Ethnomedicinal Plants Used by Traditional Healers of Three Indigenous Communities in the Bandarban District of Bangladesh


Quantitative Ethnobotany of Medicinal Plants Used by Indigenous Communities in the Bandarban District of Bangladesh

Faruque MO, Uddin SB, Barlow JW, Hu S, Dong S, Cai Q, Li X, Hu X
Front Pharmacol. 2018 Feb 6;9:40
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5808248

Investigators at Huazhong Agricultural University, University of Chittagong, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, and Hubei Cancer Hospital documented information on ethnomedicinal plants used by traditional healers of three indigenous communities in the Bandarban, a hilly, primarily agricultural district in southeastern Bangladesh.

The team chose three Bandarban district upazilas (administration regions) for the study (Naikhyonchari, Rowangchari, and Ruma) as their distance from cities make them some of the most remote areas of Bangladesh. Of the twelve indigenous communities, three (Chakma, Marma, and Tripura) are reported to employ ethnomedicinal herbal practices particularly heavily and were asked to participate in the interviews.

A total of 159 ethnomedicinal plant species, 128 of them native, were reported to be useful for therapeutic purposes including the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders, as a sedative, for anti-tumor, anti-allergic, or carminative activity, for coughs and colds, and for boils and other skin ailments.

Congea tomentosa
Congea tomentosa [photo: Forest & Kim Starr, Wikimedia Commons]
The five most commonly used ethnomedicinal plant species were Duabanga grandiflora, Zingiber officinale, Congea tomentosa, Matricaria chamomilla, and Engelhardtia spicata. To the best of the authors’ knowledge, seven of the species documented in the study have never before been ethnobotanically and pharmacologically studied in Western scientific literature: Agastache urticifolia, Asarum cordifolium, Congea tomentosa, Engelhardia spicata, Hypserpa nitida, Merremia vitifolia, and Smilax odoratissima.

In their conclusion, the authors recommend a closer look at C. tomentosa and E. spicata in particular:

The present study showed that traditional treatment systems using medicinal plants is still prevalent in the studied areas, and it underlines the importance in the documentation of traditional ethnomedicinal knowledge before losing this diverse resource. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first quantitative ethnomedicinal study in the study area indicating UV, ICF, FC, RFC, RI, and JI indices. The present study records new ethnomedicinal species with their therapeutic uses, which can potentially lead to the development of new therapies and may represent novel bioresources for phytochemical and pharmacological studies, notably C. tomentosa and E. spicata, which have claimed anticancer effects by the healers of all studied indigenous communities in the study area.

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

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