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Pakistan Journal of Biological Sciences
Year: 2007  |  Volume: 10  |  Issue: 13  |  Page No.: 2241 - 2256

An Ethnomedicinal Survey and Documentation of Important Medicinal Folklore Food Phytonims of Flora of Samahni Valley, (Azad Kashmir) Pakistan

Muhammad Ishtiaq, Wajahat Hanif, M.A. Khan, M. Ashraf and Ansar M. Butt    

Abstract: Ethnobotanical knowledge is one of the precious cultural heritage parts of an area that involves the interaction between plants and people and foremost among these are the management of plant diversity by indigenous communities and the traditional use of medicinal plants. An ethnobotanical analysis was conducted in order to document the traditional medicinal uses of plants, particularly medicinally important folklore food phytonims of flora of Samahni valley, Azad Kashmir (Pakistan). In the valley, inhabitants use different taxa of flora in two different ways; herbal medicines and food (vegetable and fruits) medicines. The distinctive geographic position and historic demological background of the area keep folk phytotherapy potential of medicinal herbs hitherto alive, which are used in various forms; as regular herbal medicines prescribed by Hakeems (herbal practitioners) and as food (medicines) recepies suggested by elder people. Among these, some herbs are used as single remedy while others depict better curative effects in synergistic mode against various ailments. Some interesting and uncommon findings are as; Sisymbrium irio is used for treatment of measles, asthma; Solanum miniatum to cure urinary calculi, heart pain, rheumatism, Momordica balsamina leaves as wound healer; Allium sativum bulb juice as anti cancer, contraceptive, blood pressure; Boerhavia diffusa roots as anti jaundice, anemia, edema; Capsicum annuum fruit as omen against evil eye and giant, yellow fever; Corriandrum sativum seeds as diuretic, anti spermatogenesis; Raphanus sativus seeds against syphilis; Solanum miniatum fruit for treatment of enlarged spleen and liver; seed's oil of Pisum sativum as anti spermatogenesis; Bauhinia variegata for skin diseases, ulcers; Malva sylvestris for cough, bladder ulcer; Phoenix sylvestris kernel as anti-aging tonic; Phyllanthus emblica for diuretic, anemia, biliousness; Terminalia chebula to cure chronic ulcers, carious teeth pain, heart problems; Veronica anthelmintica for bandage of broken bones and Withania coagulans is used to treat small pox. Many wild plants are eaten green and raw as salad, or in boiled form of soup as blood and intestine cleansing tonics. Moreover, some plants are spiritually recorded as sacred and used as ritual plant for good omens or against the evil eye and removal of giant. About 95 species of 38 families were recorded to be important part of phyto heritage of folk pharmacopoeia of Samahni valley. Among most frequent used families are Papilionaceae 9.47%, Solanaceae and Poaceae 8.42% each, Cucurbitaceae 7.36% and Brassicaceae and Rosaceae 6.31% each. Among the surveyed families used to treat various diseases, Solanaceae is at first rank with 9.74%, Brassicaceae 8.23% and Cucurbitaceae 7.39% subsequently. Most commonly used families with highest percentage of plants used as food medicines are Solanaceae (11.37%), Brassicaceae (8.38%) and Papilionaceae (7.18%) respectively. Most frequent plant parts used are; roots, leaves, seeds and flowers while popular forms of plants uses are decoction, poultice, infusions, soups and raw form as salad. Importance of ethnobotanical inventory constructed from ethnomedicinal uses and folklore phytonims of flora in perspectives of initiative for future phytochemical and pharmacological research on these taxa to develop and discover of new drugs is present and discussed.

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