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African Traditional Medicine and Potential Role for Mental Health

Abstract

The people of Africa face considerable mental health challenges that are linked to civil wars, unemployment, poverty, and the burden of infectious diseases. However, in most parts of Africa, mental disorders are often not regarded as common diseases and significant number of individuals suffering from mental illness, like depression, epilepsy, and schizophrenia, are adversely affected by health-associated stigma and discrimination. The World Health Organization estimates that approximately 80% of African population rely on traditional healers for primary health care and that 40–60% of these suffered from certain mental health conditions. Plants are an important component of African traditional medicine (ATM) system, which has played a substantial role in managing mental health in Africa. Thus, in this chapter, we attempted to shed light on plants that are traditionally used to manage or cure mental ailments, focusing mainly on depression, epilepsy, and age-related dementia. Scientific studies conducted on some of the plants used in ATM as remedies for mental ailments are also reviewed. Based on the information gathered herein, it can be postulated that strong ethnobotanical data along with high-throughput screening can lead to the isolation and elucidation of potential novel candidates for drug development program, thus offering new perspectives in the treatment of mental disorders.

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Lobine, D., Mahomoodally, M.F. (2020). African Traditional Medicine and Potential Role for Mental Health. In: Okpaku, S.O. (eds) Innovations in Global Mental Health. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-70134-9_124-1

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