Medicinal Plants Used Against Diabetes And Infectious Diseases In The South-West Indian Ocean


Ameenah Gurib-Fakim


Traditional & Complementary Medicine Exhibition 2007 (TCME 2007), Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia




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Mauritius, a tropical island in the south west Indian ocean, has numerous plant resources. The people of Mauritius have a long-standing tradition in the use of ethno-medicine and the practice of traditional medicine is still very strong especially in the treatment of minor ailments. The use of the flora however, has been restricted mainly to exotic plants brought in by immigrants from Africa, Madagascar, India and China nearly two centuries ago. In a survey carried out on the traditional uses, it has been found that a small percentage of endemic plants are being used as medicinal plants. While it is well established that plant-derived compounds offer potential sources of new antibiotics, anticancer agents, anti-HIV agents to name but a few pharmaceutical agents. A systematic study of the flora of Mauritius for new biologically active compounds from higher plants is currently being carried out. Alongside this effort, herbal remedies are also being validated for their potential as cheap and effective medication. In view of the fact that there is a prevalence of diabetes and infectious diseases locally, many herbal recipes and indigenous plants have been tested. The presentation will focus on the results obtained on the validation of herbal remedies commonly used in Mauritius against diabetes and infectious diseases. The results obtained on some indigenous/endemic plants will also be presented. The potential of the endemic species cannot be emphasized enough and this raises the issues on the need for conservation to be addressed.