Planta Med 2013; 79(07): 600-611
DOI: 10.1055/s-0032-1328326
Women's Health
Reviews
Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York

Phytotherapy and Womenʼs Reproductive Health: The Cameroonian Perspective

Dieudonne Njamen
1  Department of Animal Biology and Physiology, Faculty of Science, University of Yaounde 1, Yaounde, Cameroon
,
Marie Alfrede Mvondo
1  Department of Animal Biology and Physiology, Faculty of Science, University of Yaounde 1, Yaounde, Cameroon
2  Department of Animal Biology, Faculty of Science, University of Dschang, Dschang, Cameroon
,
Sefirin Djiogue
1  Department of Animal Biology and Physiology, Faculty of Science, University of Yaounde 1, Yaounde, Cameroon
,
Germain Jean Magloire Ketcha Wanda
3  Department of Psychology, Faculty of Arts, Letters and Social Sciences, University of Yaounde 1, Yaounde, Cameroon
,
Chantal Beatrice Magne Nde
4  Prince Henryʼs Institute for Medical Research, Melbourne, Australia
,
Günter Vollmer
5  Molecular Cell Physiology and Endocrinology, Institute of Zoology, University of Technology, Dresden, Germany
› Author Affiliations
Further Information

Publication History

received 02 January 2013
revised 13 February 2013

accepted 16 February 2013

Publication Date:
28 March 2013 (online)

Abstract

Approximately 80 % of the population in Africa use traditional medicinal plants to improve their state of health. The reason of such a wide use of medicinal plants has been mainly attributed to their accessibility and affordability. Expectation of little if any side effects, of a “natural” and therefore safe treatment regimen, as well as traditional beliefs additionally contribute to their popularity. Several of these plants are used by women to relieve problems related to their reproductive health, during or after their reproductive life, during pregnancy, or following parturition. The African pharmacopoeia thus provides plants used for preventing and/or treating gynecological infections, dysmenorrhea, irregular menstruations, oligomenorrhea or protracted menstruation, and infertility. Such plants may then be used as antimicrobians, emmenagogues, or as suppressors of uterine flow. African medicinal plants are also used during pregnancy for prenatal care, against fetal malposition or malpresentation, retained dead fetus, and against threatened abortion. Some others are used as anti-fertilizing drugs for birth control. Such plants may exert various activities, namely, anti-implantation or early abortifacient, anti-zygotic, blastocytotoxic, and anti-ovulatory effects. Some herbs could also act as sexual drive suppressors or as a post-coital contraceptive by reducing the fertility index. A number of these plants have already been subject to scientific investigations and many of their properties have been assessed as estrogenic, oxytocic, or anti-implantation. Taking into account the diversity of the African pharmacopoeia, we are still at an early stage in the phytochemical and pharmacological characterization of these medicinal plants that affect the female reproductive system, in order to determine, through in vitro and in vivo studies, their pharmacological properties and their active principles.