Listed in Issue 152


NJOROGE and BUSSMANN, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Botany Department, P.O. Box 62000, Nairobi, Kenya,, have studied the traditional management of skin diseases among the Kikuyus of Central Kenya.


Skin health is increasingly becoming an important aspect of primary health care among many communities particularly because of the increased challenge of HIV-AIDS, skin conditions being among the common opportunistic diseases in immuno-compromised individuals. The aim of this study was to investigate the use of traditional plant remedies in managing various skin conditions in the Central Province of Kenya.


Survey amongst the Kikuyu tribe.


57 plant species were identified as regularly used. Of these plants 27 species were mentioned three or more times. Some of the highly utilized species include: Croton megalocarpus, Senna didymobotrya (African Senna), Vernonia lasiopus, Croton macrostachyus and Aloe secundifolia (a close relative of aloe vera). In the majority of the cases the sap (occasionally the latex) was applied directly to the affected areas. In other cases the plant parts were heated and used as poultice. Only in a few conditions were the plant parts boiled and the extract used for washing affected areas, probably acting as an antiseptic. This study found that 14 skin conditions were commonly managed using herbal preparations. Of these conditions 9 had informant consensus of 0.5 and above, with the highest consensus found in management of swellings and skin sores. Soils were also cited as an important non-plant resource for management of skin conditions especially those associated with measles.


Since most skin conditions are caused by microorganisms (such as bacteria, viruses and fungi), the medicinal plants and other resources reported in this study form a justifiable basis for antimicrobial trials, pharmacological and phytochemical analysis, with promising results.


Njoroge GN, Bussmann RW. Ethnotherapeautic management of skin diseases among the Kikuyus of Central Kenya. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 111 (2): 303-307, May 4, 2007.

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