Ethnobotanical Characterization of Medicinal Plants Used in Kisantu and Mbanza-Ngungu Terroirs, Kongo-Central Province in DR Congo
Background: The phytotherapeutic knowledge of the Kongo people in the terroirs of Kisantu and Mbanza-Ngungu in Kongo-Central Province (DR Congo) is rapidly eroding. To document the remaining knowledge, we conducted an ethnobotanical survey on the most important medicinal plant species and diseases treated with them, as well as plants with therapeutic potential. We also verified how medicinal knowledge differs between different social groups.Method: From June 2017 until February 2018 and from
... ruary until April 2019, we conducted a survey with 188 phytotherapists, selected using the snowball method and surveyed using semi-structured interviews. Voucher specimens were taken for identification. Ethnobotanical database was analyzed using medicinal Use Value (UVs), Informant Agreement Ratio (IARs), Informant Consensus Factor (ICF) and Species Therapeutic Potential (STP). Medicinal knowledge between different social groups was analyze using non parametric tests and the Poisson regression. Results: A total of 231 plants (i.e. 227 botanical species, representing 192 genera and 79 families) were reportedly used to treat 103 diseases. Most abundant taxa were reported for the Fabaceae family (11.9 %) and genus Solanum (1.8%). Most harvested species (45,0%) were from anthropized areas. Most frequent plant part, botanical form, preparation and administration method were leaves (39.4%), herbs (37.1%), decoction (41.7%) and oral ingestion (72%) respectively. Four of all inventoried species showed high UV S (> 0.05), whereas 8 had an IAR of 1. According to respondent consensus on plant use, 31 diseases were mentioned. Highest ICF (≥ 0,4) were observed for hemorrhoids (0.44), amoebiasis (0.43) and itchy rash (0.42). Fifty-four plant species were identified likely to have interesting therapeutic potential. Analysis of medicinal knowledge showed that the mean number of reported species and diseases vary considerably depending on gender, type and location of therapists (P < 0.05). Conclusion: Results prove that the Kongo phytopharmacopoeia makes use of interesting medicinal plant species that could be further studied for conservation and pharmacological applications.