Medicinal Plants Used by the Deb Barma Clan of Bangladesh


A survey of medicinal plants used by the Deb barma clan of the Tripura tribe of Moulvibazar district, Bangladesh

Kabir MH, Hasan N, Rahman MM, Rahman MA, Khan JA, Hoque NT, Bhuiyan MR, Mou SM, Jahan R, Rahmatullah M
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2014 Feb 6;10:19
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3996145

Moulvibazar District, Bangladesh
Moulvibazar District, Bangladesh [source: Nafsadh, Wikimedia Commons]
Mohammad Humayun Kabir and colleagues at the University of Development Alternative conducted a survey of the ethnomedicinal practices of the Deb barma clan of the Tripura tribe, residing in Dolusora Tripura Palli of Bangladesh’s Moulvibazar district.

The survey is part of a larger project to document the medical ethnobotany of Bangladesh:

“Towards building up a comprehensive database of medicinal plants of the country and their traditional uses, we had been interviewing and documenting the traditional medicinal practices of folk and tribal medicinal practitioners for a number of years. The Tripura (also known as Tripuri, Tiprah or Tipperah) tribe is one such indigenous community in Bangladesh, whose various clans can be found in the Chittagong and Sylhet Divisions in the southeast and northeast parts, respectively, of the country. The various clans of the Tripura tribe include Deb barma (also known as Tiprah), Reang or Bru, Jamatia, Koloi, Noatia, Murasing, Halam, Harbang, and Uchoi. We have previously documented the ethnomedicinal practices of the Harbang clan of the Tripura tribal community residing in Chittagong Division of Bangladesh.”

On the basis of interviews of the tribal healer and the tribal community regarding their ethnomedicinal practices, with the help of a semi-structured questionnaire and guided field-walks, the team documented 44 medicinal plants used by the tribal healer for treatment of a variety of ailments, including malaria, skin infections, tuberculosis, respiratory disorders, bleeding from external cuts and wounds, chest pain, gastrointestinal disorders, rheumatic pain, burning sensations during urination, bone fracture, snake bite, toothache, headache, bleeding from gums, paralysis, skin disorders, helminthiasis, chicken pox, diabetes, jaundice, eye disorders and weakness.

Persicaria glabra
Persicaria glabra [source: J. M. Garg, Wikimedia Commons]
Several plants were found to be unique in their use for medicinal purposes by the Deb barma healer, including Physalis micrantha, Persicaria glabra, Smilax macrophylla, Sansevieria hyacinthoides, Garcinia cowa, Pouzolzia zeylanica and Lantana camara, and are proposed for scientific examination for their relevant pharmacological activities.

From the Conclusion:

“…In recent years, the Deb barma clan members may have started to prefer allopathic system more than their traditional medicinal system. If this happens, the ethnomedicinal wisdom of the Deb barma clan may be lost forever, if not documented. Since already the usage of a number of their traditional medicinal plants has been validated through scientific research, it is important that the yet to be studied plants be examined scientifically as to their pharmacological properties and their phytochemical constituents. Such studies can be beneficial to human beings if new and more efficacious medicines can be discovered from these plants.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

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