• childbirths;
  • medicinal plants;
  • uterine motility


The usage of medicinal plants in childbirth in Uganda is a long standing tradition. Over 80% of Ugandan women have childbirth at home and herbal remedies are administered to complete the process of childbirth. The herbs are administered to hasten the labour process (oxytocics), expulsion of retained placenta and control postpartum bleeding. This indigenous knowledge in herbal medicines used during childbirth is not well documented and scientifically validated. The ethnobotanical study was conducted between 2000 and 2003 in Bushenyi and Kasese districts in western Uganda. The aim of this study was to validate the claimed uses of Bidens pilosa L. and Luffa cylindrica (L). M.J. Roem. in inducing labour during childbirths in western Uganda. The in vitro experiments using the rat uterus showed that the aqueous leafy extracts of B. pilosa and L. cylindrica increased rat uterine motility suggesting that they are oxytocics. The aqueous leafy extract of B. pilosa in vitro experiment using the rabbit jejunum further indicated that the extract can cause contraction. The bioactivity of B. pilosa and L. cylindrica is a pointer to the therapeutic uses of herbal remedies in childbirth.