A comparative analysis of medicinal plants used to treat gastrointestinal disorders in two sub-districts of Greater Khulna Division, Bangladesh.
The Indian sub-continent, which comprises of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan have a rich tradition of medicinal practices. Besides the comparatively newer practices of allopathic and homeopathic medicines, traditional medicinal practices include Ayurvedic, Unani and the Sidha systems of medicine. Dating back thousands of years ago, these three systems have become institutionalized with their specific medicinal books and customized practices. Other than the before-mentioned systems, another system exists, which can be termed as folk medicine, which is practiced by folk medicinal practitioners of various villages and tribes who are known as Kavirajes, Vaidyas or Ojhas in Bangladesh (note that Ayurvedic medicinal practitioners are also known as Kavirajes or Vaidyas; Ojhas generally apply to practitioners of tribal groups like the Santals) depending on the region. The Kavirajes practice a much simpler form of treatment with medicinal plants where a simple decoction or paste of the plant is usually used orally or topically for treatment of a given ailment. As a general rule, the folk medicinal practitioners avoid complex mixtures of plants or plant parts as well as elaborate formulations and preparations. The medicinal plant knowledge of the Kavirajes is kept closely guarded and passed on from generation to generation within the immediate family.
The folk medicinal practitioners do not have their own medicinal books or follow any standardized customs. As a result, the selection of a medicinal plant by a Kaviraj for treatment of any specific ailment is unique to the Kavirajes, and varies considerably between Kavirajes of a particular area or even villages (Nawaz, A.H. Md., 2009; Mia, Md. M.K., 2009; Hossan, Md. S., 2009). To get a comprehensive view of the medicinal plants used in folk medicinal treatments, one has therefore, go to Kavirajes of a particular area and interview them on their choice of plants. The attainment of such knowledge is important for a number of reasons. The first is that any individual Kavirajes' knowledge of medicinal plants is the result of accumulation of such knowledge over successive generations; as a result, the Kaviraj comes to possess substantial expertise on medicinal plants that he or she uses in his or her routine practices. A second reason is that through interviewing Kavirajes of different regions, one can build up a data-base of various plants used to treat any specific ailment. This knowledge or data-base is important for it can provide valuable guidance for further modern scientific studies on any plant in question. It may be pointed out in this regard that even of to-date a number of modern drug discoveries have been based on medicinal plants used by indigenous people (Balick, J.M. and P.A. Cox, 1996). It has been further reported that about 64% of the total world population uses traditional medicine to satisfy their health-care needs (Cotton, C.M., 1996). The number of papers published in ethnobotanical or traditional medicinal scientific journals attest to the fact that scientists are getting increasingly interested in ethnobotanical practices of indigenous people as a strategy for discovery of novel drugs against both ancient and newly emerging diseases.
The objective of the present survey was to conduct an ethnomedicinal survey among the Kavirajes of Paikgacha and Rampal sub-districts (lying respectively in Khulna and Bagerhat districts of Khulna Division) on medicinal plants used for treatment of gastrointestinal disorders or symptoms. Khulna and Bagerhat district adjoins each other; in fact they were not too long ago considered as a single district. Both districts lie in the south-western part of Bangladesh, contains major portions of the Sunderbans forest (with its rich diversity of mangrove species), have similar floral and faunal species and similar climatic conditions. In other aspects, the districts are akin to each other in that they are in close proximity to the Bay of Bengal and contain substantial amount of estuarine areas. The livelihood of the people is similar in Paikgacha and Rampal, both being subdistricts with agriculture as the main occupation. A large number of people from both survey areas use the Sunderbans forest to collect wood, fish, honey, and other forest products. A second objective of the study was to analyze any differences noted in the medicinal plants used in the two areas surveyed.
Materials and Methods
Area of survey
Paikgacha sub-district is a part of Khulna district and lies approximately between 89[degrees]15 - 89[degrees]25 E and 22[degrees]28 - 22[degrees]43 N. The annual average temperature of Khulna district ranges between a minimum of 12.5[degrees]C to a maximum of 35.5[degrees]C. Annual rainfall of Khulna district averages 1710 mm. The main occupation is agriculture and agricultural laborer and the main crops are paddy, jute, and vegetables. Rampal sub-district is a part of Bagerhat district and lies approximately between 89[degrees]35 - 89[degrees]55 E and 22[degrees]30 - 22[degrees]42 N. The annual average temperature of Bagerhat district ranges between a minimum of 12.5[degrees]C to a maximum of 33.5[degrees]C. Annual rainfall of Bagerhat district averages 1710 mm. The main occupation is agriculture and agricultural laborer and the main crops are paddy, jute, sugar cane and potatoes.
Data collection and mode of survey
Extensive interviews were conducted of the Kavirajes with the help of a semi-structured questionnaire. A group of Kavirajes were chosen in both Paikgacha and Rampal area based on questioning common people of the two areas and noting down which Kavirajes were most frequently visited by them. Prior to the actual survey, in preliminary meetings with the Kavirajes, a list of gastrointestinal disorders or symptoms were prepared, which were the common gastrointestinal disorders treated by the Kavirajes in the two survey areas. Informed consent was obtained from each Kaviraj prior to the actual questioning. The Kavirajes were informed as to the purpose of the survey and consent obtained from them that the data may be disseminated in national or international conferences and scientific journals. The basic survey method followed was that of Martin (1995) and Maundu (1995), which is known as the guided field-walk method. In this method, the Kavirajes took the interviewers through guided field-walks to places from where they usually collected their medicinal plants. Plants were pointed out by the Kavirajes and local names and gastrointestinal disorders treated by the plants were given along with plant parts used and any other information, which the Kavirajes considered important. All data were cross-checked with the Kavirajes in later informal sessions attended by Kavirajes and any other interested people of the area. Plant specimens as pointed out by the Kavirajes were collected, pressed and dried on the field. All plant species collected were identified at the Bangladesh National Herbarium.
The various gastrointestinal disorders or symptoms treated by the Kavirajes of Paikgacha and Rampal area can be generally categorized as follows: indigestion, constipation, diarrhea, flatulence, piles (hemorrhoids leading to passing of blood in stool), helminthiasis (presence of intestinal worms), colic, and gastritis. A total of 20 plant species distributed into 20 families were found to be used in Paikgacha area while 19 plants distributed into 12 families were used by Kavirajes of Rampal area for treatment of gastrointestinal disorders. The results are summarized in Table 1. Taking both areas under consideration, the Asteraceae and the Fabaceae families provided the largest number of plant species contributing four plants from each family.
Whole plants as well as plant parts like leaf, stem, root, bark, fruit, flower, seed, and gum were used for treatment. The usual mode of treatment was extracting juice from crushed whole plant or plant parts followed by administration of the juice orally till cure. The Kavirajes did not provide any information on the amount of juice to be administered from any particular plant or plant part on grounds that it would hurt their interests if this information is known by others. The percent of use of whole plant or plant parts differed somewhat between Paikgacha and Rampal and is shown in Table 2. The differences were not great for use of whole plant, leaf, fruit, or seed. However, the use of bark was 17.6% at Paikgacha and 9.7% at Rampal. Flowers constituted 2.9% of total use at Paikgacha, while it was 6.5% at Rampal. Interestingly, the Kavirajes of Paikgacha did not use roots or gum of any plant in their preparations; the Kavirajes of Rampal did not use the stem of any plant in their preparations.
The most significant finding of the present survey was that the plant species used for treatment of various gastrointestinal disorders differed totally between the Kavirajes of Paikgacha and Rampal even though the two areas are in close proximity to each other, contains identical floral species, and have similar climatic conditions. The one plant that was commonly used by Kavirajes of both regions was Scoparia dulcis (Family: Scrophulariaceae). Even then, the Kavirajes of Paikgacha used the leaves, roots and seeds of the plant to treat dysentery, diarrhea, and colic. Interestingly, the Kavirajes of Rampal used the whole plant to treat constipation, which is the opposite of diarrhea or dysentery. Other than that, the differences between uses of plants in the two areas surveyed differed to the extent of dissimilarity not only in plant species and genera but also continued to plant family level. For instance, the Kavirajes of Paikgacha used the plants Pterocarpus santalinus, Moringa oleifera, Mirabilis jalapa, Zizyphus mauritiana, Nicotiana alata, and Cissus quadrangularis for treatment of indigestion. The above plants belong, respectively, to Fabaceae, Moringaceae, Nyctaginaceae, Rhamnaceae, Solanaceae, and Vitaceae families. On the other hand, the Kavirajes of Rampal used the plants Andrographis paniculata, Eclipta alba, Cuscuta reflexa, and Tamarindus indica for treatment of indigestion. These plants belong, respectively, to the Acanthaceae, Asteraceae, Cuscutaceae, and Fabaceae families. The Fabaceae family was common in this instance; however, the plant species belonging to this family and used by the Kavirajes differed between Paikgacha and Rampal. With the exception of indigestion, the other gastrointestinal ailments treated by the Kavirajes of Paikgacha and Rampal did not demonstrate a single instance of the same family plant species being used in common, let alone same genera or same plant species. The results are shown in Table 3.
A noteworthy feature of the present survey was the significant difference noticed between selections of plant species for treatment of the same ailment or symptom amongst Kavirajes of two areas in close proximity to each other. The expected finding would have been that given the similarities between geographical location, climatic conditions, socio-cultural factors, and common floral species, the plant species selected for treatment of any particular gastrointestinal disorder would be highly similar between Kavirajes of Paikgacha and Rampal. The actual findings indicate the contrary; not a single plant species was commonly used by the Kavirajes of Paikgacha and Rampal. Such differences have been observed before in other ethnobotanical studies. Etkins has also mentioned that even within small and apparently undifferentiated groups, heterogeneity exists as to perception of illness and mode of treatment (Etkins, N.L., 1993). Shepard demonstrated that the ethnobotany of two neighboring Amazonian peoples varies considerably in the use of essentially the same environment (Shepard, G., 2004). This brings forth the obvious question as to what leads a Kaviraj to select a plant in the first place for treatment of any ailment.
When queried on this point, the Kavirajes pointed to two possibilities. The first was that any individual Kaviraj would obtain his or her knowledge from somebody in his or her immediate family (usually father, mother, or uncle), who has practiced as a Kaviraj in the previous generation and this has continued for generations. Alternatively, the Kaviraj or his predecessor has obtained the requisite knowledge from a teacher whom they term as 'guru' in exchange for services or money. Once such knowledge is gained, it is closely guarded and not transferred to anybody except the children (who wishes to continue the generational practice) or to a disciple, who is also sworn to keep the knowledge exclusively to himself or herself. As a result, knowledge of medicinal plants becomes 'specialized' to a great extent. It is worth pointing out in this regard that the Kamba and Luo tribal traditional medicinal practitioners of Kenya also has been reported as owing their healing skills to training by knowledgeable kin, or buying such knowledge from a non-relative specialist (Owuor, B.O. and D.P. Kisangau, 2006). The second possibility behind the variations of medicinal plant selection between Kavirajes of different area that the Kavirajes pointed out is that they do not stop adding to their knowledge after their training period with a member of an earlier generation or a guru. They experiment with medicinal plants initially on cattle, later on upon their family members, and finally on patients. Thus the selection of medicinal plants is always an ongoing process, a fact also noted by other authors (Caniago, I. and S. Siebert, 1998; Garro, L.C., 1986; Trotter, R.T. and M.H. Logan, 1986). The basis for such experimentations is simple. For instance, bitter-tasting herbs or plants are usually experimented for treatment of diabetic patients. Red-leaved plants or red flowers are usually tested on women losing too much blood during menstruation. Occasionally, a plant may be chosen for its supposed similarity to a human organ, in which case the plant is experimented for any disorders related to that organ. It is not only that such experiments are conducted at present; the Kavirajes mentioned that their predecessors also experimented with plants and treatment of diseases. Over time, this has led to considerable diversification between plant species chosen by different Kavirajes for treatment of any given ailment.
The observed diversification of plant species between the Kavirajes of Paikgacha and Rampal to treat gastrointestinal disorders, which is a common occurrence throughout the country, highlights the importance of conducting ethnomedicinal surveys amongst Kavirajes of as many regions as possible throughout Bangladesh. It is possible that all plant species used by the Kavirajes may not prove suitable for treatment of the specific gastrointestinal ailment that they are used for by the Kavirajes. It is necessary to conduct proper scientific studies on the efficacy of a particular plant. On the other hand, the diversity of plant species used to treat gastrointestinal disorders provides a rich data-base from which potentially many lead compounds can be discovered to fight gastrointestinal disorders, which are prevalent throughout the world and particularly in developing countries like Bangladesh with improper hygienic conditions, poor sanitary systems, and lack of good quality potable water. If plants found in the common neighborhood or immediate vicinity can become a proven source for treatment of common sicknesses like gastrointestinal disorders, not only it can provide the patients with a cheap and accessible source of cure, but also spur efforts toward conservation of medicinal plants, which are fast becoming endangered throughout the world.
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(1) Mohammed Rahmatullah, (2) Md. Ariful Haque Mollik, (2) Alok Kumar Paul, (2) Rownak Jahan, (3) Mst. Afsana Khatun, (2) Syeda Seraj, Anita Rani Chowdhury, (2) A.B.M. Anwarul Bashar, (2) S.M. Riajul Wahab, (4) M. Taufiq-ur-Rahman
(2) Department of Biotechnology & Genetic Engineering, University of Development Alternative, Dhanmondi, Dhaka, Bangladesh.
(3) Present address: Dept. of Pharmacy, Lincoln College, Mayang Plaza, Block A, No 1, Jalan SS 26/2, Taman Mayang Jaya, 47301, Petaling Jaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
(4) Present address: 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 Email: email@example.com Fax: 88-02-8157339
Table 1: Medicinal plants used by Kavirajes in Paikgacha area, Khulna district and Rampal area, Bagerhat district, Bangladesh for treatment of gastrointestinal disorders Serial Scientific Name Family Name Local Name Number 1 Andrographis Acanthaceae Kalo-megh paniculata (Burm. f.) Wall. ex Nees 2 Hygrophila Acanthaceae Kulekhara-shak auriculata (Schumach.) Heine 3 Ruellia ciliosa Acanthaceae Chot-poti Pursh. 4 Thunbergia Acanthaceae Mahi-lota grandiflora Roxb. 5 Polyalthia Annonaceae Pankhi-raaz mossambicensis Vollesen 6 Philodendron selloum Araceae Gladiolus K. Koch 7 Calotropis gigantea Asclepiadaceae Akondo (L.) Ait.f. 8 Eclipta alba (L.) Asteraceae Khot-kushte Hassk. 9 Tagetes erecta L. Asteraceae Gada-phool 10 Vernonia cinerea Asteraceae Tula-urhi (L.) Less. 11 Xanthium italicum Asteraceae Heghra Moretti 12 Basella alba L. Basellaceae Pui-shak 13 Oroxylum indicum Bignoniaceae Hanghoal (L.) Vent. 14 Kalanchoe pinnata Crassulaceae Pathorkuchi (Lam.) Pers. 15 Momordica Cucurbitaceae Kakroal cochinchinensis (Lour.) Spreng. 16 Cuscuta reflexa Cuscutaceae Swornolota Roxb. 17 Dioscorea bulbifera Dioscoreaceae Matae-alu L. 18 Acalypha indica L. Euphorbiaceae Denari-shak 19 Excoecaria agallocha Euphorbiaceae Gewa L. 20 Caesalpinia bonduc Fabaceae Nata (L.) Roxb. 21 Cassia angustifolia Fabaceae Herangci Vahl. 22 Pterocarpus Fabaceae Rokto-chondon santalinus L.f. 23 Tamarindus indica L. Fabaceae Tetul-gach (L.) 24 Hyptis suaveolens Lamiaceae Tokma Poit. 25 Leucas aspera Lamiaceae Dron-pusphe (Willd.) Link 26 Cinnamomum tamala Lauraceae Tej-pata (Buch.-Ham.) Nees & Eberm. 27 Ficus carica L. Moraceae Tri-muki 28 Moringa oleifera Moringaceae Sajna Lam. 29 Ardisia solanacea Myrsinaceae Gota-gach Roxb. 30 Mirabilis jalapa L. Nyctaginaceae Shondha-maloti Peperomia pellucida 31 (L.) Kunth. Piperaceae Thosha-pata 32 Portulacaria afra Portulacaceae Jeet-gach (L.) Jacq. 33 Zizyphus mauritiana Rhamnaceae Borhoi Lam. 34 Nauclea latifolia Rubiaceae Jongli gulap-jam Sm. 35 Murraya koenigii Rutaceae Keri-pata (L.) Spreng 36 Scoparia dulcis L. Scrophulariaceae 1. Misri-dana 2. Jongli dhonia 37 Nicotiana alata Link Solanaceae Jongli-tamak & Otto 38 Cissus Vitaceae Haar-jora quadrangularis L. Serial Plant part(s) Ailment(s) Area of Number utilized treated use 1 Whole plant Indigestion. Rampal 2 Whole plant Constipation. Rampal 3 Whole plant Constipation. Rampal 4 Whole plant Intestinal disorders Paikgacha (colic, diarrhea). 5 Stem, bark Helminthiasis Paikgacha (infection by parasitic worm in the intestines). 6 Whole plant Helminthiasis. Paikgacha 7 Leaf, bark, Piles Rampal flower, gum (hemorrhoids). 8 Whole plant Indigestion. Rampal 9 Whole plant Flatulence Rampal (presence of excessive gas in the digestive tract). 10 Whole plant Flatulence. Paikgacha 11 Leaf, fruit Piles, colic Rampal (spasmodic pains in the abdomen). 12 Leaf, seed Flatulence. Paikgacha 13 Leaf, bark Diarrhea. Rampal 14 Leaf Diarrhea. Rampal 15 Fruit, seed Flatulence. Paikgacha 16 Whole plant Indigestion. Rampal 17 Leaf, fruit Diarrhea. Rampal 18 Leaf, root Diarrhea. Rampal 19 Leaf, bark Piles. Rampal 20 Leaf Helminthiasis, Rampal constipation. 21 Whole plant Flatulence. Rampal 22 Leaf, bark Indigestion. Paikgacha 23 Fruit, seed Gastritis (chronic Rampal or acute inflammation of the stomach), indigestion. 24 Leaf, bark Constipation. Paikgacha 25 Leaf, flower Colic. Rampal 26 Leaf, bark Colic. Paikgacha 27 Whole plant Flatulence. Paikgacha 28 Bark, fruit Indigestion. Paikgacha 29 Leaf, fruit Colic. Paikgacha 30 Leaf, flower Indigestion, Paikgacha constipation. 31 Whole plant Diarrhea. Rampal 32 Whole plant Stomach ache. Paikgacha 33 Leaf, fruit, seed Indigestion. Paikgacha 34 Leaf, bark, fruit Piles. Paikgacha 35 Leaf, fruit Flatulence. Paikgacha 36 1. Leaf, root, 1. Diarrhea, 1. Rampal seed dysentery, colic. 2. Paikgacha 2. Whole plant 2. Constipation. 37 Whole plant Indigestion. Paikgacha 38 Whole plant Indigestion. Paikgacha Table 2: Comparative use of whole plant or plant parts in Paikgacha and Rampal for treatment of gastrointestinal disorders Plant part Percent (%) of use Paikgacha Rampal Whole plant 23.5 25.8 Leaf 26.5 32.3 Stem 2.9 0 Root 0 6.5 Bark 17.6 9.7 Fruit 17.6 9.7 Flower 2.9 6.5 Seed 8.8 6.5 Gum 0 3.2 Table 3: Comparative analysis of medicinal plants and their families used by Kavirajes of Paikgacha and Rampal area for various types of gastrointestinal disorders and symptoms Ailments/ Paikgacha, Khulna Family Symptoms district Plant Indigestion Pterocarpus Fabaceae santalinus L.f. Moringaceae Moringa oleifera Nyctaginaceae Lam. Mirabilis Rhamnaceae jalapa L. Zizyphus Solanaceae mauritiana Lam. Vitaceae Nicotiana alata Link & Otto Cissus quadrangularis L. Constipation Hyptis suaveolens Lamiaceae (L.) Poit. Mirabilis Nyctaginaceae jalapa L. Scoparia Scrophulariaceae dulcis L. Dysentery, Thunbergia Acanthaceae diarrhea grandiflora Roxb. Flatulence Vernonia cinerea Asteraceae (L.) Less. Basella Basellaceae alba L. Momordica Cucurbitaceae cochinchinensis (Lour.) Spreng. Moraceae Ficus carica L. Rutaceae Murraya koenigii (L.) Spreng Piles Nauclea latifolia Rubiaceae (hemorrhoids) Sm. Helminthiasis Polyalthia mossambicensAnnonaceae Vollesen Philodendron selloum K.Araceae Colic Thunbergia Acanthaceae grandiflora Roxb. Lauraceae Cinnamomum tamala Myrsinaceae (Buch.-Ham.) Nees & Portulacaceae Eberm. Ardisia solanacea Roxb. Portulacaria afra (L.) Jacq. Gastritis Ailments/ Rampal, Bagerhat Family Symptoms district Plant Indigestion Andrographis Acanthaceae paniculata (Burm. f.) Wall. ex Nees Asteraceae Eclipta alba (L.) Cuscutaceae Hassk. Cuscuta Fabaceae reflexa Roxb. Tamarindus indica L. Constipation Hygrophila Acanthaceae auriculata (Schumach.) Heine Acanthaceae Ruellia ciliosa Fabaceae Pursh. Caesalpinia bonduc (L.) Roxb. Dysentery, Oroxylum indicum Bignoniaceae diarrhea (L.) Vent. Kalanchoe Crassulaceae pinnata (Lam.) Pers. Dioscoreaceae Dioscorea bulbifera Euphorbiaceae L. Acalypha indica Piperaceae L. Peperomia Scrophulariaceae pellucida (L.) Kunth. Scoparia dulcis L. Flatulence Tagetes erecta L. Asteraceae Cassia angustifolia Fabaceae Vahl. Piles Calotropis gigantea Asclepiadaceae (hemorrhoids) (L.) Ait.f. Xanthium Asteraceae italicum Moretti Euphorbiaceae Excoecaria agallocha L. Helminthiasis Caesalpinia bonduc (L.)Fabaceae Colic Xanthium italicum Asteraceae Moretti Leucas Lamiaceae aspera (Willd.) Link Gastritis Scoparia dulcis L. Scrophulariaceae Tamarindus indica L. Fabaceae
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|Title Annotation:||Original Article|
|Author:||Rahmatullah, Mohammed; Mollik, Ariful Haque; Paul, Alok Kumar; Jahan, Rownak; Khatun, Afsana; Seraj,|
|Publication:||Advances in Natural and Applied Sciences|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2010|
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