Ethnobotanical study of indigenous knowledge on medicinal plant use by traditional healers in Oshikoto region, Namibia
Background: The objective of this study was to establish a regional profile of the indigenous knowledge system
(IKS) for medicinal plant use and cultural practices associated with the healing process of these plants by
traditional healers in the Oshikoto region, Namibia.
Methods: An ethnobotanical survey was undertaken to collect information from traditional healers during
September and October 2008. Data was collected through the use of questionnaires and personal interviews
during field trips in the ten constituencies of the Oshikoto region. A total of 47 respondents were interviewed with
most of them aged 66 and above.
Results: The traditional healers in Oshikoto region use 61 medicinal plant species that belong to 25 families for the
treatment of various diseases and disorders with the highest number of species being used for mental diseases
followed by skin infection and external injuries. Trees (28 species) were found to be the most used plants followed
by herbs (15 species), shrubs (10 species) and climbers (4 species). The average of the informant consensus factor
(FIC) value for all ailment categories was 0.75. High FIC values were obtained for Pergularia daemia, and Tragia
okanyua, which were reported to treat weakness and dizziness problems, snake bite, swelling and cardiovascular
problems indicating that these species traditionally used to treat these ailments are worth examining for bioactive
Conclusions: The traditional healers in Oshikoto possess rich ethno-pharmacological knowledge. This study allows
for identifying many high value medicinal plant species, indicating high potential for economic development
through sustainable collection of these medicinal plants.