Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine / 2021 / Article

Review Article | Open Access

Volume 2021 |Article ID 6622410 | https://doi.org/10.1155/2021/6622410

Dires Tegen, Kindalem Dessie, Destaw Damtie, "Candidate Anti-COVID-19 Medicinal Plants from Ethiopia: A Review of Plants Traditionally Used to Treat Viral Diseases", Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2021, Article ID 6622410, 20 pages, 2021. https://doi.org/10.1155/2021/6622410

Candidate Anti-COVID-19 Medicinal Plants from Ethiopia: A Review of Plants Traditionally Used to Treat Viral Diseases

Academic Editor: Armando Zarrelli
Received22 Dec 2020
Revised20 Apr 2021
Accepted29 May 2021
Published17 Jun 2021

Abstract

Background. Emerging viral infections are among the major global public health concerns. The pandemic COVID-19 is a contagious respiratory and vascular disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). There are no medicines that can treat SARS-CoV-2 except the vaccines. Therefore, searching for plant-originated therapeutics for the treatment of COVID-19 is required. Consequently, reviewing medicinal plants used to treat different viral infections is mandatory. This review article aims to review the ethnobotanical knowledge of medicinal plants traditionally used to treat different viral diseases by the Ethiopian people and suggests those plants as candidates to fight COVID-19. Methods. Articles written in English were searched from online public databases using searching terms like “Traditional Medicine,” “Ethnobotanical study,” “Active components,” “Antiviral activities,” and “Ethiopia.” Ethnobotanical data were analyzed using the Excel statistical software program. Result. From the 46 articles reviewed, a total of 111 plant species were claimed to treat viral infections. Fifty-six (50.4%) of the plant species had reported to have antiviral active components that are promising to treat COVID-19. Lycorine, gingerol shogaol, resveratrol, rhoifolin, oleanolic acid, kaempferol, rosmarinic acid, almond oil, ursolic acid, hederagenin, nigellidine, α-hederin, apigenin, nobiletin, tangeretin, chalcone, hesperidin, epigallocatechin gallate, allicin, diallyl trisulfide, ajoene, aloenin, artemisinin, glucobrassicin, curcumin, piperine, flavonoids, anthraquinone, hydroxychloroquine, and jensenone were some of them. Conclusion. The Ethiopian traditional knowledge applies a lot of medicinal plants to treat different viral infections. Reports of the chemical components of many of them confirm that they can be promising to fight COVID-19.

1. Introduction

Viral diseases are responsible for the global morbidity and mortality of human beings [1]. The pandemic COVID-19 is among such viral outbreaks challenging the healthcare systems around the world [2]. From 31 December 2019 to 31 October 2020, this pandemic resulted in 45,667,780 cases and 1,189,499 deaths globally and 95,789 cases and 1,464 deaths in Ethiopia [3]. However, no specific medications and drugs are known to treat this viral disease. Consequently, reports show that people from different countries use medicinal plants for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19, although not confirmed by the World Health Organization (WHO) for safety issues [4]. Because they contain various active components, medicinal plants can be alternatives to prevent and combat COVID-19 [5].

Plant secondary metabolites like lycorine [6], gingerol shogaol [7], resveratrol rhoifolin [8], oleanolic acid [9], kaempferol [10], rosmarinic acid [11], almond oil [12], ursolic acid [11], hederagenin, nigellidine, and α-hederin [11, 13], apigenin, ethyl cholate, nobiletin, tangeretin, chalcone, and hesperidin [10, 14, 15], epigallocatechin gallate [16], allicin, diallyl trisulfide ajoene, and apigenin [14, 17], aloenin [18], artemisinin [6, 19], glucobrassicin [10, 11], apigenin [11], curcumin [20], piperine [12], flavonoids, anthraquinone, and hydroxychloroquine [21], and jensenone [22] are reported to have antiviral activities. The mechanism of action of these secondary metabolites may be due to their greater binding affinity for SARS-CoV-2 6LU7 and 6Y2E proteases and inhibition of SARS-CoV-2 M protease (Mpro) and Spike (S) glycoprotein [622].

Globally, millions of people rely on medicinal plants not only for their primary healthcare systems but also for income generation and livelihood improvement [23]. Moreover, at least 25% and 50% of the pharmacopeia are derived from plant products and are originated from natural products, respectively [24]. Nowadays, traditional healers from different habitats and geographical locations are showing new candidate combinations for the treatment of viral infections such as SARS-CoV [5].

Using traditional medicine has a long history in Ethiopia. About 80% of the Ethiopian population is still dependent on the use of folk medicine [2527], due to its cultural acceptability, economic affordability, and efficacy against certain types of diseases compared to modern medicine [28]. However, the plants and the associated indigenous knowledge in the country are gradually declining because of environmental degradation, deforestation, lack of documentation, and potential acculturation [29].

Common cold, influenza, and COVID-19 share common characteristics. All of them affect the respiratory tract and have modes of transmission: direct contact, droplets, and fomites. Cough, sneezes, fever, shortness of breath, sore throat, and headache are among the common symptoms of these diseases [30]. Traditional healers from Ethiopia use medicines of plant origin to treat viral infections like the common cold, rabies, influenza, herpes simplex, herpes zoster, and hepatitis. Due to their fewer side effects, better patient tolerance, and relatively low cost, the use of medicinal plants is a common practice by the Ethiopian people.

Due to its ecological and cultural diversity, Ethiopia is a rich source of herbal medicine [31]. Plant extracts contain a lot of active components, so they have a wide range of activities against microorganisms. That is, they act on multiple active sites of the pathogen [32]. Therefore, a medicinal plant used to treat one viral infection may serve to fight other viral infections. This review, therefore, focuses on the identification of medicinal plants used by traditional healers of Ethiopia to treat viral diseases and extrapolates this knowledge for the fight of COVID-19.

2. Methods

2.1. Study Design and Setting

The location of Ethiopia is in the horn of Africa. Its boundaries are Eritrea to the North, Djibouti and Somalia to the East, Sudan and South Sudan to the West, and Kenya to the South. The current UN report shows that the Ethiopian population is estimated to be 115,855,859. Ethiopia’s population is equivalent to 1.47% of the world’s population. Around 21.3% of the population is an urban community. The population density in Ethiopia is 115/km2 (298 people/mi2) [33].The total land area is 1,104,300 km2 [34].

2.2. Search Strategies

The authors explored articles from PubMed, ScienceDirect, and Web of Science search engines using the following core search terms and phrases: “Traditional Medicine,” “Ethnobotanical study,” “Active components,” “Antiviral activities,” and “Ethiopia.” We used the search terms separately and in combination with Boolean operators like “OR” or “AND.” Besides, we searched for gray literature through the review of available references. Searching for relevant literature included in this systematic review was conducted from September 2020 to October 2020.

2.3. Inclusion and Exclusion Criteria

Studies that were written in the English language, reporting about the antiviral activity of traditional medicines, phytochemical analysis of medicinal plants, and candidate anti-COVID-19 medicinal plants in Ethiopia, Africa, China, Europe, and Western countries, were retrieved and included in this study. However, we excluded studies that did not contain antiviral medicinal plants.

2.4. Data Extraction

All authors contributed to the data extraction protocol preparation and evaluation. The data extraction protocol consists of the scientific, family, and local names, parts used, preparation methods, administration routes, diseases treated, and references.

2.5. Data Analysis

Ethnobotanical data were entered in an Excel spreadsheet and analyzed using Excel statistical software program. We tabulated and compiled quantitative data using descriptive statistics to identify the number and percentage of species and families of antiviral plants and expressed them in tables.

3. Results and Discussion

3.1. Search Results

From the total of 260 articles retrieved, only 46 (17.7%) of the studies met the eligibility criteria (Figure 1).

3.2. Identified Plants with Antiviral Activities

From the 46 articles reviewed, 111 plant species claimed to treat eleven viral infections. The most frequently reported viral diseases to be treated by the 111 plants were rabies (reported 36 times), hepatitis (30 times), common cold (26 times), herpes zoster (17 times), influenza (10 times), Herpes simplex virus (8 times), Wart (6 times), HIV-1 (5 times), Bursal viral diseases (once), flu (once), and Smallpox (once) (Table 1).


No.Scientific nameFamilyLocal nameParts used and preparation methodRADTRef.

1Acacia abyssinica Hochst. ex Benth.FabaceaeMemona (Tig)Crush the bark and apply on the affected partDermalH. zoster[35]
2Acacia etbaica Schweinf.FabaceaeSeraw (Amh)Crushed barkOralWart[36]
3Acacia nigraFabaceaeTikur grar (Amh)Crush or pound and squeeze the leaf and apply on allergic skinDermalH. zoster[37]
4Acanthus polystachyusAcanthaceaeKucheshile (Amh)Crush the root and pound and give with waterOralRabies[36, 38]
5Acokanthera schimperi (A. DC.) Schweinf.ApocynaceaeMeriz (Amh)Roots are burned on fire and fumigatedDermalHepatitis[38, 39]
6Allium sativumAlliaceaeNechsenkret (Amh)(i) Crushed rhizomes are pounded and eaten with honey
(ii) Crush the bulb and drink with water
OralInfluenza virus[36, 38]
(i) Bulb is pounded and mixed with meat soup and used as a drink
(ii) Boiled bulb vapor is inhaled orally and nasally
(iii) Cloves ground up and mixed with honey, take first thing in the morning on an empty stomach
(i) Oral
(ii) Oral and nasal
(iii) Oral
C. cold[4043]
7Allium cepaAlliaceaeQeY shikurt (Amh)Eat the part of the bulb with other foodsOralRabies[35]
Crush the bulb and drink with waterOralHSV[44]
8Aloe macrocarpa Tod.AloaceaeEret (Amh)Leaf of A. macrocarpa is powdered and mixed with honeyOralWart[45]
9Amaranthus hybridus Linn.AmaranthaceaeTenbelel (Amh)Crush the fruit and leaf of Amaranthus hybridusOralHepatitis[36]
10Argemone mexicana L.PapaveraceaeYahyaeshoh (Amh)(i) Crush the leaf
(ii) Crush the root and give with water
OralInfluenza, Rabies[36, 38]
11Artemisia afra Jack. ex Willd. and Artemisia annua L.AsteraceaeChikugn (Amh)Grind leaves and apply topicallyDermalSmallpox[40]
Crushed and powdered leafNasal, oralInfluenza[36]
12Azadirachta indica. A. Juss.MeliaceaeNeem (Amh)LeavesOralHIV-1[46]
13Bersama abyssinica BoyleMelianthaceaeAzamer (Amh)Bark/leaves/rootsRabies, HIV-1[47]
14Brassica carinata A. Br. HerbBrassicaceaeGomen (Amh)The dried leaf was powdered and mixed with water then drunkOralC. cold[48]
15Brucea antidysenterica J. F. MillSimaroubaceaeWaginos (Aballo)(Amh)Fresh parts of the stem are boiled in water and the steam is inhaled through the mouth and noseOral & nasalHepatitis[49]
Squeeze the whole part of the plant and bake with teff flour and give for 3 days (together with Croton macrostachyus and Rumexnervosus)OralRabies[50]
16Calpurnia aurea (Ait.) Benth.FabaceaeDigita (Amh)Crush the seeds of Calpurnia aurea and mix with waterOrallyRabies[51]
17Camellia sinensisTheaceaeShay kitel (Amh)Drink the leaves with teaOralHBV, HCV, influenza, HIV, BCV[52, 53]
18Capsicum annuum L.SolanaceaeBerbere (Amh)Pounded being mixed with the leaf of V. sinaiticum, O. quadripartita, C. aurea (concoction), then bandage on the woundDermalH. zoster[37]
19Carica papaya L.CaricaceaePapaya (Amh)Fresh fruit and leaf pounded and crushed, add waterOralH. zoster,[37, 44]
20Carissa edulis Vahl.ApocynaceaeAgam (Amh)The root is powdered and mixed with foodOralRabies[54]
21Cayratia ibuensis (Hook.f.) Suess.VitaceaeUdusalim Rumiyi (Oro)The roots crushed and pounded, then boiled and drink 2-3 cups of coffee in the morning5–7 of tea spoons drink (oral)Hepatitis[55]
22Centella asiatica L.ApiaceaeYeait joro (Amh)A quarter of a finger-sized root is ground, mixed with water, filtered, and taken orallyOralRabies[39]
23Citrus aurantium L.RutaceaeBahir Lome (Amh)Squeezing fruit (juice)OralC. cold[43]
24Citrus limon (L.) Burm. f.RutaceaeLome (Amh)Squeezed fruit (juice)OralC. cold[36]
25Clematis hirsute Perr. & Guill.RanunculaceaeHareg (Tig)Burn leaves in oven with leaves of Dodonaea angustifolia, grind, mix with butter and apply on the affected part.DermalH. zoster[35]
26Clutia abyssinica Jaub. & Spach.EuphorbiaceaeTewshealalito (Tig) Fiyle feji (Amh)Dry and mix leaves with dried leaves of Calpurnia aurea and Datura stramonium, grind, add butter, and spread the paste on the affected part
(i) Crush the root and boiled with water (Decoction)
Dermal
Oral
H. zoster, hepatitis[35, 37]
27Coffea arabica L.RubiaceaeBunna (Amh)Boil the leaf, decant then drink the juiceOralC. cold[38]
28Combretum collinumCombretaceaeAbalo (Amh)The seed of Combretum collinum with the seed of Solanumda syphyllum are crushed together powdered, mixed with “tella” and drunk for 3 daysOralRabies[50]
29Coriandrum sativumApiaceaeDimblal (Amh)Potential anti-COVID-19[56]
30Cordia africanaBoraginaceaeWanza (Amh)Boiled with sorghum (decoction) and drinkingOralHepatitis[37]
31Crinum abyscinicum Hochst. ex A. Rich.AmaryllidaceaeYejib shinkurt (Amh)Bulb of Crinum abyscinicum is used to treat rabiesOralRabies[57]
32Crotalaria incana L.FabaceaeAtarii Kuruphee (Oro)Sap from the whole part of the plant is directly creamed on affected areaDermalHepatitis[41]
33Croton macrostachyus Del.EuphorbiaceaeBisana (Amh)(i) Shoots are crushed with water, filtered and the solution is taken orally (for hepatitis)
(ii) The fresh root bark is crushed, pounded, mixed with water, and given orally (for rabies)
OralHepatitis, rabies[39, 44, 51]
34Cucumis ficifolius A. Rich.CucurbitaceaeYemidir Embuay (Amh)Crushed fresh root with water fermented for 3 days is taken with honey early morning before breakfast orally until the cureOralRabies[49]
35Cucurbita pepo L.CucurbitaceaeHamham (Tig)Fresh leaf boiled with water and given orallyOralInfluenza[44]
36Curcuma longaZingiberaceaeErd (Amh)HBV, HCV[58]
37Cussonia ostinii Chiov.AraliaceaeHarfattu (Oro)Bark (root) of Cussonia ostinii, leaf Asplenium monathes and the leaf of Calpurnia subdecandra were pounded together, and 2 cups were given to cattleOrallyHepatitis[41]
38Cyphostemma adenocaula (A. Rich.)VitaceaeAsserkush (Amh)The root was boiled with milk and filtered and the filtrate was taken in an empty stomach full of a coffee cup daily for 3 consecutive daysOrallyRabies[50]
39Datura stramonium L.SolanaceaeAtsefaris (Amh)Leafy stem is squeezed and its drop prepared with butterDermalWart[35]
Leafy stem is squeezed and its drop prepared with butterDermal creamWart[36]
Crushed and homogenized leaves drunk with waterOralRabies[50, 59]
Dried leaves of the plant and Calpurnia aurea and Clutia abyssinica are ground, mix powder with butter, and apply on the affected partDermalH. zoster[35]
40Diplolophium africanum Turcz.ApiaceaeZegerawta (Amh)Pound the root and give with waterOrallyRabies[38]
41Dipsacus pinnatifidus Steud. ex A. Rich.DipsacaceaeFereze ng/kelem (Amh)Pound the leaf and give with waterNasalRabies[38]
42Dodonaea angustifolia L.f.SapindaceaeKitkita (Amh)Dry the leaf of the plant alone or mix with the leaf of Clematis hirsuta on a hot stove, grind, add butter and rub the affected partDermalH. zoster[35]
43Dorstenia barnimiana Schweinf.MoraceaeWork Bemeda (Amh)Root powder with shimmed milk or nug is taken orally early morning until a cureOrallyRabies[49]
Root powder with shimmed milk or nug is taken orally early morning until a cureOrallyHepatitis[49]
44Dregea rubicunda Schum.AsclepiadaceaeKuandira (Amh)Crush and drink with milkOrallyRabies[38]
45Dregea schimperi (Decne.) Bullock.AsclepiadaceaeShanqoq (Tig)Crush and drink the fluidOrallyRabies[35]
46Echinops amplexicaulis Oliv.AsteraceaeKosorru Hare (Oro)The root of Echinops amplexicaulis is dried, powdered, and mixed with water The concoction is given to cattleOrallyHepatitis[41]
47Ekebergia capensisMeliaceaeThe leaf of Ekebergia capensis is crushed and add waterOrallyC. cold[36]
48Eucalyptus globulus Labill.MyrtaceaeNech bahirzaf (Amh)Boil and fumigate with the fumeNasal, oral, and dermalC. cold[36]
(i) Leaf of Eucalyptus globulus is chopped and boiled; the steam bath is taken by humans; vapor inhaled orally and nasally
(ii) Boil Eucalyptus and Damakasse in water and inhale
(iii) Leaf of E. globulus is boiled in water
Nasal, orallyInfluenza[35, 4042, 45]
49Euphorbia abyssinica G.F.Gmel.EuphorbiaceaeKulkual (Amh)Stems are burned on fire and fumigatedDermalHepatitis[39]
Mix the latex of Euphorbia abyssinica with milk and drink itOrallyRabies[38]
50Ficus sycomorus L.MoraceaeSholla (Amh)(i) The sap of Ficus sycomorus is creamed directly on the skin (for hepatitis)
(ii)The bark of Ficus sycomorus and root of Prunus africana are powdered together and backed with teff flour and eaten (for rabies)
Dermal OralHepatitis, rabies[41, 45]
51Ficus sp.MoraceaeWarka (Amh)The stem bark and the latex are mixed with Phytolacca dodecandra (leaf) and givenOralRabies[51]
52Gnidia stenophylla Gilg.TrymalaceaeKatarichaa (Oro)The decoction of the root is taken with goat milk1 teaspoon drink orallyHepatitis[55]
53Hypoestes forskaolii (Vahl) R.Br.AcanthaceaeGirbia (Tig)A bunch of leaves was collected from 7 different sites, mixed with 10 tin cans of water, stored for 7 days, and washed for 7 consecutive daysDermalH. zoster[60]
54Jasminum abyssinicum Hochst.OleaceaeTembelel (Amh)Pounded being mixed with the leaf of V. sinaiticum, O. quadripartita, C. aurea, S. uliginosa, D. stramonium, and P. schmperiDermalH. zoster[37]
55Jatropha curcas L.EuphorbiaceaeYesudan-gulo (Amh)Crush the seed of Jatropha curcas mixed with waterOrallyRabies[51]
56Justicia schimperiana (Hochst. ex Nees) T. AndersAcanthaceaeSmiza (Amh)(i) Root and leaf of Justica schimperiana are pounded together and mixed with water and 2-3 cups of tella are used as a drink
(ii) Seed of J. Schimperiana is crushed and mixed with water and filtered
(iii) The Justicia schimperiana and Brucea antidysenterica leaves are used to treat rabies
OralRabies[36, 41, 45, 59, 61]
Sniff unprocessed or after rubbingNasalC. cold[36]
(i) Juice of seven shoot meristems that can be mixed with fresh water and drink a cup of the mixture
(ii) Juvenile leaf of Justicia schimperiana boiled with milk (decoction)
OrallyHepatitis[37, 62]
57Laggera integrifolia Sch. Bip. ex A. RichAsteraceaeGimmie (Amh)The leaf is inhaled sometimes through the noseNasal (nostril)C. cold[63]
58Lens culinaris Medic.FabaceaeMisir (Amh)Dry seeds are ground, powder is soaked in water, and cream is smeared on the affected partDermalH. zoster[39]
59Lippia abyssinicaLamiaceaeKoseret (Amh)NasalC. cold[59]
60Lobelia rhynchopetalum Hemsl.LobeliaceaeJibara (Amh)Roots are ground, mixed with milk, and solution drunk for five daysOrallyRabies[39]
61Lycopersicon esculentum (L.) Mill.SolanaceaeTimaatima (Oro)Fresh fruit put in the fire and eaten when getting hot in order to get relief from the common coldOralC. cold[48]
62Mangifera indicaAnacardiaceaeMango (Amh)Bark/leavesOralC. cold, HSV-1/2[46]
63Millettia ferruginea (Hochst.) Bak.FabaceaeBirbira (Amh)Heat stick, then touch their body with hot partDermalRabies[38]
64Moringa borziana Mattei MaweMoringaceaeTamergnaw ketel (Shiferaw) (Amh)Leaf chewingChewing OralC. cold[36]
65Musa spp.MusaceaeMuz (Amh)SARS-CoV-2, influenza[64, 65]
66Myrica salicifolia Hochst. ex A. Rich.MyricaceaeShinet (Amh)Crush, powder, then sniffNasalC. cold[38]
67Nicandra physalodes (L.) GaertnSolanaceaeHawwixii (Oro)Nicandra physalodes (L.) Gaertn roots are pounded and mixed with cold water; 2–4 cups of tella are used as a drinkOralHepatitis[41]
68Nicotiana tabacumSolanaceaeTamiba (Had)Dry leaves are pounded and powdered, then drunk or smelled through the nose of humansNasalC. cold[43]
69Nigella sativaRanunculaceaeTikur Azmud (Amh)Fried seeds wrapped in a piece of cloth and sniffed three times daily, wrap in small leaf, stick up noseOrally NasalC. cold[40, 62]
70Ocimum basilicum L. HerbLamiaceaeBessobla (Amh)Fresh leaves together with the root of Aloe macrocarpa concocted together and drink the solutionOralFlu, CVB1[48]
71Ocimum lamiifolium Hochst. ex Benth.LamiaceaeDamakassie (Amh)Crushed and mixed/concocted/with coffee and takeOrallyC. cold[59]
(i) Squeeze leaves and drink the juice with coffee, or apply the rubbed leaves into the noseNasalInfluenza and acute viral infection[42, 66]
72Ocimum urticifolium Roth.LamiaceaeDama kesie (Amh)Boil with tea and drinkOrallyC. cold[38]
73Olea europaea subsp. cuspidateOleaceaeWeyra (Amh)Boiled, adding salt for the night and isolate the residue (decoction)OrallyHepatitis[37]
74Olinia rochetiana A. JussOliniaceaeNoole (Sid)The leaf is heated slightly, rubbed by the hands, and then inhaled through nostrilsNasalViral common cold[66]
75Osyris quadripartita Decn.SantalaceaeKeret (Amh)Dried and pounded then 2 spoonsful powder is mixed with a cup of water, drink for 3 consecutive daysOrallyHepatitis[37]
Pounded being mixed with the leaf of C. annuum, V. sinaiticum, C.aurea, J. abyssinicum (concoction)DermalH. zoster[37]
76Otostegia integrifolia Benth.LamiaceaeTunjut (Amh)Smoking and fumigating the houseSmoking, oralC. cold[36, 38]
77Piper nigrumPiperaceaeKundo berbere (Amh)VSV, PIV, CVB3[67]
78Phaseolus vulgarisFabaceaeBakela (Amh)HIV-1, RSV, and HSV-1[68, 69]
79Phytolacca dodecandraPhytolaccaceaeEndod (Amh)(i) Root is crushed and pounded, mixed with water; one-third of the tella cup is given to humans (liver problem); Phytolacca dodecandra root is crushed and pounded, mixed with water; one-third of a cup is given to humans
(ii) Dried root of Phytolacca dodecandra powder and one-two cups of domestic alcohol (malakia) are taken orally (for rabies)
(iii) Chopped root and leaves mixed with honey are given orally (for rabis)
(iv) Fresh root of Phytolacca dodecandra is pounded, mixed with water, one arake glass of the solution is given for 7–10 days (for humans)
Oral(i) Liver problem (hepatitis), (ii) Rabies[41, 42, 48, 70]
(v) Squeeze and apply on the wounded partDermalH. zoster[37]
Juice extracted by pounded fresh root mixed with milk of similar cow and calf Roots are chewed and fluid swallowed; as an antidote, Guizotia abyssinica solution is taken orallyOrallyRabies[39]
Juice of crushed fresh root taken with skimmed milkOralRabies[44]
Juice of crushed fresh root taken with skimmed milkOrallyHepatitis “wef beshita’[49]
80Plantago lanceolata L.PlantaginaceaeKorxobi (Oro)(i) The leaf is squeezed and apply on the affected dermal part
(ii) The squeezed leaf is pasted with butter and made to ointment
DermalWart, herpes wounds[54]
81Podocarpus falcatusPodocarpaceaeBirbirsa (Oro)Fresh stem barks boiled and filtered and then drunk in the middle of the night for three days; dry stem bark crushed and pounded then parted on the woundOralJaundice (hepatitis) or rabies[43]
82Podocarpus graciliorPodocarpaceaeZigba (Amh)Combined Zigba (Podocarpus gracilior) of Dokuma (Syzgium guineense, listed next) in a cold maceration; drink on an empty stomach first thing in the morning, this induces vomiting which is thought to help treat Yellelitwofe (hepatitis)OralYellelito wofe (hepatitis)[40]
83Polygala obtusissima Chod.PolygalaceaeCalmala (Afa)The fresh leaves are pounded, kept in a handkerchief, and inhaledInhalation (nasal)C. cold[71]
84Prunus dulcisRosaceaeLewuz (Amh)Drink with teaOralHSV-1/ 2[72]
85Rhus natalensisAnacardiaceaeDebobosha (Amh)Pounded being mixed with J. abyssinicum, D. stramonium, and S. nigrum (concoction); wash the entire body first and apply the remedy on the woundDermalH. zoster[37]
86Ricinus communis L.EuphorbiaceaKabosimbiro (Oro)Fresh leaves are crushed and mixed with water and one cup of tea is taken for 3 consecutive daysOrallyRabies[50]
(i) The root is pounded, well-spiced, and mixed with food
(ii) Freshly pounded and squeezed leaves of Ricinus communis L. with milk for treating patients of rabies
OralRabies[54, 73]
87Rosa abyssinicaRosaceaeQega (Amh)OralEnteric coronavirus.[74]
88Rosmarinus officinalisLamiaceaeTibs kitel (Amh)RSV-A and B[75]
89Rumex abyssinicusPolygonaceaeMekmoko (Amh)Root decocted, drunk or chewedOralHepatitis[40]
90Rumex crispusPolygonaceaeEnbacho (Amh)Roots chewed and juice swallowedOralHepatitis[40]
91Ruta chalepensis L.RutaceaeTena adam (Amh)Leaf of Ruta chalepensisis pounded with the bulb of Allium sativum mixed with soup and used as a drinkOralInfluenza[41]
92Saccharum officinarum L. HerbPoaceaeShankora ageda (Amh)Fresh steam is put in the fire and eaten when gets hot to get relief from the common coldOralC. cold[48]
93Salix subserrata WilldSalicaceaeCrushed leaves of Salix subserrata Willd. and Afrocarpus falcatus (Thunb.) C. N. Page was also used in fresh form, mixed with water and milk, to treat rabiesOralRabies[73]
94Sesamum indicumPedaliaceaeSelit (Amh)two drops of sesame oil in each nostril each morning are suggested to prevent COVID-19NasalCOVID-19CCRH, 2020
95Schinus molleAnacardiaceaeSelit (Amh) Kendo berberie (Amh)Pounded Crushed FruitOralCough (C. cold)[36]
Crushed fresh leaves of Schinus mole with waterOralH. zoster[44]
96Solanecio gigas (Vatke) C. JeffreyAsteraceaeBoz (Amh)Leaves are collected from seven different areas, grounded with Guizotia abyssinica seeds, mixed with water and solution have taken orallyOrallyHepatitis[39]
97Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench.PoaceaeBoz (Amh)Boil it in water and wash the body with itDermalH. zoster[35]
98Spinacia oleraceaAmaranthaceaeKeyh leqa (Tig)SARS-CoV-2[10]
99Stephania abyssinica (Dillon & A. Rich.) Walp.MenispermaceaeKosta (Amh)Crushed and given with milk and waterOrallyRabies[38]
100Syzygium aromaticumMyrtaceaeChewchawit (Amh)HSV-1 and 2[9]
101Trichilia dregeanaMeliaceaeKirnfud (Amh)Soaked, cooked, and put on tooth surfacedermalWound Warts[36]
102Triumfetta heterocarpa Sprague and Hutch.TiliaceaeAnunu (Oro)The crushed fresh root is mixed with water and taken orally without foodOrallyHepatitis[49]
103Verbascum sinaiticum Benth.ScrophulariaceaeYelam tut (Amh)Roots are burned on fire and the smoke inhaledNasalHepatitis[39]
104Vitis viniferaVitaceaeQetetina (Amh)FruitsOralHSV-1, PIV[8]
105Vernonia amygdalina Del.AsteraceaeWeyin fire (Amh)Leaves/rootsOralhepatitis, H. zoster, HSV, cough, HIV[46]
106Warburgia ugandensis SpragueCanellaceaeBefit (Oro)The smoke of 2-3 stick vascular part is inhaled to relieve coughNasalCough (C. cold)[55]
107Withania somniferaSolanaceaeGiziewa or Kumo (Amh)IBDV, HSV-1[76]
Fresh leaf and root will be crushedOrallyHepatitis[36]
Leaf and root crushed and drunk after boiling, powdered, juiced and drunk for 4 days, squeezed with leavesOralCough (C. cold)[36]
108Ximenia americana L.OleaceaeEnkuay (Amh)Soaking bark in water and the water is taken orallyOrallyRabies[49]
109Zehneria scabra (l.f.) SondCucurbitaceaeQorii Sinbiraa (Oro)The pounded root of Zehneria scabra is concocted with the pounded root of Ricinus communis One feast of the pond is given to cattle and pack animalsOralRabies[41]
110Zingiber officinale Roscoe.ZingiberaceaeZinjibile (Amh)The stem is pounded well and boiled with water and drinkOrally, nasalInfluenza[36, 37, 45]
2–5 medium roots crushed and boiled with tea or water and then takenOralCough and c. cold[43, 55]
111Ziziphus abyssinica Hochst. ex A. Rich.RhamnaceaeKurkura (Amh)Fresh leaves and root are crushed and mixed with water and taken orallyOrallyHepatitis[49]

Notes: H. zoster = herpes zoster; C. cold = common cold; BCV = bovine coronavirus; HSV-1 = herpes simplex virus type 1; CVB1 = Coxsackie B virus type 1; IBDV = infectious bursal disease virus; RA = route of administration; DT = disease treated; Amh = Amharic; Oro = Oromo; Tig = Tigrinya; Afa = Afar; Had = Hadiyya; Sid = Sidaamu-afoo.
3.3. Taxonomic Diversity of Medicinal Plants Used for the Treatment of Viral Diseases in Ethiopia

We reviewed 162 plants which were grouped under 111 species and 57 families (Table 2). Among the families, Fabaceae was represented by 8 (7.2%) species, Solanaceae and Lamiaceae by 6 (5.4%) species each, Euphorbiaceae and Asteraceae by 5 (4.5%) species each, and Meliaceae, Vitaceae, Apiaceae, Anacardiaceae, Moraceae, Oleaceae, Cucurbitaceae, Rutaceae, and Acanthaceae by 3 (2.73%) species each, and the remaining 43 families were represented by 1 to 2 species (Table 2).


No.FamilySpecies per familyMedicinal plants per family
No. (%)RankNo. (%)Rank

1.Fabaceae8 (7.2)19 (5.6)3
2.Lamiaceae6 (5.4)29 (5.6)3
3.Alliaceae2 (1.8)8 (4.9)4
4.Phytolaccaceae1 (0.9)8 (4.9)4
5.Acanthaceae3 (2.73)47 (4.3)5
6.Myrtaceae2 (1.8)6 (3.7)6
7.Zingiberaceae2 (1.8)6 (3.7)6
8.Asteraceae5 (4.5)35 (3.09)7
9.Moraceae3 (2.73)45 (3.09)7
10.Anacardiaceae3 (2.73)44 (2.5)8
11.Apiaceae3 (2.73)43 (1.85)
12.Cucurbitaceae3 (2.73)43 (1.85)
13.Meliaceae3 (2.73)43 (1.85)
14.Oleaceae3 (2.73)43 (1.85)
15.Rutaceae3 (2.73)43 (1.85)
16.Vitaceae3 (2.73)43 (1.85)
17.Apocynaceae2 (1.8)3 (1.85)
18.Ranunculaceae2 (1.8)3 (1.85)
19.Amaranthaceae2 (1.8)2 (1.23)
20.Asclepiadaceae2 (1.8)2 (1.23)
21.Poaceae2 (1.8)2 (1.23)
22.Podocarpaceae2 (1.8)2 (1.23)
23.Polygonaceae2 (1.8)2 (1.23)
24.Rosaceae2 (1.8)2 (1.23)
25.Caricaceae1 (0.9)2 (1.23)
26.Musaceae1 (0.9)2 (1.23)
27.Papaveraceae1 (0.9)2 (1.23)
28.Santalaceae1 (0.9)2 (1.23)
29.Simaroubaceae1 (0.9)2 (1.23)
30.Theaceae1 (0.9)2 (1.23)
31.Solanaceae6 (5.4)∗212 (7.41)1
32.Euphorbiaceae5 (4.5)∗311 (6.8)2
33.Aloaceae1 (0.9)1 (0.6)
34.Amaryllidaceae1 (0.9)1 (0.6)
35.Araliaceae1 (0.9)1 (0.6)
36.Boraginaceae1 (0.9)1 (0.6)
37.Brassicaceae1 (0.9)1 (0.6)
38.Canellaceae1 (0.9)1 (0.6)
39.Combretaceae1 (0.9)1 (0.6)
40.Dipsacaceae1 (0.9)1 (0.6)
41.Lobeliaceae1 (0.9)1 (0.6)
42.Melianthaceae1 (0.9)1 (0.6)
43.Menispermaceae1 (0.9)1 (0.6)
44.Moringaceae1 (0.9)1 (0.6)
45.Myricaceae1 (0.9)1 (0.6)
46.Oliniaceae1 (0.9)1 (0.6)
47.Pedaliaceae1 (0.9)1 (0.6)
48.Piperaceae1 (0.9)1 (0.6)
49.Plantaginaceae1 (0.9)1 (0.6)
50.Polygalaceae1 (0.9)1 (0.6)
51.Rhamnaceae1 (0.9)1 (0.6)
52.Rubiaceae1 (0.9)1 (0.6)
53.Salicaceae1 (0.9)1 (0.6)
54.Sapindaceae1 (0.9)1 (0.6)
55.Scrophulariaceae1 (0.9)1 (0.6)
56.Tiliaceae1 (0.9)1 (0.6)
57.Trymalaceae1 (0.9)1 (0.6)
Total111162

Solanaceae was represented by n = 12, 7.41% plants, followed by Euphorbiaceae (by n = 11, 6.8% plants), Fabaceae and Lamiaceae (by n = 9, 5.6% plants each), Alliaceae and Phytolaccaceae (by n = 8, 4.9% plants each), Acanthaceae (by n = 7, 4.3% plants), Myrtaceae and Zingiberaceae (by n = 6, 3.7% plants each), Asteraceae and Moraceae (by n = 5, 3.09% plants each), and the remaining 43 families by 1 to 4 plants (Table 2).

3.4. Medicinal Plants with Antiviral Active Components

A range of active compounds with potential antiviral agents for future drug development has been identified from plants [77]. People in Ethiopia use different medicinal plants to treat different viral infections even without knowing their active components (Table 1). However, different literature shows that 56 (50.4%) of the plants reviewed contained components with antiviral activity (Table 3).


No.Scientific nameFamilyLocal nameActive componentsReferences

1Acacia abyssinica Hochst.ex Benth.FabaceaeBazra grar (Am)Flavonoid, tannin, terpenoids, polyphenolic[5]
2Acacia etbaica Schweinf.FabaceaeSeraw (Am)Flavonoid, tannin, terpenoids, polyphenolic[5]
3Acacia nigraFabaceaeTikur grar (Am)Flavonoid, tannin, terpenoids, and polyphenolic[5]
4Acanthus polystachyusAcanthaceaeKucheshile (Am)Tannins, flavonoids, saponins, polyphenols, and anthraquinones[78]
5Acokanthera schimperiApocynaceaeMeriz (Am)Oleanolic acid and ursolic acid[79]
6Allium cepaAlliaceaeQeY shikurt (Am)Quercetinand epigallocatechin gallate[16]
7Allium sativumAlliaceaeNechsenkret (Am)Allicin, diallyl trisulfide ajoene, and apigenin[14, 17]
8Aloe macrocarpa Tod.AloaceaeEret (Am)Aloenin, aloesin, aloe-emodin, aloin chrysophanol, catechin, and isoaloresin[18]
9Amaranthus hybridus Linn.AmaranthaceaeTenbelel (Am)Amaranthine, quercetin, and kaempferol glycosides[80]
10Artemisia afra Jack. ex Willd. and Artemisia annua L.AsteraceaeChikugn (Am)Artemisinin[6, 19]
11Azadirachta indicaMeliaceaeNeem (Am)Quercetin and ß sitosterol, polyphenolic flavonoids[81]
12Bersama abyssinicaMelianthaceaeAzamer (Am)Anthraquinones[82]
13Brassica carinata A. Br. HerbBrassicaceaeGommon (Am)Kaempferol[10, 11]
14Camellia sinensisTheaceaeShay kitel (Am)Epigallocatechin gallate[10]
15Capsicum annuum L.SolanaceaeBerbere (Am)Apigenin[11]
16Carissa edulisApocynaceaeAgam (Am)Kaempferol and quercetin[83]
17Citrus aurantium LRutaceaeBahir Lome (Am)Apigenin, ethyl cholate, nobiletin, tangeretin, chalcone, and hesperidin[5, 10, 14, 15]
18Citrus limon (L.) Burm. f.RutaceaeLome (Am)Apigenin, ethyl cholate, nobiletin, tangeretin, chalcone, and hesperidin[5, 10, 14, 15]
19Clematis hirsuteRanunculaceaeHareg (Tg)Kaempferol and quercetin[84]
20Clutia abyssinicaEuphorbiaceaeTewshealalito (Tg) Fiyle feji (Am)Anthraquinones[85]
21Coriandrum sativumApiaceaeDimblal (Am)Linalool, geranyl acetate[56]
22Crinum abyscinicum Hochst. ex A. RichAmaryllidaceaeYejib shinkurt (Am)Lycorine[57]
23Curcuma longaZingiberaceaeErd (Am)Curcumin[20]
24Dodonia angustifoliaSapindaceaeKitkita (Am)Anthraquinones[86]
25Dregea schimperiAsclepiadaceaeShanqoq (Tg)Anthraquinones[87]
26Ekebergia capensisMeliaceaeSembo (Am)Oleanolic acid[88]
27Eucalyptus globulusMyrtaceaeNech bahirzaf (Am)Jensenone[22]
28Euphorbia abyssinica G.F.GmelEuphorbiaceaeKulkual (Am)Oleanolic acid[89]
29Lepidium sativumBrassicaceaefeto (Am)Kaempferol and quercetin[22]
30Lycopersicon esculentum (L.) Mill.SolanaceaeTimaatima (Or)Rhoifolin[64]
31Moringa borziana Mattei MaweMoringaceaeTamergnaw ketel (Shiferaw) (Am)Flavonoids, anthraquinone, and hydroxychloroquine[21]
32Musa spp.MusaceaeMuz (Am)Rhoifolin[64]
33Nigella sativaRanunculaceaeTikur Azmud (Am)Hederagenin, nigellidine, and α-hederin[11, 90]
34Ocimum basilicum L. HerbLamiaceaeBessobla (Am)Oleanolic acid and ursolic acid[11]
35Ocimum lamiifolium Hochst. Ex Benth.LamiaceaeDamakassie (Am)Oleanolic acid and ursolic acid[11]
36Ocimum urticifolium RothLamiaceaeDama kesie (Am)Oleanolic acid and ursolic acid[11]
37Olea europaea subsp. cuspidateOleaceaeWeyra (Am)Oleanolic acid and ursolic acid[11]
38Osyris quadripartiteSantalaceaeKeret (Am)Ursolic acid, oleanolic acid (triterpenes), kaempferol-3-O-rutinoside, quercetin-3-O-rutinoside or rutoside, and quercetin-3-O-β-D-glucopyranoside (flavonoids)[91]
39Phaseolus vulgarisFabaceaeBakela (Am)Kaempferol[92]
40Phytolacca dodecandraPhytolaccaceaeEndod (Am)Oleanolic acid[93]
41Piper nigrumPiperaceaeKundo berbere (Am)Piperine[12]
42Prunus dulcisRosaceaeLewuz (Am)Almond oil[94]
43Ricinus communis L.EuphorbiaceaKabosimbiro (Or)Kaempferol and quercetin[95]
44Rosa abyssinicaRosaceaeQega (Am)Unknown[74]
45Rosmarinus officinalisLamiaceaeTibs kitel (Am)Rosmarinic acid[11]
46Rumex abyssinicusPolygonaceaeMekmoko (Am)Anthraquinones[96]
47Rumex crispusPolygonaceaeEnbacho (Am)Anthraquinones[96]
48Ruta chalepensis L.RutaceaeTena adam (Am)Kaempferol and quercetin[13]
49Schinus molleAnacardiaceaeKendo berbera (Am)Piperine[12]
50Spinacia oleraceaAmaranthaceaeKosta (Am)Kaempferol[10]
51Syzygium aromaticumMyrtaceaeKirnfud (Am)Oleanolic acid[9]
52Vernonia amygdalinaAsteraceaeGrawa (Am)Anthraquinones[97]
53Vitis viniferaVitaceaeWeyin fire (Am)Resveratrol rhoifolin[8]
54Withania somniferaSolanaceaeGiziewa or Kumo (Am)[76]
55Ximenia americanaOleaceaeEnkuay (Am)Anthraquinones[98]
56Zingiber officinale Roscoe.ZingiberaceaeZinjibile (Am)Gingerol shogaol[7]

Flavonoids are secondary metabolites with antiviral properties [99]. The Ethiopian medicinal plants Acacia abyssinica, Acacia etbaica, and Acacia nigra [5], Moringa borziana [21], Acanthus polystachyus [78], Azadirachta indica [81], and Osyris quadripartite [91] were reported to contain flavonoids.

Reports show that tannins block virus attachment, entry, and cell-to-cell spread by binding to viral glycoproteins on viruses and the surfaces of infected cells [100]. The Ethiopian medicinal plants Acacia abyssinica, Acacia etbaica, and Acacia nigra [5] and Acanthus polystachyus [78] are reported to have tannins so that they can be good candidates to fight COVID-19.

Many terpenoids of plant origin have antiviral activities against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus [101]. Medicinal plants reviewed in the present study may possess terpenoids. Studies among some of these medicinal plants show that they possess these secondary metabolites. Some of the medicinal plants with terpenoid active components were Acacia abyssinica, Acacia etbaica, and Acacia nigra [5] and Osyris quadripartite [91].

Polyphenols have demonstrated potent antiviral activities. For example, the polyphenol in green tea controls viruses such as hepatitis C, chikungunya, hepatitis B, herpes simplex virus type 1, influenza A, vaccinia, adenovirus, reovirus, vesicular stomatitis, and Zika (ZIKV) [102]. Acacia abyssinica, Acacia etbaica, and Acacia nigra [5], Acanthus polystachyus [78], and Azadirachta indica [81] of the present review contained polyphenols in their extracts.

Acanthus polystachyus [78] contained saponins that possess various biological activities, including antiviral action [103]. Ocimum basilicum, Ocimum lamiifolium, Ocimum urticifolium, and Olea europaea subsp. cuspidate [11], Osyris quadripartite [91], and Acokanthera schimperi [79] contain ursolic acid which is a pentacyclic triterpenoid with potent antiviral activities [104].

Another plant secondary metabolite with antiviral activity is oleanolic acid [105]. It is reported from Syzygium aromaticum [9], Ocimum basilicum, Ocimum lamiifolium, Ocimum urticifolium, and Olea europea subsp cuspidate [11], Osyris quadripartite [91], Acokanthera schimperi [78], Dregea schimperi [88], Euphorbia abyssinica [89], and Phytolacca dodecandra [93]. Oleanolic acid has a binding affinity for SARS-CoV-2 M protease and Spike (S) glycoprotein [106].

The plant metabolite quercetin inhibits viral entry into target cells via interaction with viral HA protein [107]. Medicinal plants from Ethiopia, Allium cepa [16], Lepidium sativum [22], Azadirachta indica [81], Osyris quadripartite [91], Amaranthus hybridus Linn [80], Clematis hirsute [84], Carissa edulis [90], Ricinus communis [95], and Ruta chalepensis [13], are reported to contain quercetin.

Epigallocatechin-3-O-gallate (EGCG) is known to inhibit a variety of DNA and RNA viruses [108]. It is found in Camellia sinensis [10] and Allium cepa [16]. Allicin exhibits antiviral, antifungal, and antiparasitic activities [109]. This phytochemical is reported from Allium sativum [14, 17], a medicinal plant used to treat viral infections by people in Ethiopia.

In vitro and in vivo results show that apigenin exhibits antiviral activities [110]. It is found in Capsicum annuum [11], Citrus aurantium [5, 10, 14, 15], Citrus limon [5, 10, 14, 15], and Allium cepa [14, 17]. Reports show that kaempferol has antiviral activities against influenza A virus (H1N1 and H9N2), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) 1, and JEV [111]. Many medicinal plants used to treat viral infections in Ethiopia such as Citrus aurantium L., Citrus limon (L.) Burm. f., Capsicum annuum L., Eucalyptus globulus, Osyris quadripartite, Amaranthus hybridus Linn., Clematis hirsute, Ricinus communis L., Ruta chalepensis L., Carissa edulis, Phaseolus vulgaris also contain this active component [10, 11, 13, 22, 80, 83, 84, 91, 92, 95].

Lycorine is a compound with broad antiviral activity. It is reported to possess anti-SARS-CoV activity [6]. It is possessed in Ethiopian medicinal plants traditionally used to treat viral infections, for example, in Crinum abyscinicum Hochst. ex A. Rich. [57].

4. Conclusions

Traditional healers in Ethiopia have knowledge of medicinal plants with potential antiviral activity. Literature shows that the majority of the plants prescribed by traditional healers in Ethiopia have antiviral compounds. Therefore, these medicinal plants should be researched for anti-COVID-19 properties.

Data Availability

All related data have been presented within the manuscript. The dataset supporting the conclusions of this article is available from the authors on request.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

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