Ethnobotanical survey of medicinal plants used for the treatment of diabetes in Uganda


  • Moreen Uwimbabazi National Forestry Resources Research Institute
  • Bernadette Kabonesa
  • Samuel Ongarep
  • Francis Omujal
  • Hillary Agaba


Background: Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (DM) is increasingly becoming a global health problem. In Uganda, DM prevalence rate has more than doubled in the last decade. Although management options for DM are various including conventional medicine, physical exercise and diet, use of traditional medicine has increasingly gained traction. However, there is little information about the medicinal plants used for managing DM in Uganda and it is against this background that this study was conducted.

Methods: An ethnobotanical survey was conducted in the four regions of Uganda represented by 24 districts. Information was collected from 197 traditional medical practitioners (TMPs) who were selected using purposive and snowball sampling techniques and interviewed using semi-structured questionnaires. Data was presented using descriptive statistics and quantitatively analysed using the use value (UV) and ANOVA and principal component analysis.

Results: A total 71 medicinal plant species belonging to 44 families were mentioned by the TMPs as being used in the management of DM. The Fabaceae and Moraceae accounted for the highest number of plant species. Although woody and wildly occurring plants accounted for the highest number of plants listed in the management of diabetes, the most frequently used plants were herbaceous and domesticated plant species. An indication that TMPs frequently use plants that are available and easy to access. There was high similarity in the plant species mentioned by TMPs in the Eastern-Northern regions and those in the Central-Western regions and this is perhaps due to the similarities in climatic and ethnic factors experienced by these regions.

Conclusion: This study contributes to the wealth of knowledge on medicinal plants used to manage DM in the world. It underscores the significance of plant species towards human health and ultimately the need to conserve them. Further research should be carried out to validate the antidiabetic potential of the mentioned medicinal plant species in this study.

Keywords: Type 2 Diabetes mellitus, Traditional Health Practitioners, Medicinal plants, Uganda.




How to Cite

Uwimbabazi, M., Kabonesa, B., Ongarep, S., Omujal, F. ., & Agaba, H. (2023). Ethnobotanical survey of medicinal plants used for the treatment of diabetes in Uganda. Ethnobotany Research and Applications, 26, 1–14. Retrieved from