Tanzania has over 12,000 plant species, some of which are endemic and have potential to yield useful medicines. This study seeks to document such plants used as traditional medicines for treatment of malaria in Kagera region of northwestern Tanzania and Lindi region in south eastern Tanzania. The study also reports on the antiplasmodial activity against chloroquine-resistant Plasmodium falciparum (Dd2) strain of some of the documented plants using the parasite lactate dehydrogenase method. A total of 108 plant species, among which the families Compositae (14; 12.96%), Fabaceae (12; 11.11%), Euphorbiaceae (8; 7.41%), Melastomataceae (6; 5.56%) and Myrtaceae (4; 3.70%) were documented. Sixteen (16; 44.4%) of 36 extracts from 31 plant species that were tested inhibited malaria parasites growth by more than 50%. Bersema abyssinica stem bark extract was the most active with 86.67% inhibition rate followed by Bridelia micrantha stem bark extract with 71.87% inhibition rate. These results confirm the potential for plants used in traditional medicine to yield active antimalarial compounds. Further in vitro and in vivo screening supported by bioassay-guided isolation of active compounds from plants showing good safety margin is suggested.
Key words: Ethnobotanical survey, medicinal plants, malaria, treatment, in vitro antiplasmodial, Tanzania.
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