An ethnobotanical survey and pharmacological evaluation of medicinal plants used by the Garo tribal community living in Netrakona district, Bangladesh.Introduction
Throughout history plants have been used by human beings for medicinal purposes and even in modern times have formed the basis of many pharmaceuticals in use (Schmidt, et al, 2008). Plants produce a vast array of secondary metabolites as defense against environmental stress or other factors like pest attacks, wounds, and injuries. The complex secondary metabolites produced by plants have found various therapeutic uses in medicine from time immemorial. The early history of modern medicine contains descriptions of plant-derived phytochemicals, many of which are still in use. Some examples are the discovery of cardiotonics in foxglove, salicylic acid in willow bark, and morphine in poppies (Rishton, 2008). Various terpenoid compounds, which are synthesized in plants as secondary metabolites are proving their potential in modern scientific studies against inflammatory diseases and cancer (Salminen, 2008). A recent review has shown that approximately 25% of modern medications have been plant derived, while 75% of new drugs against infectious diseases that have arrived between 1981 and 2002 originated from natural sources (Bedoya, et al, 2009). Herbs and spices have been used from ancient times not only to increase palatability in foods but also for their health beneficial effects. Scientific studies have demonstrated the anti-oxidative potential of many herbs and spices, which is important since oxidative damages have been implicated in major diseases like atherosclerosis, arthritis, and diabetes. The cholesterol-lowering effect of garlic, use of ginger in ameliorating arthritic knee pain, and the effect of several herbal supplements on psychological and cognitive function has been reviewed by Tapsell et al (2006). Despite the progresses in modern medicine, it has been reported that more than 70% of the developing world's population still depends on complementary and alternative systems of medicine, otherwise known as traditional medicine (Shaikh, 2005).
The advent of allopathic medicine shifted scientific and general population interest from traditional medicinal preparations. However, in recent years, a major paradigm shift has taken place. Interest has refocused on traditional medicine, because of the high cost of modern drugs, time and expenditure that is necessary to bring a drug to market after appropriate clinical trials, serious side-effects of a number of modern drugs, and drug-resistance developing in both microorganisms and parasites. As a result, scientists are now taking an active interest in traditional medicinal preparations of indigenous peoples, which mostly are plantbased. One example is the renewed interest in anti-inflammatory traditional medications. Inflammatory diseases are common in the aging society of developed and developing countries; yet, the drugs used to combat inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis often have serious side-effects. Several leads from plant sources, like curcumin, resveratrol, baicalein, boswellic acid, betulinic acid, ursolic acid, and oleanolic acid are now studied as possible drugs for the future against inflammatory diseases (Gautam, 2009). Edible plant extracts have shown promising anti-tumorigenic activity (Amara, et al, 2008). Anti-cancer agents from plant sources currently being used or undergoing clinical trials include vinblastine, vincristine, nevelbine, etoposide, teniposide, taxol, taxotere, topotecan, and irinotecan (Wang, 1998). A large number of traditional medicinal preparations used in various countries of the world have shown promise as treatment for herpes virus infections, which cannot be completely cured by the available anti-herpes drugs like nucleoside analogs (Chattopadhyay, 2008). The various ailments for which searches are going on in plants for newer drugs are too numerous to mention; to cite just a few examples, new plant-derived compounds are being searched for treatment of malaria because of the increasing resistance of Plasmodium falciparum against currently available anti-malarial drugs (Batista, et al, 2009; Kihampa, et al, 2009), searches for anti-fungal, molluscicidal and larvicidal compounds in African medicinal plants has been reviewed by Marston et al (1993), anti-leishmanial activity in Israeli plants has been reviewed by El-On et al (2009), and anti-trypanosomal and cytotoxic activities of pyrrolizidine alkaloid-producing plants of Ethiopia has been reported by Nibret et al (2009).
Since indigenous peoples have a long history and expertise in the use of medicinal plants, it is important that their plant usage be documented as the basis for development of lead compounds before this knowledge is lost due to the influences of modern civilization. Bangladesh has a number of indigenous people or tribes, including the Chakmas, Garos, Santals, Marmas, Oraon, Mrus, Rakhains, Tripuras and others. We have previously conducted ethnobotanical surveys among the Rakhains and Tripura tribes residing in the Chittagong Hill Tracts region, the Santals residing in Rajshahi district, and the Garo tribal community inhabiting the Madhupur forest region (Tangail district) of Bangladesh (Hanif, et al, 2009; Hossan, et al, 2009; Shahidullah, et al, 2009; Mia, et al, 2009). The Garos (once a nomadic tribe of the Bodo group of Mongoloids) are a large tribal community spread among the north-central districts of the country like Mymensingh, Netrakona, Gazipur, Sherpur and Tangail. A number of Garos have recently adopted Christianity; however, they still basically follow their own religion with its associated customs and rituals. They have their own traditional medicinal practitioners, known as khamals or kamals, who besides practicing medicine, also conducts vows and arranges festivals. The khamals possess considerable expertise on medicinal plants, which is learnt through teachers or "gurus", family members, and trials on patients. This knowledge is usually confined to the family and passed on from generation to generation. Because the Garo communities lack any alphabet and because they are spread-out among the different districts, the traditional uses of medicinal plants for treatment of various ailments differ among the khamals of different districts. The objective of this present study was to conduct an ethnobotanical survey among the khamals of the Garo community living in Netrakona district, Bangladesh to document their medicinal plant usage and to compare their use of medicinal plants with that of the Garo community living in the Madhupur forest region of the country.
2. Materials and methods
2.1. Study area
Netrakona district in Bangladesh is situated roughly between 90[degrees]30-91[degrees]15 E and 24[degrees]35- 25[degrees]15 N. The district is comprised of several sub-districts. The present survey was conducted among the khamals of Garo communities living in the villages of Ranikong, Madhavpur and Bipinganj, all villages being situated within Durgapur sub-district.
2.2. Data collection and sampling techniques
A total of five khamals were interviewed in the present survey. They were all males and named Raja, Xavier, Sentu, Semintas, and Badsha. Among them Xavier has adopted Christianity and regularly goes to a church located between Madhavpur and Bipinganj villages, where he has picked up acquaintances with the church doctor (a modern allopathic doctor). Xavier, however, practices the traditional system of Garo medicine (including diagnosis and treatment of ailments), which he has picked up from his family. Nevertheless, he has picked up a few medical terms like cancer and diabetes from the allopathic doctor. However, his diagnosis and choice of medicinal plants for treatment of the above two diseases did not differ from the other khamals, who diagnose diabetes and cancer, respectively, by the sweetness of urine, and by the presence of symptoms like weakness, loss of appetite, fever, itches that do not heal, or swellings, and which cannot be attributed to any of their known ailments. It needs to be pointed out in this respect, that diabetes is a known ailment of the khamals who refer to it as "chini-rogh", "chini" standing for sugar and "rogh" standing for disease. Cancer is a modern term picked up by the khamals, who do not understand it properly and attributed it to unexplained symptoms as described earlier.
Informed consent was obtained from the healers prior to the survey. The purpose of the survey was explained to them in details and they were told that the survey had no other intentions apart from documentation of their medicinal plant usage. The survey was conducted with the help of a semi-structured questionnaire. Interviews were conducted in the Bangla language, all healers being fluent in the language spoken by over 95% of the Bangladesh population. The local names of the medicinal plants, however, were given in the Habeng language spoken by the Garos and which was found to have similarities to the Bangla language. The basic survey method was that of the guided field-walk method as described by Martin (1995) and Maundu (1995). In this method, the khamals took the interviewers to the areas from where they collected their medicinal plants and gave information as to plant name, plant parts used and ailments treated. All information was cross-checked with the khamals in later evening sessions. Plant specimens were collected and dried on site and brought back to the Bangladesh National Herbarium for identification, where voucher specimens were also deposited.
3. Results and discussion
3.1. Plants and their distribution into families
The result of the present survey shows that the khamals of the Garo community of Netrakona district used 74 plants distributed into 45 families for treatment of various ailments (Table 1). The Fabaceae family contributed the largest number of species (eight). Other families contributing more than one plant per family included the Araceae, Asteraceae, Moraceae, Solanaceae and Verbenaceae families (three plants per family), and the Acanthaceae, Anacardiaceae, Euphorbiaceae, Poaceae, Rutaceae and Zingiberaceae families (two plants per family). Some plants were not obtained from the wild. Among plants cultivated for both home consumption and commercial purposes were Mangifera indica (mango), Areca catechu (betel nut), Borassus flabellifer (sugar palm), Cocos nucifera (coconut), Ananas comosus (pineapple), Carica papaya (papaya), Luffa cylindrica (vegetable sponge), Emblica officinalis (Indian gooseberry), Manihot esculenta (cassava), Cajanus cajan (spotted pigeon pea), Lablab purpureus (hyacinth bean), Tamarindus indica (tamarind), Punica granatum (pomegranate), Moringa oleifera (drumstick tree), Musa sapientum (banana), Psidium guajava (guava), Syzygium cumini (black plum), Averrhoa carambola (star fruit), Piper betle (betel leaf), Ziziphus mauritiana (Indian jujube), Aegle marmelos (wood apple), and Zingiber officinale (ginger).
3.2. Plant parts used and mode of preparation
The various plant parts used included whole plant, leaf, root, stem, flower, seed, bark, gum, fruit, petiole, and rhizome. Of the 107 uses observed in the present survey, leaves formed the part predominantly used (33.6%), followed by whole plant (15.9%), fruits (15.0%) and stems (11.2%). For a number of plants, multiple plant parts from the same plant were used. For instance, the roots of Achyranthes aspera were used to treat snake bite and diabetes, while seeds from the same plant were used for treatment of gonorrhea. A combination of bark and seed of Thevetia peruviana was used to treat mental disorders. The mode of administration was either oral or topical. For oral administration, generally juice was extracted from the plant part following crushing and then taken. However, in the case of Cocos nucifera, juice of the fruit (coconut juice) was directly taken for treatment of diarrhea. The barks and seeds of Syzygium cumini are also directly taken for diabetes, while a combination of leaf and petiole paste of Piper betle is taken as treatment for bronchitis, indigestion, and as antidote to poison. For topical applications, usually a paste of the plant part (e.g. Mikania cordata) or powdered plant part (e.g. bark of Crataeva religiosa) was applied.
3.3. Medical applications
A plant or plant part may be used to treat a single ailment or multiple ailments. The leaves of Lannea grandis were used for diuretic purposes in case of urinary problems. Similarly, crushed whole plants of Typhonium giganteum were topically applied to reduce pain. On the other hand, the roots of Areca catechu were used to treat both helminthiasis and constipation. The leaves and fruits of Ananas comosus were used to treat fever, helminthiasis, and jaundice. In this case, the fruits were used for treatment of fever, while leaf juice was used to treat helminthiasis or jaundice. Mostly the uses of medicinal plants were for common ailments like respiratory tract disorders (cough, pneumonia, asthma, bronchitis), gastrointestinal problems (diarrhea, dysentery, constipation), skin diseases (scabies, eczema, itches), bone fractures, and cuts and wounds. However, the khamals used medicinal plants to treat more complicated diseases like heart diseases, hypertension, diabetes, urinary calculus, sexual disorders, malaria, and leprosy. One plant, Argyreia speciosa, was used to treat small pox when the disease was prevalent.
From the number of plant species used for treatment of various ailments, it appears that gastrointestinal disorders, respiratory tract infections, skin diseases, sexual disorders, and diabetes are common among the Garos. The number of plants used to treat the above disorders or ailments were 18, 10, 15, 8, and 11. Nine plants were used to treat cuts and wounds. Other ailments treated included bone fractures, urinary tract problems, helminthiasis, heart diseases, hypertension, fever, debility, pain, chicken pox, toothache, jaundice, mental disorders, snake bites, measles, menstrual disorders, malaria, leprosy, insomnia, urinary calculus, and head lice. Certain plants were also used as abortifacient, diuretic, anti-emetic, energy stimulant, insect repellent, or as antidote to poison.
3.4. Reported pharmacological activities on plants used by the Garo tribal healers
The various medicinal plants used by the Garo tribal healers of Netrakona district, Bangladesh were screened in the available scientific literature for reported relevant pharmacological activities. The results are summarized in Table 2. It may be seen from Table 2 that 32 medicinal plants out of the 74 plants used by Garo traditional healers have reported pharmacological activities, which validate their traditional use.
We have previously conducted and published an account of an ethnobotanical survey conducted among the Garo tribal healers of Madhupur forest region, Bangladesh (Mia, et al, 2009). The present survey shows that considerable differences exist in the usage of medicinal plants between the Garo healers of Madhupur and the Garo healers of Netrakona district. While the Garo healers of Madhupur used 65 medicinal plants distributed into 43 families for treatment of various ailments, the Garo healers of Netrakona district used 74 plants distributed into 45 families. Out of these plants, only 18 plants were found to be used in common in both areas. These common use plants can be classified into three groups based on the ailments treated. The first group comprised of the same plant being used to treat the same ailment (e.g. use of Mikania cordata for treatment of cuts and wounds, use of Hibiscus rosa sinensis for treatment of dysentery, and use of Aphanamixis polystachya for treatment of skin diseases). The second group comprised of plants, which although not used for treatment of the same ailment, are used for treatment of related ailments (e.g. use of Cissus quadrangularis to treat bone fractures in Madhupur versus use of the same plant to treat wounds and sprains in Netrakona). The third group comprised of plants used to treat different ailments in the two regions surveyed (e.g. use of Achyranthes aspera as an abortifacient in Madhupur, while the same plant was used for treatment of snake bite, diabetes, and gonorrhea in Netrakona). Thus obviously, the traditional healers of the Garo tribe residing in different areas have developed their own unique system of medicinal plant usage. The differences cannot be attributed to geographical availability of plants, for both Madhupur and Netrakona have closely similar climate and vegetation. Thus this difference has arisen possibly from individual clinical practices of the healers with individually conducted trial and error methods. It is to be noted in this regard that the traditional Garo healers do not have any central database of medicinal plants; rather, each healer has developed his own treatment system, which again is dependent on his teacher and his personally developed expertise. As such, treatment with medicinal plants is a continually developing process among the healers and quite possibly has changed both with time as well as area of residence.
The use of a number of medicinal plants by the Garo healers of Netrakona district finds support from scientific studies conducted on these plants regarding their phytochemical components as well as pharmacological activity studies. This validation indicates that the use of medicinal plants for treatment of specific ailments by indigenous healers need not be ignored by modern science; instead, this ethnobotanical information can form the basis for further studies leading to the development of lead compounds and newer drugs. Certainly, the available studies indicate that plants like Centella asiatica, Ageratum conyzoides, Terminalia arjuna, Moringa oleifera, and Aegle marmelos present excellent potential for development of drugs leading to treatment of both widespread but common ailments like gastrointestinal disorders, as well as complicated ailments like diabetes and heart diseases, which are prevalent throughout the world population and which cannot be treated satisfactorily with modern allopathic medicine. Many other plants have not been studied at all scientifically thus far. The importance of the present survey lies in the knowledge gained from indigenous tribal healers, which can in turn, lead to scientific research on the plants, leading to discovery of novel efficacious drugs. The study, through highlighting these medicinal plant species, can also serve an important purpose in the cultivation and conservation of these plants, many of which are getting endangered in the wild.
This study has been funded through internal support provided by the University of Development Alternative. The authors are also grateful to Mr. Manzurul Kadir Mia, retired taxonomist at the Bangladesh National Herbarium for his help.
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(1) Mohammed Rahmatullah, (1) Israt Jahan Mukti, (1) A.K.M. Fahmidul Haque, (1) Md. Ariful Haque Mollik, (1) Kanta Parvin, (1) Rownak Jahan, (2) Majeedul H. Chowdhury, (3) Taufiq Rahman
(1) Department of Biotechnology & Genetic Engineering, University of Development Alternative House No. 78, Road No. 11A, Dhanmondi, Dhaka-1205 Bangladesh
(2) New York City College of Technology The City University of New York Broooklyn, NY 11201, USA
(3) Department of Pharmacology, University of Cambridge, Tennis Court Road CB2 1PD, Cambridge, UK
Corresponding Author: Professor Dr. Mohammed Rahmatullah, Pro-Vice Chancellor University of Development Alternative House No. 78, Road No. 11A (new) Dhanmondi R/A, Dhaka-1205 Bangladesh E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Fax: 88-02-8157339
Table 1: Medicinal plants utilized by the Garo tribal healers of Netrakona district, Bangladesh Serial Scientific Name Family Name Number 1 Adhatoda vasica Nees Acanthaceae 2 Justicia gendarussa L. Acanthaceae 3 Achyranthes aspera L. Amaranthaceae 4 Lannea grandis Anacardiaceae (Dennst.) Engl. 5 Mangifera indica L. Anacardiaceae 6 Centella asiatica Apiaceae (L.) Urb. 7 Thevetia peruviana Apocynaceae (Pers.) K. Schum. 8 Amorphophallus Araceae campanulatus 9 Colocasia esculenta Araceae (L.) Schott 10 Typhonium Araceae giganteum Engl. 11 Areca catechu L. Arecaceae 12 Borassus flabellifer L. Arecaceae 13 Cocos nucifera L. Arecaceae 14 Ageratum conyzoides L. Asteraceae 15 Mikania cordata Asteraceae (Burm.f.) B. L. Robinson 16 Tagetes patula L. Asteraceae 17 Bombax ceiba L. Bombacaceae 18 Ananas comosus Bromeliaceae (L.) Merr. 19 Cereus grandiflorus Cactaceae (L.) P.Mill. 20 Crataeva religiosa Capparidaceae G. Forst. 21 Carica papaya L. Caricaceae 22 Terminalia arjuna Combretaceae (Roxb. ex DC.) Wight & Arn. 23 Argyreia speciosa Convolvulaceae (L.f.) Sweet 24 Ipomoea fistulosa Convolvulaceae Mart. ex Choisy 25 Luffa cylindrica Cucurbitaceae M. Roem 26 Cuscuta reflexa Roxb. Cuscutaceae 27 Shorea robusta C. F. Dipterocarpaceae Gaertn. (Smit) 28 Emblica officinalis Euphorbiaceae Gaertn. 29 Manihot esculenta Euphorbiaceae Crantz. 30 Cajanus cajan (L.) Fabaceae Millsp. 31 Cassia alata L. Fabaceae 32 Cassia fistula L. Fabaceae 33 Cassia tora L. Fabaceae 34 Lablab purpureus Fabaceae (L.) Sweet 35 Mimosa pudica L. Fabaceae 36 Mucuna pruriens Fabaceae (L.) DC. 37 Tamarindus indica L. Fabaceae 38 Ocimum tenuiflorum L. Lamiaceae 39 Asparagus racemosus Liliaceae Willd. 40 Lawsonia inermis L. Lythraceae 41 Punica granatum L. Lythraceae 42 Hibiscus rosa-sinensis L. Malvaceae 43 Melastoma Marantaceae malabathricum L. 44 Aphanamixis polystachya Meliaceae (Wall.) R. Parker 45 Azadirachta indica Meliaceae A. Juss. 46 Tinospora cordifolia Menispermaceae (Willd.) Hook.f. & Thoms. 47 Ficus benghalensis L. Moraceae 48 Ficus racemosa L. Moraceae 49 Streblus asper Lour. Moraceae 50 Moringa oleifera Lam. Moringaceae 51 Musa sapientum L. Musaceae 52 Psidium guajava L. Myrtaceae 53 Syzygium cumini (L.) Myrtaceae Skeels 54 Nymphaea nouchali Nymphaeaceae Burm.f. 55 Averrhoa carambola L. Oxalidaceae 56 Piper betle L. Piperaceae 57 Bambusa vulgaris Poaceae Schrad. ex J. C. Wendl. 58 Cynodon dactylon Poaceae (L.) Pers. 59 Persicaria hydropiper Polygonaceae (L.) Delarbre 60 Drynaria quercifolia Polypodiaceae (L.) J. Smith 61 Ziziphus mauritiana Rhamnaceae Lam. 62 Aegle marmelos Rutaceae (L.) Corr. 63 Citrus grandis Rutaceae (L.) Osbeck 64 Smilax china L. S milacaceae 65 Datura metel L. Solanaceae 66 Solanum melongena L. Solanaceae 67 Solanum torvum Solanaceae Swartz 68 Abroma augusta L.f. Sterculiaceae 69 Clerodendrum viscosum Verbenaceae Vent. 70 Duranta repens L. Verbenaceae 71 Nyctanthes Verbenaceae arbortristis L. 72 Cissus quadrangularis L. Vitaceae 73 Curcuma zedoaria Zingiberaceae (Christm.) Roscoe 74 Zingiber officinale Zingiberaceae Roscoe Serial Local Name Plant part Number utilized 1 Alot Leaf 2 Dojogopy Leaf 3 Mimang-khache Root, seed 4 Jikkha Leaf 5 Theghace Bark, fruit 6 Mishichel Whole plant 7 Kolshe-phool Bark, seed 8 Thajhang Stem 9 Kochu Stem 10 Doodh-kochu Whole plant 11 Ghua Root 12 Taal-phang Leaf, fruit, gum 13 Narikhol Fruit 14 Phool-kure Whole plant 15 Rifjhe Whole plant 16 Gendha-phang Whole plant 17 Bolchu Root 18 Annarhos Leaf, fruit 19 S hijhu-kantha Whole plant 20 Dathon Leaf, bark 21 Modhu Leaf, fruit, gum 22 Oorjun-phang Leaf, bark 23 Bainnajhan Whole plant 24 Dhool-kolme Stem, gum 25 Shakkhapang Seed 26 S hunhalota Whole plant 27 Shal-phang Leaf 28 Amloke-phang Fruit 29 Tamachul Tuber 30 Mehndher Leaf, seed 31 Akad-bijakh Leaf 32 Bhandhor-late Leaf, fruit 33 Jhejhe Leaf 34 Genhache Seed 35 Ambe-miocchup Whole plant 36 B ilhai-chimte Leaf 37 Tintle Fruit, seed 38 Tulshe-phang Leaf, seed 39 Mimang-thamache Root 40 Mehendhe Leaf, stem 41 Dahlum-phang Leaf 42 Joyhba Whole plant, 43 Kakkhu Leaf 44 Uha-phang Seed 45 Nimmho Leaf, bark 46 Poddho-guloncho Whole plant 47 Prup Leaf 48 Ladhum Fruit 49 Sheola-phang Leaf 50 Khonjhon Leaf 51 Thirikh-phang Fruit 52 Hobirham Leaf, fruit, seed 53 Jayham Bark, seed 54 Aphlak Whole plant 55 Kamarangha Fruit 56 Paan Leaf, petiole 57 Todhah-woah Leaf, root 58 Shame-cheng Whole plant 59 Memang-ballat Leaf, whole plant 60 Ponkhe-raaz Whole plant 61 Khankare Leaf, fruit 62 Belate-phang Leaf, fruit 63 Jhambura Fruit 64 Saam-rhefhu Whole plant 65 Dhutra-phang Leaf, seed 66 Bharhing Leaf 67 Khumka Leaf, root 68 Ulot-kombol Leaf, root 69 Maccha-moggul Leaf 70 Kata-mehendhe Leaf, bark, fruit 71 Sheuly-phang Leaf, flower, seed 72 Haarzora Whole plant 73 Ramane-sham Tuber 74 Hiiching Rhizome Serial Ailment(s) treated [Administration, O = oral, Number T = topical] 1 Cough, pneumonia, asthma. Leaf juice is used against cough, pneumonia and asthma [O]. 2 Bone fracture and fracture-associated pain. Leaf paste is applied to area of fracture [T]. 3 Snake bite, diabetes, gonorrhea. Root is used for snake bite and diabetes [O]. Seed is used for gonorrhea [O]. 4 Urinary problems. Leaf is taken as diuretic [O]. 5 Influenza, helminthiasis. The green fruit is used against influenza [O]. The bark is used against helminthic infections [O]. 6 Dysentery, intestinal pain. Whole plant juice is used against dysentery and intestinal pain [O]. 7 Mental disorders. A combination of bark and seed paste is taken for mental disorders [O]. 8 Skin diseases (scabies, eczema, itches). Juice obtained from stem is used against skin diseases [T]. 9 Cuts and wounds. Juice obtained from stems is used to stop bleeding from cuts and wounds [T]. 10 Pain. Crushed whole plant is used to reduce pain [T]. 11 Constipation, helminthiasis. The juice of young root is used for treatment of constipation [O]. Root juice is used for treatment of helminthiasis [O]. 12 Debility, insomnia. Fruit juice or gum from the plant is used for treatment of debility [O]. Leaf juice is taken for treatment of insomnia [O]. 13 Skin diseases, skin spots, diarrhea. The green fruit's cores are used to treat skin disease and skin spots [T]. Water present within the fruit (coconut water) is used for treatment of diarrhea [O]. 14 Insect repellent, wounds, itches. Paste of the whole plant is used as an insect repellent and for treatment of wounds and itches [T]. 15 Cuts and wounds (to stop bleeding). Paste of whole plant is used to stop bleeding [T]. 16 Cuts and wounds (to stop bleeding). Paste of the whole plant is applied to stop bleeding [T]. 17 Urinary calculus, loss of libido. Root is used for treatment of urinary calculus [O]. Root is also used to increase sexual ability [O]. 18 Fever, helminthiasis, jaundice. Fruit is used against fever [O]. Leaf juice used against helminthiasis and jaundice [O]. 19 Bone fracture, to induce hallucinations. Whole plant paste is applied to bone fractures [T]. Whole plant juice is taken to induce hallucinations [O]. 20 Gonorrhea, toothache. Leaf juice is used against gonorrhea [O]. Bark is used against toothache [T]. 21 Dysentery, ring worm. Fruit is used against dysentery [O]. A combination of gum and leaf paste is used against ring worm [T]. 22 Heart disease, dysentery, diarrhea, jaundice. Bark powder is taken for heart disease (chest pain, abnormal heart beatings and palpitations are taken as symptoms of heart ailment), dysentery and diarrhea [O]. Leaf juice is taken for jaundice [O]. 23 S mall pox, skin diseases. Paste of the whole plant is used against small-pox and skin diseases [T]. 24 Antidote to poison. A combination of gum and stem paste is used as antidote to poison [O]. 25 Abortifacient. The seed is taken as an abortifacient [O]. 26 Sexual diseases. Juice from whole plant is taken for sexual diseases [O]. 27 Urinary problems. Leaf paste is taken as diuretic [O]. 28 To increase taste, jaundice, gastric problems, indigestion. Fruits are consumed [O]. 29 Feeling of tiredness, uneasy feeling while working, dizziness during work, fainting when without food. Tuber is taken when the above symptoms appear [O]. 30 Diabetes, energy stimulant. Leaf juice is used against diabetes [O]. Seed paste is used as energy stimulant [O]. 31 Ring worm. Leaf paste is used against ring worm [T]. 32 Cancer, injury, dermatitis. Fruit paste is used for cancer [O]and injuries [T]. Leaf paste is used against dermatitis [T]. Note that the Garo healers do not have any diagnostic procedures for diagnosis of cancer. Cancer is defined by them as prolonged weakness, loss of appetite, fever, itches that do not heal, or swellings, and which cannot be attributed to any of their known ailments. The term cancer' has probably been picked up from intermixing with allopathic doctors for there is no equivalent Garo word(s) for the disease. 33 Urinary problems. Leaf juice is taken as diuretic [O]. 34 Low sperm count. Seed is taken to increase sperm [O]. 35 Gynecological problems, sex stimulant. Juice from crushed whole plant is taken to treat gynecological problems, as well as sex stimulant [O]. 36 Skin diseases. Leaf paste is used for skin diseases [T]. 37 Fever, to stop vomiting, asthma. The fruit is used against fever [O]. The fruit pulp is used to stop vomiting [O]. Seed is used against asthma [O]. 38 Cough, fever, bronchitis, diabetes, indigestion. A combination of leaf and seed juice is used for cough, fever, bronchitis, diabetes, and indigestion [O]. Note that diabetes is diagnosed by Garo healers by the sweetness of urine accompanied by fatigue. 39 Snake bite, wounds. Paste of the root is used against snake bite and wounds [T]. 40 Eczema, leprosy, jaundice. Paste of stem is used against eczema and leprosy [T]. Leaf juice is used against jaundice [O]. 41 Onycomycosis (fungal infection of the nail). Newly formed leaf paste is used for oncomycosis [T]. 42 Dysentery, debility. Paste of whole plant is taken for dysentery [O]. Leaf juice is taken for debility [O]. 43 Urinary problems. Leaf juice is taken as diuretic [O]. 44 Skin diseases. The oil of seed is used for skin diseases [T]. 45 Fever, chicken pox, measles, skin diseases. Leaf juice is used for fever, pox and measles [O]. A combination of leaf and bark paste is used against skin diseases [T]. 46 Hypertension (identified by dizziness, pain in head and neck), diabetes, snake bite. Paste of the whole plant is used for treatment of hypertension, diabetes and snake bites [O]. 47 Dysentery. Young leaf juice is used against dysentery [O]. 48 Diabetes. The fruit is consumed as treatment for diabetes [O]. 49 Asthma. Leaf juice is used against asthma [O]. 50 Diabetes. Leaf juice is taken for diabetes [O]. 51 Dysentery, warts. Fruit is used as a dietary item for treatment of dysentery [O]. The skin of fruit is used for treatment of warts [T]. 52 Toothache, acne, diabetes. Leaf is used against toothache [T]. Leaf paste is used against acne [T]. A combination of seed and fruit is used for treatment of diabetes [O]. 53 Diabetes. A combination of seed and bark is used for treatment of diabetes [O]. 54 Indigestion, diabetes. Paste of the whole plant is taken as treatment for indigestion and diabetes [O]. 55 Diarrhea, vomiting, influenza. Fruit is taken as treatment for diarrhea and influenza and to stop vomiting [O]. 56 Bronchitis, antidote to poison, indigestion. A combination of leaf and petiole paste is used against bronchitis, indigestion, and as antidote to poison [O]. 57 Urinary infection, menstrual disorder. Leaf is used for treatment of urinary infection [O]. Root is used for treatment of menstrual disorder [O]. 58 Cuts and wounds. Paste of the whole plant is used against cuts and wounds to stop bleeding [T]. 59 Menstrual pain, cuts and wounds (to stop bleeding), insect repellent. Leaf juice is taken to reduce menstrual pain [O]. Leaf paste is used to stop bleeding [T]. The whole plant is used to stop pest attack on storage grain. 60 Debility, jaundice. Paste of the whole plant is taken for treatment of debility and jaundice [O]. 61 Influenza, cough, dysentery pain. Green fruits are used for treatment of influenza and cough [O]. Young leaf paste is used for treatment of dysentery pain [O]. 62 Constipation, dysentery, indigestion, pain. The fruit is taken for constipation, dysentery or indigestion [O]. Leaf paste is applied to reduce pain [T]. 63 Skin diseases (scabies, eczema, itches). Fruit juice is applied as treatment for skin diseases [T]. 64 Sex stimulant, indigestion. Paste of the whole plant is taken for indigestion and as a sex stimulant [O]. 65 Mental disorders. A combination of leaf and seed paste is used for treatment of mental disorders [O]. 66 Lice. Leaf paste is used to get rid of lice [T]. 67 Asthma, diabetes, hypertension. A combination of leaf and root juice is used against asthma, diabetes and hypertension [O]. 68 Diabetes, sexual disorder. Leaf juice is used for diabetes [O]. Root juice is used for sexual disorder [O]. 69 Lice infections. Leaf juice is used against lice [T]. 70 Malaria. The fruit is used against malarial fever. In the absence of fruit, leaf or bark is also administered for malaria [O]. 71 Constipation in children, fever. The flower or seed is used to treat constipation of children [O]. Leaf juice is used against fever [O]. 72 Wounds, sprains. Paste of the whole plant is applied to wounds and sprains [T]. 73 Sprain, dermatitis. Tuber paste is used against sprain, and dermatitis [T]. 74 Coughs, to reduce vomiting, gastric problems. Rhizome paste is taken for cough, to reduce vomiting, and gastric problems [O]. Table 2: Reported pharmacological activities of some plants used by the Garo tribal healers of Netrakona district, Bangladesh Serial Scientific name Reported pharmacological activities number of plant or plant parts (as of Table 1) 1 Adhatoda vasica Presence of a bronchodilator alkaloid Nees (vasicinone) in the plant (Amin, 1959); protection by alkaloids present in the plant against allergen-induced bronchial obstruction in guinea pigs (Dorsch, 1991); bronchodilator action of 6,7,8,9,10,12-hexahydro-azepino-[2,1-b]- quinazoline-12-one, a chemically modified compound of the alkaloid vasicine obtained from the plant (Johri, 2000); anti-inflammatory activity of alkaloid fraction obtained from the plant as demonstrated in modified hen's egg chorioallantoic membrane test (Chakraborty, 2001) beneficial role of the plant in obstructive airway diseases including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cystic fibrosis (Sharafkhaneh, et al, 2007). 3 Achyranthes Powdered whole plant as well as aqueous aspera L. and methanol extracts decreased blood glucose levels in normal and alloxan diabetic rabbits (Akhtar, 1991). 5 Mangifera Anthelminthic and anti-allergic indica L. properties present in aqueous extract of stem bark as well as mangiferin (the major polyphenol present in the extract) as demonstrated in mice experimentally infected with the nematode, Trichinella spiralis (Garcia, et al, 2003). 6 Centella Reported healing effects of aqueous asiatica (L.) extract of the plant and asiaticoside (an Urb. active constituent of the water extract) on acetic acid-induced gastric ulcers in rats (Cheng, et al, 2004); protective effect of fresh juice of the plant against ethanol-, aspirin-, cold restraint stress-and pyloric ligation induced gastric ulcers in rats (Sairam, et al, 2001); inhibited formation of gastric lesions and decreased myeloperoxidase activity obtained with administration of plant extract in ethanol-induced gastric mucosal lesions in rats (Cheg, 2000); in vitro and in vivo wound healing activity of asiaticoside isolated from the plant in guinea pigs and streptozotocin (STZ) diabetic rats (Shukla, et al, 1999). 10 Typhonium Analgesic activity of plant extract as giganteum Engl. demonstrated in receptor binding assays with three neuropeptide receptors--bradykinin II expressed in Chinese hamster ovary cells, neurokinin I expressed in astrocytoma cells, and calcitonin gene related peptide (Sampson, et al, 2000). 13 Cocos nucifera Used in Mexico to treat gastrointestinal L. disorders, reported anti-bacterial activity of crude extract against various enteropathogenic bacteria (Alanis, et al, 2005); husk fiber used in northeastern Brazil traditional medicine for treatment of diarrhea, aqueous extract of husk fiber (containing polyphenolic compounds) demonstrated anti-microbial activity against Staphylococcus aureus (Esquenazi, et al, 2002); reportedly, water from young coconut can be used in children with mild diarrheal disease (Adams, 1992). 14 Ageratum Hematopoietic potential observed in conyzoides L. albino rats with ethanolic leaf extract of the plant (Ita et al, 2007); coumarin, isolated from the plant showed insecticidal activity against Diaphania hyalinata, Musca domestica, Periplaneta americana, and Rhyzopertha dominica (Moreira, et al, 2007); larvicidal activity of oil from the plant against Aedes aegypti larva (de Mendonca, et al, 2005); anti-bacterial and wound healing properties reported in methanol extracts of the plant (Chah, et al, 2006) and plant leaves (Oladejo, et al, 2003) in rats; analgesic properties reported in leaf juice extract when administered to Wistar rats using hot plate method and writhing syndrome induced by acetic acid (Abena, et al, 1993); anti-bacterial properties reported for crude extracts from the plant (Durodola, 1977). 15 Mikania cordata Analgesic activity demonstrated through (Burm.f.) B. L. inhibition of acetic acid-induced Robinson writhing in mice by crude extract of the plant and a sesquiterpene dilactone, deoxymikanolide isolated from the plant (Ahmed, et al, 2001). 21 Carica papaya Anti-microbial activity of meat, seed and L. pulp of unripe fruit against several enteropathogens--Bacillus subtilis, Enterobacter cloacae, Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhi, Staphylococcus aureus, Proteus vulgaris, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Klebsiella pneumoniae (Osato, et al, 1993). 22 Terminalia Inhibitory effects of ethanolic bark arjuna (Roxb. extract on platelet activation in vitro ex DC.) Wight & in healthy subjects and patients with Arn. coronary artery disease (Malik, et al, 2009); protective effect of butanolic bark extract against doxorubicin-induced cardiotoxicity in male Wistar rats (Singh, et al, 2008); review on the bark of the plant as exerting inotropic and hypotensive effect, increasing coronary artery flow and protecting myocardium against ischemic damage (Dwivedi, 2007); protection of rabbit heart by bark of the plant against ischemic-reperfusion injury (Gauthaman, et al, 2005); cardioprotective effect of alcoholic extract of bark against isoproterenol- induced myocardial injury (Karthikeyan, et al, 2003); administration of bark extract led to improvements in clinical and treadmill exercise parameters in patients with stable angina with provocable ischemia on treadmill exercise (Bharani, et al, 2002); significant cardiac protection against isoproterenol- induced myocardial necrosis in rats by arjunolic acid, a triterpene present in bark (Sumitra, et al, 2001); augmentation by dried pulverized bark of endogenous anti-oxidant compounds in rat heart and prevention of oxidative stress associated with ischemic-reperfusion injury of the heart (Gauthaman, et al, 2001). Protective effect of methanolic extract of the plant against Helicobacter pylori 26695 lipopolysaccharide-induced gastric ulcer in rats (Devi, et al, 2008); gastroprotective effect of bark on diclofenac sodium induced gastric ulcer (Devi, et al, 2007); protective effect of aqueous extract of the plant against carbon tetrachloride induced hepatic and renal disorders (Manna, et al, 2006). 23 Argyreia Anti-microbial activity present in speciosa (L.f.) flavanoid sulfates and other fractions of Sweet the plant (Habbu, et al, 2009); immunomodulatory activity in mice on administration of ethanolic extract of root (Gokhale, et al, 2003). 26 Cuscuta reflexa Anti-bacterial activity in methanol Roxb. extract of stem (Pal, et al, 2006). 28 Emblica Enteroprotective efficacy of Triphala, a officinalis herbal preparation, (one of its Gaertn. constituents being the fruit of Emblica officinalis) against methotrexate-induced small intestinal damage in rats (Nariya, et al, 2009); ameliorative effect of aqueous extract of the plant against ochratoxin-induced toxicity in liver and kidney of mice (Verma, 2008); suppression of carcinogen-induced response in rat liver by methanolic fruit extract, (Sultana, et al, 2008); protective effect against antitubercular drugs-induced hepatic damage in rats, (Panchabhai, et al, 2008); healing effects of ethanol extract of the plant against indomethacin-induced gastric ulceration in rats, (Bhattacharya, et al, 2007); protective effects of extract of the plant against ethanol-induced rat hepatic injury (Pramyothin, et al, 2006); hepatoprotective effect of oral administration of methanolic extract of the plant against acute liver damage induced by carbon tetrachloride in rats (Lee, et al, 2006); protective effect of a 50% hydroalcoholic fruit extract against anti-tuberculosis drugs-induced liver toxicity (Tasduq, et al, 2005); amelioration of hyperthyroidism and hepatic lipid peroxidation induced by L-thyroxine by ethanolic extract of fruits in mice, (Panda, 2003). Analgesic and anti-pyretic effects of ethanol and aqueous extracts of the plant in mice (Perianayagam, et al, 2004); gastroprotective effects of ethanol extract of fruit in different experimental models in rats including pylorus ligation Shay rats, indomethacin-, and hypothermic restraint stress-induced gastric ulcer (Al-Rehaily, et al, 2002); anti-ulcerogenic effect of methanolic extract of the plant against different acute gastric ulcer models in rats induced by aspirin, ethanol, cold restraint stress pyloric ligation and healing effect in chronic gastric ulcers in rats induced by acetic acid (Sairam, et al, 2002). 29 Manihot Cassava has good carbohydrate content and esculenta can be a potential source of energy in Crantz. cases of feeling of tiredness, uneasy feeling while working, dizziness during work, and fainting when without food (Okezie, 1982). Note that the Garo healers lack access to oral glucose solutions in their forest habitat. 30 Cajanus cajan Anti-oxidant activity due to presence of (L.) Millsp. polyphenols in the plant, which can be useful protection against diabetes (Saxena, et al, 2007); used in the ancient Ayurvedic system of medicine in India against diabetes, (Grover, et al, 2002); used in Panamanian folk medicine for treatment of diabetes, aqueous fraction of the plant demonstrated hypoglycemic activity in glucose tolerance test in mice, (Esposito, et al, 1991). 31 Cassia alata L. Used in herbal preparations of Nigeria against skin diseases (Ajose, 2007); broad spectrum anti-microbial activity reported for methanol extracts of leaves, flowers, stem and root barks of the plant (Khan, et al, 2001) and ethanol extract of leaves, including high activity against various species of dermatophytic fungi, (Ibrahim, 1995); anti-fungal activity reported for leaf extract (Palanichamy, 1990). 32 Cassia fistula Anti-parasitic activity of biochanin A, L. an isolated isoflavone from fruits of the plant (Sartorelli, et al, 2009); reported anti-bacterial and anti-fungal activity in various extracts of flowers (Duraipandiyan, 2007); infected dermal wound healing potential demonstrated in albino rats by alcohol extract of leaves (Senthil, et al, 2006); anti-tumor activity of methanolic extract of seed against Ehrlich ascites carcinoma (Gupta, et al, 2000). 40 Lawsonia Anti-bacterial activity present in hot inermis L. aqueous and methanolic extracts of the plant (Ghosh, et al, 2008), as well as ethanolic extracts (Aqil, 2007); reported anti-mycotic activity (Henna, ); anti-microbial activity reported for fresh and dry leaves and seeds (Habbal, et al, 2005); fungitoxic activity of bark extract against 13 ring worm fungi (Singh, 1989); an anti-fungal agent, 2-hydroxy-1,4-naphthoquinone isolated from leaves of the plant, which exhibited wide fungitoxic spectrum (Tripathi, et al, 1978). Hepatoprotective activity of an ethanol-water (1:1) extract of the plant demonstrated against carbon tetrachloride-induced liver toxicity in mice, (Anand, et al, 1992). 41 Punica granatum An anti-fungal peptide, pomegranin L. isolated from fruit peels, (Guo, et al, 2009); reported anti-microbial (Vasconcelos, et al, 2006; Holetz, et al, 2002) and anti-fungal effects (Vasconcelos, et al, 2003; Duttta, et al, 1998). 45 Azadirachta Immunomodulatory, anti-inflammatory, indica A. Juss. anti-hyperglycemic, anti-ulcer, anti-malarial, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-oxidant, anti-mutagenic and anti-carcinogenic properties present in various parts of the plant (Subapriya, 205); anti-dermatophytic activity present in leaf and seed extracts (Natarajan, et al, 2002); reported efficacy of plant paste for treatment of scabies (Charles, 1992). 46 Tinospora Used in Indian traditional medicinal cordifolia systems for diabetes, hypertension, (Willd.) jaundice, rheumatism, common cold and Hook.f. & skin diseases (Gowrishankar, et al, Thoms. 2009). 48 Ficus racemosa a-Amyrin acetate, isolated from fruits L. reportedly demonstrated in vivo hyperglycemic activity in sucrose challenged streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats (Narender, et al, 2009); reported glucose lowering efficacy of methanol extract of stem bark in normal and alloxan-induced diabetic rats (Bhaskara, et al, 2002). 50 Moringa Used in Indian traditional medicine oleifera Lam. against diabetes, hypoglycemic and anti-diabetic effects observed with aqueous extract of leaves in normal and streptozotocin-induced sub, mild and severely diabetic rats (Jaiswal, et al, 2009); plant extract containing a bio-active component, quercetin-3-glucoside demonstrated ameliorating effect for glucose intolerance in Wistar rats and Goto-Kakizaki rats (Ndong, et al, 2007); used in Senegalese traditional medicine for treatment of diabetes (Dieye, et al, 2008); hypoglycemic activity of ethanolic extracts in alloxan diabetic rats (Kar, et al, 2003). 53 Syzygium cumini Used for treatment of diabetes in (L.) Skeels Brazilian traditional medicine, aqueous leaf extract of the plant reportedly inhibited adenosine deaminase activity and reduced glucose levels in hyperglycemic patients (Bopp, et al, 2009); ferulic acid, present in ethanolic extract of seed has been shown to have hypoglycemic, anti-oxidative, and pancreatic b-cell regenerative effect in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats (Mandal, et al, 2008); a-glucosidase inhibitory of seed kernel extract in vitro and in Goto-Kakizaki rats (Shinde, et al, 2008); administration of ethanolic extract of seed powder to alloxan diabetic rats led to decreased blood sugar and improvements in pancreatic islets (Singh, 2007). 56 Piper betle L. Gastric ulcer healing action of allylpyrocatechol (a component of the plant) against indomethacin-induced stomach ulceration in mice (Yadav, et al, 2009) and rat (Bhattacharya, et al, 2007). 62 Aegle marmelos Analgesic activity of methanol extract of (L.) Corr. leaves against acetic acid-induced writhing and tail flick test in mice (Shankarananth, et al, 2007); chloroform extract of root demonstrated inhibition of Vibrio cholerae, Escherichia coli and Shigella spp. in vitro and also inhibited castor oil-induced diarrhea in rats (Mazumder, et al, 2006); unripe fruit extract demonstrated gastroprotective effect against gastric mucosal damage in rats induced by absolute ethanol, as well as inhibited castor oil-induced intestinal transit and accumulation of intestinal fluids in mice (Dhuley, 2003); anti-inflammatory, anti-pyretic and analgesic properties of leaf extract as demonstrated by inhibition of carrageenan-induced paw edema and cotton-pellet granuloma in rats, reduction of early and late phases of paw licking in mice, and reduction of hyperpyrexia in rats (Arul, et al, 2005); inhibition of castor oil-induced diarrhea in mice by aqueous and methanolic extracts of unripe fruits (Shoba, 2001). 67 Solanum torvum Ethanolic extract of the plant prevented Swartz the development of high blood pressure induced by a diet rich in fructose in rats (Mohan, et al, 2009). 68 Abroma augusta A combination of aqueous extract of dried L.f. powder of root and leaves of Abroma augusta and Azadirachta indica lowered blood sugar in alloxan diabetic rats when administered orally (Halim, 2003). 70 Duranta repens Inhibitory action of ethyl acetate and L. aqueous extracts of fruits reported against Plasmodium berghei, (Castro, 1996). 71 Nyctanthes Chloroform and ethyl acetate extracts of arbortristis L. flowers demonstrated anti-bacterial activity against several gram-positive and gram-negative microorganisms (Khatune, 2001); immunostimulant activity observed in mice fed with 50% ethanolic extract of seeds, flowers and leaves (Puri, et al, 1 994); analgesic and anti-pyretic activity in water soluble portion of an ethanol extract of leaves (Saxena, et al, 1987). 72 Cissus Analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects quadrangularis reported of the methanol extract of the L. plant in mice and rats, respectively (Panthong, et al, 2007). 74 Zingiber Hydroethanol extract of the plant officinale demonstrated inhibitory activities Roscoe against Helicobacter pylori (causative agent of acute and chronic gastritis), and Campylobacter jejuni (common cause of enteric infections, particularly among children, which results in severe diarrhea)124; reported bactericidal and anti-adhesive properties (assessed by inhibition of binding of four strains of FITC-labeled Helicobacter pylori to stomach sections) of aqueous extracts observed against Helicobacter pylori (O'Mahony, et al, 2005).