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

Correspondence

Dr. Dieudonné Njamen
Laboratory of Animal Physiology, Department of Animal Biology and Physiology, Faculty of Science, University of Yaounde 1
P. O. Box 812
Yaounde
Cameroon
Phone: +23 7 79 42 47 10   

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.


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Introduction

Traditional societies in Africa and elsewhere have always used herbs to promote health [1]. According to Okoli et al. [2], traditional medical practices on the African continent date as far back as 4000 years and were the sole medical system for health care before the advent of conventional medicine. Even today, traditional medicine is still the predominant means of health care in developing countries where about 80 % of their total population depends on it for their well-being [3]. The reason of such a broad 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 addititionally contribute to their popularity [3].

In this traditional system of medicine, plant extracts in forms of concoctions or infusions are used to treat a wide range of diseases. Some of these plants are used in connection with female reproductive health. Throughout history, women have tried to control or enhance their fertility with various levels of societal support. Since then, plant drugs have been used for their effects on reproductive function particularly for suppressing fertility, regulating menstrual cyclicity, relieving dysmenorrhea, treating menopausal symptoms, and breast pain. Plant materials have also been used during pregnancy against fetal malposition, threatened abortion, or amnionitis affecting the newborn [4], [5]. The sites of action of fertility and/or antifertility agents in females comprise the hypothalamus, the anterior pituitary, the ovary, the oviduct, the uterus, and the vagina. Plants in question affect the reproductive system through estrogenic/anti-estrogenic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antinociceptive activities. Plant extracts with estrogen-like properties in particular have been reported to mostly contain compounds endowed with estrogenic activities. Such compounds commonly known as phytoestrogens should be referred to as plant secondary metabolites with estrogenic activity, as they mimic part of estrogen action through estrogen receptor-mediated mechanisms. In addition, their mechanism of action depends on the levels of endogenous estrogens [6]. The present review aimed to highlight Central African medicinal plants used by women to relieve problems related to their reproductive health during or after their reproductive life, during pregnancy, or following parturition, with an emphasis on plants originating from Cameroon.


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Estrogen-like Acitivities of Secondary Metabolites from Some Central African Medicinal Plants

As previously reported [7], [8], [9], xenobiotics with estrogenic properties and plant secondary metabolites with this activity in particular preferentially exert their biological activity by: (1) mimicking the action of endogenous estrogens; (2) acting as estrogen antagonists; (3) altering the pattern of synthesis and metabolism of endogenous hormones; and (4) modifying hormone receptor values.

Up to date, a large variety of studies have reported the estrogenic properties of a number of Central African medicinal plants, namely, Eryhtrina lysistemon (Fabaceae) [10], [11], Brenania brieyi (Rubiaceae) [12], Millettia conraui (Leguminosae), Millettia drastica (Leguminosae), Bridelia ferruginea (Leguminosae) [13], and Erythrina poeppigiana (Fabaceae) [14], [15]. A mixture of Aloe buttneri (Liliacae), Justicia insularis (Acanthaceae), Hibiscus macranthus (Malvaceae), and Dicliptera verticillata (Acanthaceae) has also been associated with estrogenic properties [16], [17], [18]. The body of evidence for the respective estrogenic properties and of the above-cited plants is summarized in [Table 1].

Table 1 Some Cameroonian medicinal plants with estrogenic properties.

Name

Family

Plant part used

Extract

Estrogenic effects

Authors

Brenania brieyi

Rubiaceae

Fruits

Methanolic extract

  • Stimulated uterine growth and vaginal epithelial proliferation.

Magne Ndé et al. [12]

Erythrina lysistemon

Fabaceae

Stem barks

Ethyl acetate extract

  • Stimulated phosphatase alkaline in Ishikawa cells;

  • slightly stimulated uterine growth.

Tanee et al. [10]

  • Prevented bone loss, increased HDL-cholesterol and decreased triglycerides.

Njamen et al. [11]

Millettia conraui

Leguminoseae

Stem barks

Ethyl acetate extract

  • Increased uterine and vaginal epithelial heights;

  • stimulated alkaline phosphatase in Ishikawa cells.

Njamen et al. [13]

Millettia drastica

Leguminoseae

Stem barks

Ethyl acetate extract

Bridellia ferruginea

Leguminoseae

Leaves

Methanolic extract

Aloe buttneri

Liliaceae

Leaves

Aqueous

  • Stimulated uterine growth, increased ovarian weight;

  • increased ovarian and uterine levels;

  • increased serum estradiol levels and decreased ovarian cholesterol.

Telefo et al. [16], [17]

Dicliptera verticillata

Acantahceae

Leaves

Justicia insularis

Acanthaceae

Leaves

Hibiscus macranthus

Malvaceae

Stem leaves

Senecio biafrae

Asteraceae

Leaves

Aqueous

  • Puberty onset and stimulation of folliculogenesis.

Lienou et al. [18]

All the above-listed plant extracts exhibited direct estrogenic effects probably because of the presence of metabolites acting through either or both of the two estrogen receptors. To continue with the pharmacological characterization of these extracts, extended phytochemical studies are required. In-depth phytochemical studies have already been conducted on some of these plants.

As far as the Erythrina lysistemon extract is concerned, following a phytochemical analysis, alpinumisoflavone and abyssinone V-4′-methyl-ether have been isolated as major estrogenic constituents [19], [20]. In the same study, alpinumisoflavone (an isoflavone) and abyssinone V-4′-methyl-ether (a flavanone) were found to be responsible for the estrogenic effects of the crude extract of Erythrina lysistemon, as they stimulated uterine growth and/or vaginal proliferation. This estrogenic activity was shown to be estrogen receptor-mediated as both compounds bound both subtypes of the estrogen receptor in a ligand binding assay, although not with the same affinity and preference. Furthermore, alpinumisoflavone and abyssinone V-4′-methyl-ether reduced atherogenic risks by decreasing the two assessed atherogenic parameters, namely, the total cholesterol/HDL-cholesterol ratio and the atherogenic index of plasma in ovariectomized Wistar rats serving as a preclinical model for postmenopausal conditions. In the same study, both compounds were found to decrease serum gonadotrophin levels and to reduce the hot flush activity by increasing the ratio of FSH on LH [19]. Finally, whereas alpinumisoflavone induced clear estrogenic effects both on classical and nonclassical estrogen targets, the flavanone abyssinone V-4′-methyl-ether did affect only the vagina (suggesting the safety of treatment with this compound towards the uterus of female rats) and nonclassical estrogen targets such as the lipid metabolism, implying a tissue specific effect.

Concerning the study on Erythrina poeppigiana, crude methanolic and dichloromethane extracts of the stem bark of this plant induced significant estrogenic effects on some classical estrogenic targets, namely the uterus and vagina, following a three-day uterotrophic assay with ovariectomized rats (unpublished observations). Using classic chromatographic methods, five new isoflavones derivatives, namely, 5,4′-dihydroxy-7-methoxy-3′-(3-methylbuten-2-yl)isoflavone, 5,2′,4′-trihydroxy-7-methoxy-5′-(3-methylbuten-2-yl)isoflavone, 5,4′-dihydroxy-7-methoxy-3′-(3-methyl-2-hydroxybuten-3-yl)isoflavone, 3′-formyl-5,4′-dihydroxy-7-methoxyisoflavone, and 5-hydroxy-3′′-hydroxy-2′′,2′′-dimethyldihydropyrano[5′′,6′′: 3′,4′]isoflavone, as well as six known compounds, wighteone, 3′-isoprenylgenistein, isolupabigenin, alpinumisoflavone, erypoegin D, and crystacarpin, most of which are structurally related to the soy isoflavone genistein, were isolated [14]. Ligand binding assays with estrogen receptor-α and -β revealed that isoprenyl and dimethylpyrano substituents in ring A reduced the affinity of binding to ERβ approximately 100-fold compared to genistein; the isoprenyl substituent in ring B was better accommodated, allowing 3′-isoprenylgenistein to bind with ca. 10-fold lower affinity than genistein [14]. As a follow-up study on this plant, the estrogenic properties of the isolated isoflavones derivatives with isoprenyl and/or 7-methoxy substitution were evaluated using estrogen receptor-α− and -β-dependent reporter gene assays. These compounds are particularly interesting as they represent naturally occurring structural modifications, namely, isoprenylation and/or methoxylation at various positions of the genistein skeleton. These modifications were associated with a statistically significant activation of the ERα- and ERβ-dependent reporter gene expression starting from 0.1 nM and resulting in distinct functional properties. For example, the 7-methoxy-3′-isoprenyl and the 7-methoxy-3′-(3-methyl-2-hydroxybuten-3-yl) derivatives induced an ERα- and ERβ-coupled luciferase activity at a concentration ten times lower than that of genistein. Conversely, a double prenylation at positions 8 and 3′ was found to be associated with an almost complete loss of activity in the ERα-dependent system; but in the ERβ expressing system, the effectiveness remained on a statistically significant level, demonstrating an “exclusive ERβ-selectivity” in U2OS cells [15]. It will be interesting to investigate whether and to what extent these properties translate into in vivo effects, e.g., regarding bone and menopausal health.

Millettia griffoniana is used in traditional medicine in some village communities of Cameroon to treat menopausal disorders among others. Following phytochemistry, the estrogenic activities of some compounds isolated from M. griffoniana, namely, griffonianone C, griffonianone E, 7-O-geranylformononetin, 4′-O-geranylisoquiritigenin, 4′-methoxy-7-O-[(E)-3-methyl-7-hydroxymethyl-2,6-octadienyl]isoflavone, and 3′,4′-dihydroxy-7-O-[(E)-3,7-dimethyl-2,6-octadienyl]isoflavone, could be assessed [21]. Three different ERα-dependent assays revealed weak estrogenic properties of the above-mentioned substances. Griffonianone C was selected for in-depth studies on the modulation of the expression of several estrogen-responsive genes in various organs of ovariectomized rats [22], [23], confirming mild estrogenic properties and excluding the risk of stimulation of uterine proliferation.

Additional research efforts focused on the following four Cameroonian medicinal plants, Aloe buttneri, Justicia insularis, Hibiscus macranthus, and Dicliptera verticillata. The leaves of these four medicinal plants were mixed in the proportions indicated in traditional medicine and tested for hormonal properties in immature female Wistar rats. This mixture has been shown to significantly increase the weight of the ovaries and uterus, as well as their total proteins levels, and the serum estradiol level at the dose of 94 mg/kg/day. These effects were accentuated in the pubertal period [16], [17], probably due to the increase of estrogen receptors expression during puberty. The same authors showed that the acqueous extract from leaves and stem bark of Senecio biafrae induced premature puberty onset in immature female Wistar rat after a 30-day period of treatment at the doses of 8, 32, and 64 mg/kg/day, respectively, indicated by an effective folliculogenesis [18].

An experimental endpoint not related to reproduction but to menopausal health is the bone. In this respect, from the Cameroonian medicinal plant Pterospermum acerifolium, two phytoceramides were isolated and shown to exhibit estrogenic activities assessed by alkaline phosphatase production in osteoblasts [24].


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Cameroonian Medicinal Herbs and Womenʼs Reproductive Health

Women reproductive health does not only comprise fertility control or treatment of infertility problems but also implies genital organ health (prevention and/or treatment of gynecological infections). Many Cameroonian medicinal plants are therefore used as contraceptives (to prevent ovulation or fertilization), abortifacients (to prevent implantation or to push out unwanted conceptus), emmenagogues (to stimulate uterine flow), or oxytocics (to stimulate uterine contractions, particularly to promote labor) [25]. Some other plants are used for vaginal douching to prevent pregnancy or infections [26] or to enhance sexual stimulation of the male partner by drying or tightening the vagina [27], [28].

Besides the availability of the present methods of birth control, the population explosion and unintended pregnancies continue to pose major public health issues worldwide. The world population has exceeded 6.43 × 109 [29] and is increasing by 1 × 109 every 12 years. Ninety-five percent of this growth is in the developing nations, and particularly in Africa. In the USA, half of all pregnancies are unintended, which results in more than 1 × 106 elective abortions annually [30], [31]. This calls for a better method of contraception that is acceptable, effective, and available both in the developed and developing nations. In the African pharmacopoeia, there are an appreciable number of plants endowed with antifertility properties. Antifertility is a term used for the prevention of pregnancy and is often referred to as birth control. The basic aim of antifertility drugs is to prevent conception or fertilization. Though considerable progress has been made for the development of highly effective, acceptable, and reversible methods of contraception among females, options on the male side are still slow and limited [32].

As far as females are concerned, antifertility drugs are those that control ovulation and, if regularly consumed, function as effective contraceptives. For instance, widely known steroidal oral contraceptives are chemicals that control the female menstrual cycle and ovulation.

Natural products traditionally used as remedies for birth control in women could exert various activities: anti-implantation or early abortifacient, anti-zygotic, blastocytotoxic, and anti-ovulation. Some herbs could act as sexual drive suppressors or as postcoital contraceptive by reducing the fertility index [32], [33].

Birth control is not the sole burden of women as far as their reproductive health is concerned. Many women in Africa still face the problem of infertility. Indeed, infertility, defined as the inability to conceive after one year of regular intercourse, is said to affect 8–14 % of couples in European and Eastern countries [34], [35]. In Africa, infertility is a serious reproductive health problem with regional prevalence rates of 30–40 % [36]. Infection, which is the most common cause of infertility, affects the physical health of both men and women. Women in particular, also commonly suffer from severe negative social consequences such as stigmatization, ostracism, abuse, and economic deprivation [37], [38], [39]. The effective management of infertility therefore has a considerable impact on reproductive health in Africa. Traditional medicinal herbs used to treat female infertility may thus act against urogenital infections, tubal blocage, anovulatory cycles, or premature menopause.

An emmenagogue is an herb which stimulates menstrual bleeding. To provoke menstrual bleedings, emmenagogue herbs may act by stimulating uterine contractions. In the case of pregnancy, emmenagogue herbs might provoke, according to the stage of the pregnancy, abortion or childbirth. These emmenagogue herbs can then be used either to treat amenorrhea, or as oxytocic to hasten labor, or as an abortifacient.

Some other plants are traditionally used against oligomenorrheae or protracted menstruation (menorrhagia). Plants may also help during pregnancy against fetal malposition, threatened abortion, or amnionitis affecting the new born.

In 1996, Adjanohoun et al. [40] catalogued a large number of Cameroonian traditional medicinal plants among which were those used for womenʼs reproductive health. In [Table 2], we summarized some of the Cameroonian medicinal plants used for womenʼs reproductive purposes, as compiled from the Cameroonian Pharmacopoeia published by Adjanohoun et al. [40]. In this table, plants are classified according to their traditional use.

Table 2 Summary of Cameroonian medicinal plants and their traditional use for womenʼs reproductive health (compiled from the Cameroon Pharmacopoeia, by Adjanohoun et al. [40]).

Disorders

Botanical name

Vernacular name

Origin

Part used

Amenorrhea

Acanthospermum hispidum (Asteraceae)

Guirlayi in Fufulde (Cameroon).

Widespread throughout tropical Africa.

Leafy shoot

Breast abscess

Cogniauxia podolaena Baill (Cucurbitaceae)

“Beyeme elok” in Bulu or “Kol ekona ezouo” in Badjoun (Cameroon).

Widespread in Cameroon, Gabon, Congo, and Angola.

Leaves

Cervicitis

Desmodium hirtum (Leguminoseae-Papilionoideae)

“Sac-sac” in Mgem Mgem (Cameroon).

Found in savanna and pasture lands.

Leaves and stems

Defective lactation

Elephantopus mollis (Asteraceae)

“Akiba” in Bulu or “Toll” in Ewondo (Cameroon).

Found in abandoned cultivated land and in fringing forest.

Stem bark

Zanthoxylum gilletii De Willd (Rutaceae)

“Bongo” in Ewondo (Cameroon).

Forest regrowths, young secondary forests, from Sierra Leone to Angola and Sudan.

Barks

Dysmenorrhea

Acanthus montanus (Acanthaceae)

“Ndole elok” in Ewondo or “Ngick” in Bassa (Cameroon).

Forest region plants occurring from Benin to Angola.

Whole plant

Aloe buettneri (Liliaceae)

“Kagbayi” in Bamoun, “Lah-Ndih” in Bana, “Gassa” in Bandjoun, or “Adjan nkom” in Eton (Cameroon).

Savanna species, growing preferably in rocky areas. Found from Mali to the Central African Republic, Congo, and Angola to Malawi.

Leaves

Aloe vera (Liliaceae)

“Kouovut” or “Nschahsoure” in Bamoun (Cameroon).

Probably native of the Mediterranean region; propagated by rhizome.

Leaves

Anonidium mannii (Annonaceae)

“Mombou kombo” in Kaka.

A species of forest undergrowth. It is also found in Ghana, Nigeria, and Democratic Republic of Congo.

Bark

Begonia schaeferi (Begoniaceae)

“Woyamowo” in Bana (Cameroon).

Found in forests, by streams.

Leaves

Centella asiatica (Apiaceae)

“Iongion diep” in Bamenda (Cameroon).

Widely distributed in tropical Africa, Asia, and Australia. West Africa-East Africa.

Stem and leaves

Cissus quadrangularis (Vitaceae)

“Coeur” in Bafut, “Ndieh gap” in Bamoun, “Thor-Ngehkue” in Bana, “Nkohsat” in Bagangte, or “Nyo” or “Njel” in Bassa (Cameroon).

Widespread in the drier parts of Africa, Arabia, and India.

Fresh stem

Clerodendrum volubile (Verbenaceae)

“Tughlen” in Babungo (Cameroon).

Secondary forests, gallery forests, and along streams.

Bark

Emilia coccinea (Asteraceae)

“Alonvu” in Bulu, “Thohi” in Fufulde, or “Mahomambio” in Bassa (Cameroon).

Frequently found on roadsides, in sunny parts of the forest, and in the Guineo-Sudanese savanna.

Fresh leaves

Entandrophragma cylindricum (Meliaceae)

“Sbicha” in Banyangi, or “Assie” in Ewondo (Cameroon).

Species common in Guinean forest.

Bark

Gardenia aqualla (Rubiaceae)

“Digale” in Fufulde (Cameroon).

Hills in West Africa, in Ubangi-Shari, Sudan, and Kenya.

Roots

Gouania longipetala (Rhamnaceae)

“Konteh” in Lamso or “Sobomissile” in Badjoue (Cameroon).

Frequent in forest regrowth and in forest margins.

Fresh leaves

Khaya senegalensis (Meliaceae)

“Dalehi” or “Kalei” in Fufulde (Cameroon).

Sudano-Zambezian and sahelian region species, widespread from Senegal to Uganda.

Bark

Morinda lucida (Rubiaceae)

“Akeng” in Ewondo (Cameroon).

Forest region species, widespread from Guinea to Congo. It is more abundant in secondary formations.

Bark

Ozoroa pulcherrima (Anacardiaceae)

“Korewinabae” in Fufulde (Cameroon).

Sudano-Zambezian species, widespread from Guinea to Cameroon, in Central African Republic, in Ethiopia, and in the Sudan.

Roots

Picralima nitida (Apocynaceae)

“Bamborutuk” in Maka (Cameroon).

Species occurring in African forest regions, spread through Côte dʼIvoire to Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda.

Fruits

Piper umbellatum (Piperaceae)

“Mbubua” in Bana, “Mbebueh” in Badjoun, “Aboo Medjan” in Ewondo or “Abomejang” in Bulu, “Mbobou” in Balesing or “Bobong ngoh” in Kaka (Cameroon).

Heliophile species, widespread from Guinea to Cameroon and Angola.

Whole plant

Polyalthia suaveolens (Annonaceae)

“Afoumengen” in Mankon (Cameroon).

Primary forest, beside the river from Sierra Leone to Ghana.

Bark

Rauvolfia vomitoria (Apocynaceae)

“Medzanga medzanga” in Ewondo, “Ikwadongdongui” in Bassa, or “Sebal” in Fufulde (Cameroon).

Guinea-Congolese species, widespread in secondary formations; it grows in fringing forests and small groves of the Sudano-Guinean region.

Root bark

Sansevieria trifasciata (Agavaceae)

“Lah-Njue” in Bana or “Bascori” in Fufulde (Cameroon).

Usually found around dwellings from Sierra Leone to Democratic Republic of Congo.

Leaves

Setaria megaphylla (Poaceae)

“Akwo kwo” in Bakossi, “Kiwawa” in Lamso, or “Dikok” in Bakundu (Cameroon).

Species very common in forest zones; marshy places in forest, widespread in tropical and southern Africa and tropical America.

Leaves

Tylophora cameroonica (Asclepiadaceae)

“Babambe”, “Babambi”, or “Zarawolhi” in Fufulde (Cameroon).

Paleotropical plant; widespread through inter-tropical Africa mostly in dry regions.

Leaves

Zehneria scabra (Cucurbitaceae)

“Njombe” or “Kwandalempa” in Maka, “Bohgwei” in Lamso (Cameroon).

Savanna, rocky and ruderal plains. Equatorial Africa from Nigeria to Angola.

Roots

Irregular menstruation

Basella alba (Basellaceae)

“Ndore” in Bafut, “Laire gapou” in Fufulde, “Kefuveyit” in Oku, “Nnab” in Metta, or “Loh” in Bagangte (Cameroon).

West Africa to Asia, West Indies and East Africa; cultivated in vegetable gardens.

Aerial parts

Clerodendrum umbellatum (Verbenaceae)

“Nganwi” in Bafut, “Binyem” or “Dion” in Bassa, “Elok dibi” in Ewondo, or “Dor nkol” in Kaka (Cameroon).

Roadsides, swampy places.

Leaves

Eremomastax speciosa (Acanthaceae)

“Banguimoh” in Bafut, “Ekunte” in Bakossi, “Mejama Njombe” or “Maijai ma njombe” in Bakweri, “Essan dja” in Yebekolo, “Noni” in Mbo, or “Purple leaf” in Pidgin (Cameroon).

Widespread in tropical Africa.

Fresh leaves

Harungana madagascariensis (Hypericaceae)

“Toune” in Bamoun, “Ntone” in Bayang, or “Tiotinton” in Esso (Cameroon).

Sun-loving secondary forest species widely spread in all intertropical Africa, Madagascar, and Mascareigne islands.

Roots

Khaya senegalensis (Meliaceae)

“Dalehi” or “Kalei” in Fufulde (Cameroon).

Sudano-Zambezian and sahelian region species, widespread from Senegal to Uganda.

Stem bark

Milicia excelsa (Moraceae)

“Abang” in Ewondo, “Abang Iroko” in Mvele “Chou-lak” in Bagangte, “Mmat” in Bayang (Cameroon).

Plant growing in dense forests and forest galleries as well as savanna regions. Found from Côte dʼIvoire to Cameroon, Gabon to Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, and Angola.

Bark

Vernonia conferta (Asteraceae)

“Mbet mbu” in Bagante (Cameroon).

Secondary forest from Cameroon through Central Africa to Uganda and Angola.

Bark

Menorrhagia/protracted menstruation

Amaranthus hybridus (Amaranthaceae)

“Majouohe” in Balessing (Cameroon).

Commonly found cultivated or as a weed.

Leaves

Ampelocissus penthaphylla (Vitaceae)

“Nkweeti” in Lamso (Cameroon).

Abundant in wooded savanna extending from Senegal to Mozambique.

Leaves

Aspilia africana (Asteraceae)

“Kigavir” or “Kighair” in Lamso (Cameroon).

Secondary formation species, occurring from Senegal to Cameroon.

Leaves

Dyschoriste perrottetii (Acanthaceae)

“Nse net” in Lamso (Cameroon).

Plant found in tropical Africa from Senegal to Angola and from Ethiopia to South Africa.

Leaves

Prunus africana (Rosaceae)

“Bakiva” in Banyangi or “Kepa”, “Kira”, “Kilum”, and “Win wan” in Lamso (Cameroon).

Widely distributed on the mountains.

Leaves

Senecio biafrae (Asteraceae)

“Nsob” in Bakossi, “Nduwane” in Bana, or “Nboh” or “Borh nja nkom” in Lamso (Cameroon).

Cocoa plantation, fallows, roadsides.

Leafy twig

Sonchus angustissimus (Asteraceae)

“Bankar”, “Kirah”, or “Mborvingua” in Lamso (Cameroon).

High savanna.

Stem and leaves

Spilanthes africana (Asteraceae)

“Ntossi” in Badjoue or “Shishur sheshiv” in Lamso (Cameroon).

A plant of wet lands. It is found in countries of West and Central Africa.

Leaves

Oligomenorrhea

Asystasia gangetica (Acanthaceae)

“Basu ebu” in Ejagham (Cameroon).

Widespread throughout the tropics.

Soft aerial parts

Uterine hemorrhage

Setaria megaphylla (Poaceae)

“Akwo kwo” in Bakossi, “Dikoko” in Bakundu, “Kiwawa” in Lamso, or “Mekoapkoap” in Vomvom (Cameroon).

Species very common in forest zones; marshy places in forests, widespread in tropical and southern Africa and tropical America.

Leaves and stems

Vaginitis

Cissus quadrangularis (Vitaceae)

“Coeur” in Bafut, “Ndieh gap” in Bamoun, “Thor-Ngehkue” in Bana, “Nkohsat” in Bagangte, or “Nyo” or “Njel” in Bassa (Cameroon).

Widespread in the drier parts of Africa, Arabia, and India.

Leafy twig

Vulvovaginitis

Capsicum frutescens (Solanaceae)

“Olene” in Badjoue, “Hehoy” in Banen, “Ondondo ndodo” in Bulu, “Ndondon” in Ewondo, or “Shishur Shengamri” in Lamso (Cameroon).

Pantropical species growing in secondary formations, in the field, and sometimes cultivated.

Aerial parts and fuits

Clerodendrum umbellatum (Verbenaceae)

“Nganwi” in Bafut, “Binyem” in Bassa, Elok dibi” in Ewondo (Cameroon)

Roadsides, swampy places.

Tops of the plant

Detarium microcarpum (Leguminoseae-Caesalpinoideae)

“Nkwazi” in Bakoko (Cameroon).

Woodland species, widespread in all the Sudano-Zambesian region of Africa.

Bark

Dichrocephala integrifolia (Asteraceae)

“Chemambor” in Bafut, “Yieri” in Bamoun, “Tchitchiani” in Fefea, “Abiabi” in Bikom, “Esosombuog” in Bakossi, or “Tape” in Fufulde (Cameroon).

A weed of high ground.

Tops of the plant

Imperforate vagina

Euphorbia hirta (Euphorbiaceae)

“Ndo” in Babungo, “Pengmey” in Bafaji, Mpemeu” in Bamoun, “Tenkwuvue” in Bana, Ewuda manyongo” in Douala, “Okoul bifes” in Ewondo, or “Endemhi” in Fufulde (Cameroon).

Wild species, growing in various areas, along roads particularly on waste grounds and in old cultivations; pantropical.

Leaves

Hilleria latifolia (Phytolacaceae)

“Akange” in Bafut, “Essumba” in Kaka (Cameroon).

Common in forest stations, banana plantations, palm groves, and outskirts of villages.

Roots

Leucorrhea

Ageratum conyzoides (Asteraceae)

“Eshing” in Akono, “Mobangtu” in Bali, “Mejottefu” in Bamoun, “Ogaate” or “Okpati” in Bulu, “Nyat elok” or “Okpati” in Ewondo, and “Nde das se” in Sanaga (Cameroon).

Widespread in Africa.

Leaves

Alchornea cordifolia (Euphorbiaceae)

“Enzezam aboe” in Bulu, “Diboybonji” in Douala, “Aboe” in Ewondo, “Mbienchie” in Bafang, or Bambemi” in Hausa (Cameroon).

Widespread in tropical Africa.

Leaves

Commelina thomasii (Commelinaceae)

“Gougouot” in Bamoun (Cameroon).

Secondary lowland rain forest, persisting in farms and plantations.

Leaves

Dichrocephala integrifolia (Asteraceae)

“Chemambor” in Bafut, “Yieri” in Bamoun, “Tchitchiani” in Fefea, “Abiabi” in Bikom, “Esosombuog” in Bakossi, or “Tape” in Fufulde (Cameroon).

A weed of high ground.

Tops of the plant

Hibiscus sabdariffa (Malvaceae)

“Mejue” in Bakossi, “Fouchi” in Bamoun, “Ewouda maya” in Douala, “Okroʼo” in Kwen, or “Essan” in Mvele (Cameroon).

Widely cultivated in the tropics.

Leafy twig

Spanthodea campanulata (Bignoniaceae)

“Vivet” in Bamoun, “Kilulone” in Lamso, “Evovone” in Bulu, “Fowara” in Kwen, or Bolabola” in Vomvom (Cameroon).

Mainly fringing forests.

Leaves

Infertility (primary and secondary)

Asystasia deciplens (Acanthaceae)

“Nzuae” in Bakossi and “Mborfen” in Lamso (Cameroon).

Swampy rain forest areas.

Tops of the plant

Asystasia macrophylla (Acanthaceae)

“Telofe” in Kaka (Cameroon).

Found in Cameroon, Nigeria, Gabon, and Equatorial Guinea.

Leaves

Hibiscus asper (Malvaceae)

“Ejimuwae” in Bakossi (Cameroon).

A savanna species which is widespread in all intertropical Africa.

Whole plant

Hibiscus vitifolius (Malvaceae)

“Kiwuoy” in Lamso (Cameroon).

Widespread in tropical Africa.

Tops of the plant

Ipomoea mauritiana (Convolvulaceae)

“Ndongo Yagisse” in Yambassa (Cameroon).

Pantropical species, common in various plant formations in sub-Saharan Africa.

Tuber

Klainedoxa gabonensis (Irvingiaceae)

“Boukoko” in Banka (Cameroon).

Found in forests.

Stem bark

Lasianthera africana (Icacinaceae)

“Badjimbo” in Bassa (Cameroon).

Found in secondary forests.

Fresh leaves

Laportea aestuans (Urticaceae)

“Nduru likund” in Bassa, “Karara” in Hausa, and “Kimbin” in Oku.

Pantropical plant, widespread in humid regions. Found in wastelands and on farms.

Whole plant

Momordica charantia (Cucurbitaceae)

“Nzec-Zeneng” in Bbesi, “Njii Ngoue” in Bamenda, or “Bohghwei” in Lamso (Cameroon).

Pantropical species growing especially in abandoned cultivations.

Leafy twig

Myrrianthus arboreus (Moraceae)

“Sanpute” in Bounde or “Locoʼo” in Kaka (Cameroon).

Species frequent enough in primitive or secondary forests, fringing forests, or clearings of Guineo-Congolese dense forest area.

Fresh leaves

Pennisetum purpureum (Poaceae)

“Nto obwet” in Bamoun, “Sinsung” in Bana, “Lekop” in Bassa, and “Kikhiai” or “Mjee” in Lamso (Cameroon).

Forest zone species, spread in Africa, now introduced in other tropical regions.

Leaves

Pistia stratiotes (Araceae)

“Lah-chie” in Bana (Cameroon).

Pantropical aquatic floating species growing through intertropical Africa.

Leaves

Premna quadrifolia (Verbenaceae, Boraginaceae)

“Mua-Ndong-dong” in Bakossi and “Nfesai” in Lamso (Cameroon).

Guinea-Congolese species which is found in secondary formations. Widespread from Guinea to Cameroon.

Leafy twig

Raphidophora africana (Araceae)

“Wonya” in Banka (Cameroon).

A plant found along the west and central coast land of Africa.

Leaves

Ricinus communis (Euphorbiaceae)

“Mejang” or “Mijang” in Bamoun, “Lamdji” in Bana, and “Shinjang” in Lamso (Cameroon).

Introduced species, widely cultivated in tropical countries, now pantropical.

Castor oil extracted from Ricinus communis seeds

Sida acuta (Malvaceae)

“Chubepa” in Bateh, “Zeyssim” in Bulu, and “Saldori” or “Calori” in Fufulde (Cameroon).

Pantropical wild species, growing of roadsides and in wastelands.

Leaves

Solanum torvum (Solanaceae)

“Elam-tam” or “Ngaleni sumembre” in Bakossi and “Ngunmbia” in Kaka (Cameroon).

A very common weed throughout the tropics.

Fruits

Trichilia gilgiana (Meliaceae)

“Tuba” in Banka (Cameroon).

Species frequent in the wetter types of lowland rain forest. Extends from South Nigeria to Democratic Republic of Congo, and Cabinda.

Bark

Terminalia superba (Combretaceae)

“Nkwombo”, “Nkwonda”, or “Nkwondo” in Bamoun, “Nguie” in Bamungo and “Akom” in Bulu (Cameroon).

Dense humid forest species, widespread from Guinea to Democratic Republic of Congo.

Stem bark

Zenheria scabra (Cucurbitaceae)

“Kwandalempa” or “Njombe” in Maka and “Bohgwei” in Lamso (Cameroon).

Savanna, rocky and ruderal plains. Equatorial Africa from Nigeria to Angola.

Roots

Pelvic abscess/pelvic inflammatory disease

Acacia polyacantha (Leguminoseae-Mimosoideae)

“Ngombo” in Ewondo (Cameroon).

Species growing in humid regions, from Senegal to Nigeria as well as in eastern and southern Africa.

Stem bark

Cogniauxia podolaena (Cucurbitaceae)

“Kol eona ezouo” in Badjoun, “Fui Gbain” in Bali, “Kon-afu” in Banwa, and “Beyeme elok” in Bulu (Cameroon).

Species widespread in Gabon, in Cameroon, and in Congo, found also in Angola.

Roots

Drymaria cordata (Caryophylaceae)

“Chkerre” in Bakossi, “Mgou-minque” in Bana, “Ntoh” in Banwa, “Hissonaʼsi” in Bassa, and “Oyang” or “Oyanga” in Ewondo (Cameroon).

Widely dispersed in the tropics and subtropics.

Whole plant

Hibiscus sabdariffa (Malvaceae)

“Mejue” in Bakossi, “Fouchi” in Bamoun, “Ewouda maya” in Douala, “Okroʼo” in Kwen, and “Essan” in Mvele (Cameroon).

Widely cultivated in the tropics.

Aerial parts

Leea guineensis (Leeaceae)

“Totonn” in Bassa (Cameroon).

Plant growing in humid places; found in the forest region galleries throughout tropical Africa.

Leaves

Mammea africana (Clusiaceae)

“Houng abodzog” in Bassa and “Abot zok” or “Houng abodzog” in Ewondo (Cameroon).

Species found in the forest. Distributed from Sierra Leone to Uganda and Angola.

Stem bark

Piptadeniastrum africanum (Leguminoseae-Mimosoideae)

“Atui” in Beti and Fang, “Tombou” in Kaka, and “Mpie” in Maka (Cameroon).

Tree found in dense, humid forests. Found in Cameroon, Sierra Leone, Angola, and Uganda.

Stem bark

Premature menopause

Hemizygia welwitschii (Lamiaceae)

“Sokri” in Gnem gnem.

Growing in clumps in dry stony grassland.

Leaves

Tubal blockage

Eleusine indica (Poaceae)

“Lisingesinge” in Bakweri, “Ngongui” in Bassa and Douala (Cameroon).

Species spread in all tropical regions; widespread in all regions of tropical Africa.

Leaves

Icacina tricantha (Icacinaceae)

“Koul issi” or “Moudici” in Bassa, and “Byem elok” in Bulu (Cameroon).

Undergrowth species of the forest region, usually growing in secondary formations.

Root tubers

Phyllanthus muellerianus (Euphorbiaceae)

“Riribo” in Fufulde (Cameroon).

Forest species widespread in all intertropical Africa.

Roots or leaves

Solanum aculeastrum (Solanaceae)

“Sircerka” in Bana, and “Kijah”, “Kilum”, or “Kira” in Lamso (Cameroon).

Found in Cameroon, tropical East Africa, and Angola.

Fruits

Urinary tract infection

Afromomum melegueta (Zingiberaceae)

“Koge” or “Mbong” in Bakossi, “Nbongo” in Bassa or “Ndong” in Ewondo, and “Soc kwa” in Bagante (Cameroon).

Forest region plant, common in all intertropical Africa, often cultivated.

Grains and rhizome

Alchornea laxiflora (Euphorbiaceae)

“Eholo” in Bakossi and “Josos” in Bakweri (Cameroon).

Widespread in central, eastern, and southern tropical Africa.

Leaves

Asystasia macrophylla (Acanthaceae)

“Telofe” in Kaka (Cameroon).

Found in Cameroon, Nigeria, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea.

Leaves

Calotropis procera (Asclepiadaceae)

“Bambambi” in Fufulde (Cameroon).

Paleotropical plant, widespread through intertropical African mostly in dry regions.

Roots

Cissus quadrangularis (Vitaceae)

“Coeur” in Bafut, “Ndieh gap” in Bamoun, “Thor-Ngehkue” in Bana, “Nkohsat” in Bagangte, or “Nyo” or “Njel” in Bassa (Cameroon).

Widespread in the drier parts of Africa, Arabia, and India.

Stem

Combretom hispidum (Combretaceae)

“Amiomlo” in Badjoue (Cameroon).

Fallows, semideciduous forests, clearings in the evergreen forests, widespread from Guinea to Angola.

Leaf

Commelina congesta (Commelinaceae)

“Nkoleke” in Bakossi (Cameroon).

Found in forests, sometimes in open.

Leaves

Desmodium adscendens (Leguminoseae-Papilionoideae)

“Pepeur” in Bakossi, “Owondo bekone” in Bulu (Cameroon).

Species widespread in Guinea, Cameroon, extending to Zimbabwe. It exists in tropical America. In Gabon, it is found in the forest regions and the edges of the savanna.

Leaves

Enantia chlorantha (Annonaceae)

“Menjap” in Banyagi, “Mfoʼo” in Bulu, “Upon” in Ewondo, and “Mpoloʼo” in Sanaga (Cameroon).

Dense humid forest plant, spread through Nigeria into Gabon.

Stem bark

Eremomastax speciosa (Acanthaceae)

“Tankebi” in Mbo, “Purple leaf” in Pidgin, “Essan dja” in Yebekolo, and “Ekunte” in Bakossi (Cameroon).

Widespread in tropical Africa.

Leaves

Euphorbia laterifolia (Euphorbiaceae)

“Lahmbeuh” in Bagangte (Cameroon).

Species usually planted as hedges. It grows from Sierra Leone to Cameroon.

Whole plant

Khaya senegalensis (Meliaceae)

“Dalehi” or “Kahi” in Fufulde (Cameroon).

Sudano-Zambezian and sahelian region species, widespread from Senegal to Uganda.

Stem bark

Lapotera ovalifolia (Urticaceae)

“Anelembu” or “Talambo dop” in Bakossi, “Kilikion” in Bassa, and “Sogo” in Emankon (Cameroon).

Widespread, abundant on sandy and clay soils.

Leaves and bark

Mondia whitei (Periplocaceae)

“Djiri”, “Katagora”, or “Eleli” in Fufulde (Cameroon).

Widely distributed in tropical Africa, from Guinea through Cameroon to East Africa.

Roots

Raphidiocystis mannii (Cucurbitaceae)

“Nduh” in Bakossi (Cameroon).

Cameroon.

Leaves

Spilanthes filicaulis (Asteraceae)

“Ehe ngui” in Bamenji, “Gniguep” in Bamena, “Odongdong-si” in Ewondo, “Leuk ngeub” in Bagangte, and “Ondodosi” in Bulu (Cameroon).

Plant growing in humid places, along the roads and near dwelling houses. It is found in all the forest regions of Africa.

Leaves

Tragia benthami (Euphorbiaceae)

“Tulebuo” in Bakossi, “Mbepaa” in Bana, and “Sas” in Ewondo (Cameroon).

Secondary bushes in Cameroon, Sudan, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Angola.

Leaves and roots

Zehneria scabra (Cucurbitaceae)

“Njombe” in Maka and “Bohgwei” in Lamso (Cameroon).

Savanna, rocky and ruderal plains. Equatorial Africa from Nigeria to Angola.

Roots

Amnionitis affecting the newborn

Ageratum conyzoides (Asteraceae)

“Eshing” in Akono, “Mobangtu” in Bali, “Mejottefu” in Bamoun, “Ogaate” or “Okpati” in Bulu, “Nyat elok” or “Okpati” in Ewondo, and “Nde das se” in Sanaga (Cameroon).

Widespread in Africa.

Whole plant

Cleome rutidosperma (Capparaceae)

“Amborrenja” in Bafut, “Macomagniaga” in Bassa, “Mephomonze” in Bouda, and “Mbango” in Douala (Cameroon).

Species growing in all of tropical Africa.

Whole plant

Commelina benghalensis (Commelinaceae)

“Nkwa” in Bafut, “Ngungwet” in Bamoun, and “Kaalep” in Bassa (Cameroon).

A weedy plant of open cultivated and wasted ground, also in savanna.

Whole plant

Eleusine indica (Poaceae)

“Lisingesinge” in Bakweri, “Ngongui” in Bassa, and “Ngongui” in Douala (Cameroon).

Species spread in all tropical regions; widespread in all regions of tropical Africa.

Flowering plant

Euphorbia hirta (Euphorbiaceae)

“Okoul bifes” in Ewondo, “Mpemeu” in Bamoun, “Ewuda manyongo” in Douala, and “Endemhi” in Fufulde (Cameroon).

Wild species, growing in various areas, along roads particularly on waste grounds and in old cultivation.

Whole plant

Portulaca oleracea (Portulacaceae)

“Kepingoup” or “Koupugoup” in Bamoun, “Derdegue” in Mvele, and “Nyukutu nyukutu” in Douala (Cameroon).

Cosmopolitan and ruderal species.

Whole plant

Triplotaxis stellulifera (Asteraceae)

“Mudike musadi” in Douala, “Ntsam ntsam” in Ewondo, and “Jogue” in Maka (Cameroon).

Weed widespread in the clearings of forest regions from Liberia to Gabon and in Uganda.

Whole plant

Gossypium barbadense (Malvaceae)

“Menekong” in Babungo (Cameroon).

Species native in America and now widely cultivated in all tropical countries.

Leaves

Dystocia

Aloe buettneri (Liliaceae)

“Lapapegue” in Badenkop, “Kagbayi” in Bamoun, “Lah-Ndih” in Bana, and “Adjan nkom” in Eton (Cameroon).

Savanna species, growing preferably in rocky areas. Found from Mali to the Central Africa Republic, Congo, Angola, and Malawi.

Whole plant

Aloe vera (Liliaceae)

“Kouovut” or “Nchahsoure” in Bamoun (Cameroon).

Probably native of the Mediterranean region; propagated by rhizome.

Whole plant

Ampelocissus bombysiana (Vitaceae)

“Apoumigea” in Mankon (Cameroon).

African species of the Sudano-Guinean region, found from Guinea to Congo.

Leaves

Annona senegalensis (Annonaceae)

“Saske” in Fufulde (Cameroon).

Savanna plant recorded from Senegal to Nigeria. Found also in the Central African Republic, Sudan, and Cape Verde.

Leaves

Basella alba (Basellaceae)

“Ndore” in Bafut, “Potouye” in Fufulde, and “Loh” in Bagante (Cameroon).

West Africa to Asia, West Indies and East Africa.

Leaves and stems

Buchholzia coriacea (Capparaceae)

“Ngale” in Bassa (Cameroon).

Humid, dense forest species, growing in the undergrowth, found from Guinea to Congo.

Leaves

Cissus quadrangularis (Vitaceae)

“Coeur” in Bafut, “Ndieh gap” in Bamoun, “Nkohsat” in Bagante, “Sango-di” in Bangwan, and “Njel” in Bassa (Cameroon).

Widespread in the drier parts of Africa, Arabia, and India.

Leafy stem

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis (Malvaceae)

None.

Native to tropical Asia, the hibiscus is widely cultivated in all tropical regions of the world as ornamentals.

Leaves

Momordica foetida (Cucurbitaceae)

“Nyako” in Bassa and “Engokom” or “Oyale zom” in Bulu (Cameroon).

Forest edges and clearings; margins of swamp and riverine forests and of secondary thickets, also a weed and colonizer of disturbed ground and of old cultivations. Widely distributed in tropical Africa and in South Africa.

Leafy twig

Piptadeniastrum africanum (Leguminoseae-Mimosoideae)

“Atui” in Beti and Fang, “Tombou” in Kaka, and “Mpie” in Maka (Cameroon).

Tree found in dense, humid forests. Found in Cameroon, Sierra Leone, Angola, and Uganda.

Stem bark

Terminalia glaucescens (Combretaceae)

“Ogalu” in Sanaga (Cameroon).

Savanna tree. Widespread from Guinea, Cameroon, and Sudan.

Stem bark

Vernonia guineensis (Asteraceae)

“Ibilihi” in Fufulde and “Shiji shokum” or “Whislishuch” in Lamson (Cameroon).

Widespread from Mali to Nigeria and spreading to the Sudan.

Fresh leaves

Fetal malposition

Senecio biafrae (Asteraceae)

“Nsob” in Bakossi, “Nduwane” in Bana, and “Nboh” in Lamso (Cameroon).

Cocoa plantation, fallows, roadsides.

Tops

Fetal malpresentation

Piper umbellatum (Piperaceae)

“Mbubua” in Bana, “Mbebueh” in Bandjoun, “Me bout” in Bagangte, “Mbobou” in Baleing, and “Aboo medjan” in Ewondo and Bulu (Cameroon).

Heliophile species, widespread from Guinea to Cameroon and Angola.

Leaves

Intrauterine death/retained dead fetus

Abrus precatorius (Leguminoseae-Papilionoideae)

“Nzo-zunang” in Babesi, “Suka” in Bassa, “Nkwelnutie” in Bassa, and “Bellerni” in Fufulde (Cameroon).

Species of secondary formations of forest regions extended into savanna. It grows in all intertropical Africa and also in other parts of the tropical world.

Leaves

Terminalia glaucenscens (Combretaceae)

“Ogalu” in Sanaga (Cameroon).

Savanna tree. Widespread from Guinea, Cameroon, and Sudan.

Stem bark

Lactation failure

Commelina benghalensis (Commelinaceae)

“Nkwa” in Bafut, “Ngungwet” in Bamoun, and “Kaalep” in Bassa (Cameroon).

A weedy plant of open cultivated and wasted ground, also in savanna.

Leafy twig

Crinum zeylaninum (Amaryllidaceae)

“Laansi” in Bana, “Black mbongie” in Banen, “Lilan li ngond” in Bassa, and “Gadal-salma” in Fufulde (Cameroon).

Savanna species growing in humid stations. It is widespread in all intertropical Africa.

Bulb

Guiera senegalensis (Combretaceae)

“Gelude” or “Guelogi” in Fufulde (Cameroon).

Sudano-sahelian species, widespread from Senegal to Sudan, abundant in the fallow lands on sandy soils.

Leaves

Placenta retention

Bidens pilosa (Asteraceae)

“Atchiti” in Bulu, “Njim njim” in Bassa, and “Fouwan” or “Yiere” in Bamoun (Cameroon).

Widespread in Cameroon.

Leafy twig

Tetrapleura tetraptera (Leguminoseae-Mimosoideae)

“Telele” in Badjoue and “Djetk” or “Essissa” in Ewondo (Cameroon).

Guinea-Congolese species, widespread over all intertropical Africa, growing mostly in secondary formations.

Root tuber

Polyhydramnios

Ageratum conyzoides (Asteraceae)

“Eshing” in Akono, “Mobangtu” in Bali, “Mejottefu” in Bamoun, “Ogaate” or “Okpati” in Bulu, “Nyat elok” or “Okpati” in Ewondo, and “Nde das se” in Sanaga (Cameroon).

Widespread in Africa.

Whole plant

Cleome rutidosperma (Capparaceae)

“Amborrenja” in Bafut, “Macomagniaga” in Bassa, “Mephomonze” in Bouda, and “Mbango” in Douala (Cameroon).

Species growing in all of tropical Africa.

Whole plant

Commelina benghalensis (Commelinaceae)

“Nkwa” in Bafut, “Ngungwet” in Bamoun, and “Kaalep” in Bassa (Cameroon).

A weedy plant of open cultivated and wasted ground, also in savanna.

Whole plant

Eleusine indica (Poaceae)

“Lisingesinge” in Bakweri, “Ngongui” in Bassa, and “Ngongui” in Douala (Cameroon).

Species spread in all tropical regions; widespread in all regions of tropical Africa.

Flowering plant

Euphorbia hirta (Euphorbiaceae)

“Okoul bifes” in Ewondo, “Mpemeu” in Bamoun, “Ewuda manyongo” in Douala, and “Endemhi” in Fufulde (Cameroon).

Wild species, growing in various areas, along roads, particularly on waste grounds and in old cultivation.

Whole plant

Portulaca oleracea (Portulacaceae)

“Kepingoup” or “Koupugoup” in Bamoun, “Derdegue” in Mvele, and “Nyukutu nyukutu” in Douala (Cameroon).

Cosmopolitan and ruderal species.

Whole plant

Triplotaxis stellulifera (Asteraceae)

“Mudike musadi” in Douala, “Ntsam ntsam” in Ewondo, and “Jogue” in Maka (Cameroon).

Weed widespread in the clearings of forest regions from Liberia to Gabon and in Uganda.

Whole plant

Gossypium barbadense (Malvaceae)

“Menekong” in Babungo (Cameroon).

Species native in America and now widely cultivated in all tropical countries.

Leaves

Hibiscus surattensis (Malvaceae)

“Molong” or “Chwenanton” in Bouda (Cameroon).

Widespread in the topics of the old world; from Senegal to East Africa.

Tops

Postpartum hemorrage

Cogniauxia podolaena (Cucurbitaceae)

“Kol ekona ezouo” in Badjoun, “Fui gbain” in Bali, “Kon-afu” in Banwa, and “Beyeme elok” in Bulu (Cameroon)

Species widespread in Gabon, Cameroon, and Congo; found also in Angola.

Tuber

Frenandoa adolfi-frederici (Bignoniaceae)

“Ndjuewe” in Badjoue (Cameroon).

Species widespread in Cameroon, Central African Republic, Gabon, and Democratic Republic of Congo.

Bark

Heisteria zimmereri (Olacaceae)

“Ebarekoul” in Badjoue (Cameroon).

Widespread from Cameroon to Democratic Republic of Congo.

Bark

Tetrapleura tetraptera (Leguminosae-Mimosoideae)

“Telele” in Badjoue and “Djetk” or “Essissa” in Ewondo (Cameroon).

Guinea-Congolese species, widespread over all of intertropical Africa, growing mostly in secondary formations.

Fruit

Prenatal care

Basella alba (Basellaceae)

“Ndore” in Bafut, “Potouye” in Fufulde, and “Loh” in Bagangte (Cameroon).

West Africa to Asia, West Indies and East Africa.

Whole plant

Spurious labor pains

Emilia praetermissa (Asteraceae)

“Etukelehe” in Noni (Cameroon).

Species frequently found in the savanna and fallow post-forests.

Aerial parts

Eremomastax speciosa (Acanthaceae)

“Tankebi” in Mbo, “Purple leaf” in Pidgin, “Essan dja” in Yebekolo, and “Ekunte” in Bakossi (Cameroon).

Widespread in tropical Africa.

Aerial parts

Threatened abortion

Bidens pilosa (Asteraceae)

“Atchiti” in Bulu, “Njim njim” in Bassa, and “Fouwan” or “Yiere” in Bamoun (Cameroon).

Widespread in Cameroon.

Leaves

Borreria ocymoides (Rubiaceae)

“Enore” in Ashon (Cameroon).

Frequent in secondary bush. Tropical Africa.

Whole plant

Clerodendrum speciosissimum (Verbenaceae)

“Legkefen” in Babungo and “Dibielog” in Ewondo (Cameroon).

Introduced ornamental plant with no precise habitat

Fresh leaves

Justicia insularis (Acanthaceae)

“Lang” in Bakoko, “Esumejom” in Bakossi, “Ngnwangmekop” in Bassa, and “Efi” in Ejagem (Cameroon).

Ruderal species. Widespread elsewhere through intertropical Africa.

Whole plant

Hibiscus sabdariffa (Malvaceae)

“Mejue” in Bakossi, “Fouchi” in Bamoun, “Ewouda maya” in Douala, “Okroʼo” in Kwen, or “Essan” in Mvele (Cameroon).

Widely cultivated in the tropics.

Leaves and stems

Mammea africana (Clusiaceae)

“Houng abodzog” in Bassa and “Abot zok” or “Houng abodzog” in Ewondo (Cameroon).

Species found in the forest. Distributed from Sierra Leone to Uganda and Angola.

Stem bark

Nauclea pobeguinii (Rubiaceae)

“Banochi” in Hausa (Cameroon).

Fringing forest species, growing mainly in forest regions. Extending from Senegal to Nigeria, Cameroon, and Zimbabwe.

Bark

Peperomia pellucida (Piperaceae)

“Eborbo” in Bakossi, “Njel” in Bassa, “Idokamokwe” in Bakweri, and “Ewonda doret” in Douala (Cameroon).

Pantropical species, ruderal, occurring especially around dwelling locations.

Whole plant

Piper guineense (Piperaceae)

“Enore” in Ashon (Cameroon).

Humid dense forest species, dispersed from Guinea to Uganda.

Fruits

Vernonia ampla (Asteraceae)

“Mako” in Bandjoun, “Merke” in Bana, “Shiji” in Lamso (Cameroon).

Found in clearings of upland forests; rare species, recorded only from Guinea and Sierra Leone.

Shoots


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Conclusion

The tropical forest continues to provide raw materials for the discovery of new medicinal products in view of the large diversity of its flora. In the African pharmacopoeia, many plants are used for womenʼs reproductive health and particularly for fertility, genital organ health, or for birth control. In this paper, we have reviewed the knowledge on plants traditionally used for womenʼs reproductive purposes mostly in central parts of Africa. A significant number of these plants are found in Cameroon. Among these traditional medicinal herbs, some have already been characterized scientifically, although to a varying degree, and several of their properties are attributed to estrogenic, oxytocic, or anti-implantatory properties. Taking into account the diversity of the Cameroonian pharmacopoeia, there is still a lot to do for the phytochemical and pharmacological characterization of these medicinal plants.


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Conflict of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


Correspondence

Dr. Dieudonné Njamen
Laboratory of Animal Physiology, Department of Animal Biology and Physiology, Faculty of Science, University of Yaounde 1
P. O. Box 812
Yaounde
Cameroon
Phone: +23 7 79 42 47 10