• Ashu Michael Agbor Department of Dentistry, Université des Montagnes, Cameroon
  • Sudeshni Naidoo Department of Community Dentistry, University of the Western Cape, South Africa



African Traditional Medicine, Dental Caries, Oral Health, Medicinal Plants

Abstract [English]

Background: Plants form the basis of African traditional medicine which has contributed to significantly to the reduction of mortality, morbidity and disability due to many diseases. Medicinal plants have been reported to be an essential aspect oral health delivery cutting across all facets of oral health care.

Method: Publications and reports on the use of African traditional medicine in oral health care were reviewed from published scientific journals, books, reports from national, regional and international organizations, research theses, conference papers and other grey material. International online databases such as MEDLINE, Science Direct, Scopus and Google were also searched up to 2015. Publications were limited to the English and French language

Results: This review identified medicinal plant use by traditional healers in preventive, therapeutic and surgical aspects in the oral health and also identified some research gaps which further studies should be carried out.

Conclusion: Medicinal plants has enormous benefits in the management of oral diseases but faces some challenges like toxicity, processing and follow-ups. Research on medicinal plants use in African traditional medicine in oral health is still scanty and most often incomplete.


Download data is not yet available.


Elujoba AA, Odeleye OM, Ogunyemi CM. Traditional Medicine Development for Medical and Dental Primary Health Care Delivery System in Africa. Afr J Trad Complem Alter Med 2005; 2(1):46-61

Mahomoodally MF. “Traditional Medicines in Africa: An Appraisal of Ten Potent African Medicinal Plants,” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine,2013(1):1-14 pages. DOI:

Kala CP, Dhyani PP, Sajwan BS. Developing the medicinal plants sector in northern India: challenges and opportunities. J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2006; 2: 32. DOI:

Sheldon JW, Balick MJ, Laird SA. Medicinal plants: can utilization and conservation coexist? Adv. Econ. Bot. (1997 (1): 12

UNESCO. FIT/504-RAF-48 Terminal Report: Promotion of Ethnobotany and the Sustainable Use of Plant Resources in Africa, Paris, 1998.pgs. 60,

Kambizi L, Afolayan AJ: An ethnobotanical study of plants used for the treatment of sexually transmitted diseases (njovhera) in Guruve District, Zimbabwe. J Ethnopharmacol 2001; 77:5-9.

Joy PP, Thomas J, Mathew S, Skaria BP. Medicinal Plants. Tropical Horticulture Vol 2. (eds. Bose TK, Kabir J, Das P, Joy PP). Naya Prokash, Calcutta, 2001. pp.449-632.

Petersen PE. The World Oral Health Report 2003: Continuous improvement of oral health in the 21st century—the approach of the WHO Global Oral Health Programme. Comm Dent Oral Epidemiol 2003; 31:3-24. DOI:

Tichy J, Novak J. Extraction, assay, and analysis of antimicrobials from plants with activity against dental pathogens (Streptococcus sp.). J Alter Complem Med 1998; 4(1):39-45. DOI:

Badria FA, Zidan OA: Natural products for dental caries prevention. J Medicinal Food 2004; 7:381-384. DOI:

Bidault P, Chandad F and Grenier D. Risk of bacterial resistance associated with systemic antibiotic therapy in periodontology. J Can Dent Assoc 2007; 73(8):721–725.

Palombo EA. Traditional Medicinal Plant Extracts and Natural Products with Activity against Oral Bacteria: Potential Application in the Prevention and Treatment of Oral Diseases. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Med 2011;(1):1-15 DOI:

Zheng LW, Hua H, Cheung LK. Traditional Chinese medicine and oral diseases: today and tomorrow. Oral Dis 2011; 17:7-12. DOI:

Ritenbaugh C, Hammerschlag R, Calabrese C, Mist S, Aickin M, Sutherland E, Laben J, DeBar L, Elder C, Dworkin SF. A pilot whole systems clinical trial of traditional Chinese medicine and naturopathic medicine for the treatment of temporomandibular disorders. J Alter Complem Med 2008; 14:475-487. DOI:

World Health Organization. National Policy on Traditional Medicine and Regulation of Herbal Medicines: Report of a WHO Global Survey. Geneva: World Health Organization; May 2005.URL:

Agbor MA, Naidoo S. Ethnomedicinal Plants Used by Traditional Healers to Treat Oral Health Problems in Cameroon. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Volume 2015 (1): 1-15. DOI:

Okigbo RN, Mmeka EC. An appraisal of phytomedicine in Africa. KMITL Sci Technol J 2006; 6(2):152-158.

Din N, Mpondo Mpondo E, Dibong SD, Kwin NF, Ngoye A. Inventory and identification of plants used in the treatment of diabetes in Douala town (Cameroon). Euro J Medicinal Plants 2011; 1:60-73. DOI:

Mann A, Amupitan JO, Oyewale AO, Okogun JI, Ibrahim K, Oladosu P. Evaluation of in vitro antimycobacterial activity of Nigerian plants used for treatment of respiratory diseases. Afr J Biotechnol 2008; 7:1630–6. DOI:

Yam AA, Gaye F, Dieme FA, Bassene E. Application of phytotherapy in odontology: the case of Euphorbia balsamifera. Endodontic Clinical trial. Dakar Med. 1997; 42(2):169-71.

Agbor MA, Naidoo S. Knowledge and practice of traditional healers in oral health in the Bui Division, Cameroon J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2011; 7: 6. DOI:

Agbor MA, Naidoo S, Mbia AM. Traditional healers and tooth extraction in the Lekie division of Cameroon. J Ethnobiol Ethnomed 2011; 7:15 DOI:

Sadale AN, Karadge BA. Survey on ethno-medicinal plants of Ajara Tahsil, District Kolhapur, Maharashtra- (INDIA). Trends Life Sci 2013; 2 (1):1-3.

Hamza OJ, van den Bout, van den Beukel CJ, Matee MI, Moshi MJ, Mikx FH, Selemani HO, Mbwambo ZH, Van der Ven AJ, Verweij PE: Antifungal activity of traditionally used Tanzanian plant. In the proceedings of the First African and Middle East IADR Federation Conference Kuwait; 2005.

Kambizi L, Afolayan AJ: An ethnobotanical study of plants used for the treatment of sexually transmitted diseases (njovhera) in Guruve District, Zimbabwe. J Ethnopharmacol 2001; 77:5-9. DOI:

Hollist NO. A collection of traditional Yoruba oral and dental medicaments. Edited by the Book Binders and printed by Olubena Printers, Ibadan. Nigeria 2004.

Tapsoba H, Deschamps JP. Use of medicinal plants for the treatment of oral diseases in Burkina Faso. J Ethnopharmacol. 2006; 104(1-2):68-78. DOI:

Kouadio F, Kanko C, Juge M, Grimaud N, Jean A, N'Guessan YT, Petit JY.Analgesic and anti-inflammatory activities of an extract from Parkiabiglobosa used in traditional medicine in the Ivory Coast. Phytother Res. 2000; 14(8):635-7. DOI:<635::AID-PTR427>3.0.CO;2-T

Asiimwe S, Kamatenesi-Mugisha M, Namutebi A, Borg-Karlsson AK, Musiimenta P. Ethnobotanical study of nutri-medicinal plants used for the management of HIV/AIDS opportunistic ailments among the local communities of western Uganda.J Ethnopharmacol. 2013; 150(2):639-48. DOI:

Gail H, Tarryn B, Oluwaseyi A, Denver D, Oluchi M, Charlotte VK, Joop J, Diana G.An ethnobotanical survey of medicinal plants used by traditional health practitioners to manage HIV and its related opportunistic infections in Mpoza, Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. J Ethnopharmacol 2015; 171:109-15. DOI:

Hassan-Abdallah A, Merito A, Hassan S, Aboubaker D, Djama M, Asfaw Z, Kelbessa E. Medicinal plants and their uses by the people in the Region of Randa, Djibouti. J Ethnopharmacol. 2013; 148(2):701-13. DOI:

Ocheng F, Bwanga F, Joloba M, Borg-Karlson AK, Gustafsson A, Obua C.Antibacterial activities of extracts from Ugandan medicinal plants used for oral care. J Ethnopharmacol. 2014; 155(1):852-5. DOI:

Runyoro DK, Ngassapa OD, Matee MI, Joseph CC, Moshi MJ. Medicinal plants used by Tanzanian traditional healers in the management of Candida infections. J Ethnopharmacol. 2006; 106(2):158-65. DOI:

Dibong SD, Mpondo Mpondo E, Ngoye A, Prso RJ. Inventory and biodiversity of species edible wild fruits sold in the markets of Douala, Cameroon. Int J Appl Biol Pharm Technol 2011; 2:303-311.

Mayaud L, Carricajo A, Zhiri A, Aubert G: Comparison of bacteriostatic and bactericidal activity of 13 essential oils against strains with varying sensitivity to antibiotics. Letter Appl Microbiol 2008; 47:167-173. DOI:

International Organization for Standardization. Oil of clover leaf [Syzygium aromaticum (Linnaeus) Merril and Perry, syn. Eugenia caryophyllus (Sprengel) Bullock and S. Harrison]. ISO‐Directive 3141/1997, Geneva, Switzerland, 2002.

Goncagul G, Ayaz E. Antimicrobial effect of garlic (allium sativum) and traditional medicine. J Animal and Veterinary Advanc 2010; 9:1-4. DOI:

Houshmand B, Mahjour F, Dianat O. Antibacterial effect of different concentrations of garlic (Allium sativum) extract on dental plaque bacteria. Indian J Dent Res 2013; 24(1):71-75. DOI:

Momeni J, Djoulde RD, Akam MT, Kimbu SF: Chemical constituents and antibacterial activities of the stem bark extracts of Ricinodendron heudelotii (Euphorbiaceae). Indian J Pharmacol Sci 2005; 67:386-390.

Momeni J, Ntchatchoua W, Fadimatou PD, Akam MT, Ngassoum MB. Antioxidant activities of some Cameroonian plants extracts used in the treatment of intestinal and infectious diseases. Indian J Pharmacol Sci 2010; 72:140-144. DOI:

Farombi EO, Owoeye O. Antioxidative and Chemopreventive Properties of Vernonia amygdalina and Garcinia biflavonoid. Int J Environ Res Publ Health 2011; 8:2533-2555. DOI:

Emmanuel MM, Didier DS. Traditional knowledge on medicinal plants use by ethnic communities in Douala, Cameroon. Euro J Medicinal Plants 2012; 2(2):159-176. DOI:

Koffi-Nevry R, Kouassi KC, Nanga Z Y, Koussémon M, Loukou GY. Antibacterial Activity of Two Bell Pepper Extracts: Capsicum annuum L. and Capsicum frutescens. Int J Food Properties 2012; 15(5):1-5.

Jolayemi AT, Ojewole JAO. Comparative anti-inflammatory properties of Capsaicin and ethyl-aAcetate extract of Capsicum frutescens linn [Solanaceae] in rats. Afr J Health Sci 2013; 13:357-361.

Krishna KL, Paridhavi M, Jagruti AP (2008). Review on nutritional, medicinal and pharmacological properties of Papaya (Carica papaya Linn.). NPR, 7: 364-373.

Fathilah AR,Yusoff M,. Rahim ZHA. The Effect of Psidium guajava and Piper betle extracts on the Morphology of Dental Plaque Bacteria. Pak J Med Sci 2009; 25(6):1-6.

Buvaneswari S, Raadha CK, Krishnaveni N, Jayashree S. In-vitro Antimicrobial activity of Psidium guajava against clinically important strains. EJLS 2011; 1:14-22.

DebMandal M, Mandal S: Coconut (Cocos nucifera L. arecaceae): In health promotion and disease prevention. Asian Pac J Trop Med 2011; 241-247. DOI:

Karadi RV, Shah A, Parekh P, Azmi P. Antimicrobial activities of Musa paradisiaca and Cocos nucifera. Int Res Pharmacol Biomed Sci 2011; 2(1).

Gomez-Flores R, Arzate-Quintana C, Quintanilla R, Tamez-Guerra P, Tamez-Guerra R, Monreal-Cuevas E, Rodríguez-Padilla C. Antimicrobial Activity of Persea americana Mill (Lauraceae) (Avocado) and Gymnosperma glutinosum (Spreng.) Less (Asteraceae) Leaf Extracts and Active FractionsaAgainst Mycobacterium tuberculosis. American-Eurasian J Sci Res 2008; 3: 188-194.

Idris, S., Ndukwe, G. I. and Gimba C. E. Preliminary phytochemical screening and antimicrobial activity of seed extracts of Persea Americana (avocado pear). Bayero J Pure Appl Sci 2009; 2(1):173-176.

Pochapski MT, Fosquiera EC, Esmerino LA, dos Santos EB, Farago PV, Santos FA, Groppo FC. Phytochemical screening, antioxidant, and antimicrobial activities of the crude leaves’ extract from Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam. Pharmacognosy Mag 2011; 7: 165-170.

Panda V, Sonkamble M: Phytochemical constituents and pharmacological activities of Ipomoea batatas- a review. Int J Research Phytochem Pharmacol 2012; 2(1):25-34. DOI:

Uju DE, Obioma NP. Anticariogenic potentials of clove, tobacco and bitter kola. Asian Pac J Trop Med. 2011: 4(10):814-8. DOI:

Afolabi OC, Ogunsola FT, Coker AO. Susceptibility of cariogenic Streptococcus mutans to extracts of Garcinia kola, Hibiscus sabdariffa, and Solanum americanum. West Afr J Med. 2008; 27(4):230-3.

Ajayi TA, Moody JO, Adeyemi TA, Fakeye TO, Ngere LO. Antimicrobial activities of Garcinia kola seeds extracts on dental caries-causing microorganisms. Planta Med 2008; 74 DOI:

Ndenecho EN. Herbalism and resources for the development of ethnopharmacology in Mount Cameroon region. Afr J Pharm Pharmacol 2009; 3(3):078–086.

Noumi E, Dibakto TW. Medicinal plants used for peptic ulcer in the Bangangte region, western Cameroon. Fitoterapia 2000;71(4): 406-412, DOI:

Dalziel MJ.The Useful Plants of West Tropical Africa, Academic Press, Crown Agents for the Colonies, London, UK, 1937.

Simbo DJ. An ethnobotanical survey of medicinal plants in Babungo, Northwest Region, Cameroon. J Ethnobiol Ethnomed 2010; (6)8. DOI:

Paulraj J, Govindarajan R, Palpu P. The Genus Spilanthes Ethnopharmacology, Phytochemistry, and Pharmacological Properties: A Review. Advanc Pharmacol Sci 2013; 20:133-8.

Adebayo AH, Tan NH, Akindahunsi AA, Zeng GZ, Zhang YM: Anticancer and antiradical scavenging activity of Ageratum conyzoides L. (Asteraceae). Pharmacognosy Magasine 2010; 6:62-66.

Okunade AL. Ageratum conyzoides L. (Asteraceae.)Fitoterapia 1997;21: 213-228.

Mothana RA, Gruenert R, Bednarski PJ, Lindequist U. Evaluation of the in vitro anticancer, antimicrobial and antioxidant activities of some Yemeni plants used in folk medicine. Pharmazie 2009; 64:260-268.

Crichton GE, Waterman PG:Manniflavanone, a new 3, 8-linked flavanone dimer from the stem bark of Garcinia mannii. Phytochemistry 1979; 18:1553-1557. DOI:

Hamza OJ, van den Bout-van den Beukel CJ, Matee MI, Moshi MJ, Mikx FH, Selemani HO, Mbwambo ZH, Van der Ven AJ, Verweij PE . Antifungal activity of some Tanzanian plants used traditionally for the treatment of fungal infections. J Ethnopharmacol. 2006; 108(1):124-32. DOI:

Sote EO. The tooth-cleaning stick: its merits and demerits. West Afr J Med 1994; 13(1):59-62.

Sofowora EA. Medicinal plants and traditional medicine in Africa.2nd ed. Spectrum BooksLtd., Ibadan, Nigeria. 1993: 289.

Adebiyi OE, Abatan M O. Phytochemical and acute toxicity of ethanolic extract of Enantia chlorantha (oliv) stem bark in albino rats. Interdiscip Toxicol 2013; 6(3): 145–151. DOI:

Odusanya SA, Songonuga OO, Folayan JO. Fluoride ion distribution in some African chewing sticks IRCS Med Sci 1979;7: 58.

Akpata ES, Akinrimisi EO. Antibacterial activity of extracts from some African chewing sticks. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol. 1977 44(5):717-22. DOI:

Stander I, Van Wyk CW. Toothbrushing with the root of Euclea natalensis. J Biol Buccale. 1991 19(2):167-72.

Lambert J, Leonard K, Mungai G, Ominde-Ogaja E, Gatheru G, Mirangi T,Owara J, Herbst CH, Ramana GNV,Lemiere C. The contribution of traditional herbal medicine practitioners to Kenyan health care delivery.Results from Community Health-Seeking Behaviour Vignettes and a Traditional Herbal Medicine Practitioner Survey. Int Bank for Reconstruction and Develop. The World Bank, Washington, 2011.

Lewis W, Lewis E. Medical Botany. John Wiley & Sons. N. York 1977 p. 515.

Garcia BH (). Flora Medicinale de Colombia. Botanica Medica. Instituto de Ciencas Naturales Universidad Nacional, Bogota. 1975(3): 459.

Maxwell NC. Witch doctor’s apprentice. Victor Gollancz (Ed.) 1962. London p.353.

von Maydell H T. Trees and Shrubs of the Sahel. Josef Margraf, Weikersheim, Germany, 1996.

Ajibesin KK, Ekpo B.A, Bala DN, Essien EE, Adesanya SA. Ethnobotanical survey of Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria. J Ethnopharmacol 2008; 115(3) 387–408. DOI:

Mander M. The Marketing of Indigenous Medicinal Plants in South Africa: A Case Study in Kwazulu-Natal, Institute of Natural Resources, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, 1997.

Djikpo-Tchibozo AM, Anani K, Ameyapoh Y, Toukourou, F, de Souza, C, Gbeassor M.Evaluation de la qualité hygiénique de six plantes médicinales et des phytomédicaments traditionnels. Pharmacologie de la Medicine Traditionelle Africaine 2001; 11: 83–92.

de Souza C, Ameyapoh Y, Karou SD, Anani KT, Kpodar ML, Gbeassor M. Assessing Market-Sold Remedies in Lomé (Togo) for Hygienic Quality. Biotechnol Res Int 2011; 2011:1-5 DOI:

Kayombo EJ, Uiso FC, Mbwambo ZH, Mahunnah RL, Moshi MJ, MgondaYH.Experience of initiating collaboration of traditional healers in managing HIV and AIDS in Tanzania J Ethnobiol Ethnomed 2007; 3(6):3-6. DOI:

Hillenbrand E. Improving Traditional-Conventional Medicine Collaboration: Perspectives from Cameroonian Traditional Practitioners. Nordic J Afr Stud 2006; 15:1-15.

Ndukwe KC, Folayan MO, Ugboko VI, Elusiyan JB, Laja OO. Orofacial injuries associated with prehospital management of febrile convulsion in Nigerian children. Dent Traumatol. 2007 23(2):72-5. DOI:




How to Cite

Agbor, A. M., & Naidoo, S. (2019). PLANTS USED BY AFRICAN TRADITIONAL HEALERS IN THE MANAGEMENT OF ORAL DISEASES: A REVIEW. International Journal of Research -GRANTHAALAYAH, 7(8), 273–286.