Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine / 2012 / Article
Special Issue

The European Heritage of Folk Medicines and Medicinal Foods: Its Contribution to the CAMs of Tomorrow

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Research Article | Open Access

Volume 2012 |Article ID 604363 | 30 pages | https://doi.org/10.1155/2012/604363

Comparative Medical Ethnobotany of the Senegalese Community Living in Turin (Northwestern Italy) and in Adeane (Southern Senegal)

Academic Editor: Manuel Pardo-de-Santayana
Received20 Feb 2012
Accepted26 Mar 2012
Published18 Jun 2012


A medico-ethnobotanical survey was conducted among the Senegalese migrant communities of Turin (Piedmont, NW Italy) and their peers living in Adeane (Casamance, Southern Senegal), both among healers and laypeople. Through 27 in-depth interviews, 71 medicinal plant taxa were recorded and identified in Adeane and 41 in Turin, for a total of 315 different folk remedies recorded in Senegal and 62 in Turin. The large majority of the medicinal plants recorded among Senegalese migrants in Turin were also used in their country of origin. These findings demonstrate the resilience of home remedies among migrants and consequently the role they should have in shaping public health policies devoted to migrant groups in Western Countries, which seek to seriously take into account culturally sensitive approaches, that is, emic health-seeking strategies.

1. Introduction

In the last decade, the ethnobotany of migrant populations, especially in Western countries, has become the focus of a number of studies, which have investigated the trajectories of change of Traditional Medicines (TMs) and especially Traditional Knowledge (TK) concerning medicinal plants. Moreover, such studies have made progress in gaining a better understanding of newcomers’ health-seeking strategies. These data are crucial in the implementation of culturally sensitive approaches in public health and nutritional policies in the host countries and/or to improve phyto-pharmacovigilance [15].

In particular, in Europe, the ethnobotanical knowledge of various migrant groups has been studied in different (mainly urban) contexts: Turkish and Russian migrants in Germany [6, 7]; Thai women in Sweden [8]; Surinamese migrants in The Netherlands [9, 10]; South-Asians [1114] and Andeans in England [1517]. From these previous studies, three key findings have emerged so far.(i)Newcomers’ TK and related domestic practices may show various degrees of resilience (i.e., the attitude to recover from the changes, which originate from the displacement).(ii)The resilience is highly dependent on practical circumstances (distance between the home and the host countries, corresponding to possibilities of frequent travel), but also on complex cultural exchanges ongoing between the diasporas and the autochthonous and/or other migrant populations. For example, factors such as (1) the occurrence of relevant transnational social and trade networks between the migrants and their home country, (2) the availability of traditional practitioners and/or herbs and food plant items in food shops in the host country, (3) identity-bound perceptions in relation to specific botanicals (which may be considered culturally important), (4) laws in place in the host countries allowing or tolerating the occurrence of non-autochthonous food/medicinal plants, and (5) multicultural approaches in the institutionalised public health frameworks of the host country, all play crucial roles in determining the resilience and sustainability of these TM practices in the migrants’ host country.(iii)The aforementioned cultural negotiations that impact TK resilience are rapidly changing on both temporal and spatial scales, and even the “representation” of plants and remedies related to “traditions” is in a state of flux among generations over time.

In Italy, no ethnobotanical study has addressed these specific issues thus far, despite the fact that the country has faced tremendous changes in its social structure over the last two decades. In fact, these changes are due in large part to the arrival of a significant number of young and middle-aged migrants from Africa and especially Eastern Europe (most notably, Romanians and Albanians). Nowadays, it is estimated that five million migrants live in Italy, with an increase of three million in the last ten years [18]. The large majority of migrants live in the Central-Northern regions of the country; one-fifth of which are Romanians, followed by Albanians and Moroccans. The Senegalese are quantitatively the 17th largest migrant community in Italy, but they represent the biggest “black” African community in the country, encompassing approximately 73,000 members. Moreover, this community is also historically one of the most important migrant groups in Italy, as it formed a significant presence already in the 1980’s [18].

Recent sociological studies have pointed out the existence of a Senegalese transmigrant movement made of people who are regular “comers and goers” between Africa and Europe and that their perception of a successful return is still associated—in contrast with other African communities—with permanent return to their homeland. This final aim is, however, generally compromised with aspirations of economic advancement and family obligations [19, 20]. Most of the earnings of Senegalese migrants are used for investment in housing in their home country, significantly altering the landscape of local cities [21].

Despite the fact that a study has well demonstrated the link between depression and rapid changes in the social organisation among Senegalese migrants [22], a fair public debate on culturally sensitive approaches in transcultural health policies is still lacking in Italy. This could be due to the state of political discourse in Italy, which has been highly influenced over the last years by instances of xenophobia, and which has subsequently affected several political actors and policy makers [2327].

The aims of this study were to record uses of natural remedies (including food preparations perceived as “healthy”) among the Senegalese community of Turin (Northern Italy) and in their country of origin, to compare these two ethnobotanies and to consequently formulate considerations on how TK changed or is changing following displacement of Senegalese citizens.

2. Material and Methods

2.1. The Study Area and Fieldwork
2.1.1. Turin, Italy

Turin (approx. 900,000 inhabitants, Piedmont, NW Italy, Figure 1) hosts an important Senegalese migrant community counting approx. 1,200 members (2004) [28]. The most significant influx of Senegalese in Turin only began at the end of 1980s. At that time, young males migrated to Italy from various areas of the Senegalese countryside and especially from those areas which were badly affected by the great drought of the 1970s. Traditionally, families gave their fourth or fifth child away to the Islamic brotherhood of believers for instruction in the faith and to work for the order, mainly engaging in agricultural activities. With the advance of desertification, however, the practice of agriculture was increasingly difficult and, as a consequence, the order allowed young people to move abroad to work in industry and services [28].

It was therefore a progressive flow, and not a mass migration, that characterized the Senegalese emigration to Italy. As often happens, the journey for many has been fragmented at various stages due to issues such as the search of a visa or other means of entry into the country. However, in Turin, the first arrivals had no intention of staying, since their aim was to work hard for a few years and return the home country. With time, however, things have changed, resulting in more stable settlements in the Italian landscape [28].

2.1.2. Adeane, Senegal

Adeane is a town of 9,000 inhabitants, located an hour’s drive from Ziguinchor, the largest urban centre in the region of Casamance, Southern Senegal (Figure 1). The climate in Casamance is the most humid of the country and subtropical forests prevail in the landscape. The abundance of rain in the Casamance permits the cultivation of a wide variety of crops.

The Casamance is inhabited mainly by the Jola ethnic group (Diola, in the French transliteration), which constitute approximately 60% of the population. Those of the Wolof ethnic group, which represent the ethnic majority in Senegal, constitute only 5% in the Casamance region. The largest portion of the Casamance inhabitants identifies their religious beliefs with Islam, while 17% are Catholics. This isolation has determined a strong regional identity and thus the culture of its people as well as its environmental heritage has been well preserved for a long time. The regional economy is based in part on tourism, especially along the coast and on the sale of crops like rice, peanuts, and millet.

2.1.3. The Fieldwork

Fieldwork was conducted over a period of one month (November 2010) in Turin and over a period of a second month (December 2010) in Adeane (Casamance, Southern Senegal). Turin was selected as a field site because it is the home of a vibrant Senegalese community, while the area of Casamance in Senegal was chosen because it is considered the most biological and cultural diverse region of the country, as well as the most conservative in terms of folk practices.

Participants in Turin were selected using snowball techniques among the first generation of Senegalese migrants ( , all males), while in Casamance the same technique was used to select “laypeople” ( , 7 females and 8 males). Additionally, in Adeane 4 healers (3 males and 1 female) were also interviewed. Prior Informed Consent (PIC) was obtained verbally before commencing each interview. Ethical guidelines followed the International Society of Ethnobiology Code of Ethics [29].

Questions concerning the use of medicinal and/or food plants were asked via a previous free listing of pathologies and related use of “home remedies.” For each named item, the field researcher (RE) asked for exact details of how the home medicine/food was prepared and its folk medical/food use. Interviews were conducted in Italian in Turin and in French in Casamance.

In Casamance, the named plant items were collected, when available, photographed, dried, identified by a local plant taxonomist (Professor Amadou Tidiane, Department of Agricultural Studies, University of Ziguinchor, Senegal) and via the West African plants photo database [30], and deposited at the Herbarium of the University of Gastronomic Sciences, Pollenzo, Italy. The nomenclature follows IPNI [31], with family assignments following the current Angiosperm Phylogeny Group III recommendations [32, 33].

2.2. Data Analysis

The ethnobotanical data collected from Turin and Adeane were compared with each other. Moreover, the ethnobotanical data were compared with the preexisting literature on Senegalese TM and the traditional pharmacopoeia of Senegal [3436].

3. Results and Discussion

3.1. The Medical Ethnobotany of the Senegalese Migrants in Turin

Table 1 reports all medicinal plants quoted by the Senegalese migrants in Turin. In total, 47 folk taxa were recorded as medicinally used in Turin; 41 of these have been botanically identified. Of these remedies, only a few (eight) could be considered food medicines, thus contradicting what previous studies among migrants medical ethnobotanies have found [6, 13, 17]. This may be due to the fact that regular provision of African vegetables and other fresh food ingredients is scarce in Turin, where generally only dried spices and medicinal plants are imported. Another explanation may be that the Senegalese migrant community in Turin is mainly represented by males, who—in contrast to women—are not holders of culinary knowledge and therefore they do not generally have experience in managing healthcare via the diet within the domestic domain.

Botanical taxon, family, and voucher specimen codeLocal name(s)Part(s) usedPreparation and administrationFolk medical use (used against/to regulate)Qs

Adansonia digitata L. (Bombacaceae)BaobobSeedEatenDiarrhoea+

SeedGrind the seeds and put the powder on the lipsBurning lips
Grind the seeds and put the powder on the painful tooth Toothache
Acacia nilotica (L.)
Willd. ex Delile (Fabaceae) UNISGSEN15
Mbano (m)
Nep nep (w)
RootMake a decoction and drink just a little bit Indigestion+++
Externally appliedWounds
BarkDrink the beverage together with Tamarindus indica fruit pulp and Hibiscus sabdariffa flowersFatigue

Grind it, add salt, and put it on the haematoma Haematoma +++
Acacia tortilis (Forssk.)
Hayne (Fabaceae) UNISGSEN05
Senjen (w)RootDrink the decoctionEye inflammations
Drink the decoction while eating some sugar, repeating the procedure three times a day Worms
Macerated in water for two days; the macerate drunkSexual impotence
Kidney troubles

Adansonia digitata L. (Malvaceae) UNISGSEN20Buy (w)
Baobab (f)
FruitDrink the beverage made using the pulp around the seeds Diarrhoea +++
Same as above, adding Hibiscus sabdariffa flowerDiarrhoea

Allium cepa L. (Amaryllidaceae)CibolleBulbEatenSexual impotence

Allium sativum L. (Amaryllidaceae)Ail (f)
Ladji (w)
BulbPut a piece of garlic on the right wrist if the sore tooth is in the upper jaw and vice versa for the lower jaw (chanting Koran’s verses helps the pain to disappear) Toothache
Sexual impotence
EatenIntestinal worms
Lowering the blood pressure
Cold and cold prevention

Anacardium occidentale L. (Anacardiaceae)AnacardoSeedDrunkAntibiotic+

Annona senegalensis Pers. (Annonaceae)SuncunLeafPut (powdered) on the fireMagic remedy (supposed to counteract bad spirits)+

Arachis hypogaea L. (Fabaceae) UNISGSEN16Arachide (f)
Gerte (w)
SeedEat the seedsStomachache+

Balanites aegyptiaca
(L.) Delile (Zygophyllaceae)
Dattier du désert (f)
Petit cola
Leaf Grind the leaves and drink the infusion prepared with the powdered leaves Sore throat +++
FruitChew the fruit without ingesting itStomachache

Calotropis procera (Aiton)
W.T. Aiton (Apocynaceae) UNISGSEN55
Kipampaan (p)
Poftan (m)
Pomme de Sodome (f)
RootCut the roots into small pieces, put it into
a cotton handkerchief, squeeze, it and inhale the aroma
Externally appliedWounds

LeafDrink the infusion prepared with ground leaves Constipation +++
Cassia italica (Mill)
Sprengel (Fabaceae)
Layduur (w)Drink the infusion prepared with ground leaves Intoxication
RootLeave the root soaking all night and drink the water in the morning, before breakfastIntestinal worms

Cassia occidentalis L. (Fabaceae) UNISGSEN11Adiana (w)
Bantaare (p)
Bentamarè (s)
Kassala (m)
Mbanta xobi (w)
LeafPut leaves around the headHeadache+

Cassia tora L. (Fabaceae) UNISGSEN76 Cassepuante (f)
Ndur (w)
LeafUse it as a mouthwashMouth infections +
Ceratotheca sesamoides
Endl. (Pedaliaceae)
Jorokh lane (w)LeafPut the leaf into water at room temperature and after it releases oil, apply the oil to the bodyHigh fever+
Dried leaf is soaked in water; the water is drunkBellyache

Citrus limon (L.)
Osbeck. (Rutaceae)
Citron (f)
Limon (w)
FruitDrink the juiceTo lose weight
Malaria (drunk in the coffee)

Combretum aculeatum
Vent. (Combretaceae)
Sawat (w)LeafPut ground leaves and sugar into water and instil the solution in the eyesWhite spot in the eye on the pupil+

Combretum glutinosum
Perr. ex DC. (Combretaceae)
Chigommier (f)
Rat (w)
LeafDrink the decoctionBronchitis/cough
Sexual impotence

LeafDrink the decoction (sometimes adding cloves) Cold
Lung infections
Sore throat
Combretum micranthum
G. Don (Combretaceae) UNISGSEN10
Quinkeliba (f)
Sekhaw (w)
FlowerDrink the decoction with milk every morning Enhancing the “well-being”
Make a decoction with Xylopia aethiopica seeds and cloves (Eugenia caryophillata flower buds)Vision problems

Dioscorea spp. (Dioscoreaceae) UNISGSEN83Igname (f)
Yam (w)
RootEat the rootTo gain weight+

Elaeis guineensis Jacq. (Arecaceae)Palmier à huile (f)
Tiir (w)
Fruit→ OilAdd oil and coffee to Vitellaria paradoxa butter and dab on the body To get rid of the “dead” blood when feeling weak+
Dab on the bodyBoils

Eucalyptus globulus Labill. (Myrtaceae) UNISGSEN88Eucaliptus (f)
Khotta bu tel (w)
LeafPut it around the head while listening to the reading of the KoranHeadache+

Eugenia caryophyllata Thunb (Myrtaceae) UNISGSEN38Girofle (f)
Xorompole (w)
Flower budUse the infusion prepared with Xylopia
aethiopica seeds and Combretum micranthum flower
Vision problems+

Euphorbia balsamifera
Ait. (Euphorbiaceae)
Salan mbechi
BranchCut the branch and put the latex on the woundWounds++

RootDrink the decoctionBellyache
Ficus iteophylla Miq. (Moraceae)Xassum loro (w)LeafDrink the decoctionDigestive asthma +++
LeafDab on the affected partBackache skin allergies

Grewia bicolor Juss. (Malvaceae)Kel (w)LeafDrink the decoctionFatigue

Guiera senegalensis
J.F. Gmel. (Combretaceae) UNISGSEN18
Ngueer (w) Mamakumkoyo (m) Mamankuiò (s)RootDrink the decoctionCold+++
LeafDrink the decoctionBronchitis/cough kidney troubles
Fatigue stomachache

Put the infusion into the eyesItchy eyes+++
Flower (red)Drink the decoction Bellyaches Menstrual pains Preventing ageing Fatigue Fever Improving the blood circulation
Hibiscus sabdariffa L. (Malvaceae) UNISGSEN12Bissap (w)
Karkadè (f)
Put the infusion into the eyesEye problems
Drink the beverage together with Tamarindus indica fruit pulp and Acacia nilotica barkFatigue
Flower (white)As a food medicine—as a main ingredient of a dish prepared with boiled meat of fish, cooked with tamarind and chilies (lakk bissap)Fatigue

Maerua crassifolia Forssk (Capparaceae)Sothiou (w)
Sothiou suukar
BranchChew the branchHalitosis+

Mangifera indica L. (Anacardiaceae) UNISGSEN37Manguier (f)
Màngo joolaa (w)
LeafDrink the decoctionTetanus++

Manihot esculenta
Crantz (Euphorbiaceae) UNISGSEN07
Gnambi (w)
Manioc (f)
Mañok (m)
RootEat the rootTo gain weight+

Moringa oleifera Lam. (Moringaceae)NebedaiLeafEaten in sauces, generally accompanied
with meat and couscous

Musa paradisiaca L. (Musaceae)Bananier (f)LeafTopical application of the leaf infusionBurns+

Panicum miliaceum L. (Poaceae)Mil (f)FruitEat millet (couscous)To gain weight

Parinari macrophylla Sabine (Chrysobalanaceae)New (w)
LeafDrink the infusion made from 7 leavesHigh blood pressure+
LeafDrink the infusionStomachache

Piper nigrum
L. (Piperaceae)
Mex pobare (w)
Poivre noir (f)
FruitEat the dried berryRunny nose+

Tamarindus indica
L. (Fabaceae)
Tamarin (f)
Daqaar (w)
Eaten, or drunk, in a beverage made adding the bark of Acacia nilotica and the flower of Hibiscus sabdariffa Fatigue+

Terminalia catappa
L. (Combretaceae)
Badamier (f)
Toubab (w)
Xopp kerte
Not specifiedNot specifiedAntibiotic, antifungal+

Add salt to the butter and dab on the backBackache +++
Vitellaria paradoxa
C.F. Gaertn. (Sapotaceae)
Karitè (f)Seed→butterAdd coffee, Elaeis guineensis’ oil and dab on the body To get rid of the “dead” blood when feeling weak
Dab the butter on the bodyMassage on the child’s body, to make the child stronger.
Bone strengthening
Dab the butter on hairHair loss

Drink the decoction, also a spice in the coffeeSexual impotence++
Xylopia aethiopica
A. Rich. (Annonaceae)
Diar (w)
SeedInstill the infusion of seeds into the eyesEye problems,
Instill the infusion of seeds into the ear Otitis
Pour the infusion made from the seeds, Eugenia caryophyllata flower buds and Combretum micranthum flowerVision problems

Zingiber officinale Roscoe (Zingiberaceae) UNISGSEN09Djindjer (w)
Djinjeroo (m)
Gingembre (f)
Fresh rhizomeEaten, or juice drunk, or decoctionSexual impotence
Blood circulation

LeafDrink the decoctionWorms
Not identifiedBerbef (w)Use the rough leaf like a sponge under the showerPruritus+
FruitMake a pasta and dab on the skinItchiness
Not identifiedBonyeAntibiotic+

Not identifiedKhambata (w)LeafDrink the infusionHeadache+

Not identifiedNdiadameFruitCook it slowly and eat it; it is really bitterIntestinal worms+

Not identifiedSangol (w)RootPut it in water for up to two minutes and drink it (very bitter) Intestinal worms+
LeafSoak in water and externally apply on the skinItchiness

Not identifiedWatenobout (w)BranchPut the latex that comes out of the broken branch on the woundWounds+

(f): French; (m): Mandingo; (p): Pulaar; (w): Wolof; Qs: quotations: + quoted by 1 or 2 informants only; ++ quoted by 3, 4, or 5 informants; +++ quoted by 5 informants or more.

All remedies quoted in Turin are generally bought in small ethnic food shops and mini-supermarkets located in city centre and managed by African and/or Chinese migrant entrepreneurs. A few of the most quoted taxa (Acacia, Adansonia, Guiera, Hibiscus) are well-known African medicinal plants, which are however lacking in the Western TM pharmacopoeia.

3.2. The Medical Ethnobotany of Adeane in Senegal

Table 2 reports all medicinal plants quoted in Adeane. In total, 71 species, representing 31 botanical families, were recorded as components to TMs in Adeane. However, although the large majority of recorded medicinal taxa were found in the reviews of the Senegalese TM [3436], only a minority (<40%) of the actual medicinal plant uses are reported in the considered literature. This confirms the highly dynamic character of the home medicines in rural Africa and highlights the urgent need for inventorying folk plant uses beyond those that are cited in the “standardized” TM reviews.

Botanical taxon, family,
and voucher specimen code
Local name(s)Part(s) usedPreparation and administrationFolk medical use
(used against/to regulate)

Acacia albida Delile
(Fabaceae) UNISGSEN019
Kade (f)
Kadd (w)
Instill the infusion in the eyeVision problems+3

Acacia nilotica (L.) Willd.
ex Delile (Fabaceae)
mlotique (f)
Nep nep (w)
Mbano (m)
RootApply the infusion externallyHerpes+2

Acacia seyal Delile (Fabaceae)SuuroLeafTopical application of liquid resulting from pressed leavesToothache+1

Soak in water for some time and drinkTapeworm+11
Stomachache +
(abdominal pains)
Drink the cold infusion Rheumatism+
Apply the infusion on hair Strengthening the hair +
Boiled in water and the vapour is inhaled Cold +
Cold infusion is drunk Blood pressure +
Acacia tortilis (Forssk.) Hayne (Fabaceae) UNISGSEN05Senjen (w)RootEat it with riceSterility+
Make aerosol with the infusion? Lung cancer+
Drink the infusionBloodstream+
Eat it with riceUlcer+
Eat it with riceGastritis+
Eat it with riceKidney problems +
Drink the infusionMenstrual pain+
Topical application of the infusion Herpes+
Topical application of the infusionBoil +
Drink the infusionFatigue ++
Drink the infusionTuberculosis++

Leaf Powdered leaf applied to burn and bandaged together with the oil of Arachis hypogaea Burns +12
Drink the seed juice together with the flowers of Hibiscus sabdariffa Fatigue ++
Adansonia digitata
L. (Malvaceae) UNISGSEN20
Baobab (f)
Guy (w)
SeedsEat the seeds Diarrhoea++
Eat the seeds together with Citrus limon juice Lack of appetite +
Use it with Acacia albida, Guiera senegalensis, Parkia biglobosa, Annona senegalensis, Soora (nonidentified plant), and Ficus sycomorus Headache, sore throat, cold taken as result of wind+

Allium cepa L. (Amaryllidaceae)Oignon (f)BulbInfusion with leaves of Citrus limon Sore throat+1

Drink the infusion in the morningBlood pressure+8
Allium sativum L. (Amaryllidaceae)Ail (f)
Ladji (w)
BulbEat it raw in the morning Intestinal worms+
Eat it while marabout recites verses of the KoranDepression+

Aloe vera (L.) Burm. f. (Xanthorrhoeaceae)Leaf gelUse it with Vitellaria paradoxa Tuberculosis+2
Use it with Vitellaria paradoxa Hair loss+

Drink the infusionToothache+3
Anacardium occidentale L. (Anacardiaceae)Pomme-cajou (f)
Darkasa (w)
Bara diamboo (m)
BarkRheumatism +
Put it in cold water for a while and drink itToothache +
Blood pressure+

Drink the infusionDiabetes +3
Put the powder on the woundWounds+
Drink the infusionRheumatism+
Drink the infusionBloodstream+
Annona senegalensis Pers. (Annonaceae) UNISGSEN36Sunkun (m)LeafDrink the infusion with Musa paradisiaca leaves and Combretum micranthum Blood pressure+
Use it with Piliostigma reticulatum Headache +
Use it with Piliostigma reticulatum Tuberculosis +
Use it with Acacia albida, Guiera senegalensis, Parkia biglobosa, Adansonia digitata, Soora (nonidentified plant), and Ficus sycomorus Headache, Sore throat, Cold taken as result of wind+
LeafUse it with Acacia albida and Parkia biglobosa Depression+

FruitUse it with oil of Elaeis guineensis’ oilHair+3
Arachis hypogaea L. (Fabaceae) UNISGSEN16Arachides (f)
Gerte (w)
Jamba katalig (m)
LeafInhale the infusion prepared together with the leaves of Mangifera indica General health +
Seed→oilMix peanut oil together with the powdered leaves of Adansonia digitata and apply to burns before bandaging Burns+
FruitEat the fruit fresh, not toastedCold+

Wrap the leaf around the headHeadache +3
Azadirachta indica A. Juss. (Meliaceae) UNISGSEN63Cassia, Neem (f)
Niim, Ni va (w)
Bantare (m)
LeafInfuse with hot water and inhale the steam Fatigue+
Topical application of the infusion Skin problems+
Use it with Carica papaya and Citrus limon Cold+

Make an infusion with shade-dried leaves Diabetes++3
Bambusa vulgaris Schrad. ex J.C. Wendl. (Poaceae) UNISGSEN54Bambou (f)
Lonk (w)
LeafDrink the infusion with Combretum micranthum leavesHigh blood pressure+
Make an infusion, drink some
of it, and make aerosol with the resting water
Bloodstream +
Drink the infusionObesity+

Beta vulgaris L. (Chenopodiaceae)Betterave (f)
Beteraaw (m)
RootEat itBloodstream +1
Eat itAnemia+

Borassus flabellifer L. (Arecaceae) UNISGSEN89Ronier (f)
Kòoni (w)
FruitBurnt and pressed, pour resulting liquid into the earEarache+1

Fatigue +
LeafWarm the leaf up and wrap it around the neck Sore neck +
Topical application of juice from leaf on tooth Toothache +
Calotropis procera (Aiton)
W.T. Aiton (Apocynaceae) UNISGSEN55
Pomme de Sodome (f)
Poftan (m)
Kipampaan (p)
Wrap the leaf around the sore knee Sore knees+
Wrap the leaf around the head Headache +
RootUse it with Ocimum basilicum Rheumatism+
Leaf ?Use it with Mànganaso (unidentified plant) and Jatropha curcas. Drink it and vomit everything yellowYellow fever+
Use it with Jatropha curcas and Mànganaso (unidentified plant)Syphilis+

Cannabis sativa L. (Cannabaceae)MarijuanaSeedsDrink the infusionAsthma+1

Drink the infusionLack of appetite 5
Drink a glass of water with a chili pepper in itIntestinal worms+
Capsicum annuum L. (Solanaceae)Kani (w)FruitMix lemon juice (Citrus limo) together with a chili pepper and gargle with the solutionSore throat+
Put in a small pan with Jatropha curcas, and drink Hair loss+
Put it in lemon juice (Citrus limon) and drink itConstipation+

Eat up the oil that comes out of the nut and dab it on the body three times a day with Vitellaria paradoxa butterSore back +9
Mix it with oil of Elaeis guineensis and butter of Vitellaria paradoxa and then dab it on hair Strengthening the hair+
Drink a spoonful every day Poor memory+
Drink a spoonful of it Cough+
Drink a spoonful of it Sore throat+
Topical application of the oil Eye problems +
Carapa procera DC.
(Meliaceae) UNISGSEN43
Tulukuna (m)Seed→oilInstill oil into the earsEarache +
Drink a spoonful of itFever +
Drink a spoonful of it Flu+
Dab it on the skin in the area over the kidneysKidneys problems +
Drink a spoonful of it Bellyache +
Use it before breakfastTapeworm+
Dab it on affected musclesSore muscles+
Peel it and apply to the sore toothToothache+8
Use it with Citrus limon and Azadirachta indica Cold +
Root Drink the infusion, adding salt Syphilis (2)++

LeafDrink the infusion Anemia+
Use it together with Psidium guajava leaves Cystitis +
Carica papaya L. (Caricaceae) UNISGSEN21Papayer (f)
Papaayo (w)
SeedsDry the seeds in the sun, powder, and add to food Intestinal worms +
FruitEat a soup with a ripe papaya in it together with chicken and a root of Tinospora bakis Yellow fever+
Boil the unripe fruit with undecorticated rice or simply eat the fruit, raw. Another remedy is to crack an egg over the unripe papaya and eat it Yellow fever++
LeafDrink the infusion together with the buds Yellow fever+
Add the following to water: dry leaves of Musa paradisiaca, little unripe fruits and leaves of Citrus limon, leaves of Cassia occidentalis, leaves of Mangifera indica, leaves of Ziziphus mauritiana and drink Malaria +
FruitEat it together with Parkia biglobosa leavesYellow fever+
Flower Crumble flower into the water and drink Headache +14
LeafWrap around the headHeadache+

Cassia occidentalis
L. (Fabaceae) UNISGSEN11
Mbanta xobi or
Adiana (w)
Kasalaa (m)
Bentamarè (s)
Leaf Wrap around the head Conjunctivitis +
Flowe? Drink the infusion Menstrual pain +
LeafPut it in water for a while and wash yourself with it Cold (Especially for children) +
Flower? Drink the infusion For pregnant women +
LeafDrop juice from pressed leaves
into the ear
Problems of the eardrum +
LeafAdd the following to water: dry leaves of Musa paradisiaca, little unripe fruits and leaves of Citrus limon, leaves of Mangifera indica, leaves of Carica papaya, and leaves of Ziziphus mauritiana Malaria+

Cassia tora L. (Fabaceae) UNISGSEN76Cassepuante (f)
Ndur (w)
Blemishes on scalp which may extend to the whole body+2
Use it with Ficus umbellata Skin fungus+

Fruit Eat it Bellyache +3
RootPut little plants’ roots in water and then drink the water It is going to fizz Fatigue +
Ceiba pentandra
(L.) Gaertn. (Malvaceae)
Kapotier (f)
Bentene (w)
BarkUse infusion made with the bark as a mouthwashToothache+
Root? Cancer +
Bark? Pour the infusion on the baby’s head during baptismInfant strength and protection +
RootGood for the blood because of the red colourBlood++

Leaf Make an infusion together with leaves of Allium cepa Sore throat +9
FruitDrink the juice Sore throat+
Drink the juice To lose weight +
Use the juice together with Capsicum to gargle Sore throat+
Leaf and FruitDrink a beverage made with lemon leaf and fruit (Citrus limon) Headache+
FruitPut the juice on the affected part together with Panicum miliaceum
FruitDrink the infusion with lemon juice (Citrus limon) together with two roots of the Gossypium barbadense Sexual weakness+
Citrus limon (L.) Burm.
Citron (f)
Limon (w)
Leaf and FruitDrink a beverage made with little lemons and leaves Cold+
FruitDrink the juice Cold+
Use it with Carica papaya and Azadirachta indica Cold+
Leaf and fruitAdd the following to water: dry leaves of Musa paradisiaca, little unripe fruits and leaves of Citrus limon, leaves of Mangifera indica, leaves of Carica papaya, leaves of Cassia occidentalis, leaves of Ziziphus mauritiana and drink Malaria+
Eaten with Carica papaya Malaria
Yellow fever
Use it with Guiera senegalensis Asthma+
FruitDrink the juiceObesity+
Drink the infusion together with Gossypium barbadense High blood pressure+
Dink the juice with honeyLiver+

Cola cordifolia (Cav.)
R. Br. (Malvaceae)
Kaba/TabaLeafDrink the infusionMalnutrition+1

Cola nitida (Vent.) Schott & Endl. (Malvaceae) UNISGSEN85Ptit cola (f)
Kola (w)
Goro (p)
Seed Chew itStimulant+1

Drink the infusionCough +2
Combretum glutinosum
Perr. ex DC. (Combretaceae)
Chigommier (f)
Rat (w)
LeafDrink the infusionBronchitis+
Drink the infusionSore throat+
Drink the infusionCold+

LeafIngested together with Tamarindus indica fruit pulpBlood pressure++9
Drink the infusion with Musa paradisiaca’s leaf and Annona senegalensis Blood pressure +
Drink the infusion Diabetes+
Use it with Tamarindus indica Asthma+
LeafObesity +
Combretum micranthum G. Don (Combretaceae) UNISGSEN10Kinkeliba (f)
Sekhaw (w)
Drink the infusionBloodstream ++
Drink the infusion with these leaves together with Bambusa vulgaris leaves High blood pressure+
Drink the infusion without sugar Malnutrition+
FlowerDrink the infusion with cloves (Eugenia caryophillata) and Xylopia aethipioca seeds Vision problems+
LeafDrink the infusionBellyache+

Dialium guineense Willd. (Fabaceae) UNISGSEN17Solom (w)BarkMake aerosol with the infusionAsthma+1

Datura inoxia Mill.
(Solanaceae) UNISGSEN91
Datura (f)
LeafBurn the wood and mix the wood ash with powdered leaf ash
External Use only—highly hallucinogenic if used internally

Daucus carota L. (Apiaceae)Carotte (f)LeafDrink the infusionBreast cancer+1

Dioscorea spp. (Dioscoreaceae) UNISGSEN83Imuam
Igname (f)
Yam (w)
Root Eat itTo gain weight+2
LeafBoil the leavesAsthma+

Put the oil on the hairHair +6
Fruit→oilTopical application Toothache +
Pour in the earsEarache+
Use the palm oil together with Sooto noir (Ficus capensis Thumb.?) powdered root Liver problems +
Elaeis guineensis Jacq.
Palmier à huile (f)
Tiir (w)
Attach the root of Moringa oleifera to the affected area and then cover the sore part with palm oil. Do not leave the root in place too long or it will cause an infection. Rheumatism+
SeedsWear a necklace made out of these seeds Sore throat +
Break the seed and eat the internal partGastritis +
RootPut them in wine and drink it Sterility +
Skin fungus +
Fruit→oilUse the palm oil together with peanuts (Arachis hypogea) and dab on hair. Hair+
Use it together with Vitellaria paradoxa butter and Carapa procera, dab on hair Hair+
Apply it on the cuts together with Hessawane Tetanus+

Drink the infusion with Jatropha curcas Cough +1
Erythrina senegalensis DC. (Fabaceae) UNISGSEN34Erythrine du Senegal (f)
Dolliw fatu
RootDrink the infusion Syphilis +
Drink the infusionMenstrual pain+

Eucalyptus globulus Labill. (Myrtaceae) UNISGSEN88Eucaliptus (f)
Khotta bu tel (w)
LeafDrink the infusionBlood pressure+1

Make an infusion and use it as mouthwashToothache+3
Eugenia caryophyllata Thunb. (Myrtaceae) UNISGSEN38Girofle (f)
Xorompole (w)
Flower budDrink the infusion Conjunctivitis+
Make infusion with seeds of Xylopia aethiopica and Combretum micranthum flower and apply on eyesVision problems+

Euphorbia balsamifera Ait. (Euphorbiaceae)Salan
Salan Mbechi
BranchCut a branch and put the lymph on the woundWounds +3

Ficus elastica Roxb. ex Hornem. (Moraceae) UNISGSEN59Yirif asotuLeaf and barkDrink the infusion Low blood pressure +2
LeafDrink the infusionCold+

Ficus sycomorus ssp. gnaphalocarpa (Miq.) C.C. Berg (Moraceae) UNISGSEN42Ficus (f)
Sooto (m)
Root Drink the infusion Fatigue+2
LeafPowder branches and leaves together with Jamba Saboo leaves and drink some of it. Wash yourself with the rest of it. Do not eat fish in the meantime.AIDS+

Ficus umbellata Vahl (Moraceae) UNISGSEN68 Ñokolokotò (m) LeafUse it with Cassia tora Skin fungus+1
Leaf Cough+4
Gossypium barbadense L. (Malvaceae)Cotonnier (f)
Uiten (w)
RootDrink the infusion together with lemon juice (Citrus limon) High blood pressure +
Drink the infusion made with two roots together with lemon juice
(Citrus limon)
Sexual weakness+

Drink the infusion three times a dayCough +13
Chew it and put it on the sore tooth Toothache+
Dry it and use it every day Sores +
Guiera senegalensis J.F. Gmel (Combretaceae) UNISGSEN18Guiera du Senegal (f)
Ngeer (w)
Mamakumkoyo (m)
LeafMake an infusion together with the lemon leaves (Citrus limon) Asthma+
Drink the infusion with Valda pastille (industrial pastille based on menthol and eucalyptus essential oil) Cold +
Make infusion and apply to hair Hair+
Drink the infusionInsomnia +
Apply chewed leaf onto the wound or powder it and put it on Wounds ++
Drink the infusion together with Mànganaso’s root (unidentified plant) Intestinal worms+
Infusion prepared with Adansonia digitata, Acacia albida, Parkia biglobosa, Annona senegalensis, Soora Soora (nonidentified plant), and Ficus sycomorus Headache, sore throat, or cold taken as result of the wind+

Leaf and FlowerDrink the infusionBloodstream+12
FlowerFlu +
FruitMake a juice together with Adansonia digitata seedsFatigue ++
FlowerLack of appetite +
Hibiscus sabdariffa
L. (Malvaceae) UNISGSEN12
Karkadè (f)
Bisaab (w)
Use it with Tamarindus indica and Acacia nilotica Fatigue+
FlowerUse it with Phaseolus vulgaris seeds Anemia+
Use it with seeds of Phaseolus vulgaris Fatigue+
FruitRemove the seeds and squeeze the fruit juice into the eyes. Conjunctivitis +
LeafMake an infusion together with the young leaves of Psidium guajava, drink it, and eat the leavesDiarrhoea++

Holarrhena floribunda
T. Durand & Schinz
(Apocynaceae) UNISGSEN67
Jarko (m)Sexually transmitted diseases+2
Drink the tisaneProstate

Collect pieces of bark that face east during sunset and then drink it in 5 litres of waterCancer +6
Collect pieces of bark that face east during sunset and then drink it in 5 litres of water Syphilis+
Jatropha curcas
L. (Euphorbiaceae)
Pignon d’Inde (f)
Tabanana (w)
Tabanano (m)
Bark and RootDrink the infusion together with roots of Erythrina senegalensis in it Cough+
Put it in a small pan with Capsicum and drink Hair loss +
Powder it together with Kunjunburun and eat it on riceSyphilis+
Use it with Calotropis procera and Mànganaso (unidentified plant)Yellow fever+

Drink a tisane made with the bark together with Acacia tortilis. Intestinal worms ++5
Boil it in the water or put it into cold water for 2 hours and then drink it. Fatigue +
Make aerosol with it Fatigue+
Khaya senegalensis
(Desr.) A. Juss. (Meliaceae)
Cailsedrat (f)
Xai, kay (w)
BarkPut in water and drink it“Makes blood” +
Make cold infusion and drinkKidney problems +
Anemia +
Put the bark in a bottle and drink it.Tuberculosis+

Lawsonia inermis
L. (Lythraceae)
Hennè (f)
Fuden (w)
Leaf?Soak it together with the leaves of Psidium guajava and then drink it. The leaves needs to be fresh, not dried.Stomachache+1

Leptadenia hastata Vatke (Apocynaceae)Mboom (w)
Duto (m)
Leaf Attach the leaves to the back together with hawk’s bonesKidney problems+1
RootScrape at the bark, put it into water, and drink itSnakebite+

Lippia chevalieri Moldenke (Verbenaceae)SamfitòLeafDrink the infusionBoils+1

Maerua crassifolia Forssk. (Capparaceae)Sothiou (w)
BranchRub the stick on the teethClean teeth+2
Chew the branch. Its bark tastes like sugarHaemorrhoids+

Leaf Make an infusion, with 1.5 L water and a handful of leaves (some say to use only the ones on the floor, others to add salt to the infusion) Tetanus ++13
LeafDrink infusion Poor memory+
Mangifera indica
L. (Anacardiaceae)
Manguier (f)
joolaa (w)
Bark? Hot infusion and inhale it together with peanut (Arachis hypogaea) leaves General health+
Bark Make aerosol with itToothache +
Leaf Toothache ++
LeafAdd to water: dry leaves of Musa paradisiaca, little unripe fruits and leaves of Citrus limon, leaves of Mangifera indica, leaves of Carica papaya, leaves of Cassia occidentalis, and leaves of Ziziphus mauritiana Malaria+
FruitEat three fruitsConstipation+

Manihot esculenta Crantz (Euphorbiaceae) UNISGSEN07Manioc (f)
Gnambi (w)
Mañok (m)
LeafDrink the infusion together with milk curdle and then massage the chest Lung cancer +1
Make aerosol with the infusionAsthma+

Leaf Dry in the shade, powder, and eat with food Diabetes +12
LeafDry it in the shade and then crush it and eat in on rice Diabetes+
Seed Dry the seeds on the fire, powder, mix with water, and drink Diabetes +
Moringa oleifera Lam. (Moringaceae) UNISGSEN39Moringa (f)
Nebedaay (w)
Nebedayo (m)
Root Grind the root and put it on the fire then dab and bandage Sore knees+
Bark Soak the root in water for few seconds and then drink Sore neck +
LeafPut the leaf in water and wash your eyes with it Eye allergies+
Bark Soak it in warm (not boiling) water and then drink it Kidney problems +
RootAttach the root to the affected area, with Elaeis guineensis oil. Do not leave it too long or the root will cause an infection on the sore part. Rheumatism +
LeafDry the leaves in the shade and eat it with Phaseolus vulgaris Blood pressure +
SeedPut the seeds on the fire, grind into a powder and drink with waterBlood pressure+

LeafCut the leaves and dry them in the sun for 24 hours General health +4
Musa paradisiaca
L. (Musaceae)
Bananier (f)Fruit Eat it Stomachache +
LeafInfusion with Combretum micranthum and Annona senegalensis Blood pressure+
Add to water: dry leaves of Musa paradisiaca, little unripe fruits and leaves of Citrus limon, leaves of Mangifera indica, leaves of Carica papaya, leaves of Cassia occidentalis, and leaves of Ziziphus mauritiana Malaria+

LeafDrink the infusionHeadache +3
Ocimum basilicum
L. (Lamiaceae) UNISGSEN13
Basilic (f)
Ngungun (m)
SeedsPut the seed into the eyes and everything comes out Eye problems +
Leaf?Use it with Calotropis procera Rheumatism+

Panicum miliaceum L. (Poaceae)Mil (f)FruitUse the powder (pollen) that falls down during the harvest to massage the body with water and salt. Leave it on half an hour and then wash it away. Allergies+2
Apply millet powder together with lemon juice (Citrus limon) on the affected areaHerpes+

Cut the bark into pieces, boil, and use the water as mouthwashToothache +2
Parinari macrophylla Sabine (Chrysobalanaceae)New (w)
BarkMake an infusion and drink Sore throat +
Make an infusion and drink it before mealsHelps in digestion+

Put the leaf powder on the burns Burns +5
LeafEat the leaves together with Carica papaya fruit Yellow fever +
Parkia biglobosa (Jacq.)
R.Br. ex G. Don (Fabaceae) UNISGSEN87
Minosa purpre (f)
Uul (w)
Nete, Nere (m)
Drink the infusion with powdered leaf and milk Ulcer+
Use it together with Acacia albida and Annona senegalensis Depression+
Use it with Acacia albida, Guiera senegalensis, Annona senegalensis, Adansonia digitata, Soora (nonidentified plant), and Ficus sycomorus Headache, sore throat, and cold taken as result of the wind +
SeedCook them with riceDiabetes+

Use with Hibiscus sabdariffa Fatigue +3
Phaseolus vulgaris L. (Fabaceae) UNISGSEN35Harricot blanche (f)
Niebè (w)
SeedsMake an infusion with seven seeds and eat themBreast cancer +
Use it with Hibiscus sabdariffa Anaemia +
Leaf?Eat it together with Moringa oleifera’s sundried leavesBlood pressure+

Put the red liquid inside the bark on the wound then powder the bark and put it on the wound Wounds++3
Piliostigma reticulatum (DC.) Hochst. (Fabaceae)
Fara (m)
Kankuran (p)
BarkUse it with Annona senegalensis Tuberculosis +
Drink the infusionChronic cough+

Piper nigrum L. (Piperaceae)Poivre noir (f)
Mex Pobare (w)
SeedDrink boiled milk with pepper in itSore throat+

Prosopis africana (Guill. & Perr.) Taub. (Fabaceae)Yiir (w)BarkDrink the decoctionAnaemia+1

LeafMake aerosol useful to swat and then drink the waterVertigo+1
Prosopis juliflora (Sw.) DC. (Fabaceae) UNISGSEN26Banaana
golo (w)
LeafMake aerosol useful to swat and then drink the water Pregnant women+
LeafDrink the infusionBellyache+

Young leaf Make an infusion with Hibiscus sabdariffa leaves, drink it, and eat the leaves Diarrhoea ++10
LeafDrink the infusionBellyache +
Psidium guajava
L. (Myrtaceae)
Goyave (f)
Guyaab (w)
Use it together with Carica papaya leaf Cystitis+
FruitEat the fruitBellyache+
Drink the infusion Diarrhoea+
LeafDrink the infusion made with young leaves Diarrhoea+
Soak the leaves together with Lawsonia inermis, and then drink it. The leaves need to be fresh, not driedStomachache+

Saba senegalensis (A.DC.) Pichon (Apocynaceae) UNISGSEN76Màdd (w)
Mat mat (m)
Leaf Drink the infusion Intestinal worms +2
FruitBoil the fruitMalnutrition+

LeafMake an infusion Skin fungus +5
Solanum lycopersicum L. (Solanaceae)Tomate (f)
Tamaate (w)
Crush the leaf and put the juice and the leaf inside the earEarache +
FruitApply tomato sauce on the wound Wounds++
Eat it rawSmallpox+

Solanum tuberosum
L. (Solanaceae)
Pomme de terre (f)
Pombiteer (w)
LeafMake an infusion and give it to the 1-week-old baby to drink Strong child+1
FruitEat it rawMenstrual pain+

Use it with Combretum micranthum Asthma+
FruitBoil it and wash your eyes with it Vision problems+4
Tamarindus indica L. (Fabaceae)Tamarin (f)
Daqaar (w)
Add salt and rinse your mouth with it Toothache +
Karitè butter together with the bark of Tamarindus indica Bruises+
BarkUse it with Hibiscus sabdariffa and the bark of Acacia nilotica Fatigue +
Use it with Combretum micranthum Blood pressure+

Tinospora bakis (A. Rich.)
Miers (Menispermaceae)
Bakis (w)RootEat the root in a soup with a ripe Carica papaya and chickenYellow fever+1

Massage the neckSore neck (2) ++11
Massage the body Cold +
Put it on the sore part Bruises +
Massage the chest with Karitè butterChronic cough +
Add salt to the butter and dab on the back Backache +
Karitè butter together with the bark of Tamarindus indica Bruises +
Massage and dab the sore part of the body Rheumatism +
Vitellaria paradoxa
C.F. Gaertn. (Sapotaceae)
Karitè (f)Seed→butterApply on herpes Herpes+
Use it with Carapa procera and Elaeis guineensis’ oil Hair loss +
Use it together with Carapa procera’s nut oil and dab it on the body three times a day Backache +
Dab on the hairStronger hair+

Use it together with a stick to apply this part Fractures +
Add coffee and tyr (red oil) To get rid of the dead blood, against fatigue +
Use it with Aloe vera Tuberculosis +
Use it with Aloe vera Hair loss+

Xylopia aethiopica (Dunal)
A. Rich. (Annonaceae) UNISGSEN70
Diar (w)
The seeds are used to prepare the “Touba Coffee”Blood pressure+3

(f): French; (m): Mandingo; (p): Pulaar; (w): Wolof; Qs: quotations (number of informants, who have quoted a specific taxon); ?: uncertain information.

Documentation and evaluation of these home remedies are very important, since they represent a means of primary healthcare for most. Figure 2 illustrates the overlaps between the plants quoted in Casamance by healers and laypeople. Laypeople’s knowledge of medical plants is quite remarkable and confirms that the actual practice of household phytotherapy in Africa is much broader of what we sometimes label as “Traditional Medicine,” which is generally restricted to the knowledge, practices, and beliefs of healers. Moreover, despite living in the same village, while healers and laypeople use in large part the same medicinal plants (Figure 2), the actual plant reports (plant-based preparations used for a given health problem) are highly divergent (Figure 3). These findings confirm a remarkable “internal” variability of the African medical ethnobotanies, as a recent study in rural Mozambique also pointed out [37].

3.3. Comparison between the Senegalese Medical Ethnobotanies of Turin and Adeane

A comparison between the laypeople’s medical ethnobotany in Turin and Adeane demonstrates that Senegalese in Senegal use more plants than Senegalese in Turin (Figure 4). This may be due to an objective difficulty to acquire all African plants used in country of origin in the new cultural environment in Italy and also to an adaptation process. Migrants moved in fact from their original rural areas in Senegal (where the use of herbal TMs is widespread) to urban environments in Europe, where practices of use of medicinal plants are only available within the context of Western modern herbalism and phytotherapy: Senegalese TM practitioners seem in fact not to be present in Turin. Moreover, migrants from Senegal in Turin also generally rely on Western pharmaceuticals.

However, the large majority of the medicinal botanical genera recorded in Turin are also used in the country of origin, thus confirming some resilience of original practices following displacement into another landscape. The fact that a few other genera (twelve) have been quoted instead by migrants in Turin, but not in Adeane, could possibly be explained in two ways.(i)Senegalese migrants living in Turin did not all come from the southern part of Senegal. For instance, a few of them may have brought plant uses to Turin that are unknown in the folk medicine of Southern Senegal.(ii)A few genera recorded quoted in Turin (i.e., Hibiscus, Zingiber) may represent the result of cross-cultural exchanges of TMs with other migrant populations in Turin, especially with the North African migrants, who also share the same religion, and with members of the Chinese migrant community who own ethnic food markets in Turin.

Out of this comparative study, a few plant families have emerged as being integral to the TM practices of the Senegalese study participants both in Turin and Adeane. In particular, a great variety of Fabaceae species were quoted as having medicinal applications in Turin (7 species) and Adeane (15 species). The second and third most represented botanical families amongst the Turin participants were Combretaceae and Malvaceae, with 5 and 3 species quoted, respectfully. In Adeane, however, Malvaceae was the second most quoted family (5 species), followed by Apocynaceae and Solanaceae (4 species each), and then Combretaceae, Myrtaceae, Euphorbiaceae, and Meliaceae, represented by 3 species each.

Interestingly, despite the presence of a thriving Senegalese community in the north Italian landscape for more than 30 years, relatively few Italian medicinal plants appear to have been incorporated into the TM practices of this group. Take, for example, the notable lack of incorporation of several European mints (Lamiaceae) in the TM practices of the Senegalese in Turin. Various Lamiaceae species, such as mint, basil, peppermint, rosemary, thyme, horehound, and oregano, grow in the wild and/or are cultivated in the Italian countryside and the use of such species for medicinal purposes dates back to more than 2,000 years ago in this region, as evidenced by their presence in the ancient textbooks of the Mediterranean Materia Medica [38]. Moreover, the important use of Lamiaceae species as medicinal plants is crucial also in the medico-ethnobotanical literature of Piedmont ([39] and references therein). The conspicuous absence of Lamiaceae uses in the Senegalese migrant community is maybe reflective of their isolation from the Italian environmental and medical landscape, which may have been further enhanced by the characteristic male composition of the Senegalese community in Italy.

4. Conclusion

Our study illustrates that the herbal medicines used by the Senegalese in Turin are very different from those of the Italian herbal landscape and that the migrant population in Turin is instead reliant on the undependable trade and movement of plant materials from their homeland to ethnic markets in the city. This shows maybe a scarce integration of this African community into the host society.

Moreover, the access and availability of important original medicines, especially medicinal foods, are greatly diminished in Turin, creating a significant disruption in their TM system. This may also have been influenced by the general lack of female Senegalese migrants, who would typically be the ones in charge of TM and “health” foods in the domestic setting.

The issues relevant to primary TM practice in migrant communities are often compounded by a lack of specific health policies, which are able to address migrant needs. This problem is, of course, not isolated to the case of migrants in Italy, but is also relevant to many other Western countries, where the healthcare needs of burgeoning migrant populations are often conspicuously absent in health policy and legislation.

By having a better understanding of both the migrant folk pharmacopoeia and the state of TK transmission with regards to health, more culturally sensitive health policies could be developed. In particular, the increasing occurrence of newcomers in Italy should foster more pluralistic approaches in the management of CAMs by the regional authorities, as well as consequently addressing measures aimed to improve the information on potentialities and risks of “home-made” herbal remedies.


Special thanks are due to all of the study participants, who generously agreed to share their knowledge with the first author (R. Ellena). In particular, the authors would like to acknowledge Abdou Faye, Centre d’Education et de Formation Polyvalente, Ziguinchor, Senegal; the NGOs Jamm Italia and Jamm Senegal; the following people: Mamath Ndiaye, Lamine Mane, Adamà Signatte, Kebaman, Majorò Diop, Bu, Amadou Diop, Mamath Ndiaye’s grandmother, Awa Diagne, Awa’s grandmother, Aicha Ndiaye, Vincent, Modu Modu, Cheik Omar, Khadim, Crip Crap, Mariama, Rama, Fatou, Amadou Diagne, Kabra, Sebia Mendy, Gnana Sahonsla, Ina Signatte, Bin Tagiata, Mohammed Buasi, Solol, Abdullaye, and Abdou Gassama.


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Copyright © 2012 Rachele Ellena et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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