Medicinal Formulations of Kuch Healers in Bangladesh

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Medicinal formulations of the Kuch tribe of Bangladesh

Rahmatullah M, Haque ME, Mondol MR, Hasan M, Aziz T, Jahan R, Seraj S
J Altern Complement Med. 2014 Jun;20(6):428-40
PubMed PMID: 24738615

Sherpur District of Bangladesh
Sherpur District of Bangladesh [source: Nafsadh, Wikimedia Commons]
Mohammed Rahmatullah and colleagues at the University of Development Alternative conducted an ethnomedicinal study to document medicinal formulations of tribal medicinal practitioners in the Kuch (also known as Koche or Koch) indigenous community of the Sherpur district of Bangladesh.

Interviews conducted with the help of a semi-structured questionnaire and guided field-walks resulted in documentation of 49 plants used in various preparations.

Justicia adhatoda
Justicia adhatoda [source: ShineB, Wikimedia Commons]
The team found similarity between use by Kuch healers and Indian traditional medicinal practice for 12 of the species: Justicia adhatoda, Acorus calamus, Costus speciosus, Mimosa pudica, Litsea glutinosa, Stephania glabra, Piper longum, Drynaria quercifolia, S. dulcis, Centella asiatica, Cissus quadrangularis, and Curcuma caesia.

The authors note the precarious existence of the community:

“The Kuch (otherwise known as Koche or Koch) tribe is a small indigenous community whose present territory includes primarily the Sherpur district and also scattered locations of the Rangpur, Dinajpur, Joypurhat, and Naogaon districts in northern Bangladesh. According to an 1872 population census, the tribal population numbered around 1 million and the tribe was then also present in the Pabna, Bogra, and Rajshahi districts of the country. In a population census conducted in 1913, the population was 156,000. The present population is estimated to be around 3000. Thus, there appears to have been a drastic decline in the tribal population in the last 140 years, which the Kuch attribute to frequent warfare and resulting moves to new areas. As result the tribe has had to adapt to their new places of residence, which is not easy because they face hostility from previous residents. Food shortage under these conditions leads to eventual decline in the economic status of the tribe, with consequent malnutrition, diseases, and mortality. In addition, the tribe faces continuous assimilation with the mainstream population….

“The Kuch, although they owned vast tracts of land in the past, are landless at present. They work as agricultural laborers in lands belonging to the mainstream Bengali-speaking population. As a consequence, their economic status is extremely poor. The men work in the fields and women supplement their family income by making various items from bamboo and selling them in the local village markets. Their main diet consists of rice consumed with dried fish and vegetables. Meat is primarily obtained from hunting rabbits, boars, and porcupines from forest areas. Fermented rice wine forms a major part of their diet and religious festivals. A favorite food is khaji or kanthamuri, which consists of steamed dried fish in combination with powdered rice and vegetables.”

The authors conclude that the medicinal plants of the Kuch tribe show potential for further scientific studies, particularly in research for treatments for malaria and, with limitations, diabetes.

Read the complete article at PubMed.

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.

Antidiabetic Potential of African Medicinal Plants

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African medicinal plants with antidiabetic potentials: a review

Mohammed A, Ibrahim MA, Islam MS
Planta Med. 2014 Mar;80(5):354-77
PubMed PMID: 24535720

Aminu Mohammed of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, with colleagues from that institution and Ahmadu Bello University, reviewed all in vivo studies of antidiabetic potential of African medicinal plants conducted between January 2000 and July 2013, with a closer look at some relevant plants from the continentʼs subregions.

In their Introduction, the authors note the disease burden of diabetes mellitus in Africa:

“Recent data from the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) indicates that DM affects over 366 million people worldwide and this is likely to increase to 552 million or even more by the year 2030. In Africa, more than 14 million people have diabetes, accounting for about 4.3% of adults and is responsible for about 401 276 deaths in 2012 in the region. West Africa recorded the highest number of DM cases with Nigeria (3.2 million diabetics) and Côte dʼIvoire (421 023 diabetics) occupying first and second positions, respectively. In Southern Africa, South Africa tops the list (2.0 million diabetics) followed by the Democratic Republic of Congo (737 000 diabetics). Kenya was listed as the fifth country in Africa and the first from the eastern region of Africa (720 730 diabetics), while Cameroon (517 860 diabetics) recorded the highest figure from the central region.”

The review identified 185 plant species from Africa that have been investigated for antidiabetic potential, several of which the authors discuss in detail:

  • West Africa: Anacardium occidentale, Azadirachta indica, Gongronema latifolium, Hibiscus sabdariffa, Indigofera pulchra, Nauclea latifolia, Ocimum gratissimum, Phyllanthus amarus, Picralima nitida, Vernonia amygdalina, Zingiber officinale
  • North Africa: Ajuga iva, Allium cepa, Balanites aegyptiaca, Carum carvi, Chamaemelum nobile, Morus alba, Nigella sativa, Ziziphus spina-christi
  • Southern Africa: Artemisia afra, Bryophyllum pinnatum, Raphia gentiliana, Sclerocarya birrea, Sutherlandia frutescens
  • Central Africa: Bersama engleriana, Dichrostachys glomerata, Dracena arborea, Kalanchoe crenata
  • East Africa: Caylusea abyssinica, Strychnos henningsii, Erythrina abyssinica, Aspilia pluriseta, Bidens pilosa, Catha edulis, Momordica charantia, Moringa stenopetala

Ocimum gratissimum
Ocimum gratissimum is a West African medicinal plant of antidiabetic potential [image source: Forest & Kim Starr, Wikimedia Commons]
In their Conclusion, the team highlight eight species that have received much attention in particular, and recommend support for more research to develop medicines based on these plants as potential treatments for diabetes:

“Apart from the folkloric claims, it is evident from the above reviewed studies that Africa is blessed with an abundance of antidiabetic plants resources based on scientific findings. However, due to the variations in the scientific investigations in terms of analyzed antidiabetic parameters, doses, and durations used, it is difficult to precisely identify the plant(s) with the best reported activity, but our close analysis of the reports seem to suggest that O. gratissimum, A. occidentale, V. amygdalina, G. latifolium, A. indica, C. carvi, M. alba, and A. iva are the most active because they received much attention as is evident by numerous studies and, thus, possibly contain the most bioactive antidiabetic phytochemicals among all the plants. The methods mostly utilized for the extractions of various parts via organic solvent extractions include maceration/cold extraction, soxhlet, distillation, percolation, and sequential extraction. Moreover, it is evident that very few studies were reported to involve human subjects. Most studies used either T1D or T2D animal models. Unfortunately, perhaps due to limited research resources, most of the studies are preliminary in nature (though with promising results) and do not include detailed isolation and characterization of the bioactive compounds and/or the mechanisms of antidiabetic actions. Government agencies and/or pharmaceutical industries should support more research activities in this area in order to commercially utilize these antidiabetic medicinal plants for a solution to the continentʼs myriad of economic problems.”

Read the complete article at PubMed.

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.

Use & Management of Medicinal Plants by Maale & Ari Communities of Ethiopia

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Use and management of traditional medicinal plants by Maale and Ari ethnic communities in southern Ethiopia

Kidane B, van Andel T, van der Maesen LJ, Asfaw Z
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2014 Jun 4;10:46
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4055949

Berhane Kidane of the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research and Wageningen University and Research Center, with colleagues from Naturalis Biodiversity Center and The National Herbarium at Addis Ababa University, conducted an ethnobotanical survey of medicinal plants used for the treatment of human health problems in the Maale and Debub Ari districts of southern Ethiopia.

From the Background:

“Medicinal plant knowledge is shaped by the ecological diversity of the country, known to be site-specific and varies across peoples with different religious, linguistic and cultural backgrounds. In Ethiopia, there are over 70 ethnic communities, residing in different ecological regions and the studies so far have shown extensive medicinal plant knowledge, acquired through centuries of experience. Although several studies have been conducted on medicinal plants throughout the country e.g., the full wealth of this knowledge has not yet been sufficiently studied. We therefore document medicinal plants used by the Maale and Ari communities less studied Ethiopian communities and evaluate similarities and differences among sites and between the two communities.”

Ruta chalepensis
Ruta chalepensis [source: Xemenendura, Wikimedia Commons]
The team documented 128 medicinal plant species used as herbal medicine by Maale and Ari communities in the two districts, including Solanum dasyphyllum, Indigofera spicata, Ruta chalepensis, Plumbago zeylanica and Meyna tetraphylla.

Noting that medicinal plant resources and ethnobotanical knowledge are both under threat in the region, the authors recommend policies promoting conservation and sustainable development:

“Agricultural land expansion and a lack of cultivation practices limit the availability of medicinal plant resources in the area. Urgent action is required towards conservation (both ex-situ and in-situ combined) of medicinal plants and traditional knowledge before we lose them in the near future. Moreover, land use planning and development plan should also consider strategies that stimulate medicinal plant availability in the landscape and work towards increasing their cultivation to complement ex-and in-situ conservation efforts.
“Popular medicinal species such as Solanum dasyphyllum, Indigofera spicata, Plumbago zeylanica, Meyna tetraphylla and multi-use species like Oxalis radicosa are good candidates for consideration in further phytochemical and pharmacological research to verify their efficacy.”

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 Skardu Valley, Karakoram-Himalayan Range, Pakistan

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Quantitative ethnomedicinal study of plants used in the skardu valley at high altitude of Karakoram-Himalayan range, Pakistan

Bano A, Ahmad M, Ben Hadda T, Saboor A, Sultana S, Zafar M, Khan MP, Arshad M, Ashraf MA
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2014 May 9;10:43
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4039317

Skardu
Skardu [source: Waqas Usman, Wikimedia Commons]
Abida Bano of Quaid-i-Azam University, with colleagues from that institution and Universiti Sains Malaysia, Université Mohammed Premier, PMAS-Arid Agriculture University, and University of Malaya, conducted the first quantitative study of the ethnomedicinal spectrum of plant use in the Skardu Valley, Karakoram-Himalayan range, Pakistan.

The authors comment on the region’s high level of biodiversity:

“Generally in Deosai plateau, about 342 species of plants belonging to 36 families and 142 genera have been recorded in the flora of Pakistan so far, while to the best of our knowledge, the number of species used as medicinal are not systematically recorded in literature. This high level of biodiversity on the plateau is due to several reasons, including topography, location of the plateau (Junction of major mountain ranges) and local adaptation of its plant and animal species. Sultana et al. reported 43 species of Poaceae, 32 species of Cyperaceae and 4 species of Juncaceae from Deosai plateau. A total of 114 plant species belonging to 28 families were found around the Sheosar Lake of Deosai plateau. These studies on Deosai were based on biodiversity, altitudinal distribution of species and phytosociological expeditions. The present study focuses only on medicinal plant species frequently used by the local populace of Skardu valley. The study area has a rich potential for utilization and consumption of medicinal and aromatic plants. These areas are also the potential sites for exporting tradable medicinal plants on a sustainable basis.”

Hippophae rhamnoides
Hippophae rhamnoides [source: Carl Axel Magnus Lindman (1856–1928), Wikimedia Commons]
The team documented considerable indigenous knowledge about the valley’s native medicinal plants, with 50 medicinal plants reported to be used against 33 different ailments. The most popular medicinal plants known by the local communities include Hippophae rhamnoides, Rosa brunonii, Capparis spinosa, Ephedra gerardiana, Sophora mollis, Artemisia sieversiana, Astragalus psilocentros, Berberis vulgaris and Dracocephalum nuristanicum.

The authors note both the importance of ethnomedicinal flora to the people of Skardu Valley, and the high level of threat to the plants and this indigenous knowledge:

“Skardu valley is one of the naturally enriched regions of high mountains in the Karakorum- Himalayan ranges that make it unique with traditional cultural heritage but equally challenging to its community. The low standard of living and scattered population in high terrains consequently inaccessible or minimized the modern healthcare facilities for the majority of the population. This is the main reason behind the dependency of local people on medicinal plant resources to treat common day ailments. Besides the Karakoram Highway (KKH), the sole connection of Gilgit-Baltistan with the rest of Pakistan is often blocked due to the frequent land sliding round the year and intense snowfall in the winter which makes it isolated physically. It forces the local community to rely on native biodiversity to meet their daily needs. The people of the valley largely depend on wild plants for fuel, food supplements, medicine, construction material, nutrients and livestock feed. The majority of the people is engaged in agriculture, animal husbandry and forests related works. The vegetation in the valley is mostly inferior scrubs while herbs are abundant in alpine and subalpine pastures. The flora of fragile alpine meadows has been overexploited for traditional medicine because medicinal plant collectors invariably uproot the entire plant and due to this, the regrowth of some very important medicinal plants is retarded. There is a dramatic degradation of habitat due to collection of fuel wood and shrubs to meet the domestic energy requirement as the temperature drops below −25°C in winter (November- February) and there is no alternate source. The ruthless use of valuable medicinal plants of the grazing animals is indeed a great injustice. Pastures and rangelands are used for livestock herding by the local communities on a periodic basis like high pastures are used in summer and low rangelands in autumn. During the course of study, the informants were selected randomly from the tribal communities based on their rich knowledge with long experience in utilization of medicinal plants and most of the informants belonged to or above 60 years age. In this survey, we observed that the wealth of knowledge is rapidly vanishing due to the death of elderly rural people. Due to this, transfer of indigenous knowledge from generation to generation is now endangered in this area and tends towards disappearance. Preservation of this stock of knowledge is highly important for the socioeconomic prosperity of the region. On one hand, the community can be motivated to be a party of conserving their precious resources while on the other hand experts engaged in the policy making can realize to make the flora of this region in the lime light.”

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.