Medicinal Plant Knowledge of the Magar & Majhi People of Western Nepal


An ethnobotanical study of medicinal plants used by ethnic people in Parbat district of western Nepal

Malla B, Gauchan DP, Chhetri RB
J Ethnopharmacol. 2015 May 13;165:103-17
PubMed PMID: 25571849

Parbat District, Nepal
Parbat District, Nepal [Source: Hégésippe Cormier, Wikimedia Commons]
Investigators from Kathmandu University conducted an ethnobotanical study to investigate and document traditional knowledge of medicinal plants and their uses by the Magar and Majhi indigenous peoples of Parbat district in Western Nepal.

Paris polyphylla
Paris polyphylla (Source: Alnus, Wikimedia Commons)

Using questionnaire, field observation, personal interviews and group discussion with more than 300 local people, including 15 local healers, the team documented 132 ethnomedicinal plant species used to treat various diseases and disorders including gastrointestinal, parasitic and hepatobiliary disorders; and blood and lymphatic system disorders, among others. Two species, Paris polyphylla and Bergenia ciliata, were confirmed as the best plants with medicinal properties. The authors also consulted with the National Herbarium and Plant Laboratories (KATH) to identify the medicinal plant species.

In their conclusion, the authors note that the Magar and Majhi people are rich in ethnomedicinal knowledge, with current use and knowledge are still strong, and urge preservation of both knowledge and habitat:

“The present study showed that the two ethnic communities depend on a variety of plants to meet their requirements and to cure various diseases. Different plant parts are used for medicinal preparation, mode of administration, medicinal doses and other human consumption. However, their understanding and use of the medicinal plants grounds on traditional beliefs. So, the plant with medicinal properties must be chemically investigated for correct identification of bioactive compounds which can be further used for designing drugs. This will be a great contribution for pharmaceutical and herbal industries in Nepal. Our findings revealed that human encroachment such as unplanned development works, [habitat] loss, over exploitation of medicinal plants are the root causes of diminution of highly potent medicinal plants. An appropriate conservation planning is most essential to preserve the medicinal biodiversity in Parbat district. To preserve the plants in natural habitat, it is essential to establish medicinal gardens for ex-situ conservation by mobilizing the local ethnic people. In-situ conservation will help highly usable and depleting species by propagating, reintroducing, regularly monitoring and evaluating processes. Reported medicinal plants need to be systematically screened through phytochemical and pharmacological for potential bioactive compounds. Experimental validation of these remedies may help in developing new drugs which can be used to cure inevitable disease such as cancer, Alzheimer, Parkinson’s and HIV.”

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.