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Medicinal practices of a Pahan tribal healer in Dinajpur district, Bangladesh.

INTRODUCTION

The Pahans are a small tribal community residing in isolated pockets in the northwestern districts of Bangladesh. Because of their low numbers, they are fast losing their cultural identities, which also include their traditional medicinal practices. Indigenous communities usually have extensive knowledge on medicinal plants and treatment with those plants because of their closeness to nature and extensive experiences in dealing with plants. As such, it is useful to document their traditional medicinal practices.

We had been conducting ethnomedicinal surveys among folk and tribal medicinal practitioners for several years [40,55,10,14,28,29,59,1,8,12,17,18,66,63,71,73,11,1 3,16,19,64,70,3,36]. We have previously documented the medicinal practices of a Pahan community living in Natore district, Bangladesh [67]. The objective of the present survey was to document the traditional medicinal practices of a Pahan healer among the Pahan community of Kukrobon village in Dinajpur district, Bangladesh.

Materials and Methods

The Pahan community had only one tribal healer, named Sudhir Pahan, of 65 years in age, and by gender male. Prior Informed Consent was first obtained from the healer. The healer was explained the full purpose of our visit and consent obtained to disseminate any information provided in both national and international venues. Actual interviews were conducted with the help of a semi-structured questionnaire and the guided field-walk method of Martin [25] and Maundu [26]. In this method, the healer took the interviewers on guided field-walks through areas from where he collected his medicinal plants, pointed out the plants, and described their uses. Plant specimens were photographed and collected on the spot, pressed, dried and brought back to Dhaka to be identified at the Bangladesh National Herbarium. Detailed information was obtained from the healer in evening sessions when convenient with the help of the semi-structured questionnaire and open-ended interviews where the healer spoke at length on various medicinal plants and diseases treated. All information was noted down carefully. The healer could speak and understand Bengali fluently, which was the language of the interviewers and in which language interviews were conducted. Several plant specimens could not be identified at the Bangladesh National Herbarium and they have not been mentioned in this manuscript.

Results and Discussion

The healer was observed to use a total of 33 plants distributed into 26 families in his medicinal formulations. Besides plants, the healer also used duck eggs and camphor for treatment of dysentery. The various diseases treated by the healer included diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders, cuts, wounds, injuries, tonsillitis, dehydration, snake bite, pain, hair loss, dandruff, sexual disorders, tuberculosis, burning sensations in hand or foot, coughs, pus in ears, tongue lesions in children, and bone fracture. The results are shown in Table 1.

The use of duck eggs for treatment is not uncommon in indigenous communities. The Magars of Central Nepal eat duck eggs to improve poor eye sight [23]. The use of camphor is also prevalent among indigenous communities to cure diverse diseases. For instance, the traditional healers of Eastern Ghats region in Orissa, India, use camphor along with whole plant paste of Caesulia axillaris and mustard oil to cure coughs, cold, and nasal congestion [49]. Oil extracted from root of Pergularia daemia and dried coconut kernel is mixed with camphor and used to strengthen teeth and cure gingiva by the people of Panruti Taluk, Cuddalore district, Tamil Nadu, India [69]. In Poonch District of Jammu and Kashmir, India, camphor is used with alum and bark powder of Berberis lyceum to cure toothache [19].

Andrographis paniculata was used by the healer to treat diabetes and stomach pain. The antidiabetic property of ethanolic extract of the plant has been reported [79]. Analgesic activity of aqueous extract of leaves of the plant has also been reported [76]. Thus the practices of the healer regarding this plant can be seen to be validated on the basis of available scientific reports. Antiinflammatory and antinociceptive properties of ethanolic extract of leaves of Justicia gendarussa have been described [75]; the Pahan healer used stems of the plant for treatment of toothache. The Pahan healer used roots of Achyranthes aspera to treat injury. Injury can also lead to pain. Antinociceptive property of methanolic extract of leaves of the plant has been reported [4].

The Pahan healer used fruits of Piper nigrum in a number of his formulations. Aqueous extract of Piper nigrum fruits has been shown to have antidiarrheal properties [74]. It is possible that the other plants which were used with Piper nigrum fruits like Hemidesmus indicus had side-effects like gastrointestinal disorders and so Piper nigrum fruits were used to alleviate such problems. It is interesting that in Ayurveda, the ancient system of traditional medicine in the Indian sub-continent, the fruits are considered carminative and as gastrointestinal stimulants [22]. It is further interesting that the healer used the term 'meho' to indicate diabetes. Meho is an Ayurvedic term, and diabetes is known as 'madhumeho', meaning excessive sugar in urine. The healer also used the term diabetes by itself. Meho and Promeho are also used by traditional practitioners to indicate whitish discharge in urine of men, which may be indicative of gonorrhea [21]. The healer mentioned that in his opinion, diabetes is excessive sugar in urine, while meho was a descriptive term covering a whole range of disorders along with diabetes. These disorders included obesity, having burning sensations during urination, and frequent urination. Whether tribal practitioners of Bangladesh are influenced by Ayurveda is an open question, for both tribal practitioners and Ayurveda have existed side-by-side in the country for thousands of years. However, the use of the term 'meho' indicates that the Pahan tribe practitioner was possibly influenced by Ayurvedic practices to some extent.

The Pahan healer used Aristolochia indica for treatment of snake bite. The plant is used for a similar purpose by a number of indigenous communities of the Indian sub-continent. In Ayurveda, the plant has mentioned as an antidote to snake poison. The Kani tribes of Trivandrum district in Kerala, India, use the plant for treatment of snake bite [68]. The Sugali tribes of Yerramalais of Kurnool District, Andhra Pradesh, India, also use the plant against snake bite [5].The tribal communities of Paschim Medinipur District in West Bengal, India use roots of the plant against snake bite [72]. The plant is also used to treat snake bite by tribals of Tirunelveli Hills in Tamil Nadu, India [2]. Root decoction of the plant is used to treat snake bite by ethnic groups of Kadapa District, Andhra Pradesh, India [39]. In scientific studies, aqueous extract of roots of the plant has been shown to give partial relief against Russell's viper venom [6].

The Pahan healer used Opuntia dillenii for treatment of rheumatic pain. Analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties of aqueous extract of the plant have been described [24].Leucas aspera was also used by the Pahan healer for treatment of snake bite. The plant has been reported to be used for treatment of snake bite by folk practitioners of India [77]. The leaves of the plant along with fruits of Piper nigrum are used to treat snake bite in Kalahandi District of Odisha, India [33], which is very similar to the treatment by the Pahan healer. Ocimum sanctum was used by the Pahan healer to treat coughs; anti-tussive action of the plant has been demonstrated in guinea pig models [35].

The various reports on several of the plants used by the Pahan healer suggest that these plants are either scientifically validated in their uses or have comparative ethnomedicinal uses in other parts of the Indian sub-continent. As such, the plants merit potential for further studies towards discovery of lead compounds leading to discovery of better drugs.

The Pahan healer also treated dysentery where 2 boiled duck eggs were kept in the cold overnight and then taken orally with camphor in the morning on an empty stomach.

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Abul Hasnat Md. Shaneowaj, Md. Al-Mamun, Thamina Sultana, Afsana Papri, Md. Nahid Akter, Ashiqur Rahman Ashiq, Prince Suvro Biswas, Md. Tamirul Islam Tahir, Amar Chandra Sarkar, Mohammed Rahmatullah

Faculty of Life Sciences University of Development Alternative Dhanmondi, Dhaka- 1209, Bangladesh

Received: 25 April 2014; Revised:: 20 May 2014; Accepted: 25 May 2014; Available online: 28 June 2014

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: 02-9136285 Fax: 02-8157339 E-mail: rahamatm@hotmail.com
Table 1: Medicinal plants and
formulations of the Pahan tribal healer.

Serial      Scientific        Family Name       Local Name
Number         Name

1          Andrographis       Acanthaceae        Kalomegh
          paniculata(Bur
           m.f.) Wall.
               Nees

2            Justicia         Acanthaceae       Bish korla
            gendarussa
             Burm. f.

3          Achyranthes       Amaranthaceae      Chirchiti,
            aspera L.                             Chirti

4           Hemidesmus        Apocynaceae        Onontomul
           indicus (L.)
              R. Br.

5          Tabernaemont       Apocynaceae       Koiri gach
           ana recurva
              Roxb.

6            Borassus          Arecaceae           Taal
          flabellifer L.

7          Aristolochia     Aristolochiaceae   Godh (ishwar)
            indica L.                              tita

8          Eclipta alba        Asteraceae      Kalo keshari
           (L.) Hassk.

9           Eupatorium         Asteraceae        Bagh jhar
           adenophorum
             Spreng.

10            Bombax          Bombacaceae         Shimul
             ceiba L.

11           Opuntia           Cactaceae       Foni monsha,
             dillenii                            lahajang
         (Ker-Gawl) Haw.

12          Terminalia        Combretaceae        Bohera
            bellirica
            (Gaertn.)
              Roxb.

13          Terminalia        Combretaceae        Hortoki
             chebula
              Retz.

14           Ipomoea         Convolvulaceae     Loth kolmu,
             aquatica                           Kolmu lota
             Forssk.

15         Phyllanthus       Euphorbiaceae        Amloki
            emblica L.

16         Phyllanthus       Euphorbiaceae         Nouee
           reticulatus
              Poir.

17            Cassia            Fabaceae         Chon alu,
            fistula L.                           Shon alu

18            Mimosa            Fabaceae         Lojjaboti
            pudica L.

19        Leucas aspera        Lamiaceae           Dulfi
           (L.) Willd.

20            Ocimum           Lamiaceae           Tulsi
            sanctum L.

21        Hibiscus rosa        Malvaceae           Joba
           sinensis L.

22          Stephania        Menispermaceae    Taka chokkor
          japonica(Thun
            b.) Miers

23           Streblus           Moraceae       Sheora, Soea
            asperLour.

24             Musa             Musaceae         Atia kola
          paradisiaca L.

25           Psidium           Myrtaceae          Peyara
            guajava L.

26           Pisonia         Nyctaginaceae      Bagha chura
           aculeata L.

27          Dendrobium        Orchidaceae        Porgacha
          macraei Lindl.

28            Piper            Piperaceae       Gol morich
            nigrum L.

29            Datura           Solanaceae         Dhutra
             metel L.

30            Abroma         Sterculiaceae      Ulot kombol
            augusta L.

31           Centella         Umbelliferae      Bang shak,
             asiatica                            Thankuni
            (L.) Urban
32            Cissus            Vitaceae          Harjora
          quadrangulari
               s L.

33           Zingiber        Zingiberaceae          Ada
            officinale
              Roscoe

Serial    Parts used        Disease, Symptoms,
Number                        Formulations,
                            and Administration

1         Leaf, stem     Diabetes, stomach pain.
                          Leaf and stem juice is
                              orally taken.

2            Stem        Toothache. Stem is used
                           to brush teeth once
                           daily in the morning
                                till cure.

3            Root         Injury. Crushed roots
                          of Achyranthes aspera
                         and flowers of Hibiscus
                            rosa sinensis are
                          applied to the injured
                            area thrice daily
                                till cure.

4            Root         Stomach pain. Crushed
                           roots of Hemidesmus
                         indicus are taken orally
                           with fruits of Piper
                          nigrum twice daily in
                             the morning and
                             night till cure.

5           Flower         Tonsillitis. Crushed
                                flowers of
                             Tabernaemontana
                          recurva and fruits of
                          Piper nigrum are taken
                            orally twice daily
                                till cure.

6             Sap         Dehydration. Crystalline
                            sugar obtained from
                            sap is taken orally
                                with water.

7          Stem, root       Stomach pain, snake
                              bite. Stem juice
                              is orally taken.
                             Diarrhea. Stem and
                               root juice is
                               orally taken.

8             Leaf            Cuts and wounds.
                             Crushed leaves are
                             applied once daily
                                 till cure.

9          Leaf, stem,         Cuts and wounds.
               bark          Leaves and stems of
                            Eupatorium adenophorum
                            and Leucas aspera are
                              crushed to make a
                             paste, which is then
                             applied topically to
                               cuts and wounds.
                               Cuts and wounds.
                             Bark is crushed with
                             dried cow dung, lime
                             (calcium oxide) and
                               salt and applied
                              topically to cuts
                            and wounds till cure.

10             Root          See Abroma augusta.

11         Whole plant      Rheumatic pain. Paste
          except thorns     of whole plant without
                            throns is applied to
                                painful areas
                                  topically.

12            Fruit          See Abroma augusta.

13            Fruit          See Abroma augusta.

14             Sap           Cuts and wounds. Sap
                             is applied topically
                               1-2 times daily
                                  till cure.

15            Fruit          Hair loss, dandruff,
                             to strengthen hair.
                              Fruits are cut and
                            soaked in coconut oil.
                               The oil is then
                               applied to hair.
                             See Abroma augusta.

16         Young leaf,        Sexual disorders.
               stem            Young leaves and
                               stems are taken
                              orally on an empty
                              stomach by chewing
                                once daily for
                                  3 months.

17             Bark           Tuberculosis. Bark
                             of Cassia fistula is
                            crushed with roots of
                             Pisonia aculeata and
                             pills made from the
                             crushed mixture. One
                             pill is taken on an
                             empty stomach twice
                             daily in the morning
                           and evening for 8 days.

18             Leaf           Burning sensations
                            in hand or feet. Paste
                            of leaves is topically
                             applied twice daily
                              to soles of feet.

19          Leaf, stem,        Snake bite. Juice
            whole plant       obtained from washed
                               and crushed whole
                                plants of Leucas
                                aspera is mixed
                              with one and a half
                             fruits of Piper nigrum
                              and applied to snake
                               bite and kept till
                               snake poison does
                                  not come out
                              (usually 1/2 hour).
                                 See Eupatorium
                                  adenophorum.

20              Leaf          Coughs in children.
                              Juice obtained from
                                leaves of Ocimum
                               sanctum and Piper
                             nigrum is taken orally
                                  with honey.
                              Hoarseness of voice.
                                 Leaf juice is
                                 taken with 4-5
                                grains of rice.

21             Flower       See Achyranthes aspera.

22           Leaf, stem      Meho (diabetes). Leaf
                               and stem juice is
                              taken orally with a
                               little sugar once
                              daily in the morning
                              on an empty stomach.
                              Bone fracture. Stems
                             of Stephania japonica
                                  and roots of
                             Dendrobium macraei are
                                crushed together
                              to make paste, which
                              is applied topically
                               over the fractured
                                area for 8 days.

23           Bark, sap       Blood dysentery. Bark
                             juice is taken with a
                              little lime (calcium
                                oxide). Cuts and
                             wounds. Sap is applied
                               once topically to
                               cuts and wounds on
                              at least 90% of the
                                  total area.

24         Bottom part of    Dysentery. The bottom
           inflorescence          part of the
                              inflorescence, which
                            is reddish in color, is
                            orally taken by chewing
                               once daily in the
                              morning on an empty
                               stomach till cure.

25           Young leaf     Toothache. Young leaves
                              are boiled in water
                              followed by gargling
                                with the water.

26              Root          See Cassia fistula.

27              Root        See Stephania japonica.

28              Leaf        See Hemidesmus indicus.
                            See Ocimum sanctum. See
                             Centella asiatica. See
                            Tabernaemontana recurva.
                            See Zingiber officinale.
                               See Leucas aspera.

29              Seed         Pus in ears. Seeds are
                             warmed in mustard oil
                              and several drops of
                             oil are applied within
                                   the ears.

30         Bark of root,       Diabetes, urinary
                root           disorder. Bark of
                                 root juice is
                               orally taken with
                            sugar. Meho (diabetes).
                              Fruits of Terminalia
                             bellirica, Terminalia
                            chebula and Phyllanthus
                               emblica are mixed
                              with roots of Abroma
                              augusta and roots of
                             Bombax ceiba, crushed
                               in water, and the
                               water taken in the
                               form of a sherbet.

31          Leaf, whole       Dysentery. Leaves of
               plant         Centella asiatica are
                            crushed with 2-3 fruits
                              of Piper nigrum and
                            taken orally once daily
                             till cure. To enhance
                              memory. Whole plant
                             juice is orally taken.

32              Leaf          Bone fracture. Leaf
                                paste is applied
                             topically to fractured
                             area till there is no
                                longer any pain.

33            Rhizome          Dysentery. Crushed
                              rhizome of Zingiber
                              officinale is orally
                              taken with 3 fruits
                                of Piper nigrum.
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Title Annotation:Research Article
Author:Shaneowaj, Abul Hasnat Md.; Mamun, Md. Al-; Sultana, Thamina; Papri, Afsana; Akter, Nahid; Ashiq, As
Publication:American-Eurasian Journal of Sustainable Agriculture
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:9BANG
Date:Apr 1, 2014
Words:5657
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