The Medicinal Plants of Bhutan’s Lower Kheng Region


Pharmacological, ethnopharmacological, and botanical evaluation of subtropical medicinal plants of Lower Kheng region in Bhutan

Wangchuk P, Yeshi K, Jamphel K
Integr Med Res. 2017 Dec; 6(4): 372–387
PubMed Central: PMC5741394
Zhemgang Dzongkhag (District), Bhutan
Zhemgang District, Bhutan

Investigators at James Cook University, Wangbama Central School, and the Bhutan Ministry of Health conducted an ethnobotanical study to identify subtropical medicinal plants from the Lower Kheng region in the Zhemgang District of Bhutan, where Bhutanese Sowa Rigpa medicine has been practiced for centuries:

“In Bhutan, while some traditional physicians argue that Sowa Rigpa originated in the 8th century CE with the advent of Mahayana Buddhism, many scholars believe that it was only in 1616 that Lama Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyal laid written foundation to this medical system. The Bhutanese Sowa Rigpa medicine (BSM) belong to the larger corpus of the Tibetan scholarly medical (TSM) system, which was derived from Chinese Traditional Medicine, Indian Ayurvedic Medicine, Greco-Roman medicine, and the Persian medicine (Galenos). However, the country’s culture, tradition, local medical practices, geography, and vegetation influenced the way BSM evolved independently over many centuries, making it specific to Bhutan.”

The authors note that theirs is the first ethnobotanical study to be conducted in the Lower Kheng region:

“The criteria and reasons for choosing these areas as our ethnobotanical study areas were: (1) there was unsubstantiated/anecdotal claim about the lush growth of LAMP in the region; (2) no ethnobotanical study has been conducted in this region to date; and (3) Lower Kheng people are poor and their engagement in the medicinal plants collection, cultivation, and marketing programs could help them generate cash income.”

Aquilaria malaccensis
Aquilaria malaccensis [Source: W. Saunders – Illustrations of the botany and other branches of the natural history of the Himalayan Mountains. Volume 2 (Public Domain)]
The research team identified 61 medicinal plants, 30 of which were found in abundance, including Terminalia chebula, Terminalia bellirica, and Phyllanthus emblica, together known as “King of Medicine” (Mengi-Pawo) or “Three Powerful Medicines.” Another species, Aquilaria malaccensis, which is considered rare in other parts of the world, was found to be abundantly cultivated in household and community gardens throughout the region. More than 20 species were found in all the villages surveyed. These included Bombax ceiba, Canarium strictum, Cassia tora, Cautleya spicata, Choerospondias axillaris, Cinnamomum impressinervium, Erythrina arborescens, Justicia adhatoda, Knema tenuinervia, Mucuna imbricata, Otochilus lancilabius, Phlogacanthus thyrsiformis, Piper mullesua, Rhus chinensis, Stephania glabra, Symplocos sumuntia, and Tinospora cordifolia.

In their conclusion, the authors recommend further work toward sustainable development and commercialization of the region’s medicinal plants:

“Many plant species have commercial and economic values. While MSP is currently viewed as the sole domestic market for these medicinal plants, many species have international significance (especially applicable to countries that practice Tibetan Sowa Rigpa medicine and Indian Ayurvedic medicine including India, Nepal, Mongolia, Tibet, Europe, and Northern America). The communities would largely benefit by domesticating or cultivating them in the household gardens or as cash crops in their family orchards. This medicinal plants program has the potential to alleviate poverty in these three Gewog communities and could enhance the happiness, wellbeing and development in Bhutan. Since the communities consume 28 medicinal plants as food grains, spices, herbs, and fruits, it can be assumed that the local people are also deriving health benefits.”

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.

Uses, Knowledge & Conservation Status of Plants in Two Quilombolas Communities in the Atlantic Rainforest of Brazil


Local ecological knowledge and its relationship with biodiversity conservation among two Quilombola groups living in the Atlantic Rainforest, Brazil

Conde BE, Ticktin T, Fonseca AS, Macedo AL, Orsi TO, Chedier LM, Rodrigues E, Pimenta DS1
PLoS One. 2017 Nov 28;12(11):e0187599
PubMed Central: PMC5705149

Minas Gerais in Brazil
The state of Minas Gerais in Brazil [Source: TUBS, Wikimedia Commons]
Investigators at the Universidade Federal de Juiz de Fora, University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, Centro de Ensino Superior de Juiz de Fora, Universidade Federal Fluminense, and Universidade Federal de São Paulo conducted an ethnobotanical and ecological survey to evaluate the uses, knowledge, and conservation status of plants in two Quilombolas (descendants of slaves of African origin) communities in the Atlantic rainforest of Brazil: São Sebastião da Boa Vista and São Bento Abade in the state of Minas Gerais.

Writing in PLoS One, the team describes Brazil’s Atlantic rainforest as one of the world’s most biodiverse and most threatened biomes:

“Brazil is one of the world’s megadiverse countries, and the Atlantic rainforest, which stretches from the northeastern to the southern regions of the country, is the most biodiverse biome of Brazil, with up to 476 plant species found in one hectare. Unfortunately, the Atlantic rainforest is also one of the most threatened forest types in the world, with nearly 90% of its original area devastated. As is the case with the majority of Brazilian protected areas, the Atlantic Rainforest is also home to many traditional communities–those that have lived in one location for a long period of time, such as the Quilombolas. According to the Living Report of World Wide Fund for Nature, 90% of tropical forests worldwide are not under formal protection and millions of people living both inside and outside of reserves rely on their resources.”

Through interviews with local Quilombolas experts, the team documented 212 ethnobotanically significant species in São Sebastião da Boa Vista (including 105 native species) and 221 in São Bento Abade (96 native species).

Medicinal and technological uses were the most important uses in both communities. Some of the most culturally important medicinal species were also among the most vulnerable, among them Dalbergia hortensis and Sparattosperma leucanthum.

In their conclusion, the authors strongly recommend “development of a sustainable management plan that considers local knowledge about management and use of plants”:

“These data illustrate the rich ethnobotanical knowledge and heritage of the communities. However, our results also suggest that more than 50% of local useful species in both communities (those ranked in Category 1 for conservation priority) may be at risk if there are no plans for the management and replanting of them. Of these plants, Dalbergia hortensis is a special conservation priority because of its great cultural significance. Other species such Sparattosperma leucanthum, Lygodium volubile in SSBV, Cecropia glaziovii in SB, and Croton urucurana in both communities rank high for cultural significance and conservation priority. Based on our results, the development of a sustainable management plan that considers local knowledge about management and use of plants is essential. Developing programs to increase populations of those species at risk, including agroforestry programs can help meet the needs of producing culturally important species and of biological conservation. It is urgent that the government demarcate Quilombolas land for cultural maintenance, quality of life and preservation of nature.”

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.

Sequachee Valley News – June 12, 1913


On Beautiful Little Sequatchie

By Spencer Judd

[The Nashville Banner has a very interesting department, edited by R. A. Wilson, entitled “Fins, Furs and Feathers,” and Saturday it contained the following well written article concerning the beauties of Little Sequatchie river, which is so well known to manipulators of the rod and reel.]

“Editor Fins, Furs and Feathers:

Forty long years I had been cherishing the hope of fishing in Little Sequatchie River. I had heard so much of the classic beauty of its environment, of its blue depths of cold spring water and the consequent fighting quality of its fish, that I used to dream about the fierce contests I was to have under these ideal conditions.

“It is just over the mountain, and almost any time will do; next fall will be a fine time to go over there, and between strikes bathe my soul in all the glories of Indian summer.” Thus I reasoned about it, and in the autumn would match the attractions of spring against the fading light with the result, one more postponement. And it is not always easy to get over the mountain,” as even a very small “mole hill” presents difficulties sometimes. At any rate, I did not get there while all those years rolled by. Vaulting ambition lured me many times to far distant waters, but through all that period I had a feeling, which amounted to absolute certainty, that some time I would cast my line over Little Sequatchie, and I have just now returned from that long thought of expedition.

As this charming bit of water lies “over the mountain” from most of your readers, probably they are not familiar with it, and would enjoy a picture and word of description. Of course, there is a “Big Sequatchie” and a valley by that name drained by the larger stream, and there is the little town of Sequatchie, but we are immediately concerned with none of these, except that the town is the point on the Pikeville branch of the Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railway, where we embarked on our way to Fairy Land. A team with driver is requisitioned in short order, as night is drawing on, and we have a couple of miles to drive. We are soon bowling along towards our little river, as it passes near the town, but presently we swing away to the left, and are destined not to see the stream until we are quite a mile and a half from town. And I was so glad of that swing. I think if I had first seen the river passing under the railroad bridge, there would have been no charm to it, all the glamour of romance would have faded away.

As it was, we came upon the little beauty very much as my fond fancy had pictured it many, many times over. ‘Twas in that quiet time of afterglow, when the world is filled with a mystic radiance, and only music is heard, music of which the dominant note is the silvery vesper song of the hermit thrush.

On every hand a pink and white glow came alternately from where the different shades of wild azalea were blooming in great profusion, while the violets and the wild iris mingled their purple tones in friendly rivalry. And over all the soft light came filtering down through a tender fabric of new beech leaves. Those trees alone were worth going a long way to see. Let me say, in this little aside, that the man who has not a special admiration for the baby leaves of the beech is surely lacking in an important element, the aesthetic sense is left out of his system, and he is so hopelessly inartistic as to be impossible. And such is the setting for the little gem of a river.

The road is bearing away to the right, and I am watchful and expectant when, of a sudden, through the pink of the azaleas I catch a gleam of blue water, and my right arm goes out and gathers in the reins and we stop at the very brink of Little Sequatchie River. Probably the driver is still wondering why I took the reins, why I gazed so steadily, and why I had nothing to say in the presence of the little river, about which I had so much to say before reaching it. Oh, well, let us hope his grandchildren will understand it.

What I beheld was an expanse of deep blue water, probably one hundred feet wide to the right and left unbroken by a ripple as far as we could see. I had not noticed until now how the mountains had been closing in on us as we advanced on Coppinger’s Cove, but there they were, so close that their beetling bluffs were fairly traced on the blue water, and one hoary monster was actually laving his stony foot in the limpid stream. Would you not have held up the horses in the presence of such a scene? I learned soon after that we had been looking out over the celebrated “Beech Hole,” one of the most noted fishing points on the stream.

I am sending a picture of this stretch of water and I know you are going to enjoy it. It is fairly representative within its limitations of black and white. I think you will appreciate the soft, hazy effect of the spring morning, and if you have the soul of a fisherman, you will go loafing down that path to the left, and on and on far beyond the realm of care for a little while.

The picture was taken the morning after my arrival and when I tell you that I spent the first half day with the camera before I touched the rod you will understand somewhat the compelling beauty of the stream, also that I have learned something of the sweet philosophy of patience. There were many attractive bits of scenery to be recorded, and the fish could wait.

There are not many stretches where the little stream is in such a “reflective mood” as at “Beech Hole.” That is rather exceptional, as it is dancing frolicking little river, hurrying along as if glad to escape from the gloomy caverns in these towering crags, from whence it sprang.

Oh, yes, a very happy river, gurgling and singing, and sometimes shouting as it leaps over boulder-strewn shoals, and swings like a dancing dervish into the foaming pool beyond. Full of all the bubbling enthusiasm of most young things, it makes a joyous start on its long journey to the sea.

For three days, all too short, we had a fine time, just the little river and I. I entered into the rejuvenating spirit of the frolic and waded the icy water where the onrush was fierce and almost irresistible. I paddled a canoe aginst the current, and up and down this stream I tumbled, without bruise, along its rock strewn shore.

Yes, we had a great time those three days, and for three nights I was highly entertained by stories, mostly reminiscent, related by mine host, Uncle Austin Coppinger, a pioneer and original character, all of his sixty-seven years having been spent right there in Coppinger Cove, and all his life he has been a hunter and fisherman. He is a gifted story teller, with an unfailing memory and a highly developed sense of humor. I have a good picture of him, with his old long rifle, and I will send you a print, with a little sketch later on.

Why are you so inquisitive about the fish? Of course I caught fish. If you do not believe it, ask old man Coppinger if we did not have fish for breakfast every morning.

Read the entire newspaper at the Library of Congress.

Sequachee Valley News – November 8, 1900



Interesting Trip Made by Two Local Young Men to That Famous Lumber Camp.

Sunday morning the writer received an invitation from Mr. W. C. Roberson to accompany him to Peter Cave where the two saw mills of Messrs Milbrandt and Karris, respectively, are located. Much time did not pass ere we were on our winding way through the rocky coves of Cumberland.

The day was just such a beautiful fall day as you read about. The sky clear, the air cool, the trees ablaze with red and gold and the forest aisles strewn with fallen leaves. Our horses trotted briskly along snuffing the keen air and dodging the mud-holes, of which there seemed to be an abundance. It is said that lumber teams have mysteriously disappeared in these holes, that Austin Coppinger says so, and looking at them, it would seem passing strange if something did not get lost in them occasionally. However we will let that pass, or rather pass the mud holes as best we can.

At Austin Coppinger’s we saw a large sign “Do not talk to me on politics, A. Coppinger” and at Jesse Coppinger’s Switch noted that he had made great improvement to his residence making a comfortable home.

Passing on up the cove the way became more tortuous and the sides of the mountains closer, and finally the road took the bed of the river and pretty nearly stayed there.

After several miles of travelling over rocks and boulders, through fords, through mudholes, up hill, down hill, etc., we began to feel like the Fairy in Shakespeare’s comedy of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” who sings:

“Over hill, over dale,
Thorough [sic] bush, thorough [sic] briar,
Over park, over pale,
Thorough [sic] flood, thorough [sic] fire,
I do wander everywhere.”

As we journeyed we saw a corn field that looked like Bill Nye’s 40-acre farm of cliff and, accosting a passer-by, asked him how they cultivated it. “Well,” he said “When they get ready to plant it they get a maul and some iron wedges and drill the holes. If they use fertilizer they tamp it into the bottom of the hole with a tamping bar and everything is lovely.”

“Indeed” we said and passed on.

Arena, tho only postoffice in the Cove, is prettily situated facing the western sun, and the whole city as one looks up the principal street and only thoroughfare, would make a capital subject for the artist’s pencil.

Above Arena, the scene grows wilder and the spruce pines, which cluster along the side of the road, which is nearly always the bed of the creek, present a cold, gloomy and forbidding appearance. It is a splendid place in which to play that noble game of cards entitled “solitaire.”

Arriving at the saw mills the eye was gladdened, the heart cheered, and the appetite enhanced, the first by the sight of the yellow lumber piles glittering in the sunlight, the second by the thought of human companionship and kind feeling among the sturdy woodsmen and the third by the desire to gratify the inner man.

We were met by Ingersoll Jones, the polite bookkeeper for Farris & Co., who received us hospitably and soon we were engaged in the beauties of dissecting canned salmon, sardines and crackers, the regulation diet of all who arrive after dinner hour, which is strictly from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. at the Peter Cave Restaurant.

We inspected the Farris Mill first and concluding that everything was in good order there went over to the Milbrandt Mill and made a critical examination of it. This mill stands there just as if it had taken wings from its site up near the county bridge and flown over the mountains and landed In the cove. The shingles have been replaced by boards, put on with that reckless disregard for appearances which characterizes a lumber camp; but even they, the shingles of course might have been knocked off in taking that tremendous flight.

Everything was just the same even to the location of the grindstone and the file room. The water pipe, however was hors de combat, no water coming through it, and in reply to a question some one said that he guessed a saw log had run over it and broke the connection.

Among the familiar faces we saw were those of Dan Ferguson and Toll Burnett, those distinguished fox hunters and coon catchers. Fox hunting is a great pastime and after night many an exciting race has been run in that cove, healthy for the dogs and unhealthy for the fox.

The small-pox scare has not reached here yet. One old lady who is terribly afraid of it, when told by a certain person that he had been to South Pittsburg hollered out “Good God, and you’ve been right where the small-pox is” and bolted up the mountain side as fast as she could go. And this is the nearest to a case of small-pox in that vicinity. With plenty of fine water, pure air, bright sunshine, joke and jest, free life in the woods and plain but wholesome food, these manipulators of the canthook and axe have nothing to fear and Dan Furguson says If Mr. Small-pox comes up there darned if be don t get his dogs after him and make him hunt his bole.

Uncle Bob Jones, R. P., Governor or “kernel” whichever you want, was one of the familiar faces seen and his first query was “How is Bryan a-running?” Uncle Bob has tremendous arguments with his particular friend and crony, Austin Coppinger and their wordy combats are celebrated from Peter Cave to Sequachee and thence no one knows.

These two mills of Farris and Milbrandt cut respectively 12,000 and 23,000 feet of lumber per day of ten hours and a regular wagon train is kept busy hauling it ten miles to Sequachee for shipment. It is now under consideration to move the Farris mill two miles further up the cove, closer to the timber.

After many pressing invitations to stay, at what appeared to be four o’clock in the afternoon owing to the height of the mountains around us, we started on the return trip arriving at Sequachee soon after sunset, or as Mr. Roberson remarked “only a few minutes after the time we had started.”


Special to the News.

A. O. and Clint Kelly went squirrel hunting the other day and had a great time, killing one squirrel. Clint was here visiting friends and relatives.

A man passed through here the other day with his head tied up. A large crowd was standing around the stores. Some one shouted smallpox and you never saw such a lively crowd.

R. Pitman went to Chattanooga Sunday on business.

Bob Elliot is slowly improving.

H. Coppinger arrived in Inman Sunday to spend a few days.

Jesse Coppinger and Lee Turner were in our little town the other day.

Defetchit got hurt in the mines week before last and had to miss the game between Inman and Sequachee, and also not able to write to the good paper although it was chuck full of good news.

Henry Mitchell and family moved to Inman last week.

I broke my axe handle last week.

Myself, Henry Mitchell, Joe Layne, Joe Kelly, Lon Lane, Will Kelly, and Russ Byers went coon hunting Saturday and caught one pitiful little slick tail. It’s face was all broke out. I think it had the smallpox.

Mrs. Dr. Gott has returned after a week’s visit to relatives at Oak Grove.

Joe Vasey addressed the public here behalf of the Federation of Labor.

I dont like for any one to write to me now for they might seal the smallpox up and send it to me.

Some people are moving to the mountain. That’s no good. Smallpox can climb a hill same as it can walk in the valley, so stay at home and keep the door shut.

I want to say a few words about the smallpox. I had the smallpox in New Orleans five years ago, and while I was lying at the point of death I could see others some struggling and gasping for breath and some dying. I as well as the others were tied hands and feet to our beds, and all I wanted was to scratch, and if I could have got to myself no doubt I would have put myself to death with my finger nails as some others did. I did not need any guard to keep me in doors, and I didn’t jump up and run to the table and eat a pone of corn bread and a pound of meat. I was seasick on the waters once and that was awful, but nothing to compare with smallpox. All I ate was rice, a little soup and a small slice of moonshine and I didn’t want anything. The yellow fever used to be one of the most contagious diseases in America and the small-pox today is harder to control than the yellow jack and I venture to say that if that was the small-pox that they had here in the summer when the small-pox does set in it will kill everybody. I never heard of small-pox before in August. Now the people in Mississippi have what they call the Cuban itch and the variolid and when anyone has the variolid he thinks it is the very ____l. Its so now that when anyone goes across the Sequachee river they are afraid to let him come back “for day air afeared ob de small-pox.” My wife had a fever blister on her lip and she asked if I didn’t think it was the small-pox. I saw a pig with a sore head the other day. I expect its got the small-pox. Bye bye.


Read the entire newspaper at the Library of Congress.