Introduction: Medicinal plants and ethnomedicinal studies continue playing a significant role in herbal products development and traditional knowledge conservation. Calls for ethnomedicinal studies have increased recently to unleash the potential in medicinal plants and document verbal traditional knowledge. This study recorded the medicinal plants administered by traditional practitioners in the Traditional Authority Chikowi area of Zomba district in Malawi.
Methodology: This cross-sectional study was conducted for 2 weeks in September 2017. Semi-structured questionnaires were administered to traditional medicine practitioners using snowball sampling in the company of botany personnel from the National Herbarium and Botanical Gardens (NHBG). Data collected included plant local names, medicinal uses, parts used, preparation methods and administration methods to clients. Some species were photographed and identified in the field by the NHBG officers.
Results: Five traditional practitioners were interviewed. Fifty-nine medicinal plant species belonging to 38 families were used as prophylaxis and treatment for 27 communicable and non-communicable diseases/conditions. Fabaceae family (papilionoideae 11.9%, mimosoideae 5.1%, caesalpinioideae 1.7%) had the largest percentage of species (18.6%). Preparation methods ranged from infusion (38.0%) to cream (2.0%). Of these, 86.0%, 12.0% and 2.0% were administered orally, topically and rectally respectively. Roots were the most used part (60.8%) while the least used was flowers (1.3%). Nearly two-thirds were trees or shrubs (32.2% each).
Conclusion: The area has a rich biodiversity of medicinal plant species and knowledge scientists can use as a baseline for identification of plant species, bioactive compounds and preparations with useful medicinal properties.