Tribal and Indigenous Knowledge in West Africa: The Use of Food Plants in the Management of Diabetes
Background Food plays a major role in the prevention and management of diabetes. Some traditional foods eaten in West Africa are also used medicinally in the treatment and management of diabetes. This chapter aims to document such food plants. Information about medicinal plants traditionally used in West Africa for the 44management of diabetes was obtained from published literature. At least 157 West African food plant species from 141 genera and 58 plant families have been identified as plants with antidiabetic potential. Of these, 126 species from 50 families have been studied scientifically for their antidiabetic activity. The families contributing the most species were Leguminosae, Malvaceae, Euphorbiaceae, Poaceae, Rutaceae, Rubiaceae, and Moraceae. Common leafy vegetables used regularly in traditional meals across West Africa, including Vernonia amygdalina (Bitter leaf), Ocimum gratissimum (African basil), Manihot esculenta (Cassava), Telfaria occidentalis (Fluted pumpkin), and Corchorus olitorius (Jute mallow), have been validated for their antidiabetic potential. Seeds of Telfaria occidentalis, Cucumeropsis mannii, Parkia biglobosa, and Irvingia gabonensis have also been used.
Relevance These food plants present an important resource to tap into for the discovery of new drugs and functional foods.