Medicinal Plants of Iran’s Hezar Mountain


Ethnobotanical study of medicinal plants of Hezar mountain allocated in South East of Iran

Peyman Rajaeia and Neda Mohamadib
Iran J Pharm Res
2012 Fall;11(4):1153-67
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3813156
Kernan Province, Iran
Kernan Province, Iran (Source: Wikimedia Commons User Uwe Dedering)

Researchers at Islamic Azad University undertook an ethnobotanical and ethnopharmacological survey of Hezar Mountain (4465 m), the highest peak in the central region of Kernan Province and a rich, though endangered, plant ecosystem.

Working with 75 local informants, the team recorded traditional uses of 92 species in the treatment of several ailments, the most common of which were digestive disorders of the gastrointestinal tract, renal and genital disorders, respiratory tract system disorders, and heart-blood circulatory system disorders.

Arnebia euchroma
Arnebia euchroma (Source: Lithospermum euchromon Royle, Ill. Bot. Himal. Mts. 1: 305. 1839; Macrotomia euchroma (Royle) Paulsen (Public Domain), via Arnebia euchroma,

Among the most commonly used medicinal plants were Levisticum officinale, Artemisia persica, Thymus carmanicus, and Ziziphora clinopodioides. Poultices and extracts from Arnebia euchroma are used for their antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties, and derivatives have shown anti-HIV activity and anticancer properties. The authors report that “due to its medicinal uses, the species is being harve[s]ted indiscriminately from the wild both for domestic and Pharmaceutical purposes. This has resulted in A. euchroma [being] critically endangered[,] the status and its listing in the species prioritized for conservation in this region.”

The authors note several other threats to the medicinal plants of this region:

“In recent years, aridity and low precipitation have damaged the vegetation of plants in Hezar. In addition, overgrazing impact is increasingly threatening the fragile medicinal plants in this mountain.
“Some rare species such as Levisticum officinale, Thymus carmanicus, Arnebia euchroma, Dracocephalum polychaetum and Dorema ammoniacum have been threatened as herbalists and traders hire the local people for gathering these species due to the economic purposes. Many of these plants are potentially endangered and vulnerable taxa. Since the alpine plants grow very slowly, they cannot quickly re-grow leaves or flowers that are lost. Harvesting of roots, bulbs, seeds and flowers, which are essential to the survival of the plants, often lead to vanish this species. In addition, local people sometimes sell these medicinal plants in the local market for their livelihood. So, the domestication of these plants is a need for conservation.
“Lately, a Manganese purification factory has been established in 30 Km of NW of Hezar Mountain, so that the air pollution and soil toxicity are inevitable in this region. It is a direct threat to flora and fauna in the study area.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

ND/NF – Fish & Cat (Mahi Va Gorbeh)


New Directors/New Films
Fish & Cat/Mahi va gorbeh
Director: Shahram Mokri

Cast: Babak Karimi, Saeed Ebrahimifar, Siavash Cheraghipoor, Mohammad Berahmani, Faraz Modiri, Abed Abest, Amanaz Safari, Pedram Sharifi, Neda Jebraeeli, Milad Rahimi, Parinaz Tayyed, Alireza Esapoor, Ainaz Azarhoush, Samaane Vafaiezadeh, Mohammad Reza Maleki, Nazanin Babaei, Mona Ahmadi, Pouya Shahrabi, Nima Shahrabi, Shadi Karamroudi, Khosrow Shahrad

134 minutes
Format: DCP
Language: Persian with English subtitles

Mar 27, 6:00PM

“A bold experiment in perpetual motion with an enigmatic time-warp narrative, Fish & Cat plays out as one continuous shot, with the camera moving among a host of characters at a remote forest and a nearby lake. Gradually subverting a gruesome premise drawn from a real-life case of a backwoods restaurant that served human flesh, the film builds an atmosphere of tension as a menacing pair descend on a campsite where a group of college kids have gathered for a kite-flying festival. But as the camera doubles back and crisscrosses between characters in real time, subtle space-time paradoxes suggest that something bigger is going on. Brilliantly sustained, Fish & Cat is further evidence of a new generation of filmmakers emerging in Iran.” -New Directors/New Films

Winner of the 2013 Venice Horizons Award Special Prize, Shahram Mokri’s second feature Fish & Cat (Mahi va gorbeh) is a tour de force thriller realized in a single tracking shot in collaboration with veteran cinematographer Mahmud Kalari (A Separation, The Past).

College students from a Tehran university converge on the shore of a remote lake near the Iran-Iraq border (“a place of spirits and sprites”) for an annual kite-flying festival, innocent of the plans of a trio of locals to slaughter one of them to provide human meat for a derelict restaurant.

“The story I’m about to tell you seems like a fable, but it’s true” -script, Fish & Cat

Though the DPC version screened at MoMA was not the best, the film left a deep impression by means of expert writing, direction, cinematography, sound design, and music, and a closely choreographed mise-en-scène realized by a large ensemble cast, with several standout performances.

In a script that could have been a collaboration between Samuel Beckett and George Romero, Shahram Mokri employs an encyclopedic knowledge of horror-film tropes to fashion a profoundly moving essay on the futility of resistance against fate in the prison-house of time. Even an angel messenger (“He does things that are like miracles”) is an impotent observer while on the shore of this lake and adjoining forest where the dead and the living, ghosts and spirits, meet and meet again. We are often left wondering, “How did they do that?”

“The pic manages to be both narrative and nonlinear as the camera’s complex choreography creates fissures in time, piling on stories within stories that trap viewers in an increasingly ominous, often repetitive nightmare.” -Variety

Some reviewers have complained about the 2-hour-plus running time. On the contrary, I say Fish & Cat would ideally be screened on a continuous loop running at least twice, from a winter afternoon to dusk.

The film also benefits from the work of Christophe Rezai (music) among others.

Despite the best efforts of ND/NF organizers, none of the artists gained admittance to Fortress USA to meet their audience. When will we admit we were wrong to plot the overthrow of Mohammad Mosaddegh’s government during the Truman/Eisenhower administrations, and move forward toward rational relations with Iran?

ND/NF – The Japanese Dog / Câinele Japonez


New Directors/New Films
The Japanese Dog/Câinele Japonez
Director: Tudor Cristian Jurgiu

Director of Photography: Andrei Butica

Cast: Victor Rebengiuc, Serban Pavlu, Ioana Abur, Alexandrina Halic, Constantin Draganescu, Kana Hashimoto, Doru Ana, Titi Radoaie

86 minutes
Format: DCP
Language: Romanian with English subtitles

Mar 23, 1:00PM
MoMA Titus 1

“Exquisitely attuned to the rhythms of nature and rural life—and the melancholy beauty of transient things—The Japanese Dog comes by its emotions honestly and poignantly.” – New Directors/New Films

“Tudor Cristian Jurgiu makes a quietly impressive debut with this deceptively simple tale of a father and son.” -Jay Weissberg, Variety

Tudor Cristian Jurgiu’s deeply insightful debut feature augurs a long and rich career. Twenty-seven years old at the time of filming, Jurgiu helmed a formidable cast and crew, led by the octogenarian actor and anti-Ceauşescu revolutionary Victor Rebengiuc and veteran cinematographer Andrei Butica (The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, Child’s Pose). A marvel of intergenerational artistic collaboration resulted, and a film that could mark a turning point in the history of Romanian cinema.

The Japanese Dog opens with long shot of villagers rescuing their possessions from a flooded field and then transitions to Rebengiuc’s character, Costache – a sober, industrious, private man who lost his wife and his home in the flood – as he goes about the mundane tasks of rescuing objects from ruin. Resettled in a large house, Costache seems to be the only man in the village who locks his doors.

Costache’s widower’s solitude is suddenly disrupted by the news that his long-absent son Ticu, who has built a new life in Japan as a construction engineer, has learned of his mother’s death and plans to visit his father, bringing his Japanese wife Hiroko and their son Koji with him.

The film chronicles the emergence of a new family as it relates Ticu’s homecoming with luminous attention to details of the sights and sounds of this particular space, on a primitive level of the emotions and relationships of these particular people. Audiences experience the fruits of Jurgiu’s collaborative genius as the story fully becomes one with the landscape and then expands beyond.

I am hoping for a U.S. theatrical release.

Film website:

Ethnobotanical Study of Wayu Tuka District, Ethiopia


An ethnobotanical study of medicinal plants in Wayu Tuka District, East Welega Zone of Oromia Regional State, West Ethiopia

Moa Megersa, Zemede Asfaw, Ensermu Kelbessa, Abebe Beyene and Bizuneh Woldeab
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed
2013 Sep 25;9(1):68
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3851437
Oromia Region, Ethiopia
Oromia Region, Ethiopia (Source: Wikimedia Commons User: TUBS)

Researchers at Madawalabu University , Addis Ababa University, and Jimma University undertook a study to document medicinal plants used by local people of Wayu Tuka District in Ethiopia and the threats currently affecting medicinal plants.

The team identified 126 plant species used by local people of the district to treat various human and livestock ailments, including seven endemic species of Ethiopia (Albizia malacophylla, Coccinia abyssinica, Impatiens tinctoria, Lippia adoensis, Pycnostachys abyssinica and Saturegia paradoxa).

Prunus africana sapling
Prunus africana sapling (Source: Wikimedia Commons User: Dr Russell Sharp)

Multipurpose medicinal plants included Acacia abyssinica, Cordia africana, Croton macrostachyus, Eucalyptus globulus, Justicia schimperiana, Prunus africana, Rhamnus prinoides, and Ricinus communis.

Deforestation was identified as the major threat affecting medicinal plants. From the conclusion:

“Deforestation for agricultural purpose was the major threat reported to medicinal plants of the study area. To save medicinal plants from further loss, the District Agricultural Office needs to team up with the local people, including by providing to the community planting materials of the most threatened and preferred medicinal and multipurpose species so that they can grow them in their home gardens. Moreover, the documented medicinal plants can serve as a basis for future investigation of modern drug.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Medicinal Plants of Kilte Awulaelo District, Ethiopia


An ethnobotanical study of medicinal plants used in Kilte Awulaelo District, Tigray Region of Ethiopia

Abraha Teklay, Balcha Abera, and Mirutse Giday
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed
2013 Sep 8;9(1):65
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3852788
Tigray Region of Ethiopia
Tigray Region of Ethiopia (Source: Wikimedia Commons User: TUBS)

Researchers at Jimma University and Addis Ababa University conducted an ethnobotanical study to document medicinal plants used to treat diseases of human and domestic animals in Kilte Awulaelo District in the Tigray Region of Ethiopia.

Cordia africana
Cordia africana (Source: Wikimedia Commons; Adolf Engler, Die Pflanzenwelt Ost-Afrikas und der Nachbargebiete vol. 2 [public domain])
The study revealed 114 medicinal plant species used to treat 47 human and 19 livestock diseases, with Cordia africana as the most preferred multipurpose plant in the community, followed by Eucalyptus globules, Opuntia ficus-indica and Dodonia angustifolia.

Drought was identified as the most destructive factor of medicinal plants, followed by overgrazing and firewood collection:

“Recurrent drought was reported to have seriously threatened medicinal plant resources in the study area. Despite this fact, there is little effort in the District to cultivate or mange medicinal plants. Thus awareness is needed be raised among local people on sustainable utilization and management of the plant resources. Ex situ and in situ conservation measures should be taken to protect the medicinal plants of the District from further destruction and special attention should be given to the medicinal plants that were indicated by preference ranking exercise as the most threatened ones.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

ND/NF – A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night


New Directors/New Films
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
Director: Ana Lily Amirpour
Cinematography: Lyle Vincent
Cast: Sheila Vand, Arash Marandi, Marshall Manesh, Mozhan Marnò, Dominic Rains, Rome Shadanloo, Milad Eghbali, Reza Sixo Safai, Ray Haratian, Pej Vahdat

107 minutes
Persian with English subtitles

MoMa Titus 2
Mar 19, 8:00PM

Ana Lily Amirpour delivers a knockout of a story in this cunning mashup of genres and genders, with knowing echos of styles and tropes from the past half-century of film.

Notwithstanding some minor artifacts in the DCP version presented at MoMA (which should be fixable), A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is a marvel of state-of-art black and white digital photography. In contrast to the desaturated tones of Alexander Payne’s Nebraska, these crystalline images evoke the aesthetic of gelatin silver process and at pivotal moments approach the sculptural clarity of Robert Mapplethorpe’s Hasselblad portraits.

I recommend Guy Lodge’s Variety review from Sundance for a fuller assessment of this extraordinary movie.

Stuff you can learn from the credits: Elijah Wood is one of the executive producers. And some good tips for your playlist!

Update: US Distributor – Kino Lorber (2014)

Medicinal Plant Knowledge in Ankober District, Ethiopia


Ethnomedicinal study of plants used for human ailments in Ankober District, North Shewa Zone, Amhara Region, Ethiopia

Ermias Lulekal, Zemede Asfaw, Ensermu Kelbessa, and Patrick Van Damme
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed
2013 Jan 10;9:4
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3846447
Amhara Region of Ethiopia
Amhara Region of Ethiopia (Source: Wikimedia Commons User: TUBS)

Researchers at Ghent University, Addis Ababa University, and Czech University of Life Sciences Prague undertook a study aimed at documenting and analyzing the medicinal plant knowledge of the indigenous people of the Ankober District in the Amhara Region of north-central Ethiopia.

From the Introduction:

“The knowledge on traditional medicinal plants of Ethiopia which was developed for millennia is now subjected to loss since it has mainly been stored in the memories of elderly peoples and handed down mostly by word of mouth for successive generations. Moreover, deforestation, overexploitation, overgrazing, habitat loss and degradation, agricultural land expansion and acculturation continuously threat Ethiopian traditional medicinal plants and linked knowledge. Hence, it is a timely endeavour to investigate, document and analyze traditional knowledge on medicinal plants and associated knowledge drivers, so that sound medicinal plant utilization and management practices can be maintained. Moreover, it provides the opportunity for recognition, promotion, management and protection of indigenous knowledge of a community on medicinal plants as vital part of a nation’s heritage, beside calling policy makers, natural resource managers, stake holders and cultural practitioners for conservation actions.”

Hagenia abyssinica
Hagenia abyssinica (Source: Wikimedia Commons; Franz Eugen Köhler, Köhler’s Medizinal-Pflanzen [public domain])
The team identified 135 medicinal plant species used to treat human diseases including gastrointestinal, parasitic, and dermatological diseases among others. Important medicinal plants included Zehneria scabra, Hagenia abyssinica, Podocarpus falcatus, and Olea europaea.

This comprehensive paper covers the diversity of medicinal plants in the region, the indigenous knowledge of the community, disease types and treatment methods, the plant parts used for remedy preparation, modes of preparation and application, marketability of medicinal plants, efficacy of medicinal plants, indigenous knowledge transfer, and conservation practices.

An extensive discussion section concludes with a number of practical recommendations:

“Generally, although Ankober District was found to be rich in medicinal plant diversity, the effort to conserve the plants and associated indigenous knowledge was observed to be very poor. The effort from some traditional practitioners to cultivate medicinal plants at home gardens calls for a sustained governmental support to promote overall in situ and ex situ conservation strategies for medicinal plants of the District. It is also recommended to establish a traditional healers’ association in the District and strengthen members by providing professional support and land to establish as much medicinal plant nurseries as possible so as to conserve the fast-eroding medicinal plant wealth of the area.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Medicinal Flora & Ethnoecological Knowledge in the Naran Valley


Medicinal flora and ethnoecological knowledge in the Naran Valley, Western Himalaya, Pakistan

Shujaul M Khan, Sue Page, Habib Ahmad, Hamayun Shaheen, Zahid Ullah, Mushtaq Ahmad, and David M Harper
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed
2013 Jan 10;9:4
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3570439

Researchers at Hazara University Mansehra, University of Leicester, and Quaid-e-Azam University undertook an assessment of medicinal plant species of the Naran valley in northwestern Pakistan on the edge of the Western Himalayas and the ethnoecological knowledge of local indigenous communities.

From the abstract:

“Mountain ecosystems all over the world support a high biological diversity and provide home and services to some 12% of the global human population, who use their traditional ecological knowledge to utilise local natural resources. The Himalayas are the world’s youngest, highest and largest mountain range and support a high plant biodiversity. In this remote mountainous region of the Himalaya, people depend upon local plant resources to supply a range of goods and services, including grazing for livestock and medicinal supplies for themselves. Due to their remote location, harsh climate, rough terrain and topography, many areas within this region still remain poorly known for its floristic diversity, plant species distribution and vegetation ecosystem service.
“The Naran valley in the north-western Pakistan is among such valleys and occupies a distinctive geographical location on the edge of the Western Himalaya range, close to the Hindu Kush range to the west and the Karakorum Mountains to the north. It is also located on climatic and geological divides, which further add to its botanical interest.”

The study identified 101 plant species used for 97 prominent therapeutic purposes, including those associated with the digestive system, respiratory and urinary systems, blood circulatory and reproductive systems, and the skin.

Podophyllum hexandrum
Podophyllum hexandrum (Source: Wikimedia Commons User Pekaje)

Important medicinal species included Dioscorea deltoidea, Podophyllum hexandrum, Berberis pseudoumbellata, Cypripedium cordigerum, Dactylorhiza hatagirea, Cedrus deodara, Aesculus indica, Cedrus deodara, Aesculus indica, Aconitum heterophyllum, Aconitum violaceum, Ephedra gerardiana, Eremurus himalaicus, Hypericum perforatum, Indigofera heterantha, Geranium wallichianum, Iris hookeriana, Nepeta laevigata, Origanum vulgare, Paeonia emodi, Rheum austral, Thymus linearis, and Ulmus wallichiana. A table details the use of each species.

The authors recommend collaboration between ethnoecologists and the local population both to preserve these species and sustain indigenous ethnoecological knowledge:

“Indigenous people, although the possessor of traditional knowledge have no proper training in sustainable ways of plant collection, post collection care and processing and usually waste a considerable amount of medicinal plants. Such sort of unwise practices over a long time can cause a reduction in plant biodiversity in general and of plant species providing provisioning services in particular. It is therefore, suggested to recruit ethno-ecologists and experts to train the local people for the sustainable utilization of medicinal plant resources. Some of the problems associated with medicinal plant resources can be overcome through research on domestic growth of medicinal plants and development of processing techniques among the people. In this recent millennium, present and number of other research studies suggest urgent call for the preservation of both long-established remedial knowledge and medicinal plant resources in the developing world, particularly in the Himalayas. Furthermore, long-established knowledge about the medicinal values of plants has contributed a lot in the past in production and synthesis of synthetic drugs and market values. It has played and still plays a remarkable role in solving health related problems especially in undeveloped and remote parts of the world.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Medicinal Uses of Plants in Rawalpindi District, Pakistan


Ethnobotanical appraisal and medicinal use of plants in Patriata, New Murree, evidence from Pakistan

Ejaz Ahmed, Muhammad Arshad, Abdul Saboor, Rahmatullah Qureshi, Ghazala Mustafa, Shumaila Sadiq, and Sunbal Khalil Chaudhari
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed
2013 Feb 27;9:13
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3599915
Rawalpindi District, Punjab Province
Rawalpindi District, Punjab Province (Source: Wikimedia Commons User Tahir mq)

Researchers from PMAS-Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi undertook an ethnobotanical survey to document indigenous knowledge of plants (e.g., medicinal, veterinary, fruit, vegetable, fodder, fuel etc.) in Patriata (New Murree) Rawalpindi district, Pakistan.

The study identified a total of 93 plants species used by local people for basic purposes including medicinal and fodder (27.93% each), fuel (16.90%), fruit (6.55%), vegetable (5.52%) and ethnoveterinary (3.79%).

Acacia catechu
Senegalia catechu (syn. Acacia catechu) (Source: Wikimedia Commons, Franz Eugen Köhler, Köhler’s Medizinal-Pflanzen [public domain])
Plants with medicinal uses include Acacia catechu, Acacia modesta, Artemesia scoparia, Carrisa opaca, Cissampolos pareira, Flacourtia indica, Ipomoea purpurea, Lepidium sativum, Pyrus pashia, Rumex dentatis, Solanum villosum, and Woodfordia fruiticosa. A complete list of the plants and their uses are provided in a table.

The authors note that the plants and the knowledge are both endangered:

“Due to absence of fuel source “local population” is totally dependant upon fuel wood species for their survival. They are extensively cutting forests for their fuel wood requirements without any knowledge of their extinction, so a number of species are rapidly decreasing in the study area. One way to reduce this pressure on the natural vegetation is that, people may be provided with alternate fuel sources like natural gas.
“During interviews with the local people, it was noted that the ethnobotanical knowledge is becoming restricted only to the elder people, Hakeems, and pensaries (local herb sellers). Young generation is totally ignorant of this wealth. Advancement in science and technology has changed social setup; therefore young generation is leaving traditions and culture.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Medicinal and Useful Plants of Pollino National Park, Italy


Medicinal and useful plants in the tradition of Rotonda, Pollino National Park, Southern Italy.

Paola Di Sanzo, Laura De Martino, Emilia Mancini, and Vincenzo De Feo
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed
2013 Mar 23;9:19
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3621777
Pollino National Park, Italy
Pollino National Park, Italy (Source: © 2014 – Ente Parco Nazionale del Pollino)

Researchers at Università degli Studi di Salerno undertook an ethnobotanical survey of the traditional uses of medicinal and useful plants in the Pollino National Park, the largest natural park in Italy.

The study identified 78 medicinal plants, 59 used in human medicine, 18 for domestic use, and 8 in veterinary medicine.

Dryopteris filix-mas
Dryopteris filix-mas (Source: Franz Eugen Köhler, Köhler’s Medizinal-Pflanzen, Wikimedia Commons)

Among the plants used for human medicine: Dryopteris filix-mas (used as a lenitive in case of burns); Adiantum capillus-veneris (claimed to act as a regulator of the menstrual cycle); Sambucus nigra (used as an ocular decongestant); Calystegia sepium and Convolvulus arvensis (used topically in antirheumatic massages).

From the Conclusions:

“The present study records new or very scarcely reported medicinal plants and uses, reinforcing the importance of continuing with ethnobotanical research in industrialised areas as a starting point for any bioprospection project, which can lead to the development of new drugs.
“Ethnographic, ethnobiological, and ethnopharmacological surveys, dealing with traditional Mediterranean uses of plants and several aspects of folk medicines, could represent the start for the increase of that kind ‘rediscovered’ data concerning on eco-sustainable interdisciplinary projects involving biological conservation, and, most importantly, the conservation of local culture heritage.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.