Utilization and conservation of medicinal plants used for cancer management in Nyamitanga sub county, Mbarara district.
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Cancer has of recent become a major health problem globally severely affecting the population. This growing burden has strained the already limited health care system hence the increasing constant need and demand for new remedies to prevent, cure and relief, thus the increasing use of medicinal plants, which are believed to have fewer side effects and are less toxic. Given their continued relevance and use of medicinal plants, the aim of the study was to establish the utilization and conservation of medicinal plants used for cancer management in Nyamitanga Subcounty Mbarara district. The commonly used medicinal plants were identified and documented, their various methods of conservation were assessed and the preparation methods before administration were also determined. The study was conducted using semi-structured interviews, questionnaires and participant observation. A total of twenty five different plant species belonging to 24 genera and 20 families were identified and documented. Most plant species belonged to family Solanaceae and the most highly ranked multipurpose medicinal plant was Cannabis sativa. Eucalyptus globulous, Mangifera indica and Zingiber officinale was the commonest used combination for management of chest and throat cancers. The most commonly used plant parts were leaves from herbaceous plants, harvested from the wild or cultivated lands. The remedies are prepared mainly as infusions, administered indirectly to treat internal cancers (orally) and direct tropical applications for external cancers, for various roles that is prevention, relief and cure but with no standard doses. A review of other literatures indicated that the medicinal plants reported in the study have been to other medicinal values. The continued utilization of these medicinal plant, habitat modification and the low involvement in the domestication conservation, with lack of knowledge about protection laws is a threat, which will in future hamper the transmission of treatment due to loss of plant diversity and low numbers of trainees mentored by experienced herbalists. Its therefore necessary to carry out more studies to document extensively, screen these medicinal plants to establish the active ingredients and effects on particular cancer cell lines, as well as Government and non-government organizations consider incorporation of experienced herbalists and standardized herbal treatment into the general health care and education system to help in treatment knowledge impaction into younger generations as well as conservation of this knowledge.