Category Archives: Ethnobotany

Ethnopharmacology and random screening

J Pharm Pharmacogn Res 3(2): 45-46, 2015.

Letter to the Editor | Carta al Editor

Ethnopharmacology and random screening

[La etnofarmacología y el cribado aleatorio]

Saad Touqeer

Faculty of Pharmacy, The University of Lahore, 1 km Defense Road, Off Raiwand Road, Bhobtian Chowk, Postal code: 54000, Lahore, Pakistan.

Dear Editor:

Mankind has been using plants as food and medicine for centuries. This interaction has enabled them to understand the harms and benefits achievable through them thus laying down the foundation of traditional knowledge of medicinal plants (Ghorbani et al., 2006; Sulejman, 2007). The term “Ethnopharmacology” was first used in 1967. Since then it has been used as a valuable tool for drug discovery (Heinrich and Gibbons, 2001). Ethnopharmacology is an interdisciplinary field focusing on the scientific study and experimentation to prove and validate the traditional uses of plants and other natural products. It also includes the study of the bioactive compounds present in these products so that they can be synthesized on a commercial basis. Ethnopharmacology plays an important role in the preservation of the cultural heritage. It also identifies the harmful effects of many traditional therapies and provides an up to date knowledge and assistance to the herbal practitioners.

Ethnopharmacological studies are a result of combined efforts of scientists from many fields mainly, botany, pharmacology and chemistry (Holmstedt and Bruhn, 1983; Heinrich et al., 2006). The source of information to carry out various studies comes from ethnobotanical and ethnomedical literature. Thus, ethnopharmacology proves the traditional claims in a scientific manner (Waller, 1993). The study of biological activities may involve the use of different in vitro or in vivo models. Both approaches have several advantages and disadvantages. The decision whether to use an in vivo or in vitro assay is made after considering many factors. For example if the amount of sample under study is high and sufficient financial resources are available, in vivo assay may be preferred if there are no ethical issues under debate. These assays will give a better picture of the medicinal activity of the plant. However if there is time limitation, inadequate funds or less sample volume, an in vitro assay will be a better choice in such case (Houghton et al., 2007). After the successful completion of a series of different assays and proving of significant biological activities, the medicinal plant is subjected to the drug development process (Cordell and Colvard, 2005).

Besides the ethno-directed approach, the selection of plants for pharmacological screening may be based on random screening in which all of the plants belonging to any specific area are selected and tested for different activities. Thus, random screening does not require any proper justification through literature. The plants can also be selected for study if they are rich in phytochemicals or if other members of the family to which it belongs, possess biological activities. The latter is because many associated species possess similar phytochemicals (Waller, 1993; Ghorbani et al., 2006; Rout et al., 2009). This property has specially been noticed in the case of alkaloids.

Random screening and phytochemical approach has been found to be very beneficial in discovering new leads especially when folk knowledge is unavailable. These prevent many plants from being ignored due to lack of supporting information (Ghorbani et al., 2006). The two methods however prove to be costly as compared to ethnopharmacological approach as considerable amount of resources are wasted during the trial and error procedure. Biological studies are usually considered to be preliminary. Due to unavailability of costly instruments for phytochemical studies, scientists from developing countries with large flora fail to disseminate their findings on large scale through publication in high impact journals.


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Ghorbani A, Naghibi F, Mosaddegh M (2006) Ethnobotany, ethnopharmacology and drug discovery. Iran J Pharm Sci 2 (1): 109-118.
Heinrich M, Gibbons S (2001) Ethnopharmacology in drug discovery: an analysis of its role and potential contribution. J Pharm Pharmacol 53(4): 425-432.
Heinrich M, Kufer J, Leonti M, Pardo-de-Santayana M (2006) Ethnobotany and ethnopharmacology- Interdisciplinary links with the historical sciences. J Ethnopharmacol 107(2): 157-160.
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Citation Format: Saad Touqeer (2015) Ethnopharmacology and random screening. J Pharm Pharmacogn Res 3(2): 45-46.
This article has been cited by:
Nghia TM. Nguyen, Liliana Vicet-Muro, Dany Siverio-Mota, Maria E. Jorge-Rodriguez, Dulce M. González-Mosquera, Idelfonso Castañeda-Noa (2016) Tamizaje fitoquímico y evaluación de la actividad sobre el sistema nervioso central del extracto etanólico de Eugenia clarensis Britton & P.Wilson. | [Phytochemical screening and evaluation of the central nervous system activity of the ethanolic extract of Eugenia clarensis Britton & P.Wilson]. J Pharm Pharmacogn Res 4(1): 39-48. Website

© 2015 Journal of Pharmacy & Pharmacognosy Research (JPPRes)

Traditional use of medicinal plants in M’sila, Algeria

J Pharm Pharmacogn Res 2(2): 31-35, 2014.

Original article | Artículo original

Traditional use of medicinal plants in a city at steppic character (M’sila, Algeria)

[Uso tradicional de plantas medicinales en una ciudad con carácter estepario (M’sila, Argelia)]

Madani Sarria,b*, Fatima Zahra Mouyeta, Meriem Benzianea, Amina Cherieta

aDepartment of Nature Sciences and Life, Faculty of Sciences, M’sila University, 28000 M’sila, Algeria.
bLaboratory of Phytotherapy Applied to Chronic Diseases, Faculty of Nature Sciences and Life, Setif 1 University, 19000 Setif, Algeria. * E-mail:

Context: M’sila city occupies a privileged position in the central part of northern Algeria. The climate of this area is continental, subject in part to the Saharan influences of which vegetation is steppic.
Aims: Highlight traditional usage of plants despite environmental characteristics.
Methods: An ethnobotanical survey in the city of M’sila was conducted during the period 2011-2012 in collaboration with traditional practitioners, herbalists and healers. A total of 85 adults were able to determine the species and answer questions about the traditional use of plants in artisanal processing, nutritional and medicinal domains.
Results: Medicinal plants recorded in the city of M’sila were 36 divided into 16 families and 31 genera. Lamiaceae family predominates (27.8%), followed by Asteraceae (13.9%). Leaves are the most frequently used (27.4%), the aerial parts (18.5%) and thus the seeds (16.3%). It appears that the population is highly dependent on these plants that allow them to treat different pathologies (digestive, stomach, diarrhea, constipation, vomiting) with a percentage (18.6%), carminative (5.7%) and antidiabetic (12.2%). In general, the remedies are administered orally. Indeed, therapeutic use forms are: the tisane or decoction (44.7%), infusion (27.1%) and powder (12.2%).
Conclusions: The ethnobotanical survey conducted among traditional healers, herbalists and healers in the M’sila city has created an inventory of 36 species and a database that collected all the information on local and traditional therapeutic applications as well as all the diseases treated.

Keywords: Ethnobotany; ethnopharmacological; therapeutic applications.



Contexto: La ciudad de M’sila ocupa una posición privilegiada en la parte central del norte de Argelia. El clima de esta zona es de tipo continental, con la influencia del Sahara, y la vegetación es de estepa.
Objetivos: Destacar el uso tradicional de las plantas, a pesar de las características ambientales.
Métodos: Un estudio etnobotánico se llevó a cabo en la ciudad de M’sila durante el período 2011-2012, en colaboración con los médicos tradicionales, herbalistas y curanderos. Un total de 85 adultos fueron capaces de determinar las especies y responder preguntas sobre el uso tradicional de las plantas en procesos artesanales y los dominios nutricionales y medicinales.
Resultados: Las plantas medicinales registradas fueron 36, divididas en 16 familias y 31 géneros. La famílias más utilizadas son Lamiaceae (27,4%), seguida de Asteraceae (13,9%). Las partes de las plantas más utilizadas son las hojas (27,4%), las partes aéreas (18,5%) y después las semillas (16,3%). Al parecer la población es muy dependiente de estas plantas. El 18,6% manifestó que les permiten el tratamiento de diferentes patologías (digestivas, estomacales, diarrea, estreñimiento, vómitos), carminativo (5,7%) y antidiabético (12,2%). En general, los remedios se administran por vía oral. Las formas de uso terapéutico más usadas son: la tisana o decocción (44,7%), La infusión (27,1%) y el polvo (12,2%).
Conclusiones: El estudio etnobotánico realizado entre los curanderos tradicionales, herbalistas y sanadores en la ciudad M’sila ha creado un inventario de 36 especies y una base de datos que recoge toda la información sobre las aplicaciones terapéuticas locales y tradicionales, así como todas las enfermedades tratadas.

Palabras Clave: Etnobotánica; etnofarmacología; aplicaciones terapéuticas.


Download the PDF file .

Citation Format: Sarri M, Mouyet FZ, Benziane M, Cheriet A (2014) Traditional use of medicinal plants in a city at steppic character (M’sila, Algeria). J Pharm Pharmacogn Res 2(2): 31-35.
This article has been cited by:
Yabrir B, Touati M, Adli B, Bezini E, Ghafoul M, Khalifa S, Guit B (2018) Therapeutic use of spontaneous medicinal flora from an extreme environment (dune cordon) in Djelfa region, Algeria. J Pharm Pharmacogn Res 6(5): 358–373. Website
Bakchiche B, Guenane H, Rezzoug M, Gherib A(2018) DPPH free radical scavenging activity of ethanolic extracts of twenty two medicinal species from south Algeria (Laghouat region). Journal of Medical and Surgical Research IV(3): 469-474. Website
Miara MD, Bendif H, Ait Hammou M, Teixidor-Toneu I (2018) Ethnobotanical survey of medicinal plants used by nomadic peoples in the Algerian steppe. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 219: 248-256. DOI: 10.1016/j.jep.2018.03.011
Kitaz A (2017) Comparison of the total phenol, flavonoid contents and antioxidant activity of methanolic roots extracts of Asphodelus microcarpus and Asphodeline lutea Growing in Syria. International Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemical Research 9(2): 159-164. DOI: 10.25258/phyto.v9i2.8057
Sarri M, Boudjelal A, Hendel N, Sarri D, Hamdaoui H (2017) An ethnobotanical survey of galactogenic plants of Berhoum district (M'sila, Algeria). Journal of Intercultural Ethnopharmacology 6(3): 311-315. DOI: 10.5455/jice.20170811073514
Sisay M, Gashaw T (2017) Ethnobotanical, ethnopharmacological, and phytochemical studies of Myrtus communis Linn: A popular herb in Unani system of medicine. Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine 2017: 1-9. DOI: 10.1177/2156587217718958
Di Petrillo A, Fais APintus FSantos-Buelga CGonzález-Paramás AMPiras VOrrù GMameli ATramontano E, Frau A (2017) Broad-range potential of Asphodelus microcarpus leaves extract for drug development. BMC Microbiology BMC series 17: 159. DOI: 10.1186/s12866-017-1068-5
Rabah B, Khellaf R, Mouloud G, Mustapha D, Djamel MM (2017) Flora and medicinal plants in the green spaces of Bousaâda (Algeria) and surroundings. Global Journal of Research on Medicinal Plants & Indigenous Medicine 6(1):0114. Website
Sisay M, Gashaw T (2017) Myrtus communis Linn: A review on ethnobotanical, ethnopharmacological and phytochemical studies. Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytotherapy 9(6): 77-86. DOI: 10.5897/JPP2017.0451
Dali Yahia MK (2017) Étude phytochimique bioguidée de plantes aromatiques sahariennes. These pour l'obtention du Doctorat en Sciences Médicales. Université Abou Bekr Belkaïd, Tlemcen, Algeria. Website
Al-Kayali RKitaz AHaroun M (2016) Antibacterial activity of Asphodelin lutea and Asphodelus microcarpus against methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus isolates. International Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemical Research 8(12): 1964-1968. Website
Nelson K, Lyles JT, Li T, Saitta A, Addie-Noye E, Tyler P, Quave CL (2016) Anti-acne activity of Italian medicinal plants used for skin infection. Front Pharmacol 7: 425. DOI:  10.3389/fphar.2016.00425
Ouelbani R, Bensari S, Mouas TN, Khelifi D (2016) Ethnobotanical investigations on plants used in folk medicine in the regions of Constantine and Mila (North-East of Algeria). Journal of Ethnopharmacology 194: 196–218. DOI: 10.1016/j.jep.2016.08.016
Benarba B (2016) Medicinal plants used by traditional healers from South-West Algeria: an ethnobotanical study. J Intercult Ethnopharmacol 5(4): 320-330. DOI: 10.5455/jice.20160814115725
Benarba B, Belabid L, Righi K, Bekkar AA, Elouissi M, Khaldi A, Hamimed A (2015) Ethnobotanical study of medicinal plants used by traditional healers in Mascara (North West of Algeria). Journal of Ethnopharmacology 175: 626-637. DOI:10.1016/j.jep.2015.09.030
Sarri M, Boudjelal A, Hendel N, Sarri D, Benkhaled A (2015) Flora and ethnobotany of medicinal plants in the southeast of the capital of Hodna (Algeria). Arabian Journal of Medicinal & Aromatic Plants 1(1): 24-30. Website
Engidawork E, Sisay M (2015) Evaluation of in-vivo antidiarrheal activities of 80% methanol extract and solvent fractions of the leaves of Myrtus communis Linn (Myrtaceae) in mice. A thesis paper submitted to the Department of Pharmacology and Clinical Pharmacy, School of Pharmacy, College of Health Sciences, in partial fulfillment of the requirements of Master of Science Degree in Pharmacology. Website

© 2014 Journal of Pharmacy & Pharmacognosy Research (JPPRes)