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Research Article
 

Social and Ecological Ranking of Medicinal Plant Species of Majhi Community Forest Users, Nepal



Roshan Kumar Shrivastab, Ajay Bhakta Mathema and Ram Asheshwar Mandal
 
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ABSTRACT

Background and Objective: Medicinal use of the plant is effective medicine for the local people like Majhi community, but there are very limited research so far in Nepal. Thus, this research was objectively carried out to explore plant species used for medicinal purposes by Majhi community and to explore the medicinal use of the plant species and their importance and assess the availability of medicinal plant in community forests. Materials and Methods: Hence, Durga Mai and Bramha Thakur community forests in Nepal managed by Majhi community were selected for the study. Altogether, 64 samples having 10×10 m for tree and pole, 5×5 m for sapling including shrub and 1×1 m for seedling nested plots were established in the community forest. The basal area, relative density and relative frequency and finally Importance Value Index (IVI) were calculated. Results: Altogether, 25 plant species were used by Majhi community to cure 16 diseases. The estimated importance Value index was the highest (166.95) of Shorea robusta (tree), it was of Woodfordia fruticosa (shrubs) with value 86.16 and Chromolaena odorata (herbs) with value 181.84. Total 5 species were used to cure diarrhoea followed by dysentery (4 species), sinus, fishing, cultural use (3 species), throat infection (2 species) and 10 species were used for 1 disease. The correlation between the ranking based on social and ecological importance were very strong and positive. The R2 values were 0.867 and 0.961 between both variables. Conclusion: The traditional knowledge regarding the medicinal value of the plant needs to be explored.

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  How to cite this article:

Roshan Kumar Shrivastab, Ajay Bhakta Mathema and Ram Asheshwar Mandal, 2020. Social and Ecological Ranking of Medicinal Plant Species of Majhi Community Forest Users, Nepal. Asian Journal of Biological Sciences, 13: 318-327.

DOI: 10.3923/ajbs.2020.318.327

URL: https://scialert.net/abstract/?doi=ajbs.2020.318.327
 

INTRODUCTION

The term medicinal plant refers to a variety of plants that have medicinal properties. These plants are a rich source of compounds that can be used to develop drug synthesis. Furthermore, these plants play a vital role in the development of human cultures around the whole world. Infact, more than half million plants have been used to treat different types of diseases in the world, but medicinal use of the most of the plants are still unknown because of limited research work in the world1. However, it is fact that around 10% of plants i.e., about 30,000 species are generally used for medicinal purposes throughout the world2. Out of these plants, almost 6500 plant species are found in Asia3.

The plants have high medicinal and nutritional value4. Specifically, in Indian sub-continent, plant oriented medicines are used extensively from ancient times. According to a survey conducted by WHO, traditional healers treat 65% patients in Sri Lanka, 60% in Indonesia, 60% in Pakistan, 85% in Myanmar, 80% in India and 90% in Bangladesh. In Nepal, 75% of the population, especially in rural areas is getting health care by traditional practitioners, who prescribe herbal preparations. Nepal is an excellent repository of cultural heritage for diverse ethnic groups and these ethnic people have a long tradition of folk practices for utilization of wild plants especially as medicinal species5. These ethnic groups use about 23% of flowering plants for their medicinal properties6. It is believed that, the practice of plants to treat the diseases in Nepal is transformed from generation to generation. However, there is very limited literature regarding this. It is fact that, the use of English medicine dominating these and the Ayurveda is overlooked7. Recently updated database revealed more than 1950 species of plants used as folk medicine in Nepal8.

The plant and plant products have augmented human culture since time immemorial9, but the medicinal value of plants are importantly limit to one few people7, indeed, it is vital element in our environment. It is myth that, if the knowledge of the medical use of the plant is transferred to other person, this cannot work like a medicine6. So, it is essential to carry out the field base research regarding this so that it can contribute to prepare the data base of medicinal plant and their use.

The plants have not only the medicinal value, but it has also other value like cultural and religious. The medicinal, cultural and religious values of these plants are differed according to group of the people. Specifically, these use values have been determined by the ethnic or tribal group, ritual or ceremonial practices, spiritual practices, diet or self-healing practices10-12. The ethnic communities like; Majhi peoples have their own strong traditional knowledge which they use plants and their parts to heal different types of diseases. Same myth is applied here too, they generally do not like to transfer their medical knowledge related to plants and their parts to next generation. This is great threat to loss of the traditional knowledge of the medial use of the plants. Though, there are some study regarding the use of medical use of the plants in Nepal. Some examples are, recording of indigenous knowledge of Gurung, Bankariya and Chepang to use the medicinal plant13. However, intensive studies related to medicinal use of plants by the Majhi community are not so far explored yet. Majhi people are one of the inhabitants of Chure who lives in river side and fishing for their substance. They used parts of plants to fishing fish in river as a poisonous. In addition to they used plant parts as medicine such as; fever, fracture, diarrhea, dysentery and sinus etc. So, this research was objectively carried out to explore plant species used as medicine by Majhi community, find the medicinal use of the plant species and their importance and assess the availability of medicinal plant in Durga Mai and Bramha Thakur CF.

The study is relevant because the indigenous knowledge regarding the medicinal use of the plants have been threatened in different ways. One of the important point is, people still are not aware about the spreading the knowledge of use of the plants. They believe on the wrong myth so, such research is essential. Moreover, the pharmaceutical medicine is challenging the tradition knowledge of use of the plants for medicinal purpose. So, this research is important.

MATERIALS AND METHODS

Study area: Based on provincial policy, Makawanpur district is under the province number 3. Chure is important geographical region in Nepal, but it is very sensitive and fragile area and expanded in 36 districts and south part of Makawanpur is Chure range. Makawanpur district has been divided into 8 rural municipalities, 1 municipality and 1 sub-metropolitan city. Among 8 rural municipalities, Bakaiya rural municipality is selected for the study. Figure 1 shows the study area. Majhi community do not have their temples as they establish god and goddess at the base of tree near rivers14. The population of Majhi is 3115 in Makawanpur district which of them 200 Majhi lives in Bakaiya rural municipality15.

Table 1 shows the geographical location, total area and total population of Makawanpur district. According to data, the total area of Makwanpur district is 242600.00 ha. The total population of the district is 420477. Out of this, male is 206684 and female is 213793. The total 86127 households are the residence of this district16.

Fig. 1:Map of study area
  Source: Field Survey, 2017

Primary data collection: Altogether, 64 samples having 10×10 m for tree and pole, 5×5 m for sapling including shrub and 1×1 m for seedling (herbs and climber) nested plots were established in the community forest. Number of plants were counted, diameter of the plants was measured. A total of 30 respondents were interviewed during HH survey. The semi-structured questionnaire was used for HH survey17. In addition, ten key informant intreviews, particularly Amchai (person who uses plants for medicinal purposes), Aurved doctors and senior citizens were done. The data was collected in 10th March-15th April, 2018.

Data analysis: The unknown plants were identified at the central herbarium, Godawari Lalitpur, Nepal.

The importance value index was calculated estimating the frequency, density and basal area18. The formulae used for the calculation of these attributes are given below:

Table 1:
Geographic location, climate and area of study district
Source: CBS15


Moreover, the abundance of shrubs and herbs species were determined19. Abundance is the study of the number of individuals of different species in the community per unit area. By quadrats method, samplings will made at random at several places and the number of individuals of each species will be summed up for all the quadrats divided by the total number of quadrats in which the species occurred. It is represented by the equation:

Importance Value Index (IVI): Important Value Index (IVI) gives the overall importance of each species in the community structure. It will be calculated as the sum of relative values of density, frequency and basal area for tree. For herb and shrub, it will be calculated as the sum of relative values of density, frequency and relative abundance. The IVI values will be obtained by the following relations:

RESULTS

The Majhi community has been using several plant species to treat various types of diseases. They were by using 47 species as medicinal purposes for different diseases. Some important examples are, they use Acorus calamus and Zingiber officinale to treat cough while Nyctanthesar bortristis and Ficusben ghalensis to treat throat infection (Table 2).

Plant species used as medicine by Majhi people from community forest: Community forest are the rich source of medicinal plants. Altogether, 25 plant species were recorded in Durga Mai and Brahma Thakur CFs. Acacia catechu, Aeglemarmelos, Asparagus officinalis, Curculigo orchioide and Xeromphis spinose are the important species recorded in these community forests which Majhi community uses to treat different diseases (Table 3).

Medicinal use of plant species found inside the CF and their importance to Majhi: There are several uses of medicinal plants by Majhi community and the respondents use frequency and importance of these species was varying in the community forests. The highest respondents use frequency was recorded 30 of Chromolaena odorata and the community use the leaf of this species to treat cut wound, while its importance was ranked as 1. Similarly, the community rank other plant species according to their importance (Table 4).

Some diseases are very common in the community so they use different plant species to treat the diseases. Specifically, the respondents shared that 5 plant species were used to treat Diarrhea, 4 plants were used to cure Dysentery, but in most of the case only one species was used to cure different disease like ear pain, skin cleaner and typhoid etc., (Fig. 2).

The social and ecological values of medicinal plants are significant as indigenous knowledge. According to community perception of both community forests, the Chromolaena odorata was socially and ecologically ranked as 1st and it was followed by Shorea robusta as ranked 2 (Table 5).

Importance value index of Durga Mai CF: Another important aspect of the tree species is the relative frequency, relative density and relative basal area which are parameter use to determine the ecological value. These values were varying according to species so their importance value index was also varying. The highest importance value index was recorded of Shorea robusta with 166.95, while it was the lowest of Psidium guajava with 3.4 in Durga Mai community forest (Table 6).

The highest importance value index of shrub species was recorded around 86.16 of Woodfordia fruticose which was followed by IVI value 71.06 and that was Millettia extensa (Table 7). On the other hand, the lowest value of Calotropis gigantean with 18.46.

The importance value index of the herb species was also varied according to the plants species. The highest value was 181.84 of Chromolaena odorata while it was the lowest 12.5 of 2 species particularly Drymaria diandra and Drymaria diandra (Table 8).

Table 2:
Medicinal plant species and their traditional therapeutic uses outside the study forest area

Vegetation analysis of Brahma Thakur CF: The importance value of index were varying according to tree species found in Brahma Thakur CF. This was the highest of Shorea robusta with 195.44 which was followed Cleistocaly xoperculatus by with 36.29. This was the lowest 2.53 of Psidium guajava (Table 9).

The different shrub species possess the importance value index. It was the highest 89.35 of Millettia extensa and followed by Woodfordia fruticose with 88.62, a slight low value. This was the lowest around 24.66 of Calotropis gigantean (Table 10).

Table 3:List of plant species used by Manji communities in study area

Table 4:Medicinal use of plant species used by Majhi found inside CF

Table 5:Social and ecological ranking of species in the community forests
"0" indicates that the species not found in that CF

Table 6:Importance value index of tree species of Durga Mai CF
RF: Relative frequency, RD: Relative density, RBA: Relative basal area, IVI: Important value index

Table 7: Importance value index of shrub species of Durga Mai CF
RF: Relative frequency, RD: Relative density, IVI: Important value index, RBA: Relative basal area

Table 8:Importance value index of herb species of Durga Mai CF
RF: Relative frequency, RD: Relative density, IVI: Important value index, RBA: Relative basal area

Fig. 2:Species used as medicine in different cases/disease

Table 9:Importance value index of tree species of Bramhathakur CF
RF: Relative frequency, RD: Relative density, RBA: Relative basal area, IVI: Important value index

Table 10:
Importance value index of shrub species of Bramhathakur CF
RF: Relative frequency, RD: Relative density, IVI: Important value index, RBA: Relative basal area

Table 11:Importance value index of herb species of Bramhathakur CF
RF: Relative frequency, RD: Relative density, IVI: Important value index, RBA: Relative basal area

The herb species are also ecologically very important which the Majhi community use to treat different diseases. The highest importance value index was 121.96 of Chromolaen aodorata which was followed by Pogostemon benghalensis with 61.43. The lowest value was recorded of Asparagus officinalis that was 33.45 (Table 11).

Interrelation between social ranking and ecological ranking of species used by Majhi community in both CF: The correlation between the ranking based on social and ecological importance were very strong and positive in both community forests. The R2 values were 0.867 and 0.0961 between bot variables. It indicated that the species used for medicinal purpose by Majhi community (Fig. 3, 4).

DISCUSSION

The total number of species used for medicinal purpose by Majhi community of Bakaiya rural municipality was many species. It was found lower than Brahmin community which has been using 84 species for medicinal purpose20 and Tamang community has been using 161 species for medicinal purpose21,22. It indicated that the medicinal use of plant species in present study is lower than other community.

Fig. 3:
Interrelation between social and ecological ranking of Durga Mai CF

Fig. 4: Inter relation between social and ecological ranking of Bramhathakur CF

It is probably because the study was focused only in Bakiya Rural Municipality. The Brahmin community is more literate than Majhi so, they use more medicinal plant with the help of studying many books23. As well as the Tamang community lives different geographical location such as; hilly area where the medicinal plant found much more than the Bakaiya rural municipality. The ethnobotany knowledge is source of medicinal use of plants24,25. Thus, the result were different. The further study will be carried out in other geographical region and area for evaluate the Majhi knowledge on medicinal plant.

In Nepal, 305 species of tree, shrub and herbs are used as medicinal purpose26. Among them only 25 species were used by Majhi people. Majhi were used the identified medicinal plant only in few purpose such as; for fishing, diarrhea, dysentery, cough, throat infection, burn, cuts and cracks.

In Durga Mai CF, the social ranking of Chromolaena odorata was 1 followed by Shorea robusta 2 and so on as shown in Table 5. This indicated that in both CF Chromolaena odorata, Shorea robusta and Woodfordia fruticose were highly preferred in study area. It was probably because these species were found easily and frequently in forest. These species are generally use in cuts, diarrhea and dysentery. The Majhi community live in river side in study area and due to use of running water for drinking they face problem of diarrhea and dysentery. To cure these disease they use these species thus, these species probably were highly preferred by Majhi. The IVI of species indicated the availability of plant species. Shroea robusta has high IVI value 166.95 in Durga Mai CF and 195.44 in Brahma Thakur CF. Study area was located in tropical region where Sal was dominant species thus, probably its IVI value was higher than other species. Majhi community also socially ranked this species as ranked 2. It means this species is highly preferred and used by them probably due to it was frequently available. Similarly, Psidium guajava has lower IVI value (3.40) in Durga Mai CF and 2.53 in Brahma Thakur CF. Study area was located in tropical region near the human surrounding where people planted Psidium guajava in their garden and probably it was germinated through seed dispersal and found thus probably its IVI value was lower than other species. Psidium guajava is not specially forest species so its availability in forest is rare thus, its IVI is lower and also Majhi community less prefer this species. The traditional knowledge of medicinal purpose is very old concept, but its use is still valid27-29. The major limitations of the study are sharing of the medical use of the plants and people’s belief. In addition, the research can contribute to record use of medicinal plants for different purposes.

CONCLUSION

Majhi communities have knowledge about medicinal use of plant but they only use their knowledge for their own community and personal use not in professional way and not for trade. In Durga Mai CF in tree species Shroea robusta showed the highest importance value index. In shrub species Woodfordia fruticosa has highest the importance value index. In herb species Chromolaena odorata (Banmra) showed the highest importance value index. These species are very valuable. In Brahma Thakur CF in tree species Shroea robusta (Sal) possessed the highest IVI value. In shrub species Millettia extensa (Gaujo) showed the highest importance value index. In herb species Chromolaena odorata (Banmra) possessed the highest importance value index. It showed that Sal, Gaujo and Banmara species are very valuable. The indigenous knowledge regarding medicinal use should be transferred to young generation to conserve the practice.

SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT

The local knowledge is believed as the ornament of the society. The medicinal use of the plant to treat the different types of disease is traditional transferred from experienced senior citizen to new young generation. The knowledge of use of medicinal plants not only save the cost of treatment, but also the ethnobotanical importance of the plant. Some plant species are very valuable in the society and they have been used for different purpose. Local people believe on local experts, so medicinal use of different species to treat different diseases need to explore. Therefore, this study is very significant.

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