Medicinal plants traditionally used in the Algerian Sahara: an ethnobotanical study

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Doi: 10.1007/s42535-022-00423-1
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Keywords: Algeria, Adrar, Ethnobotanical survey, Traditional medicine


The use of medicinal plants in the Algerian Sahara goes back a long way and has become one of the main sources of healing in the region. However, this traditional knowledge will disappear if no measures are taken to preserve it. Present is the first study to bring together the ethnobotanical knowledge of traditional practitioners and inhabitants of the Adrar region (Southwestern Algeria). It aims to record different medicinal species used in this area. The ethnobotanical survey was conducted among 206 subjects and 20 traditional practitioners over a period of 8 months using questionnaire designed for the purpose. The study enabled us to identify 126 species belonging to 47 families. Lamiaceae (21.9%), Apiaceae (16.8%) and Asteraceae (14.8%) were found to be dominant. Five species viz. Artemisia herba-alba Asso. (60 citations), Origanum vulgare L. (51 citations), Foeniculum vulgare (L.) (42 citations), Mentha spiata (L.) (39 citations) and Trigonella foenum graecum L. (31 citations) were cited more than 30 times. Leaves were reported to be the most used parts (30.8%), while majority of the formulations were prepared as infusions and decoctions (53.3% and 31.3%). Most of the plants were used against diseases of the digestive system (32%) followed by respiratory system (18.8%) and metabolic disorders (15.5%). The results obtained constitute a source of information concerning the medicinal flora of the region, which could be a database for further research aiming at inventorying the medicinal plants of all regions of Algeria and exploring their composition.

Algeria, Adrar, Ethnobotanical survey, Traditional medicine

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The authors are grateful to all survey participants for sharing their knowledge of herbal medicine. Without their contribution, this study would not have been possible.

Author Information

Hassaïne Sara
Laboratory of Pharmacognosy, Department of Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Abou Bakr Belkaïd University, Tlemcen, Algeria