Tag Archives: war on terror

Folk Knowledge of Wild Food Plants in Thakht-e-Sulaiman Hills, Pakistan


Folk knowledge of wild food plants among the tribal communities of Thakht-e-Sulaiman Hills, North-West Pakistan

Ahmad K, Pieroni A
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2016 Apr 8;12:17
PubMed Central: PMC4826518

Investigators from COMSATS Institute of Information Technology and the University of Gastronomic Sciences conducted an ethnobotanical study to document traditional knowledge of wild food plants among indigenous communities of the Thakht-e-Sulaiman hills in the North-West tribal belt of Pakistan.

The authors note both the importance of traditional knowledge of wild food plants for people in the region and factors putting that knowledge in danger:

“In spite of their great importance, [wild food plants] are vanishing from traditional diets, which poses serious concerns due to their role and contribution in the cultural history of a region as well as their nutraceutical value. In the developing world these plants are regularly ignored in governmental policies, agricultural research and extension programs. Over the past decade, the majority of tribal communities on the north-western boarder of Pakistan have been affected by the ‘war on terror’, which has destabilized their traditional knowledge systems. The present research area is semi-arid and mountainous with deficient agricultural land. The people live in extreme poverty with widespread food insecurity. They are also not considered in government developmental policies.”

Amaranthus spinosus
Amaranthus spinosus [Photo: Forest & Kim Starr, Wikimedia Commons]
Working with 72 informants from 10 different villages, the team documented 51 species used as wild food plants, including fruits, vegetables, and teas. The most highly cited species were Olea ferruginia, Amaranthus spinosus, and Ficus palmata.

The authors recommend a program of sustainable harvesting, domestication, and marketing to conserve both the wild food plants and local knowledge about their uses:

“In addition to food value, the supplementary qualities of [wild food plants] such as medicinal potential, cultural uses, marketing and storage make them more important in the local culture but also predispose them to extensive exploitation. There is a large potential for the harvesting, domestication and marketing of [wild food plants] in the area, and if done properly, they could be a source of cash income for locals. The wild relatives of the domesticated food species could help increase genetic diversity for crop improvement and yield, thus addressing the present demand of human food security. The ongoing process of domestication of wild species in the area is of the utmost importance not only for the interests of local communities but also for global food diversification.”

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.

Ethnomedicine in War-Affected Pakistan


Ethnomedicine use in the war affected region of northwest Pakistan

Adnan M, Ullah I, Tariq A, Murad W, Azizullah A, Khan AL, Ali N
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2014 Jan 31;10:16
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3932995

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan [source: TUBS, Wikimedia Commons]
Muhammad Adnan of Kohat University of Science and Technology, with colleagues from that institution and the University of Nizwa, conducted a ethnomedicinal study to document medicinal plants used in Bannu District, a region of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan much affected by the “War on Terror.”

From the Introduction:

“This study has been carried out in the Frontier Region (FR) Bannu, which has suffered heavily due following the onset of the Global War on Terrorism. Various ethnomedicinal studies have been carried out in other regions of Pakistan; however, the FR has yet to be explored due to limited access. The area represents one of the country’s richest centers of biodiversity and it is a strong source of indigenous knowledge. Most of the population of the area is rural with a low literacy rate; hence they are more dependent upon natural resources, and especially on plants for their healthcare needs and livelihoods. War has crippled modern health facilities in the study area, which in turn has resulted in the spreading of gastrointestinal and skin related diseases among others. However, local people are increasingly using ethnomedicines to treat such diseases at the local level. Shinwari et al. perceived a diminishing of indigenous knowledge due to the ever increasing influence of global commercialization and socio-economic transformation, and a dire need was expressed to preserve such knowledge on medicinal plants before it disappears. Hence, the present study was designed with the following objectives: (i) to identify and explore plant species that are being used locally for the treatment and prevention of various diseases; (ii) to document traditional recipes from medicinal plants including methods of preparation and modes of administration; and (iii) to investigate the current and future status of traditional knowledge among different age groups. The present study may help in the preservation of indigenous knowledge on ethnomedicines and provide baseline data for future studies.”

Nannorrhops ritchiana
Nannorrhops ritchiana is under threat in the region due to over-collection [source: Stan Shebs, Wikimedia Commons]
The team carried out fieldwork in all seasons from March 2012 to February 2013, collecting data on medicinal plants using structured and semi-structured questionnaires from 250 local respondents. They identified 107 species of medicinal plants, used most commonly for carminative purposes (i.e., to treat gas in the gastrointestinal tract), followed by blood purification. The dominant medicinal plant species are Acacia modesta, Acacia nilotica, Calotropis procera, Dodonaea viscosa and Withania somnifera.

Two species, Caralluma tuberculata and Nannorrhops ritchiana, identified as having potential for cultivation to achieve ecological restoration and rural livelihood, are under threat due to over-collection.

The authors conclude that armed conflict in the so-called War on Terror has severely degraded the region’s ethnomedicinal knowledge, which serves as an integral source of rural livelihood:

“Traditional medicines serve as an integral source of rural livelihood in the study region in northwestern Pakistan, which is severely affected by armed conflict in the so-called War on Terror. The study area has plenty of medicinal plants to treat a wide spectrum of human ailments and local healers, although in decline, can be experts in the preparation of various ethnomedicinal remedies. Moreover, the use of specific plant parts, similar uses of same plants in different regions and multiple uses of single plants for the preparation of medicinal remedies suggest the prevalence of biologically active compounds across a range of medicinal plant species. Further phytochemical analysis, pharmaceutical application and clinical trials are therefore recommended in order to evaluate the authenticity of ethnomedicines to scientific standards. Indigenous knowledge on ethnomedicinal preparations persist more among older traditional healers, however, such knowledge is being lost to younger generations and continuing armed conflict in the region may further inhibit the transition of such knowledge. As such, studies on the documentation of ethnomedicines may be extended to other war-affected areas for the protection of traditional knowledge.”

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.