Back to Annual Meeting
Back to Annual Meeting
APHA Scientific Session and Event Listing

Identification of medicinal plants used in obstetrics by Maasai of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania

Rebecca Warne Peters, MPH, MA, Department of Anthropology, Brown University, 128 Hope Street, Providence, RI 02912, (401) 383-1447, Rebecca_Peters@Brown.edu

A preliminary survey of the Maasai ethnobotanical pharmacopoeia was undertaken in 1998 in cooperation with the Endulen Mission Hospital, the University of Dar es Salaam, the Institute of Traditional Medicine, and the Associated Colleges of the Midwest Tanzania Program. Presented here are results from interviews with traditional birth attendants (TBAs) trained in the hospital's community outreach program. TBAs were interviewed individually, with simultaneous translation from Maa to English, in 6 regions of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania. Fifteen local plant species commonly used either to enhance fertility, during pregnancy and parturition, or during the postpartum phase, were identified and their preparations and uses explained verbally in the interviews. Specimens of each were collected and identified by a botanist at the University of Dar es Salaam Herbarium. Of these 16 species, at least 7 have been previously examined in ethnopharmacological literature, with 4 of these found to have biochemical properties which support their uses in the traditional pharmacopoeia. Of the 9 whose species were not found in the literature review, examinations of the same genus have been found for 7, yielding largely inconclusive results as to physiological effects. The findings presented add to a basic understanding of the Maasai pharmacopoeia, and suggestions are made both for further research and for practical application supporting reproductive health in the region.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Maternal Care, Pharmacies

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Not Answered

Taking Care of Mothers

The 134th Annual Meeting & Exposition (November 4-8, 2006) of APHA