Efficacy of Selected Medicinal Plants Used by the Ogiek Communities against Microbial related Infections
Ethnobotany and traditional medicines have been used for bioprospection for modern pharmaceutical in all the world continents. In Kenya the ethnobotanical of several communities has revealed that plants are important source of medicinal products that require further research to establish their validity, efficacy and quality of health services. The Ogiek communities who currently live in harmony with nature and have minimal with modern cultural practices exhibit high potentials for discovery of new pharmaceutical products through ethnobotanical, phytochemical, and microbial strategic studies. Furthermore, such studies have been necessited by newly emerging and reemerging diseases and the development of resistance of diseases to the drugs that are currently in use. The Ogiek community, who has lived in Mau forest for over six centuries, is fast being assimilated into other culturally stronger communities. However, their life is shrouded in secrecy and their rich cultural practices including ethnomedicine are being lost. Ethnobotanical field surveys revealed that over 80% of the Ogiek community has constructive knowledge of the forests and forest products. They have clear knowledge of medicine plants, their pharmaceutical procedures and pharmacological manifestations. It was evident that majority of the human health complaints were parasitic, bacterial, and fungal in nature. Symptomatic areas were the abdomen, chest, and the head. A total of 49 plant species in 33 families were collected. Bioassay of the extracts showed that some of the plant species possessed promising antimicrobial activities. In order to verify the efficacy of the drugs, selected pathogens were selected and in vitro studies carried out on individual crude extracts and essential oils. It emerged that 16 plant species showed reasonable biological activities on the selected human pathogens. Further studies to confirm the efficacies of the drugs were successfully done to establish the susceptibility (MIC, MBC and MFC) individually. Several metabolites known for their efficacy were identified. There is need to further document the Ogiek culture, in situ and ex-situ conservation of the Mau forest complex so as to conserve the biodiversity for the future generations. Further elucidation of the extracts may lead to discovery of new pharmaceutical compounds that could be used in the synthesis of new drugs for the currently challenging medical conditions.