Matrix Science Pharma

ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year
: 2022  |  Volume : 6  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 11--22

Ethnobotanical study of medicinal plants practiced at Myagdi District, Nepal


Anit Poudel 
 Department of Agriculture, Agriculture and Forestry University, Bharatpur, Nepal

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Anit Poudel
Agriculture and Forestry University, Rampur, Chitwan, Bharatpur
Nepal

Abstract

Background: Indigenous people residing in rural parts of the country still use medicinal herbs to cure diseases and injuries and possess inherent knowledge of their preparation and uses. However, contemporarily, this knowledge is less being practiced and is waning along with the introduction of modern pharmaceuticals. Objective: A survey research was carried in Myagdi district to study ethnobotany of medicinal plants and their practices. Materials and Methods: A total of 60 informants from the tribal communities were selected purposively and interviewed using a semi-structured questionnaire. The data was entered in MS-Excel and narrative analysis of the information was carried out to derive the inferences needed. Results: The study showed that 93.51% of the informants, having traditional knowledge on medicinal plants, have been practicing their use and 87.20% of the respondents found them effective in curing several diseases and injuries. Medicinal plants are commonly used to cure diseases like bone fractures, abdominal pain, fever, common cold, dysentery, eye opacity, scabies, worm infection, reproductive problems, mental disorder, and cardiovascular problems. As reported, with access to modern pharmaceuticals, the use of medicinal plants has less been practiced and handed over the generations these days. The knowledge on medicinal plants and practices are restricted to older-aged groups of the community (76.32%) reflecting that valuable traditional knowledge is on the wane. Conclusions: This study portrays the commonly used medicinal plants along with their preparation techniques practiced in the study area.



How to cite this article:
Poudel A. Ethnobotanical study of medicinal plants practiced at Myagdi District, Nepal.Matrix Sci Pharma 2022;6:11-22


How to cite this URL:
Poudel A. Ethnobotanical study of medicinal plants practiced at Myagdi District, Nepal. Matrix Sci Pharma [serial online] 2022 [cited 2022 Sep 24 ];6:11-22
Available from: https://www.matrixscipharma.org/text.asp?2022/6/1/11/351368


Full Text



 Introduction



Medicinal plants have been used from time immemorial to cure human diseases and injuries. They are rich in secondary metabolites and are the principal sources of raw drugs.[1],[2] Over three-quarters of the world's population rely mainly on plants and plant extracts for health care.[3] Medicinal plants are used in the diagnosis, prevention, and elimination of physical and mental imbalance.[4] Ayurveda, Naturopathy, Homeopathy, Unani, Amchi, and Acupuncture are the major traditional system of medicine in Nepal.[5] According to the WHO (1976) traditional medicine is the sum total of all knowledge and practices used in diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseased exclusively predicated on practical experience and observation handed over the generation whether verbally or in written form. Not only herbal medicines but also animal parts and/or minerals and nonmedication therapies are used in traditional medicine.[6] Of the 10,091 species of higher plants found in Nepal, 700 species are believed to have medicinal values and only 238 species are medically tested and documented.[7],[8] Similarly, medicinal plants are traditionally used by several ethnic groups and communities under the guidance of Kavirajs, Vaidyas, Dhamis, Jhakris, Healers, and Lammas.[9],[10] Over 100 Medicinal plants are being exported to other countries from Nepal and 70% of rural populations still rely on medicinal herbs for treatment.[11] Besides therapeutic uses, they also have nutritional, religious, cultural, and socioeconomic importance.[12]

Phyllanthus emblica, Terminalia bellirica, Cannabis sativa, Acorus calamus, Datura stramonium, Centella asiatica, Aloe vera, Bauhinia variegate, Azadirachta indiaca, Juglans regia, Dactylorhiza hatagirea, Cinnamomum tamala, Ocimum tenuiflorum, etc., are commonly used medicinal plants in Nepal. Either whole plant or parts of the plant (roots, young shoots, stems, bark, leaves and petioles, flowers, fruits and seeds) in different formulations like powder, paste, juice, raw, cooked, instillation, infusion, decoction, oil, soup, fuming, hot infusion, latex are used as medicine to cure several diseases and injuries.[13] The common diseases used for treatment includes gastro intestinal ailments, fever, skeleton-muscular disease, dermatological infections, cough/cold, headache, respiratory disorder, circulatory disorder, etc.[14] Preparation methods and uses of medicinal plants vary. However, several plants share common preparation techniques and use. Some plants like O. tenuiflorum, Justica adhatoda, Azadiracta indica, Mentha viridis, C. tamala, etc., are prepared by boilining their leaves along with crushed peppers and taken orally.[15] The juice of young leaves of C. asiatica, Psidium guajava, etc., is taken in the raw state. Roots of some plants like Coccinia grandis, Paris polyphylla, Urtica dioca, etc., are dried, powdered and taken orally as remedies of several diseases.

Still, several underexposed medicinal plants and healing practices are being used by traditional communities, residing in rural parts of Nepal. The collection and commercialization of herbal plants have been an important economic source of many of the rural population of Nepal.[16] However, many of the indigenously available medicinal plants are not properly utilized and their valuable genetic resources are vulnerable to extinction.[17] Introduction of modern pharmaceuticals has overshadowed the use of medicinal plants and knowledge on these practices is sure to be loss if not properly documented.[18],[19] In addition to this, very little is known about the use pattern, ecology, cultivation, and conservation status of medicinal plants in Nepal.[20] Furthermore, several misconceptions, malpractices, false labeling, and bio-piracy have been the major threats to the community and the culture.

The Himalayan region has a high diversity of medicinal herbs. Myagdi, the Himalayan district of Nepal that extends from 28) 20'-28) 87'N to 83) 08'-83) 53'E, covering the area of 225,706 ha and ranging from 752 to 8167 masl is well known for extensive use of medicinal plants to cure diseases and injuries.[21] Ethnobotanically, however, the area remains unexplored and no comprehensive account of local tradition is available.[22] Assuming that the traditional knowledge on medicinal plants and practices are still being used by rural people, this study aims to address the medicinal plants that have been implicated with preventive and curing measures in disease control strategies practiced in the Myagdi district, Nepal.

Objectives

General objective

To study the ethnobotany of medicinal plants practiced in the Myagdi District.

Specific objectives

To assess the different plants and their parts used as medicinal valuesTo know about the preparation technique of medicinal plants and disease treated.

 Methodology



The research was carried out in the rural community of Beni Municipality, Myagdi. The district extends from 83° 08' to 83° 53' East and 28° 20' to 28° 47' North covering 2297 sq. km (229706 ha) of land with 8% plains, 56% high hills, and 36% mountains. The district is elevated from 792 m from sea level to as high as 8167 m comprising four different types of climates including subtropical, subtemperate, temperate, and alpine. The annual rainfall ranges from 407 mm to 2960 mm in the district. The district has 30,856 ha of cultivable land, forest covers 84,452 ha of land, and pasture covers 11,338 ha of total land. The forest and pasture of hilly and mountainous topography of the district harbor abound populations of medicinal herbs. Four villages of Beni Municipality with medicinal plants practitioners namely Jamruk, Surkemela, Baskuna, and Thamdada were visited to collect the information on the ethnobotany of medicinal plants.

A field visit was conducted in September 2021 to November 2021. Firstly, reconnaissance of the study site was done to gather preliminary information on sociodemographic settings of the study site, key informants on ethnobotanical knowledge, and adopters of medicinal plants. Then, altogether 60 respondents including 15 participants on a focus group discussion and 12 key informants who were professionally using medicinal plants as Bhaidays, Lamas, Dhamis, and Jhakris were purposively selected and interviewed with a pretested, semi-structured questionnaire. Reported medicinal plants with their preparation techniques and uses were listed and their vouchers were prepared. All the reported medicinal plants with identifiable scientific names as well as unidentified and uncharacterized medicinal plants but that are commonly practiced as medicinal plants were documented. Secondary information was obtained through reviewing different publications of Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development, Agriculture Knowledge Center Myagdi, research articles, etc., Data entry and analysis were done using MS-Excel. Qualitative data obtained from the field survey summarized and tabulated using narrative analysis and quantitative data were analyzed using descriptive statistics.

 Results and Discussion



About the socioeconomic characteristics of the community

The rural community of Jamruk, Surkemela Baskuna, and Thamdada village of Beni Municipality, Myagdi district has long been practicing the use of medicinal plants to cure diseases and injuries. From the study, it was found that 70% of the respondents were male and 30% of the respondents were female. The community was dominated by Janajati ethnic composition (57.5%) followed by Chettri (25.3%), Brahmin (14.7%), and Dalit (2.5%). The study showed that 25% of the respondents were illiterate while 75% of the respondents had obtained formal education. 77.5% of the respondent had agriculture as the primary source of income while the rest of the respondents were involved in either business or service. The use of medicinal plants to cure disease and injuries was practiced from traditional times and this ethnobotanical knowledge was handed over the generations. The study revealed that 93.5% of the respondents had used medicinal plants and 87.2% found them effective in curing diseases and injuries. However, with the introduction of modern pharmaceuticals, this knowledge is practiced occasionally by some old-aged people of the community. 76.3% of the key informants were under the older-aged group (>60 years of age) while the rest were below 60 years of age. Nevertheless, the practice has benefited several people of the community and is positively perceived by them. Interestingly, the knowledge is said to have beeb associated with religious belief and supernatural powers.

Details of the ethnobotanical knowledge and practices

Commonly used medicinal plants along with their preparation method and disease treated were surveyed and reported [Table 1].{Table 1}

Utility of the ethnobotanical knowledge

Ethnobotanical knowledge of medicinal plants and practices has greater importance on curing human diseases and injuries. Knowledge of medicinal plants is applied to treat several animal diseases too. Medicinal plants promote sustainable human health, biological as well as cultural diversities. In addition to curing diseases, they have nutritional and health benefits. Cultivation of medicinal plants not only has economic benefits but also promotes green recovery.

 Discussion



The study shows that the rural people of the Myagdi district still rely highly on medicinal plants to diagnose, prevent, and treat of several diseases and injuries. Rural people, aside from the more than 70 medicinal herbs, also make use of some minerals and invertebrates as medicinal values. Several studies have reported Nepal as the important hub of medicinally important plant species.[23],[24],[25],[26] Manandhar, 2002, has reported that the mountainous belts of the Nepalese Himalayas harbor huge genetics of ethnomedicinal plants.[27] The study shows that plants like Peripioca calophylla, C. grandis, Bhaichapo, and U. dioca are used in treatment of the bone fractures and muscular dislocation. Similarly, Achyranthes aspera, Xanthium strumarium, Cissampelos pareira, Mangifera indica, Lindera neesiana, Acmella oleracea, Artemisia indica, A. indica, Melia azadirach, Rubus ellipticus, P. guajava, Syzygium aromaticum, P. emblica, etc., either singly or in mixed-powder are used against gastrointestinal ailments. Elephantopus scaber, Glycyrrhiza glabra, Ocimum sanctum, Rat pate, Teminalia chebula, Mentha viridis, Callicarpa macrophyll, etc., are used against fever. Tinospora sinesis, C. asiatica, Gane Jhar, Kurkure, etc., are used to treat jaundice. Likewise, Semecarpus anacardium, Drymaria diandra Blume, Dryoathyrium boryanum, Woodfordia fruticosa, etc., are used against diarrhea and dysentery. Furthermore, the study shows that Maesa chisia, Charchare, Sapindus muskorossi, etc., are used against scabies. Similar reports of the use of different medicinal plant species have been reported.[28],[29],[30] The study further shows that either whole plants or parts of plants like roots, stems, bark, leaves flowers, fruits and seeds are used for medicinal purposes. Luitel, 2014 has reported that the medicinal components are extracted from underground parts (roots, rhizomes, bulbs, and tubers), young shoots, stems, bark and wood, leaves and petioles, flowers, fruits and seeds and the whole plant. As reported by the practitioners, medicinal plants are used in several forms like juice, powder, paste, raw, etc., Medicinal plants can be used in several other formulations including powder, paste, juice, raw, cooked, instillation, infusion, decoction, tea, oil, soup, butter, fuming, hot infusion, latex, etc.[31]

In addition, the study revealed that several underexplored and undocumented medicinal plants like Bhaichapo, Gidari, Gane Jhar, Kurkure, Beruwa, Dhursul, Jadela, Kyauno, Asare phool, Sahur, Rat pate, Sati phool, and Charchare are commonly used as medicinal values in the study area. This shows still several plants that are traditionally important as medicinal plants, lack proper documentation. As reported by the respondents, the practices of the medicinal plants have been declining and there occurs a huge generation gap in the transfer of this valuable indigenous knowledge in recent years. Deforestation, habitat encroachment, shifting cultivation, forest fires, grazing, changing lifestyle and perception of rural people, social transformation, and acculturation have been major factors responsible for the waning of such valuable traditional knowledge. Therefore, the research should be focused on a comprehensive documentation of such valuable traditional knowledge before they disappear permanently. Luitel, 2014 has also suggested the need of explicit documentation of medicinal plants from different parts of the country.

 Conclusion



The rural community of Myagdi district has profuse traditional knowledge on medicinal plants. Ethnobotanical knowledge of medicinal plants and practices are held mostly by older-aged groups of the community. Either whole plant or the parts of the plants like leaf, fruit, bark, root of several plants such as Sikari laro, Mula pate, Gurjo, Ghodtapre, Gane jhar, Bhakimlo, Asuro, Satuwa, Tulsi, Chari amilo, Siltimur, Abijalo, Neem, Sisno, etc., are used as medicinal values. In addition to herbal plants, animal parts, minerals are also used in curing diseases. Simple and traditional techniques are used to prepare medicines that are essentially used to cure diseases like headache, fever, common cold, asthma, abdominal pain, depression, typhoid, worm infections, heart problems, and injuries like bone fractures, muscular dislocation, cut wounds, etc., However, this knowledge is less being practiced and passed over the generations these days. We are gradually losing valuable traditional knowledge, so exhaustive documentation and exploration of this knowledge are imperative. Promotion of rural people in conservation, cultivation, management, and commercialization of medicinal plants not only preserves ethnobotanical knowledge but also uplifts their socioeconomic status.

Acknowledgments

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to “Avni Center for Sustainability” a non-governmental organization for assisting this research and providing a special opportunity for the documentation of valuable indigenous knowledge. My special thanks goes to all the informants, my beloved parents, and friends for their worthy support throughout the journey.

Financial support and sponsorship

The author receives no direct funding for the research.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

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