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A survey on the use of medicinal plants by folk medicinal practitioners in five villages of Boalia sub-district, Rajshahi district, Bangladesh.

Introduction

Folk medicine, otherwise known as traditional, complementary or alternative medicine, co-exists with modern allopathic medicine in every country of the world. In fact, a number of important drugs in use in allopathic medicine owe their existence to observation of medicinal practices of indigenous peoples (Cotton, C.M., 1996). To name only a few of the important drugs in use today, aspirin, atropine, ephedrine, digoxin, morphine, quinine, reserpine and tubocurarine serve as examples (Gilani, A.H. and A.U. Rahman, 2005). In recent years, traditional medicine has received renewed interest from scientists because of the advent of multidrug resistant microorganisms, serious side-effects obtained with a number of synthetic drugs, and because of the incurable nature of a number of diseases, where modern medicine has failed to make any positive impact.

Bangladesh has a long history of various forms of traditional medicine. The Ayurvedic and Unani systems of medicine has been practiced for hundreds of years and have well developed systems and procedures for preparations, formulations, and dosages. Another variety of traditional medicine - that of folk medicine is practiced throughout Bangladesh among various tribes and local population. The folk medicinal practitioners (known as Kavirajes or Vaidyas) use medicinal plants almost exclusively for treatment of various ailments. Their preparations are simple and most often, a single plant part or plant is used for treatment of a single ailment. Formulations usually consist of decoctions, paste, or juice of the plant, which is orally administered or topically applied depending on the ailment. Since one of the objectives of modern science is to search for drugs among the medicinal plants of different countries, this folk medicinal data can prove to be a valuable source for obtaining first-hand information on medicinal plants used by Kavirajes for centuries. This avoids the complication of identifying the principal active constituent among the dozens or more plants that are used for treatment of any single ailment in the Ayurvedic or Unani medicinal systems.

Bangladesh is a country of more than 86,000 villages, each village usually being serviced by one or more Kavirajes, who form the primary health-care providers to the rural population. Each Kaviraj has his unique repertoire of medicinal plants, which he or she has gained through cumulative knowledge acquired by successive generations in the family. To obtain a primary idea about the folk medicinal practices of Bangladesh, one has therefore to collect data from individual Kavirajes for medicinal plant uses can vary widely between even Kavirajes of adjoining villages. We have been collecting ethnomedicinal data from village and tribal Kavirajes for the last two years with the aim of establishing a comprehensive data base of folk medicinal uses of medicinal plants (Rahmatullah, M., 2009; Rahmatullah, M., 2009; Rahmatullah, M., 2009; Nawaz, A.H.M.M., 2009; Rahmatullah, M., 2010; Hossan, M.S., 2010). The objective of this present study was to conduct an ethnomedicinal survey among the Kavirajes of Muktarpur, Shyampur, Belgharia, Naodar, and Yusufpur villages of Boalia sub-district in Rajshahi district, Bangladesh.

Materials and Methods

Rajshahi district lies in the north-west of Bangladesh. The climate of this district is characterized by monsoons, moderate temperature, high humidity and moderate rainfall. Boalia sub-district is one of the thirteen sub-districts of Rajshahi district. The villages of Muktarpur, Shyampur, Belgharia, Naodar, and Yusufpur fall within Boalia sub-district. The main occupation of the village population is agriculture and agricultural laborer. To access any modern health facilities or visit a specialized doctor, the people of the villages has to go to Rajshahi city. Most people prefer to treat their ailments through visiting the local Kavirajes as a first-stop measure. Kaviraj Nitai Chandra (who was the main source of our information) and his associates are well known in the above-mentioned villages and even practices in Rajshahi city, where he also administers to a substantial number of patients.

Informed consent was obtained from the Kavirajes prior to commencement of survey. Interviews were carried out with the help of a semi-structured questionnaire and the guided filed-walk method as described by Martin (1995) and Maundu (1995). In this method, the Kavirajes took the interviewers on field-walks through areas from where they collected their medicinal plants, pointed out the plants, and described their uses. All information obtained including the local names of plants was cross-checked with the Kavirajes in later sessions. Plant specimens were collected and dried in the field and brought back to Bangladesh National Herbarium at Dhaka for complete identification.

Results

The Kavirajes of the five villages of Boalia sub-district used 48 medicinal plants distributed into 30 families for treatment of various ailments. The Fabaceae family comprised the largest family contributing 5 plants, followed by the Euphorbiaceae and Meliaceae families with 4 plants each. The Combretaceae and Lamiaceae families contributed 3 plants per family. The results are summarized in Table 1.

The various plant parts used included whole plant, leaves, roots, stems, barks, fruits, seeds, flowers, and tubers. Leaves constituted the major plant part used (27.6% of total uses), followed by fruits (15.3%), seeds (14.3%), whole plant (13.3%), roots (9.2%), flowers (6.1%), stems (2.0%), and tubers (2.0%). In most cases, juice obtained from crushed plants or plant parts were administered either orally or topically depending on the ailment. It was observed that the whole plant may be used by the Kavirajes for treatment of ailments totally unrelated to one another. Tetragonia tetragonoides (Pall.) Kuntze (whole plant) was used as a tonic as well as for treatment of colic or eye diseases. Aloe vera (L.) Burm.f. (whole plant) was used as a laxative, an appetizer and for treatment of alopecia, asthma, and tuberculosis. The Kavirajes were reticent to give out exact formulations; instead, they mentioned only the parts of the plants used and the ailments treated.

The number of ailments claimed to be treated by the Kavirajes were extremely diverse. Besides common ailments like gastrointestinal disorders, respiratory tract disorders, and skin disorders (which were common among the village population), the Kavirajes also treated diseases like cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disorders, nerve disorders, epilepsy, and edema. 25 plants were used for treatment of gastrointestinal disorders, 13 plants for treatment of skin disorders, and 12 plants for treatment of respiratory tract disorders. 8 plants each were used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and cancer, while 10 plants were used to treat sexually transmitted diseases. Other ailments treated included alopecia, tuberculosis, cholera, malaria, typhoid, piles, helminthiasis, reproductive disorders (impotency), urinary tract disorders (e.g. leucorrhea), fever, anemia, cuts and wounds, leprosy, pain, hernia, goiter, hepatic disorders, eye disorders, and stone formation in any part of the body. The Kavirajes did not use combination of plants for treatment of any ailment. A single plant or plant part was used for treatment of ailments, which could be from one to several. However, occasionally different plant parts from the same plant were observed to be used for treatment of different ailments.

Not all of the medicinal plants used by the Kavirajes were collected from the wild. Quite a few were cultivated around the homesteads or for commercial purposes. Plants that were cultivated for their edible fruits included Mangifera indica L., Annona squamosa L., Borassus flabellifer L., Cocos nucifera L., Carica papaya L., Terminalia belerica (Gaertn.) Roxb., Terminalia chebula Retz., Phyllanthus emblica L., Tamarindus indica L., and Punica granatum L. The fruits of Momordica charantia L. are cooked and eaten as vegetable, while Rosa damascena Mill. was cultivated for its flowers, which were sold commercially. The tubers of Curcuma longa L. were used as a spice and added to almost every vegetable, fish or meat dish cooked.

Discussion

Our various ethnobotanical surveys conducted thus far in Bangladesh highlights the fact that use of medicinal plants differ considerably between the Kavirajes of adjoining areas or even villages. The present survey is no different in that regard if a comparative analysis of medicinal plants used by Kavirajes is made between the five villages of Boalia sub-district (present survey) and six villages of Bagha sub-district, which was completed in a previous survey (Rahmatullah, M., 2010). Notably, both Boalia and Bagha are adjoining sub-districts by the river Padma in Rajshahi district, Bangladesh. Of the 48 plants reported in the present survey and the 54 plants reported in the previous survey (Rahmatullah, M., 2010), only six plants were seen to be commonly used and then again with the exception of two plants, the rest were used to treat dissimilar ailments in the two sub-districts. The comparative analysis is shown in Table 2. It may be seen from Table 2, that even with the two plants, Vernonia patula (Dryand.) Merr. was used for treatment of impotency, helminthiasis, fever, and coughs in the villages of Boalia sub-district, but used to treat only erectile dysfunction (impotency) in the six villages of Bagha sub-district. Kalanchoe pinnata (Lam.) Pers, was used for treatment of headache, asthma, and to dissolve stones formed in any part of the body in Boalia sub-district, and used for treatment of kidney and gall bladder stones in Bagha sub-district. The treatment mode was also different in the two sub-districts. For treatment of erectile dysfunction (impotency) in Bagha sub-district, a combination of bark of Litsea liyuyingi Liou Ho mixed with roots of Ipomoea mauritiana Jacq., bark of Terminalia arjuna (Roxb. ex DC.) Wight & Am, bark of Bombax ceiba L., roots of Trigonella foenum-graecum L., and roots of Vernonia patula was used, whereas in Boalia sub-district only the whole plant of Vernonia patula was used to treat impotency. Similarly, for treatment of kidney and gall bladder stones, in Bagha sub-district leaves of Kalanchoe pinnata were used in combination with Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers. leaves, while at Boalia subdistrict, Kalanchoe pinnata was used alone for treatment of stone formation in any part of the body. These differences in plant use in the two sub-districts were more prominent with the other four medicinal plants. To cite just one instance, Terminalia arjuna (Roxb. ex DC.) Wight & Arn. was used for treatment of hypertension, anemia, and leprosy in Boalia sub-district, but used for treatment of erectile dysfunction in Bagha sub-district.

When the differences between treatments of completely different ailments with the same plant by different Kavirajes in different areas of Bangladesh are taken into account, a comprehensive survey of the use of medicinal plants pertaining to the whole country cannot be over-emphasized. Terminalia arjuna is used in Boalia sub-district villages for treatment of hypertension, anemia, and leprosy, while it is used for treatment of erectile dysfunction in Bagha sub-district. Experimental studies have shown that the bark of this plant has considerable inotropic and hypotensive effects thus increasing coronary artery flow and protecting myocardium against ischemic damage (Dwivedi, S., 2007). However, other pharmacological activities of the plant related to its folkloric use are yet to be identified. The same is true for many other plants obtained in the present survey, pharmacological activity studies of which are yet to be carried out. At the same time, a survey of the scientific literature suggests that the uses of a number of plants by the Kavirajes are validated by scientific evidence. The medicinal plants used in the folk medicinal system of Bangladesh thus presents considerable potential for further scientific studies and discovery of newer drugs, more so, because our survey indicated considerable patient satisfaction with the Kavirajes' mode of treatment.

References

Cotton, C.M., 1996. Ethnobotany: Principle and Application, John Wiley and Sons, New York, pp: 399.

Dwivedi, S., 2007. Terminalia arjuna Wight & Arn. - a useful drug for cardiovascular disorders. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 114: 114-129.

Gilani, A.H. and A.U. Rahman, 2005. Trends in ethnopharmacology. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 100: 4349.

Hossan, M.S., A. Hanif, B. Agarwala, M.S. Sarwar, M. Karim, M.T. Rahman, R. Jahan and M. Rahmatullah, 2010. Traditional use of medicinal plants in Bangladesh to treat urinary tract infections and sexually transmitted diseases. Ethnobotany Research and Applications, 8: 61-74.

Martin, G.J., 1995. Ethnobotany: a 'People and Plants' Conservation Manual, Chapman and Hall, London, pp: 268.

Maundu, P., 1995. Methodology for collecting and sharing indigenous knowledge: a case study. Indigenous Knowledge and Development Monitor, 3: 3-5.

Nawaz, A.H.M.M., M. Hossain, M. Karim, M. Khan, R. Jahan and M. Rahmatullah, 2009. An ethnobotanical survey of Rajshahi district in Rajshahi division, Bangladesh. American Eurasian Journal of Sustainable Agriculture, 3(2): 143-150.

Rahmatullah, M., A. Noman, M.S. Hossan, M.H. Rashid, T. Rahman, M.H. Chowdhury and R. Jahan, 2009. A survey of medicinal plants in two areas of Dinajpur district, Bangladesh including plants which can be used as functional foods. American Eurasian Journal of Sustainable Agriculture, 3(4): 862-876.

Rahmatullah, M., A.K. Das, M.A.H. Mollik, R. Jahan, M. Khan, T. Rahman and M.H. Chowdhury, 2009. An Ethnomedicinal Survey of Dhamrai Sub-district in Dhaka District, Bangladesh. American Eurasian Journal of Sustainable Agriculture, 3(4): 881-888.

Rahmatullah, M., D. Ferdausi, M.A.H. Mollik, M.N.K. Azam, M.T. Rahman and R. Jahan 2009. Ethnomedicinal Survey of Bheramara Area in Kushtia District, Bangladesh. American Eurasian Journal of Sustainable Agriculture, 3(3): 534-541.

Rahmatullah, M., D. Ferdausi, M.A.H. Mollik, R. Jahan, M.H. Chowdhury and W.M. Haque, 2010. A Survey of Medicinal Plants used by Kavirajes of Chalna area, Khulna District, Bangladesh. African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines, 7(2): 91-97.

Rahmatullah, M., M.A.H. Mollik, M.H. Rashid, R. Tanzin, K.C. Ghosh, H. Rahman, J. Alam, M.O. Faruque, M.M. Hasan, R. Jahan, M.A. Khatun, 2010. A comparative analysis of medicinal plants used by folk medicinal healers in villages adjoining the Ghaghot, Bangali and Padma Rivers of Bangladesh. American Eurasian Journal of Sustainable Agriculture (in press).

(1) Mohammed Rahmatullah, (1) Md. Ariful Haque Mollik, (2) Mst. Afsana Khatun, 1Rownak Jahan, Anita Rani Chowdhury, (1) Syeda Seraj, (1) Mohammad Shahadat Hossain, Dilruba Nasrin, (1) Zubaida Khatun

(1) Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Development Alternative, Dhanmondi, Dhaka, Bangladesh.

(1) 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.

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: rahamatm@hotmail.com Fax: 88-02-8157339
Table 1: Medicinal plants used by the Kavirajes of Muktarpur,
Shyampur, Belgharia, Naodar, and Yusufpur villages in Boalia
sub-district, Rajshahi district, Bangladesh

S1.   Plant Name                       Family           Local name
No.

1     Tetragonia tetragonoides         Aizoaceae        Shonta
      (Pall.) Kuntze

2     Aloe vera (L.) Burm.f.           Aloaceae         Ghrit-kumari

3     Amaranthus spinosus L.           Amaranthaceae    Kanta-khudurey

4     Mangifera indica L.              Anacardiaceae    Aam

5     Annona squamosa L.               Annonaceae       Ata

6     Lasia spinosa (L.) Thwaites      Araceae          Kata-kochu

7     Borassus flabellifer L.          Arecaceae        Tal

8     Cocos nucifera L.                Arecaceae        Dab

9     Blumea lacera DC                 Asteraceae       Kukur-sungha

10    Vernonia patula                  Asteraceae       Jowhanti
      (Dryand.) Merr.

11    Cannabis sativa L.               Cannabaceae      Bhang

12    Carica papaya L.                 Caricaceae       Pepe

13    Terminalia arjuna (Roxb          Combretaceae     Arjun
      . ex DC.) Wight & Am.

14    Terminalia belerica              Combretaceae     Bohera
      (Gaertn.) Roxb.

15    Terminalia chebula Retz.         Combretaceae     Horitoki

16    Kalanchoe pinnata                Crassulaceae     Patharchuni
      (Lam.) Pers.

17    Coccinia grandis (L.) J. Voigt   Cucurbitaceae    Telakucha

18    Momordica charantia L.           Cucurbitaceae    Korla

19    Dioscorea bulbifera L.           Dioscoreaceae    Lota-bori

20    Acalypha indica L.               Euphorbiaceae    Phool-jhuri

21    Codiaeum variegatum              Euphorbiaceae    Tri-phorthok
      (L.) A.Juss.

22    Euphorbia milii 'Lutea' Hort     Euphorbiaceae    Dodhi-kata

23    Phyllanthus emblica L.           Euphorbiaceae    Amloki

24    Dalbergia sissoo Roxb. ex DC.    Fabaceae         Shishu

25    Mimosa pudica L.                 Fabaceae         Lajjaboti

26    Saraca indica L.                 Fabaceae         Ashok

27    Cassia tora L.                   Fabaceae         Araj

28    Tamarindus indica L.             Fabaceae         Tetul

29    Hyptis suaveolens                Lamiaceae        Tokma
      (L.) Poit.

30    Ocimum gratissimum L.            Lamiaceae        Seth-tulshi

31    Ocimum tenuiflorum L.            Lamiaceae        Krishna-tulshi

32    Punica granatum L.               Lythraceae       Dalim

33    Aphanamixis polystachya          Meliaceae        Pitraj
      (Wall.) R. Parker

34    Azadirachta indica A. Juss.      Meliaceae        Neem

35    Cereus grandiflorus              Meliaceae        Kuth-raaz
      (L.) P. Mill.

36    Swietenia mahagoni               Meliaceae        Mahogany
      (L.) Jacq.

37    Ludwigia hyssopifolia            Onagraceae       Modho-naow
      (G. Don) Exell apud
      A.R. Fernandes

38    Oxalis lobata Sims               Oxalidaceae      Amrul

39    Phyllanthus reticulatus Poir.    Phyllanthaceae   Chitki

40    Piper cubeba L.f.                Piperaceae       Kabab-chini

41    Hygroryza aristata (Retz.)       Poaceae          Bera-saaz
      Nees ex Wight & Am.

42    Zea mays L.                      Poaceae          Bottha

43    Rosa damascena Mill.             Rosaceae         Golap

44    Anthocephalus chinensis          Rubiaceae        Kodom
      (Lam.) A. Rich. ex Walp.

45    Glycosmis pentaphylla            Rutaceae         Dard-brash
      (Retz.) Corr.

46    Mimusops elengi L.               Sapotaceae       Bokul
      seed

47    Solanum surattense Burm.f.       Solanaceae       Kontikari

48    Curcuma longa L.                 Zingiberaceae    Holud

S1.   Utilized part   Ailments and formulations
No.

1     Whole plant     Tonic, colic, eye diseases.

2     Whole plant     Laxative, appetizer, alopecia, asthma,
                      tuberculosis.

3     Whole plant     Gonorrhea, laxative, expectorant.

4     Leaf, fruit,    Eye diseases, antidote to poison, edema,
      seed            cholera, dysentery, diabetes.

5     Leaf, fruit,    Abortifacient, helminthiasis, colic, itch.
      seed

6     Tuber           Edema, piles, constipation.

7     Root, fruit     Cancer, edema, epilepsy, boil.

8     Root, fruit,    Syphilis, jaundice, diabetes, cholera.
      fruit juice

9     Leaf, flower    Edema, colic, helminthiasis.

10    Whole plant     Impotency, helminthiasis, fever, coughs.

11    Leaf, root      Cancer, hypertension, antidote to poison,
                      itch, rheumatoid arthritis.

12    Whole plant     Tuberculosis, constipation, helminthiasis,
                      cooling, leucoderma, ecbolic (a drug
                      that increases uterine contractions
                      and facilitates delivery), fever.

13    Leaf, bark,     Hypertension, anemia, leprosy.
      fruit

14    Leaf, bark,     Constipation, sexual diseases.
      fruit

15    Leaf, bark,     Asthma, heart diseases, eye diseases,
      seed            itch, night blindness.

16    Leaf, stem,     Headache, asthma, stone
      bark            dissolving in any part of the body.

17    Leaf, root      Diabetes, edema, eye diseases.

18    Root, seed,     Cancer, night blindness, rheumatoid
      fruit           arthritis, helminthiasis.

19    Root, fruit     Goiter, hernia, tumor, carminative.

20    Leaf, flower    Helminthiasis, colic, vomit-inducing.

21    Whole plant     Syphilis, coughs, wounds, eye diseases.

22    Whole plant     Eczema, sexual diseases, diarrhea.

23    Leaf, fruit     Appetizer, gonorrhea, toothache, itch.

24    Leaf, bark,     Eczema, sexual diseases, leucoderma.
      seed

25    Leaf, root,     Diarrhea, hypertension, antidote to
      flower          poison.

26    Leaf, bark      Sexual diseases, analgesic, appetizer.

27    Leaf, seed      Helminthiasis, liver diseases, typhoid.

28    Leaf, fruit,    Diabetes, appetizer, jaundice, eczema,
      seed            conjunctivitis.

29    Leaf, seed      Liver diseases, cancer, constipation.

30    Whole plant     Heart diseases, eye diseases, cooling.

31    Whole plant     Bronchitis, liver diseases, cancer.

32    Leaf, fruit,    Diabetes, heart diseases, dysentery,
      seed            stimulant, tumor.

33    Leaf, bark,     Rheumatoid arthritis, analgesic, itch,
      seed            antidote to poison.

34    Leaf, bark      Cancer, skin diseases, helminthiasis,
                      wounds, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis.

35    Whole plant     Tonic, nervous disorders, heart diseases.

36    Leaf, bark,     Impotency, malaria, appetizer.
      seed

37    Whole plant     Sedative, skin diseases, dysentery.

38    Whole plant     Dysentery, diarrhea, coughs, stimulant.

39    Leaf, bark      Edema, constipation, cooling.

40    Leaf, fruit,    Rheumatoid arthritis, impotency, sexual
      seed            diseases.

41    Whole plant     Expectorant, antiseptic, hepatitis.

42    Root, fruit     Hypertension, diabetes, rheumatoid
                      arthritis, pneumonia.

43    Leaf, root,     Tonsillitis, heart diseases, cooling.
      flower

44    Leaf, flower    Fever, coughs, eye diseases, labor pain.

45    Stem, fruit     Toothache, rheumatoid arthritis.

46    Leaf, flower,   Leucorrhea, tuberculosis, diarrhea.

47    Leaf, fruit,    Laxative, rheumatoid arthritis, night
      seed            blindness, malaria.

48    Tuber           Jaundice, diarrhea, dysentery, small
                      pox, eczema, gonorrhea, sedative.

Table 2: A comparative analysis of ailments treated by medicinal
plants (in common) between two adjoining sub-districts Boalia and
Bagha of Rajshahi district, Bangladesh

Botanical name                Family          Ailments treated in
                                              Boalia sub-district
                                              (present survey
                                              comprising of the
                                              villages of Muktarpur,
                                              Shyampur, Belgharia,
                                              Naodar, and Yusufpur)

Vernonia patula               Asteraceae      Impotency,
(Dryand.) Merr.                               helminthiasis, fever,
                                              coughs.

Terminalia arjuna             Combretaceae    Hypertension, anemia,
(Roxb. ex DC.) Wight & Am.                    leprosy.

Kalanchoe pinnata             Crassulaceae    Headache, asthma, stone
(Lam.) Pers.                                  dissolving in any part
                                              of the body.

Coccinia grandis              Cucurbitaceae   Diabetes, edema, eye
(L.) J. Voigt                                 diseases.

Ocimum gratissimum L.         Lamiaceae       Heart diseases, eye
                                              diseases, cooling.

Anthocephalus chinensis       Rubiaceae       Fever, coughs, eye
(Lam.) A. Rich. ex Walp.                      diseases, labor pain.

Botanical name                Ailments treated in Bagha sub-district
                              (previous survey comprising of the
                              villages of Narayanpur, Kalidaskhali,
                              Durduria, Khayarhat, Alaipur, and
                              Baghaas reported in [11])

Vernonia patula
(Dryand.) Merr.               Erectile dysfunction.

Terminalia arjuna             Erectile dysfunction.
(Roxb. ex DC.) Wight & Am.

Kalanchoe pinnata             Kidney and gall bladder stones.
(Lam.) Pers.

Coccinia grandis              Headache.
(L.) J. Voigt

Ocimum gratissimum L.
                              Cough, cold.

Anthocephalus chinensis       Infertility in men or women, infections
(Lam.) A. Rich. ex Walp.      in diabetic patients, bloating in
                              cattle.
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Title Annotation:Original Article
Author:Rahmatullah, Mohammed; Mollik, Ariful Haque; Khatun, Afsana; Jahan, Rownak; Chowdhury, Anita Rani; S
Publication:Advances in Natural and Applied Sciences
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:9BANG
Date:Jan 1, 2010
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