Communities in Tanzania have an extensive history of using wild plants for nutritional and medicinal purposes. The high prevalence of food insecurity and infectious disease, combined with a lack of access to healthcare in rural areas, makes traditional plant sources of food and medical treatment a practical alternative for vulnerable households. In this study, the association between household consumption of wild edible plants and self-reported diarrhea across categories of household food security status was examined. Focus group discussions in four villages in Kilosa, Tanzania, were used to elicit coping strategies, including consumption of wild edible plants, employed during periods of food shortage. Data on household dietary diversity, food security, demographics, selfreported health, as well as socioeconomic status were collected using a structured survey administered to heads of households. The association between selfreported diarrhea and consumption of wild edible plants across categories of household food security status were determined using bivariate and multivariate statistical methods. Our results indicate that among the moderately food insecure, the odds of a household member having diarrhea was lower in consumers as compared to non-consumers of wild edible plants (OR 0.30 [0.12, 0.75], p <0.05). Consumption of wild edible plants appears to be a potential mediator of diarrheal diseases in food insecure populations, especially among the moderately food insecure. Further research on the contribution of wild edible plants to alleviation of food insecurity and related health outcomes in developing countries is needed.
"Household Dietary Diversity, Wild Edible Plants, and Diarrhea among Rural Households in Tanzania."
Journal of Medicinally Active Plants