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Use of plants in healthcare: a traditional ethno-medicinal practice in rural areas of southeastern Bangladesh

Use of plants in healthcare: a traditional ethno-medicinal practice in rural areas of... International Journal of Biodiversity Science & Management Vol. 5, No. 1, March 2009, 41–51 Use of plants in healthcare: a traditional ethno-medicinal practice in rural areas of southeastern Bangladesh a,b a a c Mohammad Shaheed Hossain Chowdhury , Masao Koike *, Nur Muhammed , Md. Abdul Halim , c d Narayan Saha and Hajime Kobayashi Forest Policy Laboratory, Department of Forest Science, Faculty of Agriculture, Shinshu University, 8304 Minamiminowa-Mura, 399- b c 4598 Nagano-Ken, Japan; Administration Cadre of Bangladesh Civil Service, Govt. of the Peoples’ Republic of Bangladesh; Department of Forestry and Environmental Science, School of Agriculture and Mineral Sciences, Shahjalal University of Science and Technology, Sylhet-3114, Bangladesh; Laboratory of Forest Environment and Ecology, Department of Forest Science, Faculty of Agriculture, Shinshu University, Nagano-Ken, Japan This study considered traditional ethno-medicinal practices of rural people of Feni district, Bangladesh, focusing on their utilization of medicinal plants and associated indigenous knowledge. Ninety households were interviewed using a semi- structured questionnaire. Plant resources are used to treat 26 different ailments ranging from simple cuts to diabetes. In total, 46 medicinal plants are as used, of which a third are trees. Homesteads are the primary source and few medicinal plants are cultivated. Aboveground plant parts are most used, particularly leaves. The diverse patterns of use of different medicinal plant parts shows the considerable indigenous knowledge of rural people and is generally widely available. Keywords: medicinal plants; ailments; indigenous knowledge; using pattern; biodiversity; Bangladesh Introduction botanical medicines in the world. At present, the annual average global market for herbal raw materials is about The earliest mention of the medicinal use of plants is in the US$6 billion; this is projected to expand to about US$5 Rig Veda (4500–1600 BC), which includes information trillion by 2050 (Medicinal plants . . . 2008). Almost every about the use of plant parts as medicine in South Asia nation on Earth has started to put emphasis on activities (Ghani 2003; Shamshad 2004). Over time, interest in the concerning medicinal plants. For instance, Canada has exploitation of plants for therapeutic purposes increased at a begun to cultivate commercially valuable medicinal plants surprising rate (Walter 2001; Rao and Arora 2004). By the in British Columbia within the Medicinal Plant Project late 1970s, according to the World Health Organization (Wills 2008); almost every city and town in South Africa (WHO: Penso 1980; Medicinal plants . . . 2008), 21,000 has some form of trade in plants for medicinal purposes medicinal plant species were used globally. It is estimated (Dold and Cocks 2001); some plant-based finished products that 75% of the global population uses plants and plant have become prospective export commodities in Indonesia extracts for their medicinal needs (Abelson 1990). and are frequently sent to Japan, Saudi Arabia, the UK, Farnsworth et al. (1985) noted the reliance of more than Malaysia, Singapore and the Netherlands (Pramono 2002); 80% of the developing world on unconventional medicines, the Nepal Eco-essential Medicinal Plants Society has estab- predominantly plants, for primary healthcare. Over the past lished a park-cum-medicinal plant garden in western Nepal decade, there has been a dramatic increase in the demand for with a view to conserving the biodiversity of tropical med- medicinal plants for use in traditional medicine (TM) and icinal and aromatic plants (Shukla 2008). contemporary and alternative medicine (CAM) in both With productive soils, a tropical climate and seasonal developing and developed countries (Lee et al. 2008). In diversity, Bangladesh contains about 5000 plant species China, TM accounts for about 40% of all health care deliv- (Kadir 1990; Yusuf et al. 1994). About 500 of these species ered (WHO 2002) and, in Amazonia, medicinal plants serve are claimed to have medicinal or curative properties (Ghani as the main form of healthcare for a majority of the populace 2004; Hossain 2005; Medicinal plants . . . 2008). A total of (Shanley and Luz 2003). Developed countries have also started to focus on trade 85% of the country’s population live in rural areas (Halim in medicinal plants. Natural raw materials are used in 37% et al. 2007) and almost 80% are dependent on medicinal of global sales of pharmaceutical products (Pramono 2002). plants for their primary healthcare (Hossain 2005; According to Laird and Tenkate (2001), the largest global Medicinal plants . . . 2008), with herbal medication remain- markets for medicinal and aromatic plants are in China, ing a popular and accepted form of treatment (Rashid 2008). France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, the UK and the Mukul et al. (2007) stated that so many people habitually USA. Japan has the highest per capita consumption of use such medication because herbal treatment is, in some *Corresponding author. Email: makoike@gipmc.shinshu-u.ac.jp ISSN 1745-1590 print/ISSN 1745-1604 online # 2009 Taylor & Francis DOI: 10.1080/17451590902771342 http://www.informaworld.com 42 M.S.H. Chowdhury et al. cases, considered relatively cheap. However, its popularity hilly region of the CHT and other plains regions of the also stems from the efficacy of the treatment in most cases southern and middle part of the country. Its aim was to (Medicinal plants hold. . . 2007) and relative safety, with assess plant-based ethno-medicinal practice and document few or no side effects (Mukul et al. 2007). In addition, IK associated with it. herbal medicines, because of their decentralized nature, are generally easily and quickly available (Elliot and Study area Brimacombe 1986). Despite such a high demand and the presence of more than 400 companies producing herbal The study was carried out in rural areas of Feni (Figure 1), a medicines, medicinal plants are not yet commercially district in southeastern Bangladesh with an area of 928 km . farmed in Bangladesh. More than 90% of the plants and It consists of six upazillas (sub-districts): Chhagalnaiya, products needed to meet domestic demand are imported Daganbhuiyan, Feni Sadar, Parshuram, Phulgazi and from other countries, such as India, Nepal and Pakistan Sonagazi. The district was chosen because it is a transitional (Hossain 2005). Most rural people depend on medicinal zone between the southeastern vast hilly region (i.e. CHT) plants gathered from the wild, in adjacent village forests and other plains regions in the southern and middle of the (Halim et al. 2007), which cover about 13% of the total country. The annual average maximum and minimum tem- forested area of the country (Kibria et al. 2000). The cus- peratures are 34.3 C and 14.4 C, with an annual average tomary homestead tree production system also serves as a rainfall of 3302 mm. The district supports a population of source of plant products and remedies. About 10 million 1,196,219, with a literacy rate of 40.7%. Most people households in over 85,000 villages have usable land around (36.7%) have agriculture as their major occupation. There their homes and about 80% of this land is planted (Hossain are 74,824 ha of cultivable land and 772 ha of fallow land and Chatterjee 1999). (Sultan 2004). The main rivers are the Feni, Choto Feni and Traditionally, both rural and indigenous/ethnic commu- Muhuri; the landscape comprises the Tripura valley (as the nities worldwide are knowledgeable about the local plants district is bordered by the Tripura hills of India to the east), and other natural resources on which they are immediately Feni River estuary and green agricultural fields (BTTG dependent (Khisa 1998). Indigenous knowledge (IK) plays 2008). Feni is one of 28 districts where marginal lands a central role in disease diagnosis and healthcare practices in have become forested with both indigenous and exotic traditional medication systems (Zuberi 2004). The IK sys- tree species, with herbs and shrubs as understorey. tem presupposes the perception and understanding of local From the six upazillas of Feni, Sonagazi was selected people about their strategies of development (Chowdhury for detailed study because it is the southernmost region 2002). It develops through sharing experience, and is nor- facing the Bay of Bengal and bordered by two rivers – the mally passed orally between generations (Amin 2000). Feni and Choto Feni – to the east and west. The upazilla is Traditional systems and IK in developing countries, such more or less flooded during the rainy season, resulting in as Bangladesh, have been affected by rapid westernization deposition of sediments that increase the productivity of and introduction of modern medicines (Zuberi 2004). Given land, ultimately contributing to its botanical diversity. that many districts have virtually no designated forests, social forestry has been undertaken as an alternative sustain- Methods able forestry practice in Bangladesh, with marginal fallow lands – such as roadsides, sides of railway lines, institu- The study was conducted from early March to late July tional premises and degraded public forest areas – being 2007, using a multi-stage random sampling method. From brought under tree cover with the active participation of the upazilla, three villages were selected at random: one in local people and an effective benefit-sharing mechanism the northeast, one in the southwest, and the other in the (Muhammed et al. 2005). These marginal plantations to middle of the upazilla, so that the findings would reflect the some extent substitute for the decreasing village forests, whole upazilla. From each of the three villages, 30 house- and are adding a new dimension to fallow land utilization holds (irrespective of socio-economic condition) were (SDNPBD 2006). selected randomly for the comprehensive study. Thus a With regard to the use of plants for medicinal purposes, total of 90 households were selected. Before the household Alam (1992) reported the use of 76 species by the Marma survey, casual field visits were arranged within the villages tribe in the Chittagong Hill Tract (CHT), Rahman (1999) with local old people, religious leaders and other key infor- recorded 52 species used by the tribal people of Sylhet and mants to review and document the availability of medicinal CHT, Halim et al. (2007) found that 47 species were used by plants in the locality. the religio-cultural Shaiji community of southwestern A semi-structured questionnaire was used to collect the Bangladesh, and Mukul et al. (2007) explored 40 species information in interviews with the household heads, with used by people near a conservation area of the northern hilly help from other family members when necessary. The region of Bangladesh. However, no study has focused on respondents were asked about the medicinal plants they the utilization of plants for healthcare by rural people in use, parts used, ailments treated, patterns of use and main- plain regions of the country. Thus, the present study was tenance of medicinal plants. The plants used for medicinal undertaken in Feni, a district devoid of natural forests, purposes were first recorded using local names. In some which is a transitional zone between the southeastern vast cases, an immediate visit to the habitat was organized with International Journal of Biodiversity Science & Management 43 Figure 1. Map of Feni district showing study area. 44 M.S.H. Chowdhury et al. the respondent to identify the species by its conventional Bangla name. Although local names of plants vary from region to region, established Bangla names have been well documented by Dey (2006) together with local names. Once local names had been obtained, the corresponding Bangla names were found by reference to Dey (2006) and, in some cases, by showing photographs to respondents. Finally, scientific names and family were obtained by consulting published literature (e.g. BARC 1972–1992; Chopra et al. 1992; Chevallier 1996; Das and Alam 2001; Dey 2006). Results and discussion Plants used for medicinal purposes Figure 2. Medicinal plants according to growth form in the study Like the hill people of Bangladesh, rural inhabitants of the area. study area in the plains use plant parts for different ailments. A total of 46 species belonging to 31 families and more than of two families, Apocynaceae and Asclepiadaceae, through- 40 genera were reported to be used as medicine (Table 1). out the world, including in the study area (Sajem and Gosai Among the medicinal plants, trees were the most frequent 2006; Halim et al. 2007; Mukul et al. 2007). growth form (34.8%), followed by herbs and shrubs (26.1% each), vines (8.7%) and palms (4.3%) (Figure 2). Similar trends were reported by Miah and Chowdhury (2003) and Sources of medicinal plants Mukul et al. (2007) among communities in hilly regions. In contrast, in a plains ecosystem, Halim et al. (2007) found Among the medicinal plant species of the study area, the that trees were used least. most frequent source (32.6%) (Figure 3) was the respon- Of the 31 families with medicinal properties, five dents’ homestead (homegardens): where a number of crops (Compositae, Combretaceae, Leguminosae, Liliaceae and including trees are grown with livestock, poultry and fish Rutaceae) each had three species, four families (Arecaceae, mainly to satisfy the farmer’s basic needs (Akhtar 1997). Cucurbitaceae, Verbenaceae and Zingiberaceae) had two Homesteads are primarily used to grow plants for household species each, and the other families had one species only. consumption, so that food and fruit species predominate. Schippmann et al. (2002) reported the wide therapeutic use They also supply timber, fuelwood, fodder and medicine in Table 1. Medicinal plants used by the rural people in the study area. Species Species Local Name Scientific Name Habit Family Local Name Scientific Name Habit Family Aam Mangifera indica Tree Anacardiaceae Kochu Colocasia esculenta Herb Araceae Ada Zingiber officinale Herb Zingiberaceae Komla Citrus aurantium Tree Rutaceae Adoni Centella asiatica Herb Umbelliferae Kela Musa spp Herb Musaceae Aphon Calotropis gigantean Shrub Asclepiadaceae Korola Momordica charantea Vine Cucurbitaceae Anarosh Aannas comosus Shrub Bromeliaceae Lemu Citrus aurantifolia Shrub Rutaceae Arjun Terminalia arjuna Tree Compretaceae Maya lota Mikamia scandens Vine Compositae Basak Adhatoda vasica Shrub Acanthaceae Mendi Lawsonia inermis Shrub Lythraceae Bel Aegle marmelos Tree Rutaceae Menda Litsea polyantha Tree Lauraceae Bhait Clerodendrum viscosum Shrub Verbenaceae Methi Trigonella foenum-graceum Shrub Leguminosae Chatim Alstonia scholaris Tree Apocynaceae Narkel Cocos nucifera Palm Arecaceae Chirota Swertia chirata Herb Sapindaceae Neem Azadirachta indica Tree Meliaceae Daad Cassia alata Shrub Leguminosae Ninda Vitex negundo Shrub Vebenaceae Dalim Punica granatum Tree Puniaceae Paan Piper betel Vine Piperaceae Dombor Ficus hispida Tree Moraceae Pathor kuchi Kalanchoe pinnata Herb Crassulaceae Dupa Cynodon dactylon Herb Graminae Piaj Allium ceipa L. Herb Liliaceae Genda Tagetes erecta Herb Compositae Roshun Allium sativum Herb Liliaceae Grito-kumari Aloe indica Herb Liliaceae Tela-kucha Coccinea cordifolia Vine Cucurbitaceae Holud Curcuma longa Herb Zingiberaceae Tetoi Tamarindus indica Tree Leguminosae Isopgul Plantago ovate. Herb Compositae Trifola Amloki Emblica officinale Tree Euphorbiaceae Jam Syzygium cumini Tree Myrtaceae Hortoki Terminalia chebula Tree Compretaceae Joba Hibiscus rosa-sinensis Shrub Malvacea Bohera Terminalia belerica Tree Compretaceae Jolpai Eleocarpus robustus Tree Elaeocarpaceae Tulshi Ocimum sanctum Shrub Lamiaceae Kanthal Artocarpus heterophyllus Tree Moraceae Shuari Areca catechu Palm Arecaceae International Journal of Biodiversity Science & Management 45 anthropogenic zones in the Atlantic Forest of northeastern Brazil. The highland Maya people of Chiapas, Mexico, rely almost exclusively on disturbed areas for medicinal plants, even in communities adjacent to primary forest (Stepp 2000 cited in Stepp and Moerman 2001). Voek (2004) reported that, compared to the biological diversity in old-growth forests, disturbed areas are floristically simpler and thus easier to comprehend. In the present study, the respondents only buy medicinal plant parts – fresh (fruits) or dried forms (other plant parts) – from markets when the species are not endemic to their area. Plants with multiple uses, either as vegetables or spices and condiments, were cultivated in the study area. Momordica charantia L. and Zingiber officinale Rosc. are two such species that are frequently used all over the coun- try. Respondents shared parts from plants such as Adhatoda Figure 3. Sources of medicinal plants in the study area. vasica Nees., Azadirachta indica Juss., Lawsonia inermis L., Punica granatum L. and Terminalia arjuna Bedd. with each other; even when only one or two medicinal plants Bangladesh, with the farmers’ carefully maintaining the grow in a homestead, the demands of neighbours as well as horizontal and vertical structure to ensure maximum use people living further away can easily be met. However, the of water, nutrients, light and space (Millat-e-Mustafa et al. preferred source of medicinal plants varies from region to 1996). Anthropogenic environments ranked second highest region, even from country to country, depending on avail- (28.3%) as a source of medicinal plants, followed by mar- ability. Unlike respondents in the study area, the Shaiji of kets (26.1%), homestead-and-market (8.7%) and cultivated Bangladesh (Halim et al. 2007), traditional healers of habitat (4.3%). Ethiopia (Yineger and Yewhalaw 2007) and local people According to respondents, anthropogenic environments in China (Lee et al. 2008) generally prefer wild-harvested comprise diversified habitats such as graveyards, jungle, medicinal plants. Halim et al. (2007), citing Palevitch fallow land, hinterland, roadsides, pond and canal banks (1991) and Uniyal et al. (2000), with regard to preferences and traditional village groves, from where they mainly of communities for collecting medicinal plant parts from collect herbaceous plants. The graveyards of rural wild sources, noted that the medicinal properties of plant Bangladesh are generally full of vegetation, due to the belief secondary metabolites produced under stress and competi- that the departed souls remain peaceful through the soothing tion are not always expressed in fast-growing monoculture. effects of plants. The villagers prefer graveyards mainly In wild populations, plants grow more slowly and may have covered by herbs and shrubs, to reduce the problems arising higher levels of active compounds. While cultivated plants from large tree roots disturbing graves. Hinterlands behind are likely to be somewhat different properties from those homesteads are usually kept fallow and unproductive; in gathered in natural habitats, it is also clear that certain some cases, they are used for household waste disposal and compounds in plants can be deliberately enhanced under space for domestic poultry, with some herbaceous species controlled cultivation. planted. Voek (2004) found that older fallows in the humid tropics are sources of medicine, thatch, timber and fruits. Curative plant parts Village forests complement plant resources in homesteads; they consist of a small portion of privately-owned land Both above-and belowground plant parts are used in herbal serving as a reserve for trees and bamboo, which are planted medicine in the study area. Aboveground parts are used and managed for both personal and commercial use. more often (80.4%) than belowground parts (15.2%), and Together, village forests and homesteads constitute a tenth whole plants are rarely used (4.4%). In some cases, different (0.27 million ha) of the national forest area (2.53 million ha) parts of an individual plant are used for treating different (Muhammed et al. 2005). Vergara (1997) reported that ailments; in other cases, different parts of more than one village forests supply about 70% of the fuelwood and timber plant are mixed together and applied against a single ail- and 90% of bamboo used in construction and cottage indus- ment. Most often, leaves were used (37.0%), with only tries in Bangladesh. 6.5% of species have both leaves and other parts used According to the respondents, because growth forms (Figure 4); fruits are also used from 21.7% of species and other than herbs are abundant in homesteads, they do not flowers accounted for only 2.2%. The predominant use of collect medicinal parts from the wild. Most of these anthro- leaves has also been reported by researchers (e.g. Gazzaneo pogenic environments are disturbed areas, but human et al. 2005; Sajem and Gosai 2006; Bussmann and Sharon interference does not hamper the availability of medicinal 2006; Halim et al. 2007; Mukul et al. 2007). However, plants. Similarly, Gazzaneo et al. (2005) noticed the pre- Lulekal et al. (2008), in southeastern Ethiopia, found that ference of local specialists for using medicinal plants from local people mostly use roots of medicinal plants. Halim 46 M.S.H. Chowdhury et al. (five trees, two herbs and three vines). Colds/coughs and cuts/wounds are treated with six species, and indigestion and dysentery with five species each. Three species (Allium sativum L., Azadirachta indica Juss. and Aegle marmelos (L.) Correa.) used against up to five ailments. Mukul et al. (2007) reported the use of A. indica alone against six dis- eases by people in and around a conservation area of north- ern Bangladesh, and is known as ‘the village pharmacy’ in India (What is neem . . . 2008). The diverse pattern of use of different parts of medicinal plants (Table 3) shows that rural people have a high level of indigenous knowledge, as discussed below. Most plant parts are consumed orally after processing, such as macerating, squeezing, grinding, blending, soaking or boiling in water, Figure 4. Different plant parts used against ailments in the study milk or mustard oil, rubbing or burning. Some are taken area. raw, and some after cooking. Some are applied externally to different body parts for cuts, wounds, scabies, muscle con- gestion, joint pain or skin problems. One unusual use of et al. (2007) opined that plentiful use of leaves ensures fresh mango leaf is as a toothbrush, without any toothpaste, sustainable harvesting of medicinal plants; and Schippmann to keep teeth healthy; another is the sun-dried seed of Jam et al. (2002) suggested that this also provides an incentive to (Syzygium cumini (L.) Skeels.), which, after grinding into protect and maintain wild populations and their habitats and powder, is taken with salt as a regular treatment for diabetes. the genetic diversity of such medicinal plants. Pandey and Khan (2002) found that the 40% water-soluble gummy fiber in Jam seeds lowers blood glucose levels in diabetic rats. Another frequently used medicinal plant is the Patterns of use for specific ailments vine Momordica charantia L., where both the leaf and fruit The study found that local people use plants to treat are used against diabetes (cf. Umesh et al. 2005). Dean 26 ailments (Table 2). Ten species are used against diabetes (1997, cited in Miah and Chowdhury 2003) found that M. charantia L. proteins (momorcharins) selectively inactivate Table 2. Number of plants used against different ailments in the ribosomes of tumor and HIV-infected cells, without dama- study area. ging healthy cells. Number of plants used Ailments Herb Shrub Tree Vine Palm Total Maintenance, myth and traditional beliefs Apathy to food intake – – 2 – – 2 Since most of the plant parts used for curing ailments are Cold & cough 4 2 – – – 6 gathered from homesteads, the respondents use several Constipation 2 – 1 – – 3 maintenance regimes (Alam and Mohiuddin 1992). Cuts & wounds 4 – – 2 – 6 However, some rural people raise certain species with Dandruff – 1 – – – 1 medicinal properties, particularly Azadirachta indica Diabetes – 2 5 3 – 10 Diarrhoea – – 1 – 1 2 Juss., Punica granatum L., Lawsonia inermis L., Ocimum Dysentery – 2 1 1 1 5 sanctum L. and Areca catechu L. A. indica is usually Earache 1 1 – – – 2 planted on the southern side of the homestead in the belief Faintness 1 – – – – 1 that air from the south is purified by its foliage. L. inermis L. Fever 1 1 – – – 2 Flatulence 1 – 1 1 1 4 and O. sanctum L. are viewed as sacred plants by Muslim Heatstroke 1 – 1 – 1 3 and the Hindu religious communities, respectively, and are Hypertension & heart 1– 1 – – 2 the most cared-for species in the study area. The leaf of L. disease inermis L. is often used in dyeing the palms of hands of Indigestion – – 4 1 – 5 women and children on religious occasions, and of bridal Joint pain & –1 – 1 – 2 rheumatism couples, and more generally in the Muslim community, and Liver disease 1 – – – – 1 younger family members sometimes put their own blood at Oral disease – 2 2 – – 4 the base of the plant at the time of planting, hoping for long Scabies & skin disease – 1 1 – – 2 life. In the Hindu community, the leaf of O. sanctum L. is Sexual disease 1 – – – – 1 used commonly in worship; the earth around the base of this Skin dullness 2 1 – – – 3 Tonsil pain – 1 – – – 1 species is kept neat and clean, with regular mud paste added Ulcer & gastric pain 3 – 4 – – 7 by older Hindu women. Miah and Rahman (2004) also Urinating problem 1 – – – 1 2 reported on these two plants and their religious significance Vomiting – – – – 1 1 having positive effects on the flora of the Muslim and Hindu Worms in intestine 1 – 1 – – 2 homesteads in Bangladesh. Some species (e.g. Aloe indica International Journal of Biodiversity Science & Management 47 Table 3. Using pattern of medicinal plants in the study area with parts used and ailments. Local name Scientific name Part used Ailments Use patterns Source Aam Mangifera indica Leaf Teeth disease Fresh leaves wrapped and used as toothbrush without tooth paste Homestead Ada Zingiber officinale Rhizome Cold/cough Cut into pieces, boiled with tea, drunk with lemon juice and salt Cultivated Adoni Centella asiatica Whole plant Cold/cough Cut into pieces, macerated and mixed with onion, green chilli and mustard oil, eaten Anthropogenic with hot rice Aphon Calotropis Leaf Joint ache, rheumatism Mature leaves are heated over lamp, then placed and pressed over the joints Anthropogenic gigantean L. Anarosh Ananas comosus Ripe fruit Fever, intestinal worm The inner flesh eaten raw Market Arjun Terminalia arjuna. Bark Hypertension & heart disease Soaked in water, drunk on a regular basis Homestead Basak Adhatoda vasica Leaf Cough, phlegm congestion Leaves macerated and extract drunk Anthropogenic during cold Bel Aegle marmelos Fruit Heatstroke Inner flesh of fruits blended with salt and sugar taken orally Homestead and Ulcer, gastric pain, indigestion, Dried inner flesh soaked in water and drunk, soft fruity parts chewed market constipation Bhait Clerodendrum Root Earache Roots squeezed, extract heated and applied inside ears with cotton bud after cooling Anthropogenic viscosum Chatim Alstonia scholaris Bark Diabetes Bark soaked in water and extract drunk Anthropogenic Chirota Swertia chirata Whole plant Gastric pain, diabetes, liver Dried plants soaked in water overnight and extract drunk in morning with empty Market disease, fever stomach Daad Cassia alata Leaf Scabies, skin diseases Fresh leaves ground to paste and applied over infected areas Anthropogenic Dalim Punica granatum Leaf Worms in intestine Leaves macerated and extract drunk in morning with empty stomach Homestead Dombor Ficus hispida Inflorescence Diabetes Cooked as vegetable and eaten with meals Anthropogenic Dupa Cynodon dactylon Young leaf Cuts and wounds Ground to paste and placed over wounds Anthropogenic Genda Tagetes erecta Leaf Cut Ground to paste and placed over cut to stop bleeding Homestead Grito-kumari Aloe indica Leaf Ulcer, constipation, skin dullness Leaf gel mixed with water and swallowed Homestead Holud Curcuma longa Rhizome Skin dullness Green rhizome ground to paste and massaged over face and hands Market Wounds in livestock Dried rhizome ground to paste, heated and applied over wounds in livestock injured by predators Isopgul Plantago ovate Seed coat Heatstroke, gastric pain, Soaked in water and drunk early in morning with empty stomach Market constipation Seeds Male sexual weakness A tablespoon of seed cooked with 250 mL milk and sugar and eaten as sweetmeats Jam Syzygium cumini Seed Diabetes Sun-dried seeds ground and eaten with salt Homestead Joba Hibiscus rosa- Flower Dysentery Petals rubbed in water and juice drunk Homestead sinensis. Hard skin on palms Petals macerated between palms Jolpai Eleocarpus Fruit Apathy to food Green fruit placed in hot rice water and eaten with salt Homestead robustus Kanthal Artocarpus Inflorescence Apathy to food Pieces, mixed with ripe tamarind, hot chilli and salt and eaten Homestead heterophyllus Kochu Colocasia Leaf Cuts and wounds Petiole extract applied over cuts and wounds Anthropogenic esculenta Komla Citrus aurantium L. Fruit skin Stomach pain Dried skin along with betel leaf is chewed and extract is swallowed Market Kela Musa spp Green fruit Dysentery Green fruits burned, macerated, mixed with onion and salt and eaten with hot rice Homestead and market Korola Momordica Leaf, fruit Diabetes Ground to extract and drunk on a regular basis. Fruit cooked and eaten with meals Cultivated charantea (Continued ) 48 M.S.H. Chowdhury et al. Table 3. (Continued) Local name Scientific name Part used Ailments Use patterns Source Lemu Citrus aurantifolia Leaf Pyorrhea Fresh mature leaf chewed Homestead and Fruit skin Pyorrhea Green fruit skin eaten with meal market Maya lota Mikamia scandens Leaf Cuts and wounds Macerated leaves placed over wounds to stop bleeding Anthropogenic Dysentery, diabetes Extract of leaves is drunk Mendi Lawsonia inermis Leaf Dandruff and grey hair Leaves ground to paste and applied to hair for 1–2 h, then rinsed and washed Homestead Leg burning in diabetes Dried leaves soaked in water overnight then drunk in the morning with empty stomach Menda Litsea polyantha Leaf Diarrhea and dysentery Juice from leaves taken orally. Anthropogenic Methi Trigonella foenum- Seed Diabetes Chewed with betel leaf and swallowed Market graceum Narkel Cocos nucifera Fresh juice Burning in urinating, heatstroke Natural water of green fruit drunk Homestead Fruit Diarrhea, dysentery Inner flesh eaten raw Neem Azadirachta indica Leaf Scabies, eczema, skin diseases Mature leaves ground to paste and placed over infected area Homestead Diabetes Fresh leaves cooked with shrimps and oil and eaten with rice. Dried leaves soaked in water overnight and extract drunk Twig Toothache Cut into 6† pieces and used as toothbrush without toothpaste Ninda Vitex negundo Leaf Tonsil pain Leaves boiled in hot water with salt and then gargled Anthropogenic Branch Toothache Cut into 6† pieces and used as toothbrush without toothpaste Paan Piper betel Leaf Flatulence, indigestion Chewed with betel nut, ginger and CaO and swallowed Market Congestion in muscles Leaf heated over lamp and placed over muscles Cuts and wounds Leaf macerated and applied over wounds to stop bleeding Pathor-kuchi Kalanchoe pinnata Leaf Cough in babies Fleshy leaves rubbed to extract juice and fed to babies with sugar Homestead Piaj Allium ceipa Bulb Phlegm congestion in cold Cut into pieces in hot water and vapour is slowly breathed Market Roshun Allium sativum Bulb Heart disease, flatulence, Eaten raw with regular meals Market troubles in urinating Faintness Heated with mustard oil, massaged on palms and feet Earache Heated with mustard oil and applied with cotton bud inside ear Tela-kucha Coccinea cordifolia Leaf Diabetes Leaves cooked and eaten with rice Anthropogenic Tetoi Tamarindus indica Fruit Diabetes Flesh of fruit rubbed in water and drunk with salt Homestead Trifola Amloki, Emblica officinale Dried fruit Ulcer, gastric pain, indigestion Soaked in water overnight and drunk in the morning with empty stomach Market Horitoki Terminalia chebula & Bohera T. belerica Tulshi Ocimum sanctum Leaf Cough Leaf extract drunk after mixing with a few drops of honey Homestead Shuari Areca catechu Seed Flatulence, vomiting Dried seeds cut into pieces, chewed and then swallowed Homestead and market International Journal of Biodiversity Science & Management 49 Tow., Kalanchoe pinnata (Lamk.) Pers. and Tagetes erecta the efficiency of screening plants for medicinal properties L.) are grown in earthen pots and kept in front of houses, by more than 400%. The IK practiced by rural people can serving both beautification and medicinal purposes. also be used in the conservation of forest resources, as proposed in the Convention on Biological Diversity. When leaves are the main part used for medicine, and they Indigenous knowledge are not overharvested – as often happens commercially – In traditional systems, IK plays a central role in disease but used for everyday treatment, rural people ensure sus- diagnosis and healthcare practices (Zuberi 2004). In the tainability in natural resource utilization, and this may be present study, the rural people depend heavily on plant the key factor in conservation of plant diversity. Full under- parts for curing a variety of ailments. Not only older people, standing of the medicinal values of plants used by rural but also younger people, possess some knowledge on med- people requires chemical analysis of the plant parts, which icinal use of plants. However, while older people have a vast may provide suggestions for research on the properties of knowledge on the treatment of disorders ranging from sim- those plants for treating diseases. Such research, linked to ple cuts to incurable diabetes, younger people are knowl- experimental trials of the effect would increase confidence edgeable only about plants used to treat common ailments of traditional users and healers. Both government agencies such as cuts, wounds, scabies, aching joints, stomach pain, and non-governmental organizations have roles to play in cold, coughs, diarrhea and dysentery. 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Use of plants in healthcare: a traditional ethno-medicinal practice in rural areas of southeastern Bangladesh

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Abstract

International Journal of Biodiversity Science & Management Vol. 5, No. 1, March 2009, 41–51 Use of plants in healthcare: a traditional ethno-medicinal practice in rural areas of southeastern Bangladesh a,b a a c Mohammad Shaheed Hossain Chowdhury , Masao Koike *, Nur Muhammed , Md. Abdul Halim , c d Narayan Saha and Hajime Kobayashi Forest Policy Laboratory, Department of Forest Science, Faculty of Agriculture, Shinshu University, 8304 Minamiminowa-Mura, 399- b c 4598 Nagano-Ken, Japan; Administration Cadre of Bangladesh Civil Service, Govt. of the Peoples’ Republic of Bangladesh; Department of Forestry and Environmental Science, School of Agriculture and Mineral Sciences, Shahjalal University of Science and Technology, Sylhet-3114, Bangladesh; Laboratory of Forest Environment and Ecology, Department of Forest Science, Faculty of Agriculture, Shinshu University, Nagano-Ken, Japan This study considered traditional ethno-medicinal practices of rural people of Feni district, Bangladesh, focusing on their utilization of medicinal plants and associated indigenous knowledge. Ninety households were interviewed using a semi- structured questionnaire. Plant resources are used to treat 26 different ailments ranging from simple cuts to diabetes. In total, 46 medicinal plants are as used, of which a third are trees. Homesteads are the primary source and few medicinal plants are cultivated. Aboveground plant parts are most used, particularly leaves. The diverse patterns of use of different medicinal plant parts shows the considerable indigenous knowledge of rural people and is generally widely available. Keywords: medicinal plants; ailments; indigenous knowledge; using pattern; biodiversity; Bangladesh Introduction botanical medicines in the world. At present, the annual average global market for herbal raw materials is about The earliest mention of the medicinal use of plants is in the US$6 billion; this is projected to expand to about US$5 Rig Veda (4500–1600 BC), which includes information trillion by 2050 (Medicinal plants . . . 2008). Almost every about the use of plant parts as medicine in South Asia nation on Earth has started to put emphasis on activities (Ghani 2003; Shamshad 2004). Over time, interest in the concerning medicinal plants. For instance, Canada has exploitation of plants for therapeutic purposes increased at a begun to cultivate commercially valuable medicinal plants surprising rate (Walter 2001; Rao and Arora 2004). By the in British Columbia within the Medicinal Plant Project late 1970s, according to the World Health Organization (Wills 2008); almost every city and town in South Africa (WHO: Penso 1980; Medicinal plants . . . 2008), 21,000 has some form of trade in plants for medicinal purposes medicinal plant species were used globally. It is estimated (Dold and Cocks 2001); some plant-based finished products that 75% of the global population uses plants and plant have become prospective export commodities in Indonesia extracts for their medicinal needs (Abelson 1990). and are frequently sent to Japan, Saudi Arabia, the UK, Farnsworth et al. (1985) noted the reliance of more than Malaysia, Singapore and the Netherlands (Pramono 2002); 80% of the developing world on unconventional medicines, the Nepal Eco-essential Medicinal Plants Society has estab- predominantly plants, for primary healthcare. Over the past lished a park-cum-medicinal plant garden in western Nepal decade, there has been a dramatic increase in the demand for with a view to conserving the biodiversity of tropical med- medicinal plants for use in traditional medicine (TM) and icinal and aromatic plants (Shukla 2008). contemporary and alternative medicine (CAM) in both With productive soils, a tropical climate and seasonal developing and developed countries (Lee et al. 2008). In diversity, Bangladesh contains about 5000 plant species China, TM accounts for about 40% of all health care deliv- (Kadir 1990; Yusuf et al. 1994). About 500 of these species ered (WHO 2002) and, in Amazonia, medicinal plants serve are claimed to have medicinal or curative properties (Ghani as the main form of healthcare for a majority of the populace 2004; Hossain 2005; Medicinal plants . . . 2008). A total of (Shanley and Luz 2003). Developed countries have also started to focus on trade 85% of the country’s population live in rural areas (Halim in medicinal plants. Natural raw materials are used in 37% et al. 2007) and almost 80% are dependent on medicinal of global sales of pharmaceutical products (Pramono 2002). plants for their primary healthcare (Hossain 2005; According to Laird and Tenkate (2001), the largest global Medicinal plants . . . 2008), with herbal medication remain- markets for medicinal and aromatic plants are in China, ing a popular and accepted form of treatment (Rashid 2008). France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, the UK and the Mukul et al. (2007) stated that so many people habitually USA. Japan has the highest per capita consumption of use such medication because herbal treatment is, in some *Corresponding author. Email: makoike@gipmc.shinshu-u.ac.jp ISSN 1745-1590 print/ISSN 1745-1604 online # 2009 Taylor & Francis DOI: 10.1080/17451590902771342 http://www.informaworld.com 42 M.S.H. Chowdhury et al. cases, considered relatively cheap. However, its popularity hilly region of the CHT and other plains regions of the also stems from the efficacy of the treatment in most cases southern and middle part of the country. Its aim was to (Medicinal plants hold. . . 2007) and relative safety, with assess plant-based ethno-medicinal practice and document few or no side effects (Mukul et al. 2007). In addition, IK associated with it. herbal medicines, because of their decentralized nature, are generally easily and quickly available (Elliot and Study area Brimacombe 1986). Despite such a high demand and the presence of more than 400 companies producing herbal The study was carried out in rural areas of Feni (Figure 1), a medicines, medicinal plants are not yet commercially district in southeastern Bangladesh with an area of 928 km . farmed in Bangladesh. More than 90% of the plants and It consists of six upazillas (sub-districts): Chhagalnaiya, products needed to meet domestic demand are imported Daganbhuiyan, Feni Sadar, Parshuram, Phulgazi and from other countries, such as India, Nepal and Pakistan Sonagazi. The district was chosen because it is a transitional (Hossain 2005). Most rural people depend on medicinal zone between the southeastern vast hilly region (i.e. CHT) plants gathered from the wild, in adjacent village forests and other plains regions in the southern and middle of the (Halim et al. 2007), which cover about 13% of the total country. The annual average maximum and minimum tem- forested area of the country (Kibria et al. 2000). The cus- peratures are 34.3 C and 14.4 C, with an annual average tomary homestead tree production system also serves as a rainfall of 3302 mm. The district supports a population of source of plant products and remedies. About 10 million 1,196,219, with a literacy rate of 40.7%. Most people households in over 85,000 villages have usable land around (36.7%) have agriculture as their major occupation. There their homes and about 80% of this land is planted (Hossain are 74,824 ha of cultivable land and 772 ha of fallow land and Chatterjee 1999). (Sultan 2004). The main rivers are the Feni, Choto Feni and Traditionally, both rural and indigenous/ethnic commu- Muhuri; the landscape comprises the Tripura valley (as the nities worldwide are knowledgeable about the local plants district is bordered by the Tripura hills of India to the east), and other natural resources on which they are immediately Feni River estuary and green agricultural fields (BTTG dependent (Khisa 1998). Indigenous knowledge (IK) plays 2008). Feni is one of 28 districts where marginal lands a central role in disease diagnosis and healthcare practices in have become forested with both indigenous and exotic traditional medication systems (Zuberi 2004). The IK sys- tree species, with herbs and shrubs as understorey. tem presupposes the perception and understanding of local From the six upazillas of Feni, Sonagazi was selected people about their strategies of development (Chowdhury for detailed study because it is the southernmost region 2002). It develops through sharing experience, and is nor- facing the Bay of Bengal and bordered by two rivers – the mally passed orally between generations (Amin 2000). Feni and Choto Feni – to the east and west. The upazilla is Traditional systems and IK in developing countries, such more or less flooded during the rainy season, resulting in as Bangladesh, have been affected by rapid westernization deposition of sediments that increase the productivity of and introduction of modern medicines (Zuberi 2004). Given land, ultimately contributing to its botanical diversity. that many districts have virtually no designated forests, social forestry has been undertaken as an alternative sustain- Methods able forestry practice in Bangladesh, with marginal fallow lands – such as roadsides, sides of railway lines, institu- The study was conducted from early March to late July tional premises and degraded public forest areas – being 2007, using a multi-stage random sampling method. From brought under tree cover with the active participation of the upazilla, three villages were selected at random: one in local people and an effective benefit-sharing mechanism the northeast, one in the southwest, and the other in the (Muhammed et al. 2005). These marginal plantations to middle of the upazilla, so that the findings would reflect the some extent substitute for the decreasing village forests, whole upazilla. From each of the three villages, 30 house- and are adding a new dimension to fallow land utilization holds (irrespective of socio-economic condition) were (SDNPBD 2006). selected randomly for the comprehensive study. Thus a With regard to the use of plants for medicinal purposes, total of 90 households were selected. Before the household Alam (1992) reported the use of 76 species by the Marma survey, casual field visits were arranged within the villages tribe in the Chittagong Hill Tract (CHT), Rahman (1999) with local old people, religious leaders and other key infor- recorded 52 species used by the tribal people of Sylhet and mants to review and document the availability of medicinal CHT, Halim et al. (2007) found that 47 species were used by plants in the locality. the religio-cultural Shaiji community of southwestern A semi-structured questionnaire was used to collect the Bangladesh, and Mukul et al. (2007) explored 40 species information in interviews with the household heads, with used by people near a conservation area of the northern hilly help from other family members when necessary. The region of Bangladesh. However, no study has focused on respondents were asked about the medicinal plants they the utilization of plants for healthcare by rural people in use, parts used, ailments treated, patterns of use and main- plain regions of the country. Thus, the present study was tenance of medicinal plants. The plants used for medicinal undertaken in Feni, a district devoid of natural forests, purposes were first recorded using local names. In some which is a transitional zone between the southeastern vast cases, an immediate visit to the habitat was organized with International Journal of Biodiversity Science & Management 43 Figure 1. Map of Feni district showing study area. 44 M.S.H. Chowdhury et al. the respondent to identify the species by its conventional Bangla name. Although local names of plants vary from region to region, established Bangla names have been well documented by Dey (2006) together with local names. Once local names had been obtained, the corresponding Bangla names were found by reference to Dey (2006) and, in some cases, by showing photographs to respondents. Finally, scientific names and family were obtained by consulting published literature (e.g. BARC 1972–1992; Chopra et al. 1992; Chevallier 1996; Das and Alam 2001; Dey 2006). Results and discussion Plants used for medicinal purposes Figure 2. Medicinal plants according to growth form in the study Like the hill people of Bangladesh, rural inhabitants of the area. study area in the plains use plant parts for different ailments. A total of 46 species belonging to 31 families and more than of two families, Apocynaceae and Asclepiadaceae, through- 40 genera were reported to be used as medicine (Table 1). out the world, including in the study area (Sajem and Gosai Among the medicinal plants, trees were the most frequent 2006; Halim et al. 2007; Mukul et al. 2007). growth form (34.8%), followed by herbs and shrubs (26.1% each), vines (8.7%) and palms (4.3%) (Figure 2). Similar trends were reported by Miah and Chowdhury (2003) and Sources of medicinal plants Mukul et al. (2007) among communities in hilly regions. In contrast, in a plains ecosystem, Halim et al. (2007) found Among the medicinal plant species of the study area, the that trees were used least. most frequent source (32.6%) (Figure 3) was the respon- Of the 31 families with medicinal properties, five dents’ homestead (homegardens): where a number of crops (Compositae, Combretaceae, Leguminosae, Liliaceae and including trees are grown with livestock, poultry and fish Rutaceae) each had three species, four families (Arecaceae, mainly to satisfy the farmer’s basic needs (Akhtar 1997). Cucurbitaceae, Verbenaceae and Zingiberaceae) had two Homesteads are primarily used to grow plants for household species each, and the other families had one species only. consumption, so that food and fruit species predominate. Schippmann et al. (2002) reported the wide therapeutic use They also supply timber, fuelwood, fodder and medicine in Table 1. Medicinal plants used by the rural people in the study area. Species Species Local Name Scientific Name Habit Family Local Name Scientific Name Habit Family Aam Mangifera indica Tree Anacardiaceae Kochu Colocasia esculenta Herb Araceae Ada Zingiber officinale Herb Zingiberaceae Komla Citrus aurantium Tree Rutaceae Adoni Centella asiatica Herb Umbelliferae Kela Musa spp Herb Musaceae Aphon Calotropis gigantean Shrub Asclepiadaceae Korola Momordica charantea Vine Cucurbitaceae Anarosh Aannas comosus Shrub Bromeliaceae Lemu Citrus aurantifolia Shrub Rutaceae Arjun Terminalia arjuna Tree Compretaceae Maya lota Mikamia scandens Vine Compositae Basak Adhatoda vasica Shrub Acanthaceae Mendi Lawsonia inermis Shrub Lythraceae Bel Aegle marmelos Tree Rutaceae Menda Litsea polyantha Tree Lauraceae Bhait Clerodendrum viscosum Shrub Verbenaceae Methi Trigonella foenum-graceum Shrub Leguminosae Chatim Alstonia scholaris Tree Apocynaceae Narkel Cocos nucifera Palm Arecaceae Chirota Swertia chirata Herb Sapindaceae Neem Azadirachta indica Tree Meliaceae Daad Cassia alata Shrub Leguminosae Ninda Vitex negundo Shrub Vebenaceae Dalim Punica granatum Tree Puniaceae Paan Piper betel Vine Piperaceae Dombor Ficus hispida Tree Moraceae Pathor kuchi Kalanchoe pinnata Herb Crassulaceae Dupa Cynodon dactylon Herb Graminae Piaj Allium ceipa L. Herb Liliaceae Genda Tagetes erecta Herb Compositae Roshun Allium sativum Herb Liliaceae Grito-kumari Aloe indica Herb Liliaceae Tela-kucha Coccinea cordifolia Vine Cucurbitaceae Holud Curcuma longa Herb Zingiberaceae Tetoi Tamarindus indica Tree Leguminosae Isopgul Plantago ovate. Herb Compositae Trifola Amloki Emblica officinale Tree Euphorbiaceae Jam Syzygium cumini Tree Myrtaceae Hortoki Terminalia chebula Tree Compretaceae Joba Hibiscus rosa-sinensis Shrub Malvacea Bohera Terminalia belerica Tree Compretaceae Jolpai Eleocarpus robustus Tree Elaeocarpaceae Tulshi Ocimum sanctum Shrub Lamiaceae Kanthal Artocarpus heterophyllus Tree Moraceae Shuari Areca catechu Palm Arecaceae International Journal of Biodiversity Science & Management 45 anthropogenic zones in the Atlantic Forest of northeastern Brazil. The highland Maya people of Chiapas, Mexico, rely almost exclusively on disturbed areas for medicinal plants, even in communities adjacent to primary forest (Stepp 2000 cited in Stepp and Moerman 2001). Voek (2004) reported that, compared to the biological diversity in old-growth forests, disturbed areas are floristically simpler and thus easier to comprehend. In the present study, the respondents only buy medicinal plant parts – fresh (fruits) or dried forms (other plant parts) – from markets when the species are not endemic to their area. Plants with multiple uses, either as vegetables or spices and condiments, were cultivated in the study area. Momordica charantia L. and Zingiber officinale Rosc. are two such species that are frequently used all over the coun- try. Respondents shared parts from plants such as Adhatoda Figure 3. Sources of medicinal plants in the study area. vasica Nees., Azadirachta indica Juss., Lawsonia inermis L., Punica granatum L. and Terminalia arjuna Bedd. with each other; even when only one or two medicinal plants Bangladesh, with the farmers’ carefully maintaining the grow in a homestead, the demands of neighbours as well as horizontal and vertical structure to ensure maximum use people living further away can easily be met. However, the of water, nutrients, light and space (Millat-e-Mustafa et al. preferred source of medicinal plants varies from region to 1996). Anthropogenic environments ranked second highest region, even from country to country, depending on avail- (28.3%) as a source of medicinal plants, followed by mar- ability. Unlike respondents in the study area, the Shaiji of kets (26.1%), homestead-and-market (8.7%) and cultivated Bangladesh (Halim et al. 2007), traditional healers of habitat (4.3%). Ethiopia (Yineger and Yewhalaw 2007) and local people According to respondents, anthropogenic environments in China (Lee et al. 2008) generally prefer wild-harvested comprise diversified habitats such as graveyards, jungle, medicinal plants. Halim et al. (2007), citing Palevitch fallow land, hinterland, roadsides, pond and canal banks (1991) and Uniyal et al. (2000), with regard to preferences and traditional village groves, from where they mainly of communities for collecting medicinal plant parts from collect herbaceous plants. The graveyards of rural wild sources, noted that the medicinal properties of plant Bangladesh are generally full of vegetation, due to the belief secondary metabolites produced under stress and competi- that the departed souls remain peaceful through the soothing tion are not always expressed in fast-growing monoculture. effects of plants. The villagers prefer graveyards mainly In wild populations, plants grow more slowly and may have covered by herbs and shrubs, to reduce the problems arising higher levels of active compounds. While cultivated plants from large tree roots disturbing graves. Hinterlands behind are likely to be somewhat different properties from those homesteads are usually kept fallow and unproductive; in gathered in natural habitats, it is also clear that certain some cases, they are used for household waste disposal and compounds in plants can be deliberately enhanced under space for domestic poultry, with some herbaceous species controlled cultivation. planted. Voek (2004) found that older fallows in the humid tropics are sources of medicine, thatch, timber and fruits. Curative plant parts Village forests complement plant resources in homesteads; they consist of a small portion of privately-owned land Both above-and belowground plant parts are used in herbal serving as a reserve for trees and bamboo, which are planted medicine in the study area. Aboveground parts are used and managed for both personal and commercial use. more often (80.4%) than belowground parts (15.2%), and Together, village forests and homesteads constitute a tenth whole plants are rarely used (4.4%). In some cases, different (0.27 million ha) of the national forest area (2.53 million ha) parts of an individual plant are used for treating different (Muhammed et al. 2005). Vergara (1997) reported that ailments; in other cases, different parts of more than one village forests supply about 70% of the fuelwood and timber plant are mixed together and applied against a single ail- and 90% of bamboo used in construction and cottage indus- ment. Most often, leaves were used (37.0%), with only tries in Bangladesh. 6.5% of species have both leaves and other parts used According to the respondents, because growth forms (Figure 4); fruits are also used from 21.7% of species and other than herbs are abundant in homesteads, they do not flowers accounted for only 2.2%. The predominant use of collect medicinal parts from the wild. Most of these anthro- leaves has also been reported by researchers (e.g. Gazzaneo pogenic environments are disturbed areas, but human et al. 2005; Sajem and Gosai 2006; Bussmann and Sharon interference does not hamper the availability of medicinal 2006; Halim et al. 2007; Mukul et al. 2007). However, plants. Similarly, Gazzaneo et al. (2005) noticed the pre- Lulekal et al. (2008), in southeastern Ethiopia, found that ference of local specialists for using medicinal plants from local people mostly use roots of medicinal plants. Halim 46 M.S.H. Chowdhury et al. (five trees, two herbs and three vines). Colds/coughs and cuts/wounds are treated with six species, and indigestion and dysentery with five species each. Three species (Allium sativum L., Azadirachta indica Juss. and Aegle marmelos (L.) Correa.) used against up to five ailments. Mukul et al. (2007) reported the use of A. indica alone against six dis- eases by people in and around a conservation area of north- ern Bangladesh, and is known as ‘the village pharmacy’ in India (What is neem . . . 2008). The diverse pattern of use of different parts of medicinal plants (Table 3) shows that rural people have a high level of indigenous knowledge, as discussed below. Most plant parts are consumed orally after processing, such as macerating, squeezing, grinding, blending, soaking or boiling in water, Figure 4. Different plant parts used against ailments in the study milk or mustard oil, rubbing or burning. Some are taken area. raw, and some after cooking. Some are applied externally to different body parts for cuts, wounds, scabies, muscle con- gestion, joint pain or skin problems. One unusual use of et al. (2007) opined that plentiful use of leaves ensures fresh mango leaf is as a toothbrush, without any toothpaste, sustainable harvesting of medicinal plants; and Schippmann to keep teeth healthy; another is the sun-dried seed of Jam et al. (2002) suggested that this also provides an incentive to (Syzygium cumini (L.) Skeels.), which, after grinding into protect and maintain wild populations and their habitats and powder, is taken with salt as a regular treatment for diabetes. the genetic diversity of such medicinal plants. Pandey and Khan (2002) found that the 40% water-soluble gummy fiber in Jam seeds lowers blood glucose levels in diabetic rats. Another frequently used medicinal plant is the Patterns of use for specific ailments vine Momordica charantia L., where both the leaf and fruit The study found that local people use plants to treat are used against diabetes (cf. Umesh et al. 2005). Dean 26 ailments (Table 2). Ten species are used against diabetes (1997, cited in Miah and Chowdhury 2003) found that M. charantia L. proteins (momorcharins) selectively inactivate Table 2. Number of plants used against different ailments in the ribosomes of tumor and HIV-infected cells, without dama- study area. ging healthy cells. Number of plants used Ailments Herb Shrub Tree Vine Palm Total Maintenance, myth and traditional beliefs Apathy to food intake – – 2 – – 2 Since most of the plant parts used for curing ailments are Cold & cough 4 2 – – – 6 gathered from homesteads, the respondents use several Constipation 2 – 1 – – 3 maintenance regimes (Alam and Mohiuddin 1992). Cuts & wounds 4 – – 2 – 6 However, some rural people raise certain species with Dandruff – 1 – – – 1 medicinal properties, particularly Azadirachta indica Diabetes – 2 5 3 – 10 Diarrhoea – – 1 – 1 2 Juss., Punica granatum L., Lawsonia inermis L., Ocimum Dysentery – 2 1 1 1 5 sanctum L. and Areca catechu L. A. indica is usually Earache 1 1 – – – 2 planted on the southern side of the homestead in the belief Faintness 1 – – – – 1 that air from the south is purified by its foliage. L. inermis L. Fever 1 1 – – – 2 Flatulence 1 – 1 1 1 4 and O. sanctum L. are viewed as sacred plants by Muslim Heatstroke 1 – 1 – 1 3 and the Hindu religious communities, respectively, and are Hypertension & heart 1– 1 – – 2 the most cared-for species in the study area. The leaf of L. disease inermis L. is often used in dyeing the palms of hands of Indigestion – – 4 1 – 5 women and children on religious occasions, and of bridal Joint pain & –1 – 1 – 2 rheumatism couples, and more generally in the Muslim community, and Liver disease 1 – – – – 1 younger family members sometimes put their own blood at Oral disease – 2 2 – – 4 the base of the plant at the time of planting, hoping for long Scabies & skin disease – 1 1 – – 2 life. In the Hindu community, the leaf of O. sanctum L. is Sexual disease 1 – – – – 1 used commonly in worship; the earth around the base of this Skin dullness 2 1 – – – 3 Tonsil pain – 1 – – – 1 species is kept neat and clean, with regular mud paste added Ulcer & gastric pain 3 – 4 – – 7 by older Hindu women. Miah and Rahman (2004) also Urinating problem 1 – – – 1 2 reported on these two plants and their religious significance Vomiting – – – – 1 1 having positive effects on the flora of the Muslim and Hindu Worms in intestine 1 – 1 – – 2 homesteads in Bangladesh. Some species (e.g. Aloe indica International Journal of Biodiversity Science & Management 47 Table 3. Using pattern of medicinal plants in the study area with parts used and ailments. Local name Scientific name Part used Ailments Use patterns Source Aam Mangifera indica Leaf Teeth disease Fresh leaves wrapped and used as toothbrush without tooth paste Homestead Ada Zingiber officinale Rhizome Cold/cough Cut into pieces, boiled with tea, drunk with lemon juice and salt Cultivated Adoni Centella asiatica Whole plant Cold/cough Cut into pieces, macerated and mixed with onion, green chilli and mustard oil, eaten Anthropogenic with hot rice Aphon Calotropis Leaf Joint ache, rheumatism Mature leaves are heated over lamp, then placed and pressed over the joints Anthropogenic gigantean L. Anarosh Ananas comosus Ripe fruit Fever, intestinal worm The inner flesh eaten raw Market Arjun Terminalia arjuna. Bark Hypertension & heart disease Soaked in water, drunk on a regular basis Homestead Basak Adhatoda vasica Leaf Cough, phlegm congestion Leaves macerated and extract drunk Anthropogenic during cold Bel Aegle marmelos Fruit Heatstroke Inner flesh of fruits blended with salt and sugar taken orally Homestead and Ulcer, gastric pain, indigestion, Dried inner flesh soaked in water and drunk, soft fruity parts chewed market constipation Bhait Clerodendrum Root Earache Roots squeezed, extract heated and applied inside ears with cotton bud after cooling Anthropogenic viscosum Chatim Alstonia scholaris Bark Diabetes Bark soaked in water and extract drunk Anthropogenic Chirota Swertia chirata Whole plant Gastric pain, diabetes, liver Dried plants soaked in water overnight and extract drunk in morning with empty Market disease, fever stomach Daad Cassia alata Leaf Scabies, skin diseases Fresh leaves ground to paste and applied over infected areas Anthropogenic Dalim Punica granatum Leaf Worms in intestine Leaves macerated and extract drunk in morning with empty stomach Homestead Dombor Ficus hispida Inflorescence Diabetes Cooked as vegetable and eaten with meals Anthropogenic Dupa Cynodon dactylon Young leaf Cuts and wounds Ground to paste and placed over wounds Anthropogenic Genda Tagetes erecta Leaf Cut Ground to paste and placed over cut to stop bleeding Homestead Grito-kumari Aloe indica Leaf Ulcer, constipation, skin dullness Leaf gel mixed with water and swallowed Homestead Holud Curcuma longa Rhizome Skin dullness Green rhizome ground to paste and massaged over face and hands Market Wounds in livestock Dried rhizome ground to paste, heated and applied over wounds in livestock injured by predators Isopgul Plantago ovate Seed coat Heatstroke, gastric pain, Soaked in water and drunk early in morning with empty stomach Market constipation Seeds Male sexual weakness A tablespoon of seed cooked with 250 mL milk and sugar and eaten as sweetmeats Jam Syzygium cumini Seed Diabetes Sun-dried seeds ground and eaten with salt Homestead Joba Hibiscus rosa- Flower Dysentery Petals rubbed in water and juice drunk Homestead sinensis. Hard skin on palms Petals macerated between palms Jolpai Eleocarpus Fruit Apathy to food Green fruit placed in hot rice water and eaten with salt Homestead robustus Kanthal Artocarpus Inflorescence Apathy to food Pieces, mixed with ripe tamarind, hot chilli and salt and eaten Homestead heterophyllus Kochu Colocasia Leaf Cuts and wounds Petiole extract applied over cuts and wounds Anthropogenic esculenta Komla Citrus aurantium L. Fruit skin Stomach pain Dried skin along with betel leaf is chewed and extract is swallowed Market Kela Musa spp Green fruit Dysentery Green fruits burned, macerated, mixed with onion and salt and eaten with hot rice Homestead and market Korola Momordica Leaf, fruit Diabetes Ground to extract and drunk on a regular basis. Fruit cooked and eaten with meals Cultivated charantea (Continued ) 48 M.S.H. Chowdhury et al. Table 3. (Continued) Local name Scientific name Part used Ailments Use patterns Source Lemu Citrus aurantifolia Leaf Pyorrhea Fresh mature leaf chewed Homestead and Fruit skin Pyorrhea Green fruit skin eaten with meal market Maya lota Mikamia scandens Leaf Cuts and wounds Macerated leaves placed over wounds to stop bleeding Anthropogenic Dysentery, diabetes Extract of leaves is drunk Mendi Lawsonia inermis Leaf Dandruff and grey hair Leaves ground to paste and applied to hair for 1–2 h, then rinsed and washed Homestead Leg burning in diabetes Dried leaves soaked in water overnight then drunk in the morning with empty stomach Menda Litsea polyantha Leaf Diarrhea and dysentery Juice from leaves taken orally. Anthropogenic Methi Trigonella foenum- Seed Diabetes Chewed with betel leaf and swallowed Market graceum Narkel Cocos nucifera Fresh juice Burning in urinating, heatstroke Natural water of green fruit drunk Homestead Fruit Diarrhea, dysentery Inner flesh eaten raw Neem Azadirachta indica Leaf Scabies, eczema, skin diseases Mature leaves ground to paste and placed over infected area Homestead Diabetes Fresh leaves cooked with shrimps and oil and eaten with rice. Dried leaves soaked in water overnight and extract drunk Twig Toothache Cut into 6† pieces and used as toothbrush without toothpaste Ninda Vitex negundo Leaf Tonsil pain Leaves boiled in hot water with salt and then gargled Anthropogenic Branch Toothache Cut into 6† pieces and used as toothbrush without toothpaste Paan Piper betel Leaf Flatulence, indigestion Chewed with betel nut, ginger and CaO and swallowed Market Congestion in muscles Leaf heated over lamp and placed over muscles Cuts and wounds Leaf macerated and applied over wounds to stop bleeding Pathor-kuchi Kalanchoe pinnata Leaf Cough in babies Fleshy leaves rubbed to extract juice and fed to babies with sugar Homestead Piaj Allium ceipa Bulb Phlegm congestion in cold Cut into pieces in hot water and vapour is slowly breathed Market Roshun Allium sativum Bulb Heart disease, flatulence, Eaten raw with regular meals Market troubles in urinating Faintness Heated with mustard oil, massaged on palms and feet Earache Heated with mustard oil and applied with cotton bud inside ear Tela-kucha Coccinea cordifolia Leaf Diabetes Leaves cooked and eaten with rice Anthropogenic Tetoi Tamarindus indica Fruit Diabetes Flesh of fruit rubbed in water and drunk with salt Homestead Trifola Amloki, Emblica officinale Dried fruit Ulcer, gastric pain, indigestion Soaked in water overnight and drunk in the morning with empty stomach Market Horitoki Terminalia chebula & Bohera T. belerica Tulshi Ocimum sanctum Leaf Cough Leaf extract drunk after mixing with a few drops of honey Homestead Shuari Areca catechu Seed Flatulence, vomiting Dried seeds cut into pieces, chewed and then swallowed Homestead and market International Journal of Biodiversity Science & Management 49 Tow., Kalanchoe pinnata (Lamk.) Pers. and Tagetes erecta the efficiency of screening plants for medicinal properties L.) are grown in earthen pots and kept in front of houses, by more than 400%. The IK practiced by rural people can serving both beautification and medicinal purposes. also be used in the conservation of forest resources, as proposed in the Convention on Biological Diversity. When leaves are the main part used for medicine, and they Indigenous knowledge are not overharvested – as often happens commercially – In traditional systems, IK plays a central role in disease but used for everyday treatment, rural people ensure sus- diagnosis and healthcare practices (Zuberi 2004). In the tainability in natural resource utilization, and this may be present study, the rural people depend heavily on plant the key factor in conservation of plant diversity. Full under- parts for curing a variety of ailments. Not only older people, standing of the medicinal values of plants used by rural but also younger people, possess some knowledge on med- people requires chemical analysis of the plant parts, which icinal use of plants. However, while older people have a vast may provide suggestions for research on the properties of knowledge on the treatment of disorders ranging from sim- those plants for treating diseases. Such research, linked to ple cuts to incurable diabetes, younger people are knowl- experimental trials of the effect would increase confidence edgeable only about plants used to treat common ailments of traditional users and healers. Both government agencies such as cuts, wounds, scabies, aching joints, stomach pain, and non-governmental organizations have roles to play in cold, coughs, diarrhea and dysentery. 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Journal

International Journal of Biodiversity Science & ManagementTaylor & Francis

Published: Apr 24, 2009

Keywords: medicinal plants; ailments; indigenous knowledge; using pattern; biodiversity; Bangladesh

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