North-West of Pakistan is bestowed with medicinal plant resources due to diverse geographical and habitat conditions. The traditional use of plants for curing various diseases forms an important part of the region’s cultural heritage. The study was carried out to document medicinal plants used in Frontier Region (FR) Bannu, an area affected by the “War on Terror”.
Fieldwork was carried out in four different seasons (spring, autumn, summer and winter) from March 2012 to February 2013. Data on medicinal plants was collected using structured and semi-structured questionnaires from 250 respondents. The voucher specimens were collected, processed and identified following standard methods.
Of the 107 species of ethnomedicinal plants reported, fifty percent species are herbaceous. The majority of the reported species were wild (55%) but a substantial proportion are cultivated (29%). For most of the plant species (34%), leaves are the most commonly used part in the preparation of ethnomedicines. The most common use of species is for carminative purposes (14 species), with the next most common use being for blood purification (11 species). The main methods used in the preparation of ethnomedicinal recipes involves grinding and boiling, and nearly all the remedies are taken orally along with ingredients such as water, milk or honey for ease of ingestion. Traditional healers prepare plant remedies using one or more plants. There was a significant correlation (r2 = 0.95) between the age of local people and the number of plants known to them, which indicates that in the coming 20 years, an approximate decrease of 75% in the indigenous knowledge may be expected.
Traditional medicines are important to the livelihoods of rural communities in the region affected by the Global war on Terrorism. The medicinal recipes are indigenous; however, there is a threat to their future use on account of rapid modernization and terrorist activities. Documentation of medicinal plants and recipes may help in the conservation of the regional indigenous medicinal knowledge for future generations and to provide a baseline for further studies.