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 Table of Contents  
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2013  |  Volume : 32  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 144-149

Ethnomedicinal plants of the Bauri tribal community of Moulvibazar District, Bangladesh


Department of Pharmacy, University of Development Alternative, Dhanmondi, Dhaka 1209, Bangladesh

Date of Web Publication17-Dec-2013

Correspondence Address:
Mohammed Rahmatullah
Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Development Alternative, House 78, Road 11A, Dhanmondi, Dhaka - 1209
Bangladesh
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Source of Support: Internal funding from University of Development Alternative, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0257-7941.122997

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  Abstract 

Context: Bangladesh reportedly has more than 100 tribal communities; however, documentation of their medicinal practices is markedly absent.
Aim: The aim of the present study was to conduct an ethnomedicinal survey among the little known Bauri tribe of Bangladesh, whose tribal medicinal practices are yet to be documented.
Settings and Design: The survey was carried out among the Bauri tribal community of Purbo Tila village in Moulvibazar District. The community is believed to be the only Bauri community in the country and had four tribal healers who continue their traditional medicinal practices.
Materials and Methods: Interviews of the healers were carried out with the help of a semi-structured questionnaire and the guided field-walk method where the healers took the interviewers on guided field-walks through areas from where they collected their medicinal plants. Here they identified the plants and described their uses.
Results: The Bauri healers were observed to use 40 different plant species and one bird species for treatment of ailments such as fever, respiratory tract disorders, pain, gastrointestinal disorders, eye problems like cataract and conjunctivitis, jaundice, abscess, cardiovascular disorders, urinary problems, paralysis, dog bite, snake bite, helminthiasis, lesions on the tongue or lips and piles. Leaves were the major plant part used and constituted 38.3% of total uses followed by fruits at 14.9%.
Conclusions: A review of the relevant scientific literature showed that a number of medicinal plants used by the Bauri healers possess pharmacological activities, which were in line with the traditional uses, thus validating their use by the Bauri tribe.

Keywords: Bauri, ethnomedicine, Moulvibazar


How to cite this article:
Das PR, Islam M, Mostafa M, Rahmatullah M. Ethnomedicinal plants of the Bauri tribal community of Moulvibazar District, Bangladesh. Ancient Sci Life 2013;32:144-9

How to cite this URL:
Das PR, Islam M, Mostafa M, Rahmatullah M. Ethnomedicinal plants of the Bauri tribal community of Moulvibazar District, Bangladesh. Ancient Sci Life [serial online] 2013 [cited 2019 Nov 20];32:144-9. Available from: http://www.ancientscienceoflife.org/text.asp?2013/32/3/144/122997


  Introduction Top


Latest ethnographic studies in Bangladesh suggest that the country has more than 100 indigenous communities, who are often referred to as tribes. [1] Lately, there has been a resurgence of interest in indigenous medicinal practices, for scientists have realized that the discovery of many important bio-medicines have followed close observations of such traditional practices. [2],[3]

Several reports have recently come out from Bangladesh documenting the medicinal practices of various tribes. [4],[5],[6],[7],[8],[9],[10],[11],[12] However, these reports do not present a picture of the traditional medicinal practices of all tribes of Bangladesh and more work is necessary.


  Materials and Methods Top


The present survey was carried out in 2012 among the Bauri community, numbering around 2,000 people in Purbo Tila village, which lies in Moulvibazar District of Bangladesh. The community practices Hindu religion, it also has some animistic beliefs. The goddess Kali was their main goddess for worship and they also performed magical rites to appease the snake goddess Monsha Devi. The community had four practicing healers, three of whom were males and one female. Their names were Biswanath Bauri, Robi Bauri, Sukubala Bauri and Bisheswar Bauri. Informed consent was initially obtained from the tribal headman (Sardar) and the healers. They were explained in detail about the nature and purpose of our visit and consent obtained to publish information obtained (including their names) both nationally and internationally. Periodic visits were made to the community to build up initial rapport between the community and the interviewers prior to obtaining the desired information.

Interviews were conducted with the help of a semi-structured questionnaire and the guided field-walk method of Martin [13] and Maundu. [14] In this method, the healers take the interviewers on guided field-walks in the daytime through areas from where they usually collect their medicinal plants, identify the plants and describe their uses. More detailed information was collected from the healers with the help of the questionnaire and in open-ended talks during the healers' free time (mostly during the evening hours). At their request, the healers were interviewed as a "body" and not individually. However, during field-walks at any given time the interviewers were accompanied by only one or two healers. Interviews were conducted in Bengali, which was spoken fluently by the healers and the Sardar and was also the language spoken by the interviewers. Plant specimens as identified by the healers were photographed, collected and dried and later brought back to Dhaka for complete identification at the Bangladesh National Herbarium. Voucher specimens were deposited with the Medicinal Plant Collection Wing of the University.


  Results Top


The four Bauri healers between themselves were observed to use a total of 40 plants and one bird species in their various formulations for treatment of diseases. The 40 plants were distributed into 25 families. In addition to the plants, the trachea of the great hornbill bird (Buceros bicornis) was used in combination with other plant parts for treatment of asthma. The oil obtained from the fat of this bird was also used by itself to get relief from chest pain and asthma. The results are shown in [Table 1]. Leaves were the major plant part used and constituted 38.3% of total uses followed by fruits at 14.9%. The various diseases treated by them include fever, respiratory tract disorders, pain, gastrointestinal disorders, eye problems such as cataract and conjunctivitis, jaundice, abscess, cardiovascular disorders, urinary problems, paralysis, dog bite, snake bite, helminthiasis, lesions on the tongue or lips and piles.
Table 1: Medicinal plants and formulations of the Bauri healers

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The healers used both simple and complex formulations for treatment of various diseases. For instance, the leaves of Andrographis paniculata were used for treatment of fever including malarial fever. The mode of administration was also quite simple with the patients being advised merely to chew the leaves or take the leaves orally in the form of pills. On the other hand, a combination of seven plant parts or plant products were used for treatment of pain during menstruation, the plant parts or products being leaves of Aerva lanata, seeds of Nigella sativa, fruits of Piper nigrum, sugar obtained from sap of Borassus flabellifer (tal mishri), cloves of Allium sativum, roots of Solanum melongena and fruits of Capsicum frutescens. When they were asked about the use of multiple plants, the healers mentioned that their experiences indicated that the combination of these plant parts had a synergistic effect in alleviating menstrual pain. However, tal mishri and sometimes honey, was also used to make the formulation palatable by giving it a sweet taste. It may be noted that in the above instance, fruits of C. frutescens would impart a hot taste and can make the formulation difficult to take orally and this was mitigated using tal mishri.


  Discussion Top


A number of the plants used by the Bauri healers have known pharmacological properties, which validates their traditional use. For instance, anti-malarial activity of A. paniculata has been reported; [15] the Bauri healers use the plant for treatment of malarial fever. The anti-tussive and bronchodilatory effects of Justicia adhatoda and one of its alkaloid constituents, vasicinone has been reported; [16],[17] the plant was used by the Bauri healers for treatment of coughs.

Justicia gendarussa was used in combination with other plant parts and the tracheal bone of the great hornbill for treatment of asthma. Extract of this plant has been shown to be effective against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, which suggests that the plant may be useful in respiratory disorders such as coughs, cold, bronchitis, pulmonary infections and bronchial asthma. [18] It is interesting to note that the Bauri healers used J. gendarussa along with leaves of Aegle marmelos and Ocimum tenuiflorum and fruits of Terminalia bellirica and P. nigrum for asthma treatment. A. marmelos leaves are known to contain lupeol, [19] a compound, which has been shown to attenuate allergic airway inflammation in a murine model, [20] and so would be beneficial against asthma. The anti-asthmatic and anti-inflammatory activity of O. tenuiflorum has been shown. [21] Fruits of T. bellirica are also useful against asthma; [22] in vitro anti-asthmatic activity of fruit extract of P. nigrum has been demonstrated. [23] Thus with the exception of the tracheal bone of the great hornbill, the rest of the plants used by the Bauri healers for treatment of asthma have been reported to possess anti-asthmatic properties and together, they can provide a synergistic effect, which would be highly beneficial for asthma treatment.

A. lanata leaf is used by the Bauri healers for treatment of menstrual pain. The plant is known to contain the phytochemicals stigmasterol-3-glyceryl-2'-linoleate, campesterol and daucosterol in its aerial arts and all three compounds have been reported to possess antinociceptive activity; [24] thus the leaves would be beneficial for alleviation of pain. The gastroprotective activity of Centella asiatica has been reviewed; [25] the plant was used by the healers for treatment of dysentery. The anti-asthmatic activity of Alstonia scholaris has been reported; [26] the plant was used by the Bauri healers for treatment of asthma. Analgesic activity of aerial parts of Calotropis gigantea has been shown; [27] notably stem sap of the plant was used by the healers to alleviate pain and eliminate pus from abscesses. Mikania cordata was used by the healers to treat cuts and wounds; it is also considered a wound healing herb in the Pacific region countries. [28] Tagetes erecta is a common plant for treatment of conjunctivitis by folk medicinal practitioners of Bangladesh; [29] it was used for the same purpose by the Bauri healers.

The bark of Terminalia cuneata was used by the Bauri healers for treatment of cardiovascular disorders. A number of studies have been reported on the protective and beneficial effects of the bark of the plant on the heart, in coronary heart disease and in ischemic-reperfusion injury. These reports include beneficial effects in coronary artery disease with significant reductions in anginal frequency; [30] beneficial effect of bark in isolated ischemic-reperfused rat heart; [31] cardioprotective effect of alcoholic extract of bark in an in vivo model of myocardial ischemic-reperfusion injury; [32] and protective effects of the bark against doxorubicin-induced cardiotoxicity. [33]

The above discussion clearly suggests that the ethnomedicinal wisdom of the Bauri healers seems to be in line with other studies elsewhere. In this, most of the plants used by the healers have been validated in their respective uses through scientific studies on bio-active chemicals and pharmacological activity. Moreover, use of multiple plants for treatment of a given disease like asthma, in which scientific studies suggest that the plants can have a synergistic effect in the alleviation of the symptoms, again strongly attests to the medicinal plant knowledge of the Bauris, which possibly has been accumulated for hundreds of years. To conclude, it is important to conduct further scientific studies on the medicinal plants used by the Bauris, not only with the objective of discovering new and possibly more efficacious drugs, but also for scientific validation of the Bauri medicinal claims. This can offer the population a cheap alternate remedies for treatment of various diseases and spur conservation efforts of these plants.

 
  References Top

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  [Table 1]


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