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1.  Are Famine Food Plants Also Ethnomedicinal Plants? An Ethnomedicinal Appraisal of Famine Food Plants of Two Districts of Bangladesh 
Plants have served as sources of food and medicines for human beings since their advent. During famines or conditions of food scarcity, people throughout the world depend on unconventional plant items to satiate their hunger and meet their nutritional needs. Malnourished people often suffer from various diseases, much more than people eating a balanced diet. We are hypothesizing that the unconventional food plants that people eat during times of scarcity of their normal diet are also medicinal plants and thus can play a role in satiating hunger, meeting nutritional needs, and serving therapeutic purposes. Towards testing our hypothesis, surveys were carried out among the low income people of four villages in Lalmonirhat and Nilphamari districts of Bangladesh. People and particularly the low income people of these two districts suffer each year from a seasonal famine known as Monga. Over 200 informants from 167 households in the villages were interviewed with the help of a semistructured questionnaire and the guided field-walk method. The informants mentioned a total of 34 plant species that they consumed during Monga. Published literature shows that all the species consumed had ethnomedicinal uses. It is concluded that famine food plants also serve as ethnomedicinal plants.
doi:10.1155/2014/741712
PMCID: PMC3950545
2.  Evaluation of antihyperglycemic and antinociceptive activity of Xanthium indicum stem extract in Swiss albino mice 
Background
Xanthium indicum stem is used in folk medicine of Bangladesh to control sugar in diabetic patients and to alleviate pain. The objective of the study was to evaluate antihyperglycemic and antinociceptive activity of methanolic extract of Xanthium indicum stems (XISE) in mice.
Methods
Antihyperglycemic activity was measured by oral glucose tolerance tests in glucose-loaded Swiss albino mice. Antinociceptive activity was determined by observed decreases in abdominal constrictions in acetic acid-induced gastric pain model in mice.
Results
The methanol extract of stems showed dose-dependent and statistically significant antihyperglycemic activity at doses of 50, 100, 200 and 400 mg per kg body weight (p values, respectively, < than 0.01, 0.01, 0.005, and 0.01). Highest reduction in blood glucose level (31.2%) was observed with the highest dose (400 mg) of the extract. A standard antihyperglycemic drug, glibenclamide, reduced blood glucose levels by 46.2%, when administered at a dose of 10 mg per kg body weight. In antinociceptive activity tests, the extract when administered at the afore-mentioned four doses, reduced the number of abdominal constrictions in mice, respectively, by 41.7, 50.0, 54.2, and 61.0%. In comparison, a standard antinociceptive drug, aspirin, when administered at a dose of 200 mg per kg body weight, reduced the number of abdominal constrictions by 37.5%.
Conclusion
The experimental results obtained in the present study validate the use of X. indicum stems in folk medicines of Bangladesh to lower blood sugar in diabetic patients and to alleviate pain.
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-13-296
PMCID: PMC3815254  PMID: 24171758
Antihyperglycemic; Xanthium indicum; Glucose tolerance; Antinociceptive; Asteraceae
3.  Tribal Formulations for Treatment of Pain: A Study of the Bede Community Traditional Medicinal Practitioners of Porabari Village in Dhaka District, Bangladesh 
The Bedes form one of the largest tribal or indigenous communities in Bangladesh and are popularly known as the boat people or water gypsies because of their preference for living in boats. They travel almost throughout the whole year by boats on the numerous waterways of Bangladesh and earn their livelihood by selling sundry items, performing jugglery acts, catching snakes, and treating village people by the various riversides with their traditional medicinal formulations. Life is hard for the community, and both men and women toil day long. As a result of their strenuous lifestyle, they suffer from various types of pain, and have developed an assortment of formulations for treatment of pain in different parts of the body. Pain is the most common reason for physician consultation in all parts of the world including Bangladesh. Although a number of drugs are available to treat pain, including non-steroidal, steroidal, and narcotic drugs, such drugs usually have side-effects like causing bleeding in the stomach over prolonged use (as in the case of rheumatic pain), or can be addictive. Moreover, pain arising from causes like rheumatism has no proper treatment in allopathic medicine. It was the objective of the present study to document the formulations used by the Bede traditional practitioners for pain treatment, for they claim to have used these formulations over centuries with success. Surveys were conducted among a large Bede community, who reside in boats on the Bangshi River by Porabari village of Savar area in Dhaka district of Bangladesh. Interviews of 30 traditional practitioners were conducted with the help of a semi-structured questionnaire and the guided field-walk method. It was observed that the Bede practitioners used 53 formulations for treatment of various types of pain, the main ingredient of all formulations being medicinal plants. Out of the 53 formulations, 25 were for treatment of rheumatic pain, either exclusively, or along with other types of body pain. A total of 65 plants belonging to 39 families were used in the formulations. The Fabaceae family provided 7 plants followed by the Solanaceae family with 4 plants. 47 out of the 53 formulations were used topically, 5 formulations were orally administered, and 1 formulation had both topical and oral uses. 8 formulations for treatment of rheumatic pain contained Calotropis gigantea, suggesting that the plant has strong potential for further scientific studies leading to discovery of novel efficacious compounds for rheumatic pain treatment.
PMCID: PMC3746354  PMID: 24082322
4.  Survey and Scientific Evaluation of Medicinal Plants Used by the Pahan and Teli Tribal Communities of Natore District, Bangladesh 
The Pahans and the Telis are two of the smallest indigenous communities in Bangladesh. The Pahans, numbering about 14,000 people are widely scattered in several northern districts of the country, while the Telis are such a small community that nothing has been reported on their numbers and lifestyle. Both tribes are on the verge of disappearance. One each of the Pahan and the Teli community was located after much search in two adjoining villages of Natore district, Bangladesh. Since the tribes were found to still depend on their traditional medicinal practitioners for treatment of ailments, it was the objective of the present study to document their traditional usage of medicinal plants and to evaluate such plants against modern research-based pharmacological activity studies on these plants. Interviews were conducted of the practitioners of the Pahan and Teli community of Natore district with the help of a semi-structured questionnaire and using the guided field-walk method. Plant specimens as pointed out by the practitioners were collected and pressed on the field and identification completed at the Bangladesh National Herbarium. The Pahan tribal practitioners used 13 plants distributed into 9 families for treatment of 14 different ailments. The Teli tribal practitioner used 15 plants divided into 14 families for treatment of 17 different ailments. Eight out of the thirteen plants used by the Pahan tribal practitioner (61.5%) had reported relevant pharmacological activities in the scientific literature, while six out of the fifteen plants used by the Teli tribal practitioners (40%) had such relevant pharmacological activities in accordance with their usage. The medicinal plants used by the Pahans and Telis warrant further scientific studies toward discovery of lead compounds and efficacious drugs and the documentation and protection of the traditional medical knowledge held by these tribes.
PMCID: PMC3746669  PMID: 23983368
Asian medicine; CAM; ethnomedicine; alternative therapy
5.  Medicinal Plants and Formulations Used by the Soren Clan of the Santal Tribe in Rajshahi District, Bangladesh for Treatment of Various Ailments 
The Santals form the largest tribal community in northern Bangladesh reside primarily in Rajshahi and Rangpur Divisions, where they live in the districts of Rajshahi, Rangpur, Thakurgaon, Dinajpur, and Panchagarh. Although they are fast losing their traditional medicinal practices, they still have their own medicinal practitioners who rely mostly on medicinal plants for treatment of a variety of ailments. The traditional medicinal practices vary quite extensively between the twelve clans of the Santals. The objective of the present study was to conduct an ethnomedicinal survey amongst the Soren clan of the Santal community residing in two villages of Tanor Santal Para in Rajshahi district to collect information on their use of medicinal plants. Interviews were conducted of the two existing Santal traditional medicinal practitioners of the Soren clan with the help of a semi-structured questionnaire and using the guided field-walk method. Plant specimens as pointed out by the practitioners were collected and pressed on the field and identification completed at the Bangladesh National Herbarium. Information on 53 medicinal plants distributed into 32 families was obtained in this survey. Ailments treated by these plants included skin disorders, respiratory tract disorders, gastro-intestinal disorders, sexual dysfunctions, sexually transmitted diseases, diabetes, helminthiasis, pain, urinary problems, filariasis, leprosy, tuberculosis, epilepsy, snake bite, enlarged heart, and paralysis. The medicinal plants used by the Santals merit further scientific studies for some of their formulations are used to treat diseases like diabetes, paralysis, enlarged heart, tuberculosis, and filariasis for which modern medicine has no known cure or medicines have developed resistant vectors.
PMCID: PMC3746673  PMID: 23983366
Asian medicine; CAM; ethnomedicine; alternative therapy
6.  Medicinal Plants Used by Various Tribes of Bangladesh for Treatment of Malaria 
Malaria Research and Treatment  2012;2012:371798.
It has been estimated that 300–500 million malaria infections occur on an annual basis and causes fatality to millions of human beings. Most of the drugs used for treatment of malaria have developed drug-resistant parasites or have serious side effects. Plant kingdom has throughout the centuries proved to be efficient source of efficacious malarial drugs like quinine and artemisinin. Since these drugs have already developed or in the process of developing drug resistance, it is important to continuously search the plant kingdom for more effective antimalarial drugs. In this aspect, the medicinal practices of indigenous communities can play a major role in identification of antimalarial plants. Bangladesh has a number of indigenous communities or tribes, who because of their living within or in close proximity to mosquito-infested forest regions, have high incidences of malaria. Over the centuries, the tribal medicinal practitioners have treated malaria with various plant-based formulations. The objective of the present study was to conduct an ethnomedicinal survey among various tribes of Bangladesh to identify the plants that they use for treatment of the disease. Surveys were conducted among seven tribes, namely, Bawm, Chak, Chakma, Garo, Marma, Murong, and Tripura, who inhabit the southeastern or northcentral forested regions of Bangladesh. Interviews conducted with the various tribal medicinal practitioners indicated that a total of eleven plants distributed into 10 families were used for treatment of malaria and accompanying symptoms like fever, anemia, ache, vomiting, and chills. Leaves constituted 35.7% of total uses followed by roots at 21.4%. Other plant parts used for treatment included barks, seeds, fruits, and flowers. A review of the published scientific literature showed that a number of plants used by the tribal medicinal practitioners have been scientifically validated in their uses. Taken together, the plants merit further scientific research towards possible discovery of novel compounds that can be used to successfully treat malaria with less undesirable sideeffects.
doi:10.1155/2012/371798
PMCID: PMC3270449  PMID: 22315700
7.  Effect of Delonix Regia Leaf Extract on Glucose Tolerance in Glucose-induced Hyperglycemic Mice 
Delonix regia (Fabaceae) leaf is used in folk medicine of Bangladesh for the treatment of diabetes, but so far no scientific study has been done which may support its use in traditional medicine. The present study was carried out to evaluate the possible glucose tolerance efficacy of methanolic extract of Delonix regia leaf using glucose-induced hyperglycemic mice. The extract at different doses was administered one hr prior to glucose administration and blood glucose level was measured after two hrs of glucose administration (p.o.) using glucose oxidase method. The statistical data indicated significant oral hypoglycemic activity on glucose-loaded mice at every dose. Maximum anti-hyperglycemic activity was showed at 400 mg/kg which was comparable to that of a standard drug, glibenclamide (10 mg/kg). The methanolic extract of leaf of Delonix regia had beneficial effects in reducing the elevated blood glucose level of hyperglycemic mice.
PMCID: PMC3218438  PMID: 22238481
Delonix regia; Hypoglycemic activity; Serum glucose level; Glibenclamide
8.  A Survey of Medicinal Plants Used by Kavirajes of Chalna Area, Khulna District, Bangladesh 
Kavirajes or traditional medicinal practitioners form the primary healthcare providers of the predominantly rural population of Bangladesh. Kavirajes use a variety of medicinal plants for treatment of different ailments. The formulations prepared from medicinal plants vary considerably between Kavirajes of different regions of the country. The objective of this study was to conduct an ethnomedicinal survey amongst the Kavirajes of Chalna area, Khulna district, Bangladesh. That area is known to contain a diversity of medicinal plants. Information on 50 plant species was obtained. These medicinal plants belonged to 49 genera and 33 families. Twenty five plants were used to treat skin diseases and twenty three plants for treatment of intestinal tract disorders, which included constipation, indigestion, stomachache, diarrhea, and dysentery. Fourteen plants were also used by the Kavirajes to treat cancer or tumor. Nine plants were used as insecticide, eight for rheumatoid arthritis, and seven for wounds. Five plants were used to treat jaundice. Five plants were also utilized to treat animal and snake bites, which included tiger bites. Six plants were used to treat diabetes, and two each for the treatment of leprosy, and sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea. Five plants were used to treat impotency, while one plant was used as an abortifacient. Three plants were used to treat helminthiasis, which we found to be quite common amongst the population, while four plants were used to treat heart disorders. Taken together, these plant species offer considerable potential for discovery of novel compounds of pharmacological interest.
PMCID: PMC3021158  PMID: 21304618
Traditional medicine; Chalna; Khulna district; Bangladesh; medicinal plants
9.  Effect of Cuscuta Reflexa Stem and Calotropis Procera Leaf Extracts on Glucose Tolerance in Glucose-Induced Hyperglycemic Rats and Mice 
Cuscuta reflexa (whole plant) and Calotropis procera (leaves) are used in folk medicine of Bangladesh to control blood sugar in patients suffering from diabetes mellitus. The hypoglycemic effects of methanol and chloroform extracts of whole plants of Cuscuta reflexa, and methanol extract of leaves of Calotropis procera were investigated in oral glucose tolerance tests in Long Evans rats and Swiss albino mice, respectively. Both methanol and chloroform extracts of Cuscuta reflexa whole plant demonstrated significant oral hypoglycemic activity in glucose-loaded rats at doses of 50, 100 and 200 mg/kg body weight. The methanol extract of leaves of Calotropis procera, when tested at doses of 100 and 250 mg/kg body weight did not demonstrate any oral hypoglycemic effect when tested in glucose-loaded mice.
PMCID: PMC3021163  PMID: 21304621
Cuscuta reflexa; Calotropis procera; hypoglycemic activity; oral glucose tolerance test

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