Contribution to the identification of medicinal plants used against COVID-19 in North-West Morocco

  • S. Laaribya Ibn Tofail University in Kenitra
  • A. Alaoui Ibn Zohr University in Agadir
  • R. Azmi Mohammed IV Polytechnic University
Keywords: traditional medicine; herbal medicine; medicinal plants; ethnobotanical surveys


The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) affects humans, who are now developing a milder form of the illness. In addition to the use of available drugs, the local populations in Morocco used medicinal plants during the pandemic. The current study aimed to document and to research the level of use of traditional medicine using plants in Morocco. Ethnobotanical surveys were conducted on the perceptions and level of use of plants through a case study in North-West Morocco. The methodology is based on targeted surveys, from April to September 2021, of households that have had cases if nfection with COVID-19. Five hundred surveys were randomly and systematically distributed in the study area to highlight the medicinal use of plants to treat COVID-19 and its consequences for health and well-being. The results showed the attachment of the populations to traditional medicine with the use of plants available in the study area (local forest area and herbalists). The 23 species used by the populations in question against COVD-19 belong to 12 families. The analysis shows the dominance of the Lamiaceae family with nine species, followed by Asteraceae with three species. The Lamiaceae family have proven marked performance in the fight against COVID-19. The results obtained offer orientations for the enhancement of the beneficial effects of traditional medicine and clinical trials remain to be carried out. The current results highlight that flora can be a source for the discovery of medicinal agents active against COVID-19.


Aanouz, I., Belhassan, A., El-Khatabi, K., Lakhlifi, T., El-Ldrissi, M., & Bouachrine, M. (2021). Moroccan medicinal plants as inhibitors against SARS-CoV-2 main protease: Computational investigations. Journal of Biomolecular Structure and Dynamics, 39(8), 2971–2979.

Ahmad, M., Zafar, M., Shahzadi, N., Yaseen, G., Murphey, T. M., & Sultana, S. (2018). Ethnobotanical importance of medicinal plants traded in herbal markets of Rawalpindi – Pakistan. Journal of Herbal Medicine, 11, 78–89.

Alaoui, A., & Laaribya, S. (2017). Etude ethnobotanique et floristique dans les communes rurales Sehoul et Sidi-Abderrazak (cas de la Maamora-Maroc Septentrional). Journal of Nature Technology, 9(17), 15–24.

Al-Bayati, F. A. (2009). Isolation and identification of antimicrobial compound from Mentha longifolia L. leaves grown wild in Iraq. Annals of Clinical Microbiology and Antimicrobials, 8(1), 20.

Amina, B., Soumeya, B., Salim, B., Mahieddine, B., Sakina, B., Chawki, B., Francesca, N., Marzia, V., & Carmine, N. (2022). Chemical profiling, antioxidant, enzyme inhibitory and in silico modeling of Rosmarinus officinalis L. and Artemisia herba alba Asso. essential oils from Algeria. South African Journal of Botany, 147, 501–510.

Amir, I. J., & Lebar, Z. (2020). Covid-19: Virologie, épidémiologie et diagnostic biologique. Option/Bio, 31(619), 15–20.

Amjad, M. S., Zahoor, U., Bussmann, R. W., Altaf, M., Gardazi, S. M. H., & Abbasi, A. M. (2020). Ethnobotanical survey of the medicinal flora of Harighal, Azad Jammu & Kashmir, Pakistan. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine, 16(1), 65.

Andi, S. A., & Maskani, F. (2021). Essential oil chemical diversity of twenty Iranian Origanum vulgare L. subsp. viride populations. Biochemical Systematics and Ecology, 98, 104323.

Asghari, J., Sadani, S., Ghaemi, E., & Mazaheri Tehrani, M. (2016). Investigation of composition and antimicrobial properties of Lavandula stoechas essential oil using disk diffusion and broth microdilution. Medical Laboratory Journal, 10(3), 53–58.

Balachandar, V., Mahalaxmi, I., Kaavya, J., Vivekanandhan, G., Ajithkumar, S., Arul, N., Singaravelu, G., Senthil Kumar, N., & Mohana Dev, S. (2020). COVID-19: Emerging protective measures. European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences, 24(6), 3422–3425.

Barello, S., & Graffigna, G. (2020). Caring for health professionals in the COVID-19 pandemic emergency: Toward an "epidemic of empathy" in healthcare. Frontiers in Psychology, 11, 1431.

Bekut, M., Brkić, S., Kladar, N., Dragović, G., Gavarić, N., & Božin, B. (2018). Potential of selected Lamiaceae plants in anti(retro)viral therapy. Pharmacological Research, 133, 301–314.

Benkhaira, N., Ibnsouda Koraichi, S., & Fikri-Benbrahim, K. (2021). Ethnobotanical survey on plants used by traditional healers to fight against COVID-19 in Fez City, Northern Morocco. Ethnobotany Research and Applications, 21, 1–18.

Benlamdini, N., Elhafian, M., Rochdi, A., & Zidane, L. (2014). Étude floristique et ethnobotanique de la flore médicinale du Haut Atlas oriental (Haute Moulouya). Journal of Applied Biosciences, 78, 6771–6787.

Bertella, A., Benlahcen, K., Abouamama, S., Pinto, D. C. G. A., Maamar, K., Kihal, M., & Silva, A. M. S. (2018). Artemisia herba-alba Asso. essential oil antibacterial activity and acute toxicity. Industrial Crops and Products, 116, 137–143.

Bhardwaj, V. K., Singh, R., Sharma, J., Rajendran, V., Purohit, R., & Kumar, S. (2021). Identification of bioactive molecules from tea plant as SARS-CoV-2 main protease inhibitors. Journal of Biomolecular Structure and Dynamics, 39(10), 3449–3458.

Bozin, B., Mimica-Dukic, N., Samojlik, I., & Jovin, E. (2007). Antimicrobial and antioxidant properties of rosemary and sage (Rosmarinus officinalis L. and Salvia officinalis L., Lamiaceae) essential oils. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 55(19), 7879–7885.

Bozin, B., Mimica-Dukic, N., Simin, N., & Anackov, G. (2006). Characterization of the volatile composition of essential oils of some Lamiaceae spices and the antimicrobial and antioxidant activities of the entire oils. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 54(5), 1822–1828.

Chaachouay, N., Benkhnigue, O., Khamar, H., & Zidane, L. (2020). Ethnobotanical study of medicinal and aromatic plants used in the treatment of genito-urinary diseases in the Moroccan Rif. Journal of Materials and Environmental Science, 11(1), 15–29.

Chaachouay, N., Douira, A., & Zidane, L. (2021). COVID-19, prevention and treatment with herbal medicine in the herbal markets of Salé Prefecture, North-Western Morocco. European Journal of Integrative Medicine, 42, 101285.

Chenna, A., Ahmedi, R., & Chefrour, A. (2018). Physico-chemical characterization of the essential oil of Origanum majorana (L.) cultivated in a semi-arid bioclimatic stage (South-East Algeria). Journal of Fundamental Applied Sciences, 10(2), 396–406.

Cherrat, L., Espina, L., Bakkali, M., Pagán, R., & Laglaoui, A. (2014). Chemical composition, antioxidant and antimicrobial properties of Mentha pulegium, Lavandula stoechas and Satureja calamintha Scheele essential oils and an evaluation of their bactericidal effect in combined processes. Innovative Food Science and Emerging Technologies, 22, 221–229.

De Sousa Barros, A., de Morais, S. M., Ferreira, P. A. T., Vieira, Í. G. P., Craveiro, A. A., dos Santos Fontenelle, R. O., de Menezes, J. E. S. A., da Silva, F. W. F., & de Sousa, H. A. (2015). Chemical composition and functional properties of essential oils from Mentha species. Industrial Crops and Products, 76, 557–564.

Drienovská, I., Kolanović, D., Chánique, A., Sieber, V., Hofer, M., & Kourist, R. (2020). Molecular cloning and functional characterization of a two highly stereoselective borneol dehydrogenases from Salvia officinalis L. Phytochemistry, 172, 112227.

El Alami, A., Fattah, A., & Chait, A. (2020). Medicinal plants used for the prevention purposes during the COVID-19 pandemic in Morocco. Journal of Analytical Sciences, 2(1), 4–11.

El Hachlafi, N., Chebat, A., Bencheikh, R. S., & Fikri-Benbrahim, K. (2020). Ethnopharmacological study of medicinal plants used for chronic diseases treatment in Rabat-Sale-Kenitra Region (Morocco). Ethnobotany Research and Applications, 20, 1–23.

Farsani, M. S., Behbahani, M., & Isfahani, H. Z. (2016). The effect of root, shoot and seed extracts of the Iranian Thymus L.(Family: Lamiaceae) species on HIV-1 replication and CD4 expression. Cell Journal, 18(2), 255–261.

Fazio, A., Cerezuela, R., Panuccio, M. R., Cuesta, A., & Esteban, M. Á. (2017). In vitro effects of Italian Lavandula multifida L. leaf extracts on gilthead seabream (Sparus aurata) leucocytes and SAF-1 cells. Fish Shellfish Immunology, 66, 334–344.

Gao, X., Zhang, T., Zhang, J., Guo, J., & Zhong, G. (2007). Chinese materia medica. China Press of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Beijing.

Ghoulami, S., Il Idrissi, A., & Fkih-Tetouani, S. (2001). Phytochemical study of Mentha longifolia of Morocco. Fitoterapia, 72(5), 596–598.

Gil, L., & Varela, M. (2008). Technical guidelines for genetic conservation of Cork oak (Quercus suber). Bioversity International, 2008, 1–6.

Gören, A. C., Topçu, G., Bilsel, G., Bilsel, M., Aydoğmusç, Z., & Pezzuto, J. M. (2002). The chemical constituents and biological activity of essential oil of Lavandula stoechas ssp. stoechas. Zeitschrift für Naturforschung C, 57(9–10), 797–800.

Govindarajan, M., Sivakumar, R., Rajeswari, M., & Yogalakshmi, K. (2012). Chemical composition and larvicidal activity of essential oil from Mentha spicata (Linn.) against three mosquito species. Parasitology Research, 110(5), 2023–2032.

Guo, Y. R., Cao, Q. D., Hong, Z. S., Tan, Y. Y., Chen, S. D., Jin, H. J., Tan, K. S., Wang, D. Y., & Yan, Y. (2020). The origin, transmission and clinical therapies on coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak – an update on the status. Military Medical Research, 7(1), 11.

Hamamouch, N., & Plants, A. (2020). Use of ethnomedicinal plants by the people living in the middle atlas mountains in Morocco. Medicinal and Aromatic Plants, 9, 349.

Hordofa, T. G., Kiros, T., & Plants, A. (2020). Potential use of Eastern Hararghe Ethiopia medicinal plants for COVID-19-like symptoms: A review. Arabian Journal of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants, 6(3), 76–115.

Hossain, M. B., Brunton, N. P., Patras, A., Tiwari, B., O’Donnell, C. P., Martin-Diana, A. B., & Barry-Ryan, C. (2012). Optimization of ultrasound assisted extraction of antioxidant compounds from marjoram (Origanum majorana L.) using response surface methodology. Ultrasonics Sonochemistry, 19(3), 582–590.

Kapepula, P. M., Kabengele, J. K., Kingombe, M., Van Bambeke, F., Tulkens, P. M., Kishabongo, A. S., Decloedt, E., Zumla, A., Tiberi, S., Suleman, F., Tshilolo, L., Muyembe-Tamfum, J.-J., Zumla, A., & Nachega, J. B. (2020). Artemisia spp. derivatives for COVID-19 treatment: Anecdotal use, political hype, treatment potential, challenges, and road map to randomized clinical trials. The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 103(3), 960–964.

Kumar, A., Dev, K., & Sourirajan, A. (2021). Essential oils of Rosmarinus officinalis L., Cymbopogon citratus (DC.) Stapf., and the phyto-compounds, delta-carene and alpha-pinene mediate cell cycle arrest at G2/M transition in budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. South African Journal of Botany, 141, 296–305.

Laaribya, S., Alaoui, A., Ayan, S., Benabou, A., Labbaci, A., Ouhaddou, H., & Bijou, M. (2021). Prediction by maximum entropy of potential habitat of the cork oak (Quercus suber L.) in Maamora Forest, Morocco. Forestist, 71(2), 63–69.

Leonelli Pires de Campos, A. C., Saldanha Nandi, R. D., Scandorieiro, S., Gonçalves, M. C., Reis, G. F., Dibo, M., Medeiros, L. P., Panagio, L. A., Fagan, E. P., Takayama Kobayashi, R. K., & Nakazato, G. (2022). Antimicrobial effect of Origanum vulgare (L.) essential oil as an alternative for conventional additives in the Minas cheese manufacture. LWT, 157, 113063.

Li, T., & Peng, T. (2013). Traditional Chinese herbal medicine as a source of molecules with antiviral activity. Antiviral Research, 97(1), 1–9.

Loukhaoukha, R., Saidi, F., Jullien, F., & Benabdelkader, T. (2018). Chemical composition and antibacterial activity of Lavandula stoechas essential oil and its main components against Erwinia amylovora and Pectobacterium carotovorum subsp. carotovorum. Phytothérapie, 16(3), 149–157.

Mahboubi, M. (2021). Mentha spicata L. essential oil, phytochemistry and its effectiveness in flatulence. Journal of Traditional Complementary Medicine, 11(2), 75–81.

Mimica-Dukić, N., Božin, B., Soković, M., Mihajlović, B., & Matavulj, M. (2003). Antimicrobial and antioxidant activities of three Mentha species essential oils. Planta Medica, 69(5), 413–419.

Mimica-Dukic, N., Popovic, M., Jakovljevic, V., Szabo, A., & Gašic, O. (1999). Pharmacological studies of Mentha longifolia phenolic extracts. II. Hepatoprotective activity. Pharmaceutical Biology, 37(3), 221–224.

Oderinlo, O. O., Adenekan, O. A., Alawode, T. T., Osamudiamen, P. M., Oluremi, B. B., Oyeneyin, O. E., Ngoepe, M. P., & Plants, A. (2021). Ethnobotanical appraisal and in-silico investigation of plants used for the management of COVID-19 in Southwestern Nigeria. Arabian Journal of Medicinal, 7(1), 151–174.

Razavi, S., Zarrini, G., & Molavi, G. (2012). The evaluation of some biological activity of Mentha longifolia (L.) huds growing wild in Iran. Pharmacologia, 3(10), 535–538.

Sabry, M. M., Abdel-Rahman, R. F., El-Shenawy, S. M., Hassan, A. M., & El-Gayed, S. H. (2022). Estrogenic activity of sage (Salvia officinalis L.) aerial parts and its isolated ferulic acid in immature ovariectomized female rats. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 282, 114579.

Schnitzler, P., Koch, C., & Reichling, J. R. (2007). Susceptibility of drug-resistant clinical herpes simplex virus type 1 strains to essential oils of ginger, thyme, hyssop, and sandalwood. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, 51(5), 1859–1862.

Shi, Q., Li, L., Huo, C., Zhang, M., Wang, Y., & Drugs, H. (2010). Study on natural medicinal chemistry and new drug development. Journal Zhongcaoyao Chinese Traditional, 41(10), 1583–1589.

Škrovánková, S., Mišurcová, L., & Machů, L. (2012). Chapter three – Antioxidant activity and protecting health effects of common medicinal plants. In: Henry, J. (Ed.). Advances in food and nutrition research. Academic Press. Vol. 67. Pp. 75–139.

Snoussi, M., Noumi, E., Trabelsi, N., Flamini, G., Papetti, A., & De Feo, V. (2015). Mentha spicata essential oil: Chemical composition, antioxidant and antibacterial activities against planktonic and biofilm cultures of Vibrio spp. strains. Molecules, 20(8), 14402–14424.

Sosa, S., Altinier, G., Politi, M., Braca, A., Morelli, I., & Della Loggia, R. (2005). Extracts and constituents of Lavandula multifida with topical anti-inflammatory activity. Phytomedicine, 12(4), 271–277.

Tinitana, F., Rios, M., Romero-Benavides, J. C., de la Cruz Rot, M., & Pardo-de-Santayana, M. (2016). Medicinal plants sold at traditional markets in Southern Ecuador. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine, 12(1), 29.

Yamasaki, K., Nakano, M., Kawahata, T., Mori, H., Otake, T., Ueba, N., Oishi, I., Inami, R., Yamane, M., Nakamura, M., Murata, H., & Nakanishi, T. (1998). Anti-HIV-1 activity of herbs in Labiatae. Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletinl, 21(8), 829–833.

How to Cite
Laaribya, S., Alaoui, A., & Azmi, R. (2022). Contribution to the identification of medicinal plants used against COVID-19 in North-West Morocco . Regulatory Mechanisms in Biosystems, 13(4), 339-345.