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Medicinal plants and formulations of the Murmu tribal community residing in Rajshahi district of Bangladesh.

Introduction

Traditional medicinal system(s) exist in many countries of the world and play a central role in the primary health-care system of many developing countries. Even in developed countries, it has been estimated that the majority of the people, at one time or other, have resorted to traditional medicines as a way to get rid of their sicknesses, which they found difficult to cure with allopathic medicines. Various indigenous communities throughout the world rely on their own tribal or traditional medicinal systems. Overall, such systems mainly rely on medicinal plants for treating sicknesses. These medicinal plants or plants, either singly or in complex combinations are administered orally or topically in the form of infusions, decoctions, pills, or even straight away administered following maceration or crushing and obtaining the juice.

Bangladesh is a small developing country but contain a number of traditional medicinal systems like Ayurveda, Unani, folk medicine and homeopathy. While these systems mainly cater to the mainstream Bengali-speaking population, there exist other systems among the various tribes, who number more than a hundred. While each tribe may have their own unique formulations, the common feature in tribal medicine is the reliance on medicinal plants. Medicinal plants have always formed a rich source of modern allopathic medicine. In fact, two of the most important drugs against the endemic disease malaria, namely quinine and artemisinin, are obtained from medicinal plants. As such documentation of medicinal plants used by the various tribes, as well as documentation of the medicinal plants used by the traditional medicinal systems of the mainstream population, can form a useful method for conducting further research on these plants and so pave the way for newer and more effective drugs. In fact, a number of important allopathic medicinal drugs have been discovered through close observations of the medicinal practices of various indigenous communities (Balick and Cox, 1996; Cotton, 1996; Gilani and Rahman, 2005).

Towards preparing a comprehensive database on the medicinal plants of the country, we had been conducting ethnomedicinal surveys among the traditional medicinal practitioners as well as the tribal medicinal practitioners for a number of years (Nawaz et al., 2009; Rahmatullah et al., 2009a-c; Chowdhury et al., 2010; Hasan et al., 2010; Hossan et al., 2010; Mollik et al, 2010a,b; Rahmatullah et al, 2010a-g; Akber et al, 2011; Biswas et al., 2011a-c; Haque et al., 2011; Islam et al., 2011; Jahan et al., 2011; Rahmatullah et al., 2011a,b; Sarker et al., 2011; Shaheen et al., 2011; Das et al., 2012; Hasan et al., 2012; Hossan et al., 2012; Khan et al., 2012; Rahmatullah et al., 2012a-d; Sarker et al., 2012). It is of importance to prepare this database not only to learn more about the medicinal plants of the country but also to ensure that such a database can serve as a platform for maintaining the intellectual property rights of the indigenous communities in general and the country as a whole. Since small indigenous communities are mostly overlooked in national censuses and not much is known about these people, let alone their customs and traditional medicinal practices, we had been, on a priority basis, giving importance to the smaller indigenous communities of the country.

The Murmu community is a small tribal community found scattered in several villages of Rajshahi district in the northern part of Bangladesh. The predominant tribe of this region, namely the Santals, regards the Murmu as a clan within the tribe. The Murmus, however, deny this and claim themselves to be a separate tribe. A community of the Murmu tribe was located in Kashiadanga village in Rajshahi district. The number of families was 55 with the total Murmu population in this community estimated at about 350-400. The community has in the recent past converted to Christianity. As nothing has been documented about this community before, particularly regarding their tribal medicinal practices, the objective of this study was to conduct an ethnomedicinal survey among the tribal healers of this community.

Materials and Methods

The present survey was carried out among the Murmu tribal practitioners of the Murmu community in Kashiadanga village of Rajshahi district in Bangladesh. The community had two tribal healers, namely Shome and Bimal. Informed consent was initially obtained from the healers. The healers as well as the community Headman were fully apprised as to the nature of our visit and consent obtained to disseminate any obtained information both nationally as well as internationally. Interviews were conducted in Bengali, which was spoken by the interviewers and understood by the healers. Actual surveys were conducted with the help of a semi-structured questionnaire and the guided field-walk method of Martin (1995) and Maundu (1995). In this method, the healers took the interviewers on guided field-walks through areas from where they collected their medicinal plants, pointed out the plants, and described their uses. Plant specimens were photographed and collected on the spot, pressed and air-dried, and brought back to the Bangladesh National Herbarium at Dhaka for complete identification.

Results and Discussion

The Murmu community at Kashiadanga village comprised of 55 families with an estimated population between 350 and 400. The community in recent years had converted to Christianity. Agriculture formed the main occupation of the community members. The community described themselves to be divided into 12 clans or sects, namely Hansda, Marandi, Beshra, Chorae, Bashoki, Hembrom, Pauria, Tudu, Soren, Kiusku, and Bedwa. Although neighboring Santal tribal community members spoke of the Murmu community as a clan of the Santal tribe, the Murmu community insisted that they are different from the Santals and had their own distinct tribal practices, which included tribal medicinal practices.

A total of 25 medicinal plants were observed to be used by the healers of the Murmu community. These 25 plants were distributed into 20 families. The various human ailments treated with these plants included abscess, puerperal fever, pain, snake bite, paralysis, gastrointestinal disorders, diabetes, skin infections, vomiting, tongue lesions, tooth infections, jaundice, physical weakness, insanity, and bone fracture. Additionally, one formulation comprising of two plant parts was used for treatment of flatulency in cows or buffaloes. The results are shown in Table 1.

Various plant parts or whole plant was observed to be used in the formulations of the Murmu healers. The plant parts used included leaves, roots, barks, stems, fruits, seeds, tubers, and sap. For the most part, a plant part was used for treatment of a single ailment. However, in some instances, a combination of more than one plant part was used for treatment. For instance, the bark of Lannea coromandelica was used with rhizomes of Zingiber officinale for treatment of puerperal fever in women. For treatment of pain or paralysis, the roots of Capparis zeylanica were used along with rhizomes of Zingiber officinale and fruits of Piper nigrum.

The fruits of Piper nigrum were used in a number of formulations in combination with other plants. Along with tubers of Amorphophallus campanulatus, the fruits were used for treatment of stomach pain. The fruits were used with rhizomes of Zingiber officinale and roots of Capparis zeylanica for treatment of pain or paralysis. Together with roots of Senna sophera, the fruits were used for treatment of stomach pain. The fruits were used with leaves of Leucas aspera for treatment of pain arising from hemorrhoids. For treatment of fever, the fruits were used along with leaves of Azadirachta indica, while for treatment of pain roots of Azadirachta indica were used with fruits of Piper nigrum. For treatment of jaundice, the fruits were used along with leaves of Aegle marmelos and honey.

A number of the plants used by the Murmu healers can be validated in their uses on the basis of existing scientific reports. For instance, alcoholic extract of leaves of Achyranthes aspera reportedly demonstrated anti-nociceptive and anti-inflammatory activity (Mehta et al., 2009), thus justifying its use in treatment of abscesses. Analgesic activity of Amorphophallus campanulatus tubers has also been reported (Shilpi et al., 2005); notably, tubers of this plant were used by the Murmu healers for relief from stomach pain. Tubers of Typhonium trilobatum were used by the healers for treatment of injury. Interestingly, analgesic and anti-inflammatory activity has been reported for ethanolic leaf extract of leaves from this plant (Ali et al., 2012). Leaves of Calotropis procera were used by the Murmu healers for treatment of pain; analgesic activity has been reported for decoction of aerial parts of this plant (Mossa et al., 1991). Analgesic and anti-inflammatory activities have been reported also for Capparis zeylanica (Lather et al., 2010), thus validating the use of this plant by the Murmu healers for treatment of pain.

Terminalia arjuna, used by the Murmu healers for treatment of dysentery has been reported to be used by the Santal, Kolha, Bhathudi, Kharia, Mankidias, Gondo and Ho tribes of Mayurbhanj district in Odisha, India for treatment of diarrhea (Kar et al., 2013). The blood sugar lowering effect of Coccinia grandis has been reported (Munasinghe et al., 2011); notably the plant was observed by the Murmu healers for treatment of diabetes. Euphorbia hirta was used by the Murmu healers for treatment of blood dysentery and rupture in the rectal area; the plant has known anti-inflammatory and anti-diarrheal properties (Huang et al., 2012). The analgesic and anti-inflammatory activities of Leucas aspera has been reported (Saundane et al., 2000); the Murmu healers used the plant for treatment of pain arising from hemorrhoids. Azadirachta indica, used by the Murmu healers for treatment of pain has reported antinociceptive activity (Khosla et al., 2000).

Leaves of Aegle marmelos have been reported to be used for treatment of jaundice (Sharma, 1996); the Murmu healers also used the leaves of the plant for treatment of jaundice. The fruits of the plant are widely used in Bangladesh as home remedy for indigestion, which is the same as observed from the Murmu healers. Stems of Cissus quadrangularis were used by the Murmu healers for treatment of bone fractures. This particular use for this particular plant has been quite well validated from the scientific view point (Udupa et al., 1961; Udupa and Prasad, 1964; Chopra et al., 1976). Taken in total, it can be said quite conclusively that a substantial number of medicinal plants used by the Murmu healers are validated by reported pharmacological activities carried out in scientific studies with these plants.

That preliminary scientific evidences point out that the Murmu healers' formulations were quite justifiable for their observed uses suggests that more detailed scientific studies need to be carried out with these plants. It is very much possible that such studies can lead to discovery of novel bio-active components from these plants, which in turn, can lead to discovery of novel and more efficacious drugs. This is important for a number of allopathic drugs presently in use have undesirable side-effects or are fast losing their significances because of emerging drug-resistant vectors. Additionally, the validation of the uses of these plants from the scientific view point can lead to more confidence in the healers in administering the plants for treatment. A further benefit will be that a resurgence of interest in these medicinal plants can spur conservation efforts of these plants, many of which are rapidly getting rare or endangered.

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Md. Ehasanul Hasan, Nargis Sultana Piya, Himoti Roy Chowdhury, Md. Laju Sarker, Tania Tabassum Azad, Md. Saiful Islam Roney, Kallol Debnath, Mohammed Rahmatullah

Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Development Alternative, Dhanmondi, Dhaka-1205, Bangladesh

Corresponding Author: Dr. Mohammed Rahmatullah, Pro-Vice Chancellor University of Development Alternative House No. 78, Road No. 11A (new) Dhanmondi R/A, Dhaka-1205 Bangladesh Phone: 88-01715032621; Fax: 88-02-8157339; E mail: rahamatm@hotmail.com
Table 1: Medicinal plants and formulations of the Murmu tribe.

Serial   Scientific name           Family             Local
No.                                                   name

1        Achyranthes aspera L.     Amaranthaceae      Chirchiri

2        Lannea coromandelica      Anacardiaceae      Jiala
         (Houtt.) Merr.

3        Amorphophallus            Araceae            Ol
         campanulatus
         (Roxb.) Bl. ex. Decne.

4        Typhonium trilobatum      Araceae            Nirbich
         (L.) Schott

5        Calotropis procera        Asclepiadaceae     Akondo
         (Ait.) Ait.f.

6        Heliotropium indicum L.   Boraginaceae       Hatichora

7        Capparis zeylanica L.     Capparidaceae      Achariya

8        Terminalia arjuna         Combretaceae        Arjun
         (Roxb.) Wight & Arn.

9        Coccinia grandis (L.)     Cucurbitaceae      Telakucha,
         Voigt.                                       Kunri

10       Croton                    Euphorbiaceae      Parjhara
         bonplandianum Baill.

11       Euphorbia antiquorum L.   Euphorbiaceae      Lagfin

12       Euphorbia hirta L.        Euphorbiaceae      Puchipaan

13       Ricinus communis L.       Euphorbiaceae      Venna

14       Senna sophera (L.)        Fabaceae           Jhunjhuni
         Roxb.

15       Leucas aspera             Lamiaceae          Dhurup
         (Willd.) Link.

16       Azadirachta indica        Meliaceae          Neem
         A. Juss.

17       Aegle marmelos (L.)       Rutaceae           Bel pata
         Corr.

18       Madhuca indica            Sapotaceae         Moha
         Gmel.

19       Scoparia dulcis L.        Scrophulariaceae   Michri

20       Datura stramonium         Solanaceae         Shada
         L.                                           dhutura

21       Physalis micrantha        Solanaceae         Bhotka
         Link.

22       Cissus                    Vitaceae           Harjora
         quadrangularis L.

Serial   Scientific name           Utilized      Ailments
No.                                part          treated/
                                                 Formulations

1        Achyranthes aspera L.     Leaf          Abscess.
                                                 Macerated
                                                 leaves are
                                                 applied as
                                                 poultice on
                                                 abscess.

2        Lannea coromandelica      Bark          Puerperal
         (Houtt.) Merr.                          fever. Bark of
                                                 Lannea
                                                 coromandelica
                                                 is boiled in
                                                 water. About 3
                                                 kg of the water
                                                 is mixed with 1
                                                 kg juice
                                                 obtained from
                                                 macerated
                                                 rhizomes of
                                                 Zingiber
                                                 officinale and
                                                 molasses. The
                                                 mixture is
                                                 orally taken
                                                 daily till
                                                 cure.

3        Amorphophallus            Tuber         Stomach pain.
         campanulatus                            Juice obtained
         (Roxb.) Bl. ex. Decne.                  from macerated
                                                 tubers of
                                                 Amorphophallus
                                                 campanulatus is
                                                 mixed with
                                                 powdered fruits
                                                 of Piper nigrum
                                                 and taken
                                                 orally.

4        Typhonium trilobatum      Tuber         Injury.
         (L.) Schott                             Macerated tuber
                                                 is applied
                                                 topically to
                                                 injured area.

5        Calotropis procera        Leaf          Pain. Leaves
         (Ait.) Ait.f.                           are warmed and
                                                 applied
                                                 topically to
                                                 painful areas.

6        Heliotropium indicum L.   Leaf, root    Snake bite.
                                                 Macerated
                                                 leaves and
                                                 roots are
                                                 applied as
                                                 poultice to the
                                                 snake-bitten
                                                 area.

7        Capparis zeylanica L.     Root, fruit   Pain,
                                                 paralysis.
                                                 Roots of
                                                 Capparis
                                                 zeylanica are
                                                 macerated along
                                                 with rhizomes
                                                 of Zingiber
                                                 officinale
                                                 Roscoe
                                                 (Zingiberaceae)
                                                 and fruits of
                                                 Piper nigrum.
                                                 The macerated
                                                 mix is warmed
                                                 and applied as
                                                 poultice to
                                                 painful or
                                                 paralyzed
                                                 areas. Fruits
                                                 are cooked and
                                                 eaten as
                                                 vegetable.

8        Terminalia arjuna          Bark         Dysentery,
         (Roxb.) Wight & Arn.                    flatulency.
                                                 Juice obtained
                                                 from macerated
                                                 bark is taken
                                                 orally.

9        Coccinia grandis (L.)     Leaf, root    Diabetes, pain.
         Voigt.                                  Juice obtained
                                                 from macerated
                                                 leaves is taken
                                                 orally in the
                                                 morning for
                                                 diabetes.
                                                 Macerated roots
                                                 are warmed and
                                                 applied
                                                 topically to
                                                 painful areas.

10       Croton                    Sap           Skin
         bonplandianum Baill.                    infections. Sap
                                                 is applied to
                                                 infected area.

11       Euphorbia antiquorum L.   Leaf          Pain. Leaves
                                                 are warmed,
                                                 macerated and
                                                 applied
                                                 topically to
                                                 painful areas.

12       Euphorbia hirta L.        Whole plant   Blood
                                                 dysentery,
                                                 rupture in the
                                                 rectal area.
                                                 Macerated whole
                                                 plant is
                                                 applied to the
                                                 rectum.

13       Ricinus communis L.       Young stem    Vomiting in
                                   with leaves   children.
                                                 Macerated young
                                                 stem with
                                                 leaves is
                                                 orally
                                                 administered.

14       Senna sophera (L.)        Root          Stomach pain.
         Roxb.                                   Roots of Senna
                                                 sophera are
                                                 macerated with
                                                 fruits of Piper
                                                 nigrum and
                                                 applied
                                                 topically to
                                                 area around the
                                                 stomach.

15       Leucas aspera             Leaf          Lesions on the
         (Willd.) Link.                          tongue, pain
                                                 due to
                                                 hemorrhoids.
                                                 Macerated
                                                 leaves are
                                                 applied to
                                                 lesions on the
                                                 tongue.
                                                 Macerated
                                                 leaves of
                                                 Leucas aspera
                                                 are taken
                                                 orally with
                                                 fruits of Piper
                                                 nigrum to get
                                                 relief from
                                                 pain arising
                                                 from
                                                 hemorrhoids.

16       Azadirachta indica        Young leaf,   Fever, pain, to
         A. Juss.                  root, bark,   prevent tooth
                                   stem          infections. For
                                                 fever, young
                                                 leaves of
                                                 Azadirachta
                                                 indica are
                                                 macerated with
                                                 fruits of Piper
                                                 nigrum L.
                                                 (Piperaceae,
                                                 local name: gol
                                                 morich) and
                                                 taken in the
                                                 morning on an
                                                 empty stomach.
                                                 For pain, roots
                                                 and barks of
                                                 Azadirachta
                                                 indica are
                                                 macerated with
                                                 fruits of Piper
                                                 nigrum and
                                                 applied
                                                 topically to
                                                 painful areas.

                                                 To prevent
                                                 tooth
                                                 infections,
                                                 stems are used
                                                 to brush teeth.

17       Aegle marmelos (L.)       Leaf, fruit   Jaundice,
         Corr.                                   indigestion.
                                                 Juice obtained
                                                 from macerated
                                                 leaves of Aegle
                                                 marmelos is
                                                 mixed with
                                                 honey and
                                                 fruits of Piper
                                                 nigrum
                                                 (powdered) for
                                                 7 days as
                                                 treatment for
                                                 jaundice.
                                                 Fruits are
                                                 taken as
                                                 sherbet for
                                                 indigestion.

18       Madhuca indica            Bark, fruit   Physical
         Gmel.                                   weakness, to
                                                 keep head cool.
                                                 Bark is boiled
                                                 and taken with
                                                 molasses as
                                                 treatment for
                                                 physical
                                                 weakness. Oil
                                                 obtained from
                                                 fruits is
                                                 applied to
                                                 scalp to keep
                                                 head cool.

19       Scoparia dulcis L.        Leaf, root    Physical
                                                 weakness,
                                                 dysentery.
                                                 Juice obtained
                                                 from macerated
                                                 leaves is mixed
                                                 with sugar and
                                                 orally taken as
                                                 sherbet for
                                                 treatment  of
                                                 physical
                                                 weakness.
                                                 Macerated root
                                                 is orally taken
                                                 for dysentery.

20       Datura stramonium         Root          Pain, insanity.
         L.                                      Macerated roots
                                                 are warmed and
                                                 applied
                                                 topically to
                                                 painful areas
                                                 to get relief
                                                 from pain.
                                                 Macerated roots
                                                 are orally
                                                 administered
                                                 for insanity.

21       Physalis micrantha        Leaf          Flatulency in
         Link.                                   cows or
                                                 buffaloes.
                                                 Macerated
                                                 leaves of
                                                 Physalis
                                                 micrantha are
                                                 mixed with
                                                 seeds of
                                                 Nigella sativa
                                                 L.
                                                 (Ranunculaceae,
                                                 local name:
                                                 kali jeera) and
                                                 orally
                                                 administered.

22       Cissus                    Stem          Bone fracture.
         quadrangularis L.                       Macerated stems
                                                 are applied as
                                                 poultice to the
                                                 fractured area.
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Title Annotation:Original Article
Author:Hasan, Ehasanul; Piya, Nargis Sultana; Chowdhury, Himoti Roy; Sarker, Laju; Azad, Tania Tabassum; Ro
Publication:American-Eurasian Journal of Sustainable Agriculture
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:9BANG
Date:Jan 1, 2013
Words:5050
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