African Journal of
Environmental Science and Technology

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Environ. Sci. Technol.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1996-0786
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJEST
  • Start Year: 2007
  • Published Articles: 1126

Full Length Research Paper

Essential and potentially toxic trace elements in selected antimalarial plants: A pilot study in Kilembe copper mine catchment, Kasese District, Uganda

Sarah Namara
  • Sarah Namara
  • Department of Environmental Management, Makerere University, P. O. Box 7062, Kampala, Uganda.
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Abraham R. Mwesigye
  • Abraham R. Mwesigye
  • Department of Forestry, Biodiversity and Tourism, Makerere University P. O. Box 7062, Kampala, Uganda.
  • Google Scholar
Esther Katuura
  • Esther Katuura
  • Department of Plant Sciences, Microbiology and Biotechnology, Makerere University P. O. Box 7062, Kampala, Uganda.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 20 May 2022
  •  Accepted: 21 September 2022
  •  Published: 31 October 2022


Majority of people in rural areas of Uganda and other malaria-endemic parts of the world use medicinal plants to treat the disease. This study documented medicinal plants used to treat malaria around Kilembe copper mines and assessed the presence of essential and potentially toxic elements. Household surveys and key informant interviews were carried out while anti-malarial plants were sampled, prepared and concentrations of Fe, Mn, Zn, Co, Cu and Ni determined by atomic absorption spectrometry. It was established that Vernonia amygdalina (40%), Ocimum suave (35%), Justicia betonica (32%) and Aloe felox (20%) were the most used plants to treat malaria. Leaves were the most commonly used plant part (83%) while decoctions were reported by 51% of respondents. Concentration of trace elements (mg/kg) in the four plant species ranged from 50.4-422 (Mn), 16.7-202 (Fe), and 19.6-198 (Zn) and from 1.6-44.1, 0-7, and 0.1-31.5 for Cu, Co and Ni, respectively. Fe, Cu and Ni exceeded the recommended thresholds in almost all  Kilembe  mine samples  as  well  as  controls while Mn, Zn and Co exceeded thresholds in more  than  25% of  the samples. Remediation of Kilembe catchment soils as well as public sensitisation on the safety of medicinal plants is recommended.


Key words: Malaria, medicinal plants, trace elements, Kilembe mine.