Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine and BioMed Central.

Journal App

google play app store
Open Access Open Badges Research

Traditional medicine practitioners’ knowledge and views on treatment of pregnant women in three regions of Mali

Hedvig Nordeng12*, Waled Al-Zayadi1, Drissa Diallo3, Ngolo Ballo3 and Berit Smestad Paulsen1

Author Affiliations

1 School of Pharmacy, University of Oslo, PO Box 1068, Blindern, Oslo N - 0316, Norway

2 Division of Mental Health, National Institute of Public Health, Oslo, Norway

3 Department of Traditional Medicine, National Institute of Research in Public Health, Bamako, Mali

For all author emails, please log on.

Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 2013, 9:67  doi:10.1186/1746-4269-9-67

Published: 17 September 2013



Despite the widespread use of medicinal plants in Mali, knowledge about how traditional practitioners (TPs) treat pregnant and lactating women is lacking.

Aim of the study

The aim of this study was to investigate how traditional practitioners in Mali treat common diseases and ailments during pregnancy.


Data was collected through structured interviews of traditional practitioners in one urban (Bamako) and two rural areas (Siby and Dioila) in Mali. The TPs were interviewed about how they treat common diseases and ailments during pregnancy. They were also asked to name harmful plants in pregnancy and plants that could affect breast milk production. In addition, we asked about nine specific medicinal plants commonly used in Mali; Opilia amentacea (syn. Opilia celtidifolia), Ximenia americana, Cola cordifolia, Combretum glutinosum, Parkia biglobosa, Trichilia emetica, Combretum micranthum, Lippia chevalieri and Vepris heterophylla.


A total of 72 traditional practitioners (64% women, age: 34 to 90 years) were interviewed during an eight week period October 2011 to December 2011. They treated between 1 and 30 pregnant women with medicinal plants per months. We found a relatively high consensus for treatment of pregnant women with common diseases and ailments like nausea and dermatitis. The highest informer consensus was found for the treatment of malaria during pregnancy. TPs generally recommended pregnant women to avoid medicinal plants with bitter tastes like stem and root bark of Khaya senegalensis and Opilia amentacea (syn. Opilia celtidifolia). TPs distinguished between oral (potentially unsafe) and dermal use (safe) of Opilia amentacea (syn. Opilia celtidifolia). Cola cordifolia was used to facilitate labor.


Experience and knowledge about treatment of pregnant women with medicinal plants was broad among the traditional practitioners in the three investigated regions in Mali. Collaborating with traditional practitioners on the safe use of medicinal plants in pregnancy may promote safer pregnancies and better health for mothers and their unborn infants in Mali.

Traditional medicine; Pregnancy; Breast feeding; Mali; Traditional practitioner