Documentation and propagation of medicinal plants used for HIV/AIDS management in Mpigi District, Uganda
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HIV/AIDS continues to exact a large toll on humans everywhere in the world. Currently western medicine remains the treatment of choice. However, it does not provide a complete cure. Treatment outcome from HAART is further compromised by the development of resistant HIV-1 strains and potential toxicity of the drugs. It is therefore necessary to develop alternative treatment strategies in the management of the disease. However, if we are to have a sustainable supply of herbal medicines, we need to safe guard the plant populations that form the basis of traditional medicine. An ethnobotanical study was therefore conducted in Mpigi district to document medicinal plants used in HIV/AIDS management and how they can be propagated. The ethnobotanical survey comprised of interviews with traditional healers and a plant propagation experiment. The study findings are that traditional healers use herbal medicine to manage HIV/AIDS. A total of 277 species are used in various combinations to manage HIV/AIDS. The most frequently treated HIV/AIDS associated conditions include cough, fever, skin diseases, diarrhea, herpes zoster, vomiting and tuberculosis. Healers commonly prepare decoctions. The herbal medicine is mostly administered orally. Leaves, stem bark and root bark are the most commonly used plant parts. Senna spectablis, Psidium guajava, Delonax regia, Calliandra calothyrsus and Maesopsis eminii (Mpigi) had a good germination of 60% or higher. Milicia excelsa, Canarium schweinfurthii, Entada abyssinica, and Cordial africana had a low germination of less than 20%. Propagation of Zanthoxylum leprieurii and Warbugia ugandensis failed in the experiment. Application of fertilizer had an effect on enhancing seedling growth. Watering seedlings three times a week was found essential for healthy plants for field planting. Traditional healers continue to experiment on various approaches to HIV/AIDS management. Conservation of medicinal plants is urgent since the methods of harvesting are unsustainable. Further research should be conducted to isolate plant biochemical compounds that can be used to develop the HIV/AIDS drug. Clinical observation should also be carried out to validate the healers’ claim.