Medicinal Plants in Senegal


Medicinal plants in Senegal, as in many parts of Africa, are usually found in pharmacies, herbalists’ stalls in markets, and even on the streets.  People, mostly from this part of the world, often turn to medicinal plants for their healthcare needs, often alongside modern medicine. This reflects a deep-rooted tradition of using natural remedies for a wide range of ailments. They are used whole or in parts (leaves, stems, roots, bark, fruits, etc.) in various galenic preparations.

Senegal boasts a rich history of using local plants for medicine. These natural remedies have been passed down through generations, forming a unique healthcare system. Recent studies show that Senegalese communities make use of an eclectic range of native plant species to fight various illnesses. This knowledge is particularly relevant today as the world rediscovers the power of medicinal plants for health.

The value of Senegal’s medicinal plants extends beyond tradition. In areas with limited access to modern medicine, these plants are a vital source of healthcare. This trend mirrors a global movement towards natural remedies, with even developed countries embracing plant-based solutions.

The World Health Organization (WHO), itself acknowledges the importance of integrating traditional medicine into healthcare systems, highlighting the potential of these natural resources to complement conventional practices. This trend underscores the undeniable link between human health and a thriving environment. As the world grapples with emerging diseases and chronic illnesses, Senegal’s traditional knowledge system offers an alternate way of treating them.

However, this comes with a crucial caveat: sustainability. The surge in demand for medicinal plants can lead to unsustainable harvesting practices, threatening biodiversity. Senegal, with nearly 80% of its population relying on traditional medicine, faces this challenge head-on (Rousseau, 2007).

By incorporating indigenous knowledge into research and development programs, Senegal can tap the full potential of its medicinal plants while safeguarding its precious natural resources. This journey holds immense promise, not just for Senegal, but for the world stage, as we collectively seek to create a healthier future that’s in harmony with nature.

Below, let’s explore some of the popular medicinal plants used in Senegal:

Senna Italica

Senna Italica Medicinal plant in senegal

Senna italica or Leydour, a native shrub of both Africa and Asia, is a medical and cash crop in Senegal. For centuries, its leaves have served as a trusted remedy in traditional medicine, combating a wide range of ailments, from stomach troubles and fevers to jaundice and even venereal diseases.

But Leydour also helps bring income to many female farmers in Senegal. Cultivated for its leaves, bark, and seeds, Leydour offers a lucrative alternative to traditional crops like millet and peanuts. A single hectare of this wonder plant can yield a higher income than double the area dedicated to those staples. The economic empowerment it brings is particularly striking, with female farmers earning upwards of $450 in just two months from Leydour sales.

However, this wonder crop isn’t without its challenges. Climate change, with its rising temperatures and dwindling rainfall, casts a shadow over Leydour cultivation. The plant itself is susceptible to pests and diseases, further complicating its growth. Additionally, limited access to markets for Leydour products can hinder its full potential as a source of income.

Despite these hurdles, this drought-resistant plant thrives on year-round harvesting, a crucial advantage in the face of unpredictable rainfall patterns. Moreover, Leydour can be cultivated organically, a boon for health-conscious consumers and environmentally responsible practices. Rich in vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber, Leydour offers a hidden nutritional advantage as well.

Medicinal uses

  • Stomach ailments
  • Fever
  • Jaundice
  • Venereal diseases
  • Bile disorders
  • Intestinal worms
  • Skin problems (burns, ulcers)

Guiera senegalensis

Guiera senegalensis medicinal plant in senegal

Guiera senegalensis, also known as Ngeer in Wolof, is a flowering shrub in the Combretaceae family. It grows in the dry areas of Tropical Africa, from Senegal to Sudan. In addition to its presence in Senegal, it is known as “Gubeish” in Sudan, “Sabara” in Hausa, and “Olofun” in Yoruba. The plant is commonly referred to as the Senegal Tea Plant and is utilized in traditional African medicine for various ailments. Its leaves, containing numerous compounds such as tannins, flavonoids, alkaloids, and saponosides, are particularly valued for their medicinal properties. These leaves are used to address pulmonary and respiratory complaints, digestive tract issues, infectious diseases, and conditions like impotence and rheumatism. Notably, in northern Nigeria, it is employed to enhance milk production in lactating women.

Distribution: Dry areas of Tropical Africa, from Senegal to Sudan. Also known as Gubeish (Sudan), Sabara (Hausa), and Olofun (Yoruba).

Uses: Leaves, the most commonly used part, are known as a “cure-all” for various ailments. These include respiratory problems (coughs, fevers), digestive issues (colic, dysentery, diarrhea), infectious diseases (syphilis, beriberi, leprosy), and others like impotence and rheumatism.

Khaya senegalensis

Khaya senegalensis Medicinal Plant in Senegal

Khaya senegalensis, belonging to the Meliaceae family, is another significant medicinal plant found in Senegal and Nigeria. It is known by various common names including Senegal Mahogany and African Mahogany. The tree’s bark and leaves are utilized traditionally for treating fevers, syphilis, scorpion bites, allergies, and other ailments. Extracts from the bark have demonstrated effectiveness against malaria parasites in vitro. Besides its medicinal applications, the tree’s wood is highly valued for its use in furniture, construction, and boat building.

Distribution: Senegal and Nigeria.

Uses: The bark, with its anti-malarial and antibacterial properties, is used traditionally for treating sickle cell disease, infections, and malaria. It’s also used as a laxative and vermifuge. Seed oil is used for cooking in West Africa. The wood is prized for furniture and construction.

Securinega virosa

Securinega virosa Senegal medicinal plant

Securinega virosa, commonly referred to as the snowberry tree, is utilized in Senegal for various health issues including liver, bile, kidney, and urinary complaints, as well as rheumatism and venereal diseases. This shrub, also known as Flueggea virosa, finds application in other regions for treating conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, eczema, gonorrhea, and gastrointestinal disorders.

Distribution: Senegal and some East African countries. Also found in Asia and other parts of Africa.

Uses: The root is used to treat liver, kidney, and urinary problems, as well as rheumatism, venereal diseases, and infertility. It’s often combined with other plants for a stronger effect.

Faidherbia albida

Faidherbia albida medicinal plant in senegal

Faidherbia albida, locally known as Kadd, is a large tree species native to arid and semi-arid regions of Africa, including Senegal. Its roots and bark are employed medicinally for conjunctivitis, cataracts, earaches, and other ailments. Additionally, the bark is used for cleaning teeth and addressing toothaches, while extracts are utilized for eye infections in livestock. Beyond its medicinal uses, the tree is valued for its large size, spreading branches, and the bright orange to reddish-brown pods it produces.

Distribution: Arid and semi-arid regions of Africa and the Middle East, including Senegal.

Uses: The roots are used for eye problems (conjunctivitis, cataracts) and earaches. The bark has diuretic and anti-malarial properties and is also used for ear infections, mumps, and coughs.


Akérélé, O. A., Souaré, S., Guissé, A., Faye, E., & Senghor, A. T. (2014). In vitro evaluation of antioxidant and antibacterial properties of some medicinal plants from Senegal. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 14(1), 430. PMC 4463425


Ignite your personal growth journey with our handpicked collection of inspiring content. Sign up now for a life-changing dose of motivation and wellness.

You may also like...