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Table 3 Plant-based traditional medicines used for treatment of diabetes in the Kilimanjaro Region, Tanzania

From: Traditional medicine practices among community members with diabetes mellitus in Northern Tanzania: an ethnomedical survey

Nomenclature Uses in other African communities Active Compounds and Pharmacology Plant Parts in Use Potential Side Effects and Toxicities
Scientific English Common Name(s) Local Vernacular     
Moringa oleiferaa Moringa; Drumstick tree Mlonge Senegal: stimulates breastmilk production, diabetes, anxiety, diarrhea and dysentery, colitis, gonorrhea, and various skin infections
Chad: nutritional supplementation
Nigeria and Benin: toothaches, GI ailments (dyspepsia, ulcers, and aiding digestion), poor vision, joint pains, diabetes, anemia, hypertension, paralysis, and helminthic infestation
Uganda: diabetes, hypertension, HIV/AIDS-related symptoms, stimulates breastmilk production
Leaf extracts have glucose metabolism effects: modulates gene-expression of gluconeogenic liver enzymes, and regenerates pancreatic beta cells
Nitrile and mustard oil glycosides: lowers blood pressure
Seed kernels: bronchodilatory properties
CNS effects: increases glutamate and serotonin; decreases norepinephrine and dopamine; anti-pyretic properties
Anti-oxidative properties: may prevent drug-induced nephrotoxicity, myocardial damage, and gastric mucosal irritation
Active compounds: salicylic and ferulic acids, flavonoids, phenolic acids, glucosinolates and isothiocanates, tannins and saponins
Flowers Pods/seeds Roots Leaves (Commonly grounded into powder for mixing) -Abortifacient: causes uterine contractions
-Inhibits CYP3A4 (inhibits metabolism of anti-diabetic drugs in the meglitinide class)
-Chronic kidney disease (decline in glomerular filtration rate)
-Hepatotoxicty (potential at high doses)
Lemongrass Mchaichai Southern Africa: diabetes, oral thrush, anti-tussive, anti-emetic, antiseptic, arthritis
West Africa (Cameroon & Nigeria): antipyretic/anti-malarial, stimulant, anti-spasmodic, jaundice
Mauritius: common cold, pneumonia, fever, GI ailments and dyspepsia
Oil extracts: anti-bacterial, anti-amebic, anti-fungal, antimalarial, anti-protozoal, and antifilarial effects
Phenol and flavonoids: antioxidative
Citral: insect repellent
Active compounds: terpenes, alcohols, ketons, aldehyde, flavanoids, phenols, citral
-Volume depletion
-Chronic kidney disease
(decline in glomerular filtration rate)
-Hepatotoxicty (potential)
Hagenia abyssinicaa African redwood; East African rosewood Enjani engashe (Maasai) Ethiopia: Helminthic infections, Typhoid fever, wound healing, epilepsy, sexually transmitted diseases, and symptomatic ailments (dyspepsia, diarrhea, common cold, and cough) Essential oils: trypanocidal (anti-spasmodic) and cytotoxic (in vitro activity against leukemic and adenocarcinoma cell lines)
Active compounds: kosin (a phloroglucinol), & quercetin glucuronides
Flower and leaf extracts -Hepatotoxicity
-Diarrhea and volume depletion
- Gastritis
-Optic atrophy (blindness)
  1. CNS central nervous system, CYP3A4 Cytochrome P450 3A4, GI gastrointestinal
  2. aReferences are available in Additional file 2