorrhoea and chlamydia), Callilepis salicifolia (gonorrhoea and HIV/AIDS), Cucumis myriocarpus (gonorrhoea and syphilis), Drimia elata (gonorrhoea and HIV/AIDS), Hypoxis hemerocallidea (gonorrhoea and HIV/AIDS) and Ziziphus mucronata (gonorrhoea and nta). Diagnosis of STIs by Bapedi traditional healers is based primarily on the presentation of symptoms and certain behavioural traits, which are not always accurate indicators. The present study concludes that Bapedi traditional healers’ knowledge can lead to useful medicinal plants to manage and treat STIs. Furthermore, given the necessary health information and support, these healers could play an important role in the management and treatment of STIs in the Limpopo Province.