Medicinal plants used by folk medicinal herbalists in seven villages of Bhola district, Bangladesh.
Human beings have probably used medicinal plants for curative purposes since their advent. Plants produce phytochemicals with each phytochemical having unique pharmacological properties of its own. These properties have been utilized by scientists for discovery of new drugs leading towards treatment and cure of various ailments. Traditional medicinal practitioners in virtually every country of the world have been using medicinal plants for curative and preventive purposes for centuries. The knowledge possessed by any traditional medicinal practitioner is usually conserved within the family and passed over to the next generation. Thus, over time, a practitioner can build up quite extensive knowledge on the medicinal properties of any given plant species.
Documentation of the plant species present within any country is important for economical, food, and health purposes. Bangladesh is believed to have over 5,000 floral species of which anywhere between 600-900 species are considered by various experts to be medicinal plants. However, accurate documentation of these plant species through actual field surveys is more or less absent. Towards a thorough documentation of the medicinal plants used by traditional medicinal practitioners in their formulations, we had been conducting ethnomedicinal surveys among the traditional medicinal practitioners, including both folk and 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).
Bhola district is an administrative district in southwestern Bangladesh, which includes Bhola Island, the largest island of Bangladesh. Thus far, to our knowledge, no ethnomedicinal surveys have been carried out in Bhola Island. The objective of the present study was to conduct such a survey among the folk medicinal practitioners of Bhola Island. The survey area comprised seven villages in the island, which is quite large and off the southwestern coast of Bangladesh.
Materials and Methods
The survey was carried out in the villages of Chotopata, Boropata, Alinagar, Kachia, Nayani, Dairabad, and Korailla in Bhola Island. Cumulatively, the villages had three medicinal practitioners, who practiced folk medicine. However, one of them titled himself as Kaviraj Badiuzzaman Lahari, the Kaviraj title suggesting that his selection of medicinal plants was influenced by the ancient Ayurvedic system of medicine of India. The other two folk medicinal practitioners, namely Alhaj Hakim Mawlana Mohammadullah Taheri and Hakim Raziur Rahman Shahin titled themselves as Hakims, suggesting that their practices were influenced by the ancient Unani system of medicine, which is still practiced in the Indian dub-continent countries. Informed consent was first obtained from all three practitioners. They were apprised of the nature of our visit, and consent obtained to disseminate any provided information both nationally and internationally.
Actual interviews were conducted with the help of a semi-structured questionnaire and the guided field-walk method of Martin (1995) and Maundu (1995). Briefly, in this method, the practitioners took the interviewers on guided field-walks through areas from where they collected their medicinal plants, pointed out the plants, and described their uses. Bengali was the language used during the interviews, since both practitioners as well as interviewers belonged to the mainstream Bengali-speaking population. Plant specimens as pointed out be the practitioners were photographed, collected and dried and brought back to Dhaka for identification at the Bangladesh National Herbarium. Voucher specimens were deposited with the Medicinal Plant Collection Wing of the University of Development Alternative.
Results and Discussion
The three practitioners between themselves used a total of 51 plants distributed into 36 families for treatment of various ailments. The various ailments treated included diabetes, respiratory disorders (coughs, mucus), fever, tuberculosis, sexual disorders, gastrointestinal disorders (dysentery, diarrhea, bloating, indigestion, constipation), vomiting, helminthiasis, rabies, jaundice, infections, heart disorders, leucorrhea, skin disorders, gonorrhea, urinary problems, oral lesions, edema, typhoid, liver disorders, to facilitate childbirth, blood poisoning, eye disorders, memory loss, ovarian problems, vaginitis, and hypertension. The results are shown in Table 1. From the number of plants used, gastrointestinal disorders like diarrhea, dysentery, bloating (flatulency), and indigestion were the most common ailments afflicting the population of Bhola Island. This is not surprising considering that most villages of Bangladesh lack proper toilet facilities and access to quality drinking water.
Gastrointestinal disorders were treated with 20 plants. These were followed by respiratory disorders like coughs and mucus, which were treated with 13 plants. Sexual disorders were treated with 8 plants, helminthiasis with 7 plants, diabetes with 5 plants, and fever with 4 plants. A notable feature of the practitioners was that with a few exceptions one plant was used to treat any specific disease and not a combination of plants. However, one plant was also observed for treatment of more than one ailment. The seeds of Mangifera indica were used to treat only diabetes. However, various parts from Alstonia scholaris were used for treatment of skin infections, dysentery, diarrhea, and fever. An interesting feature of the treatment of fever with this plant was that fever was claimed to be reduced by the practitioners without any sweating or any physical weakness, which usually happens when fever is reduced with allopathic drugs.
There were only several instances where multiple plants or plant parts were used for the treatment of any given ailment. Barks of Erythrina indica and Terminalia arjuna were used in combination as a sex stimulant (which was also considered as abnormal lessening of sexual desire in otherwise normal males or females). Leaves of a Bambusa species were used with leaves of Aegle marmelos for treatment of sudden bouts of vomiting. Bark of Abroma augusta was used in combination with bark of Saraca asoca and bark or root of Rauwolfia serpentina for treatment of any rise of blood pressure during night. The use of Abroma augusta and Saraca asoca along with Rauwolfia serpentina was somewhat unusual, for Rauwolfia serpentina itself is known to be a good candidate for treating hypertension (Vakil, 1955). However, Abroma augusta is known to contain friedelin (Khare, 2007); friedelin has been shown to demonstrate vasodilator effect on phenylephrine-induced vasoconstriction in thoracic aortas in rats (Jiao et al., 2007), and so can be beneficial in reducing blood pressure. Saraca asoca bark is known to contain catechin (Khare, 2007); the anti-hypertensive effects of catechin has been reported (Jaffri et al., 2011). Thus together, the three plants can exert a powerful hypotensive effect in patients with high blood pressure, and as such, available scientific reports validate the practitioner's use of the three plants as antihypertensive agents.
Of the various ailments treated by the practitioners, one of the most important is diabetes. Diabetes is fast becoming endemic throughout the world, possibly due to a change in people's food habits and a more sedentary lifestyle. The primary symptom of diabetes is high blood and urine sugar levels, and the disease cannot be cured by allopathic medicine. As such, any formulation or drug that can cure diabetes will prove to be a boon for human beings. Mangifera indica seed pulp was used by the practitioners for treatment of diabetes. Use of leaves of this plant for antidiabetic purposes has been reported in Indian traditional medicine (Khare, 2007); antihyperglycemic effects of ethanolic extract of leaves have also been reported in alloxan-induced diabetic rats (Kemasari et al, 2011). Ficus hispida, another plant used by the practitioners for treatment of diabetes, reportedly showed hypoglycemic activity in normal and diabetic albino rats (Ghosh et al., 2004). Also noteworthy is that another plant used by the practitioners for treatment of diabetes, namely Syzygium cumini, has been widely reported in the scientific literature to possess antidiabetic effects (Bopp et al., 2009; Dusane and Joshi, 2011; Baliga et al, 2013; Ayyanar et al, 2013).
Rheumatism is another disease which cannot be cured completely with allopathic drugs. The practitioners used the plant, Calotropis gigantea, to treat rheumatism. The same plant has also been reported to be used by the tribals of Kalakad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve, Western Ghats, Tamil Nadu, India, for treatment of rheumatism (Sutha et al., 2010). Lupeol, a constituent of the plant has been shown to have beneficial effects in rheumatoid arthritis (Gallo and Sarachine, 2009). The use of other plants by the practitioners can be validated on the basis of existing scientific reports. To cite just a few instances, Adhatoda vasica, used by the practitioners for treatment of coughs and tuberculosis, has reported anti-tussive activity (Dhuley, 1999). The anti-tuberculosis activity of the plant against multi-drug resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis isolates has also been reported (Gupta et al, 2010).
Anti-bacterial activity of Centella asiatica has been reported against enteric pathogens (Mamtha et al., 2004), a plant used by the practitioners for treatment of diarrhea and dysentery. The practitioners also used bark of Alstonia scholaris to treat diarrhea and dysentery. In scientific studies, the bark of this plant has been shown to have anti-diarrheal effects (Saifuzzaman et al, 2013). The effectiveness of Terminalia arjuna bark in cardiovascular disorders has also been shown (Pingali et al, 2013); the practitioners also used bark of the plant for treatment of heart disorders. The hepatoprotective activity of Mikania scandens has been reported against alcohol induced hepatotoxicity in rats (Maity et al, 2012), a plant advised to be orally taken by the practitioners to maintain a healthy liver.
Many allopathic medicines have been discovered by close observations of the practices of indigenous communities (Balick and Cox, 1996; Cotton, 1996; Gilani and Rahman, 2005). Traditional medicinal systems can still play a vital role for the discovery of novel compounds from plants, which can prove to be efficacious drugs against both existing drug-resistant old diseases as well as emerging diseases. From that view point, the medicinal plants used by the Bhola Island practitioners deserve further scientific studies. Bangladesh is fast losing its medicinal plant resources because of population increases, deforestation and climate changes. Discovery of newer drugs from the medicinal plants of the country can lead to intensified efforts to save these plants from complete disappearances.
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Md. Imam Hossain Tuhin, Md. Asaduzzaman, Enamul Islam, Zubaida Khatun, Mohammed Rahmatullah
Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Development Alternative, Dhanmondi, Dhaka-1209, Bangladesh
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 Ph: 88-01715032621 Fax: 88-02-8157339 E mail: email@example.com
Table 1: Medicinal plants and formulations of the folk medicinal herbalists of Bhola district, Bangladesh. Serial Number Scientific Name Family Name 1 Acanthus Acanthaceae ilicifolius L. 2 Adhatoda vasica Acanthaceae Nees 3 Amaranthus dubius Amaranthaceae Mart. ex Thell. 4 Mangifera indica L. Anacardiaceae 5 Centella asiatica Apiaceae (L.) Urb. 6 Alstonia scholaris Apocynaceae (L.) R. Br. 7 Rauwolfia serpentina Apocynaceae (L.) Benth. 8 Scindapsus Araceae officinalis Schott 9 Calotropis gigantea Asclepiadaceae (L.) R. Br. 10 Eclipta alba Asteraceae (L.) Hassk. 11 Mikania scandens Asteraceae (L.) Willd. 12 Spilanthes acmella Asteraceae (L.) Murray 13 Oroxylum indicum L. Bignoniaceae 14 Ananas comosus Bromeliaceae (L.) Merr. 15 Terminalia arjuna Combretaceae (Roxb) W. & A. 16 Ipomoea aquatica Convolvulaceae Forssk. 17 Bryophyllum Crassulaceae pinnatum (Lam.) Kurz. 18 Brassica napus L. Cruciferae 19 Coccinia grandis Cucurbitaceae (L.) Voigt 20 Momordica Cucurbitaceae charantia L. 21 Cuscuta reflexa Cuscutaceae Roxb. 22 Diospyros blancoi Ebenaceae A. DC. 23 Phyllanthus Euphorbiaceae emblica L. 24 Phyllanthus Euphorbiaceae reticulatus Poir. 25 Erythrina indica Fabaceae Lam. 26 Phaseolus trilobus Fabaceae Ait. 27 Saraca asoca Roxb. Fabaceae 28 Tamarindus Fabaceae indica L. 29 Ocimum Lamiaceae tenuiflorum L. 30 Cinnamomum tamala Lauraceae (Buch.-Ham.) T. Nees 31 Litsea glutinosa Lauraceae (Lour.) C. B. Rob. 32 Allium sativum L. Liliaceae 33 Microcos Malvaceae paniculata L. 34 Aphanamixis Meliaceae polystachia Wall and Parker 35 Stephania Menispermaceae japonica (Thunb.) Miers 36 Ficus hispida L. Moraceae 37 Ficus Moraceae religiosa L. 38 Musa acuminata L. Musaceae 39 Syzygium cumini Myrtaceae (L.) Skeels 40 Geodorum Orchidaceae densiflorum (Lamarck) Schlechter 41 Piper betle L. Piperaceae 42 Bambusa sp. Poaceae 43 Cynodon dactylon Poaceae (L.) Pers. 44 Aegle marmelos Rutaceae (L.) Corr. 45 Smilax Smilacaceae zeylanica L. 46 Solanum Solanaceae sisymbriifolium Lam. 47 Solanum torvum Sw. Solanaceae 48 Abroma augusta L. Sterculiaceae 49 Clerodendrum Verbenaceae inerme (L.) Gaertn. 50 Clerodendrum Verbenaceae viscosum Vent. 51 Lippia alba Verbenaceae (Miller) N. E. Brown ex Britton & P. Wilson Serial Number Local Name Parts used 1 Arguji kanta Root 2 Bashok, Banshori Leaf, bark 3 Laal chita Root 4 Aam gach Seed 5 Thankuni pata Leaf, stem 6 Chaioan Sap, bark 7 Shorpo gondha Bark, root 8 Guruchi lota Leaf 9 Akondo Leaf, leaf sap 10 Kala kumontha Stem with leaf 11 Pakistani lota Leaf 12 Nak ful lota Flower 13 Naiahannal Bark 14 Anarosh Fruit 15 Arjun Bark 16 Kolmi shak Leaf, stem 17 Pathorkuchi Leaf 18 Shorisha Leaf 19 Telakochu Leaf 20 Korolla gach Fruit, leaf 21 Swarna lota Stem 22 Gab Fruit, bark of young tree 23 Amloki Leaf, fruit 24 Sikuri gach Stem 25 Madar Bark 26 Mugani Fruit, seed 27 Ashok Bark 28 Tetul Fruit, bark, leaf 29 Tulsi Leaf 30 Tejpata Leaf 31 Lota peuli Leaf 32 Roshun Clove 33 Gorostani gach Leaf 34 Rona gach Bark 35 Muchikani Portion just lota above the root, leaf 36 Joggo dumur, Bohi Fruit 37 Parkuni Bark, seed 38 Kola 'Thore' (inner part of trunk 39 Jam gach Fruit, bark 40 Goronda Fruit 41 Paan Leaf, leaf stalk 42 Bansh Leaf 43 Durba ghash Leaf 44 Bel Leaf, fruit 45 Kumaria Young leaf lota 46 Kontikari, Fruit, whole plant Kata morich 47 Tith baegun Whole plant, root 48 Ulot kombol Bark 49 Bondura Leaf gach 50 Bhatoi Young leaf 51 Motka lota Leaf Serial Disease, Symptoms, Number Formulations, and Administration 1 "Meho' (diabetes), 'promeho' (hormonal disorders). Crushed roots are soaked in water overnight. In the following morning the water is orally taken on an empty stomach along with sugarcane molasses and water in which rice has been washed. This is continued for 7 days. 2 Coughs, mucus, fever. Juice obtained from crushed leaves is taken orally. Tuberculosis, passing of blood through the mouth due to lung disorders. Dried and powdered bark is taken orally. 3 To induce abortion. Roots are orally taken. 4 Diabetes. Pulp of seeds is orally taken. Alternately, juice obtained from young leaves is orally taken. Sexual weakness. Powdered seeds are taken orally. 5 Bloating, gastrointestinal disorders (diarrhea, dysentery), to increase memory. Juice obtained from crushed leaves and stems is taken till cure. 6 Skin infections. Sap is applied to skin infections. Dysentery, diarrhea, fever. Dried and powdered bark is orally taken till cure. Note that oral administration of the bark leads to quick reduction of fever without associated sweating and physical weakness. 7 See Serial Number 48. 8 Anti-emetic, helminthiasis, indigestion. Juice obtained from crushed leaves is orally taken. 9 Rheumatism. Leaves are soaked in warm old ghee (clarified butter) and applied topically to rheumatism affected areas. Rabies. Leaf sap is taken orally with 'batasha' (locally produced sweet item prepared from flour). 10 Jaundice, to keep stomach cool. Leaves and stems are cooked and eaten. Alternately, juice obtained from crushed leaves and stems is taken orally. 11 Gastric problems, to keep liver in healthy state, bleeding from external cuts and wounds. Juice from crushed leaves is orally taken for alleviation of gastric problems and to keep liver healthy. Juice obtained from crushed leaves is topically applied to cuts and wounds to stop bleeding. 12 Tooth infections. Flowers are kept pressed against infected tooth till cure. 13 Jaundice. Barks is lightly crushed and then soaked in water overnight. The following morning, the water is taken with sugarcane molasses in the form of a sherbet. 14 Helminthiasis, to increase appetite, mucus. Young fruits are eaten (cannot be given to children because it causes bloating). 15 Heart disorders, low semen density, coughs, blood purifier, leucorrhea. Bark is soaked in water overnight. The following morning, the water is taken orally with sugarcane molasses in the form of a sherbet. Also see Serial Number 25. 16 Gonorrhea, antidote to poisoning, to increase milk of nursing mother, low sperm count, low semen volume. Leaves and stems are cooked and eaten. Alternately, leaves and stems are fried in oil or ghee (clarified butter) and taken with rice or bread. 17 Urinary disorders. Juice obtained from crushed leaves is orally taken. 18 Cold. Juice obtained from crushed leaves is taken orally till cure. 19 Coughs, bloating. Juice obtained from crushed leaves is orally taken till cure. 20 Helminthiasis. Fruits are cooked and eaten; alternately, juice obtained from crushed leaf is taken in the form of sherbet. 21 Gastric troubles. Juice obtained from crushed stems is orally taken with sugarcane molasses for 7 days. 22 Oral lesions, dysentery, blood purification, coughs. Ripe fruits are eaten. Alternately, bark of young tree is powdered and taken orally. 23 Jaundice. Juice obtained from crushed leaves is taken orally till cure. To keep head cool, hair loss, graying of hair. Fruits are soaked in water for 4-5 hours and then crushed. Crushed fruits are then applied to scalp. 24 Oral lesions in children. Crushed stems are topically applied to inside of the mouth. 25 Sex stimulant. Barks of Erythrina indica and Terminalia arjuna are dried and powdered. Equal amounts of powder from barks of the two plants are taken with honey every night before sleeping till desired result is achieved. 26 Eczema, black spots on skin. Fruits are rubbed on a flat stone and paste prepared. The paste is applied to affected areas. Black spots on skin. Powdered seeds are mixed with kerosene oil and applied to affected areas. Fever, burning sensations in the body, low sperm count, low semen density. Seeds are boiled in water and the decoction taken orally. 27 See Serial Number 48. 28 Premature ejaculation, bloating. Unripe fruits are orally taken. Indigestion, coughs, burning sensations in the body, leucoderma, acne. Ripe fruits are orally taken. Loss of appetite, frequent thirsts. Dried bark is orally taken. Edema, blood poisoning, pain, blood dysentery. Leaves from young tress are orally taken till cure. 29 Coughs, mucus, respiratory difficulties. Juice obtained from crushed leaves is orally taken with honey. 30 Coughs, vomiting, loss of appetite. Crushed leaves are orally taken till cure. 31 To increase strength, constipation, laxative. Juice obtained from leaves is taken orally with water and sugarcane molasses. 32 See Serial Number 49. 33 To keep body cool and normal. Juice obtained from crushed leaves is taken orally with sugarcane molasses. 34 Typhoid, liver disorders. Bark is soaked in water overnight and the water taken orally the next morning. Note that it is also a preventive medicine to keep liver in healthy condition. 35 To facilitate childbirth, coughs, helmintic infections. About 4 finger length of the stem above the root is inserted into the vagina to facilitate childbirth. Juice obtained from crushed leaves is orally taken for helmintic infections and coughs. 36 Diabetes. Fruits are orally taken every morning. 37 Burning sensations in the body. Juice obtained from crushed bark is taken orally. To quench frequent thirsts, leucorrhea. Powdered seeds and bark is taken orally. 38 Loss of appetite, meho (diabetes), vaginitis, leucorrhea, passing of blood with urine. The inner part of the trunk is cooked and eaten. 39 Loss of appetite, diabetes. Fruits are eaten till cure. Constipation, helmintic infections. Powdered bark is orally taken till cure. 40 Cuts and wounds. Fruits are applied to cuts and wounds. 41 Digestive, to remove foul odor from mouth, constipation. Fresh leaves are chewed for digestive purposes and to remove foul odor from mouth. Leaf stalk is inserted within the rectum to induce passing of stool. 42 Sudden bouts of vomiting. Leaves of the Bambusa sp. are boiled with leaves of Aegle marmelos and the water is then orally taken. 43 Bleeding from external cuts and wounds. Crushed leaves are applied to cuts and wounds to stop bleeding. 44 Dysentery. Young fruits are burnt and taken orally. Alternately, dried fruits are taken. To keep stomach cool. Ripe fruits are mixed with water and taken in the form of sherbet. Also see Serial Number 42. 45 Sex stimulant, to keep liver healthy. Young leaves are fried in ghee (clarified butter) and taken orally for 7 days. 46 To increase memory, heart disorders, eye disorders, ovarian problems, helminthiasis, indigestion. Juice obtained from crushed fruits or whole plants is orally taken. 47 Fever, coughs, loss of appetite, leprosy, heart disorders. Juice obtained from whole plant is taken orally. Entering of thorn in any part of the body. Roots are inserted into a banana fruit and taken orally in the morning (thorns come out by themselves following this procedure). 48 Rise of blood pressure during night. Bark of Abroma augusta is mixed with bark of Saraca asoca, bark or root of Rauwolfia serpentina and then powdered or boiled in water. The powder or water is taken for 7 days. 49 Stomach disorders. Crushed leaves of Clerodendrum inerme are taken with cloves of Allium sativum till cure. 50 Helminthiasis, rheumatic pain. Juice obtained from crushed young leaves is taken on an empty stomach with sugarcane molasses in the morning for three consecutive days. 51 Mucus, coughs. Juice obtained from crushed leaves is mixed with sugarcane molasses in the form of sherbet and taken orally.
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|Title Annotation:||Original Articles|
|Author:||Tuhin, Imam Hossain; Asaduzzaman, Md.; Islam, Enamul; Khatun, Zubaida; Rahmatullah, Mohammed|
|Publication:||American-Eurasian Journal of Sustainable Agriculture|
|Date:||Apr 1, 2013|
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