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Medicinal plants used by folk medicinal herbalists in seven villages of Bhola district, Bangladesh.

Introduction

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.

References

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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: rahamatm@hotmail.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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Article Details
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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
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:9BANG
Date:Apr 1, 2013
Words:6001
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