Gems from traditional north-African medicine: medicinal and aromatic plants from Sudan
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Sudanese folk medicine represents a unique blend of indigenous cultures with Islamic, Arabic and African traditions. In addition, Sudan encompasses different terrains and climatic zones, ranging from desert and semi-desert in the north to equatorial with a short rainy season (semi-aridand semi-humid) in the centre to equatorial with a long rainy season (arid-humid and equatorialhumid) in the south. This variation contributes to the immense diversity of vegetation in the region. The flora of Sudan consists of 3137 species of flowering plants belonging to 170 families and 1280 genera. It is estimated that 15% of these plants are endemic to Sudan. The intersection of diverse cultures and the unique geography holds great potential for Sudanese herbal medicine. Medicinal and aromatic plants and their derivatives represent an integral part of life in Sudan. Indigenous remedies are the only form of therapy available to the majority of poor people. It has been estimated that only 11% of the population has access to formal health care. Therefore, research on the desired pharmacological effects and possible unwanted side effects or toxicity is required to improve efficacy and safety of Sudanese herbal medicine. In the future, it would be preferable to promote the use of traditional herbal remedies by conversion of raw plant material into more sophisticated products instead of completely replacing the traditional remedies with synthetic products from industrialized countries. The present review gives an overview of traditional Sudanese medicinal and aromatic herbs and their habitats, traditional uses, and phytochemical constituents.
Keywordsherbal medicine natural products pharmacognosy phytochemistry phytotherapy traditional medicine
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