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Medicinal Nutrition: Wild Plants Essay

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Updated: Apr 29th, 2022

Introduction: Medicinal nutrition

Louis Grivetti has concentrated on ethnobotanical for more than three decades. Grivetti looks at edible wild plants as having both nutritional and medicinal. The author reviews many literatures in the field of ethnobotanical accompanied with a three-decade research works across different continents. The works of Grivetti provide a solid base through the review of available literature on the medicinal and nutritional values in plants. Grivetti acknowledges that much work is necessary globally in expanding the existing database of nutrients and medicinal values of both the major and minor edible wild species of plants. Grivetti works draw credibility from the wide coverage of plants species across the world. His works shall provide us with the basis of understanding medicinal and nutritional values of plants in Africa and European region (Grivetti, 1979).


Santayana, Miguel, and Morales show that changes taking place over decades will erase traditional knowledge of wild plants, and their uses. These authors demonstrate that collection and consumption of wild foods among the rural Campoo is on the decline. In addition, the rural Campoo residents only consume about 20 percent of the wild foods that used to be there. The authors advocate for a paradigm shift in studying changes and potential uses of traditional knowledge for development and marketing nutraceuticals (Santayana, Miguel and Morales, 2003).

Santayana and other authors argue that it is poverty that is leading to the destruction of the vitality. Therefore, rural Campoo must diversify and revitalize their economy through tourism and promotion of local quality products. At the same time, rural Campoo must rescue traditional, valuable practices and adopt either modern or traditional means of storing information. These authors also argue that it is poverty that is causing migration among the youths. Hence, they do not get the knowledge of traditional uses of plants for their nutritional and medicinal values.

Africans have depended on wild plants as sources of food and medicine. Charles Ogoye-Ndegwa and Jens Aaargard-Hansen observe that the use of herbs both as sources of food and medicine is common among most African communities (Ogoye-Ndegwa and Aagard-Hansen, 2003). These authors are critical of the fact that changes in food and food habits lead to new infections and deficiencies. Etkin and Ross also made a similar observation among the Hausa of West Africa. The main concerns of these authors are that plants, including weeds have received little attention in terms of their potential values as high-nutrient values food in rural societies.

Ogoye-Ndegwa and Aargard-Hensen and Santayana et al all agrees that traditional vegetables and wild plants often double up as sources of food and medicine among the rural populations. These authors have also realized that not much work is available on dual roles of vegetables, and wild plants among the rural communities.

These authors note that decline in consumption of traditional vegetables results into negative consequences among the rural population in terms of food security and nutritional values. Ogoye-Ndegwa and Aargard also look at the culture and food, and conclude that food and culture go together. Therefore, any changes in cultural practices affect food security and consumption habits of the rural population.


Both studies show how changes in lifestyles lead to decline in knowledge and consumption of wild plants and vegetables. Consequently, this led to increase in new infections and deficiencies. Therefore, they establish medicinal and nutritional value of wild plants and vegetables among Luo of Kenya and Campoo of Europe. However, these authors fail to give clear guidelines how the current generation can store that knowledge for exploitation either commercially or traditionally. These authors also failed to account for factors such as climate changes, which force rural populations to change their eating habits, clear new forest lands for agricultural purposes, and lead to urban migrations.


Grivetti, L. E. (1979). Edible Wild Plants as Foods and as Medicine: Reflections on Thirty Years of Fieldwork. Washington, DC: USAID.

Ogoye-Ndegwa, C. and Aagard-Hansen, J. (2003). Dietary and Medicinal Use of Traditional Herbs among the Luo of Western Kenya. Ecology of Food and Nutrition, 12, 323-341.

Santayana, M., Miguel, E. and Morales, R. (2003). Digestive Beverages As a Medicinal Food in a Cattle-Farming Community in Northern Spain. Eating and Healing, 10, 131-151.

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