Medicinal Plants Used by the Mandai

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Medicinal plants used by the Mandais–a little known tribe of Bangladesh

Ishita Malek, Tabibul Islam, Ehasanul Hasan, Shakila Akter, Masud Rana, Protiva Rani Das, Walied Samarrai, and Mohammed Rahmatullah
Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med
2012 Jul 1;9(4):536-41
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3746648
Tangail District, Bangladesh
Tangail District, Bangladesh (Source: Wikimedia Commons, Armanaziz adapted by Himalayan Explorer)

Researchers at the University of Development Alternative and New York City College of Technology conducted an ethnomedicinal survey among Mandai tribal practitioners to document their use of medicinal plants for the treatment of various ailments.

From the Introduction:

“The Mandais are a small tribal community residing in Tangail district of Bangladesh with an estimated population of less than 10,000. They claim to have originally come from Coochbehar region in India for which reason they add the word Cooch to their names. However, they are different from the Kuch tribe of Bangladesh. Their society is patriarchal. Their language is known as Mandai but they have no alphabet. The word ‘Mandai’, according to them has originated from the Sanskrit words Mendi or Manda meaning hole. Since this tribe originally used to live in holes dug in forested regions, they referred to themselves as Mandai or “people living in holes”. Their main diet consists of rice, pulses and vegetables together with fish and meat when those can be afforded. They are mostly illiterate but have acquired a good fluency in the Bengali language in recent times. They are a much neglected tribe with a poor socio-economic status. Now-a-days, they mostly work as agricultural laborers in farms of more affluent neighboring villages of the Bengali-speaking mainstream population. They profess themselves to be Hindus and conduct worships of multiple gods and goddesses of the Hindu religion. The Mandais are fast losing their separate identities because of the influence of the dominant culture of the mainstream Bengali-speaking population. The younger generations are losing interest and have started to forget their ancient rituals and practices. As a result, the elderly people, who have still maintained their own culture, apprehend that the language and traditional knowledge of the Mandais will soon be forgotten. This knowledge includes knowledge of their traditional medicinal practices.”

The team identified 31 plant species used to treat various ailments including diabetes, low semen density, jaundice, gastrointestinal tract disorders (stomach ache, indigestion, dysentery, and diarrhea), leucorrhea, pain (rheumatic pain, joint pain), skin disorders, respiratory tract disorders (coughs, mucus, and allergy), debility, fever, and helminthiasis.

Curculigo orchioides
Curculigo orchioides (Source: Wikimedia Commons User Viren Vaz)

The authors particularly recommend further scientific studies of a combination of plants used by the Mandai for the treatment of diabetes: Curculigo orchioides, Tamarindus indica, Syzygium cumini, and Asparagus racemosus.

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

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