Prelude Medicinal Plants Database

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About the authors

From 1979 until 1984, M. Baerts and J. Lehmann were sent by the Catholic University of Louvain (UCL) on a mission of cooperation to the University of Burundi. In addition to their main mission of teaching and education, they led an ethnobotanic investigation in the field of human and veterinarian traditional medicine in the Zaire-Nile high crest region of the country. They were able to collect from more than 130 healers a great variety of plants. Each of these plants was the object of research on its uses, preparations and modes of administration.

On their return to Belgium they dedicated part of their time to analysing the results accumulated during their 5 years in Burundi. They were encouraged in this task by a renowned linguist who had lived for a long time in the country, the R.P. Rodegem. All the data gathered from the healers (about 160.000) were classified, enabling the establishment of a description of their uses for every species of plants. The information obtained has been the object of a series of publications, three of which appeared in the Annals of the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren.

In 1992, Professor Ansay of the Veterinarian Faculty of Medicine of the University of Li├Ęge asked them to be part of the PRELUDE network. It was during a symposium in Ouagadougou in 1993 dedicated to traditional veterinary medicine that the creation of a data bank on the uses of plants in traditional veterinarian medicine in sub-Saharan Africa was decided. Summarising mostly scattered publications, they wrote a first paper in English and in French printed to more than 2 000 copies (Louvain University Press, CTA, 1996). Published with the support of the CTA (WAGENINGEN), this edition, widely circulated in Africa, met with large interest. J Lehmann and M. Baerts then launched an Internet site at the UCL offering numerous possibilities of research and consultation of the data bank. This work enriched by a comparison with plants used in traditional human medicine is presently being pursued at the Museum of Tervuren.