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Preservation of Indigenous Knowledge Regarding Important and Endangered Medicinal Plants in Rajshahi District of Bangladesh



N.A. Siddique , Jaime A. Teixeira da Silva and M.A. Bari
 
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ABSTRACT

Folk medicines are complemented with other systems of traditional medicines. An account of about 200 hundred plants used in medicine among certain herbal doctors of Bangladesh is given; details of local name, scientific name, method of application or administration and dosage are given. These records include several uses which do not seem to be known or recorded in literature. It is discussed that indigenous knowledge assists in the wider application and acceptance of traditional medicine. This study makes it amply clear that the wild medicinal plants in Bangladesh folk life are used to meet all kinds of requirements. Our grandfathers and grandmothers are the carrier of indigenous knowledge regarding medicinal plants but today we are not conserving this knowledge due to decrease indigenous people. So it is now important to preserve this indigenous knowledge.

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N.A. Siddique , Jaime A. Teixeira da Silva and M.A. Bari , 2006. Preservation of Indigenous Knowledge Regarding Important and Endangered Medicinal Plants in Rajshahi District of Bangladesh. Journal of Plant Sciences, 1: 161-175.

DOI: 10.3923/jps.2006.161.175

URL: https://scialert.net/abstract/?doi=jps.2006.161.175

Introduction

About 300,000 species of plants have so far been identified in our planet, while tens of thousands were remain undiscovered, of these only 1500 species (about 0.5%) are nurtured for food, fodder, fiber, timber, medicine, beverage and flowers. The rest (95.5%) are still wild. They grow, develop and die uncared (Ahmed, 1997). Bangladesh is located in the South-eastern part of South Asia, stretching between 20°34' and 26°38' North latitude and between 88°01' and 92°41' East longitude. It has a land mass of 1,43,999 km2 with a population of about 135 million. Bangladesh possesses a rich flora of medicinal plants which grow in widely distributed forests, jungles wastelands and roadsides. Although more than 546 medicinal plants have been reported to occur in Bangladesh (Yusuf et al., 1994), none of them grow here under systematic cultivation, specifically for medicinal purpose. Suppliers of the local Ayurvedic, Unani and Homeopathic drug manufacturers collect the medicinal plants from their wild nature habitats. Their process of collection sometimes has so indiscriminately exploited many important medicinal plants that Rouvolfia serpentine, Withania somnifera, Hemidesmus indicus, Aristolochia indica and Andrographis paniculata are now under the threat of extinction. This is a very alarming situation with regard to natural growth of medicinal plants in the wilderness in this country. Appropriate steps must therefore be taken immediately in order to preservation of indigenous knowledge regarding medicinal plants and save the situation with regard to natural growth of medicinal plants in the wildness in this country. The global demand for herbal medicine is not only large but growing (Srivastava, 2000; Farnsworth and Soejarto, 1991; Shengji, 2001). The market for Ayurvedic medicines is estimated to be expanding at 20% annually in India (Subrat, 2002), while the quantity of medicinal plants obtained from just one province of China (Yunnan) has grown by 10 times in the last 10 years (Shengji, 2002; Moerman, 1998). There is no reliable figure for the total number of medicinal plants on Earth and numbers and percentages for countries and regions vary greatly (Schippmann et al., 2002). Our grandfathers and grandmothers are the carrier of this knowledge but today we are not conserving this knowledge. We are going to lose the knowledge of our indigenous people. The problem of identification of medicinal plants has further been aggravated by the lack of trained manpower and absence of proper facilities in the traditional medicine manufacturing firms. Another problem with these unskilled collectors is in their selection of the specific plant parts. Because of these problems of identification and adulteration of medicinal plants it is difficult to get genuine specimens of even commonly used drugs in the market. The use of traditional medicine and medicinal plants in most developing countries, as a normative basis for the maintenance of good health, has been widely observed (UNESCO, 1996). An increasing reliance on the use of medicinal plants in the industrialized societies has been traced to the extraction and development of several drugs and chemotherapeutics from these plants as well as from traditionally used rural herbal remedies (UNESCO, 1998; WHO, 1970).

Materials and Methods

The present investigation was conducted in 2003, June from 2005, June and four sites were selected for survey. They are denoted 1, 2, 3, 4. Gaibandha, Kurigram, Rongpur, districts are considered to be a site 1. Denajpur, Thakurgao, Punchagur and Lalmonihat districts are considered to be a site 2. Jaipurhat, Bogra and Naogaon districts are considered to be a site 3 and Chapi Nawabganj, Rajshahi, Nator districts are considered to be a site 4. All the relevant materials were thoroughly studied before going into the field. The questionnaires were designed for collection of ethnobotanical and socio-economic data. Local comminutes were selected to participate in this survey on the basis of their reputation for being home to a number of medicinal plants practitioners. Village meetings were held in each of the target villages and the aims and objectives of the survey were discussed. The entire plants as far as possible with their flowers and fruits were collected and took photo/snap.

Results and Discussion

Ethnobiologically a total of 200 medicinal plant species were reported to be used by village Kavirajs especially herbal doctors (Table 1). The method of using these plants varied according to the nature of ailment. In majority of the cases, a decoction of leaves, stems, fruits and roots/tubers is drunk or rubbed on the body to cure ailment(s) mostly decoction is extracted by just crushing the parts in a mortar but sometimes plants parts are boiled with water and the liquid decanted.

Under the present initiative efforts have been made to accumulate this information for some selected medicinal plants having unique behaviour and uses are mentioned.

Ethnobotanical Enumeration of Selected Medicinal Plants of Rajshahi District in Bangladesh Abroma Augusta Linn. (Ulat kombal)
The bark is used for abortion in two to three months old pregnancy. As oral contraceptive the root (about 6-8 cm long) is made into paste with 21 black peppers and given after menstruation for three days. The extract of its stem is used in leucorrhoea.


Table 1: Ethnobotanical information on two hundred medicinal plant species collected from respondents surveyed in the Rajshahi District of Bangladesh
Image for - Preservation of Indigenous Knowledge Regarding Important and Endangered Medicinal Plants in Rajshahi District of Bangladesh
Image for - Preservation of Indigenous Knowledge Regarding Important and Endangered Medicinal Plants in Rajshahi District of Bangladesh
Image for - Preservation of Indigenous Knowledge Regarding Important and Endangered Medicinal Plants in Rajshahi District of Bangladesh
Image for - Preservation of Indigenous Knowledge Regarding Important and Endangered Medicinal Plants in Rajshahi District of Bangladesh
Image for - Preservation of Indigenous Knowledge Regarding Important and Endangered Medicinal Plants in Rajshahi District of Bangladesh

Abrus precatorius Linn. (Lal Kuch)
The leaves and roots are crushed and placed in water for 24 h, the extract is filtered through the fine clothe and is given to the patient as antipyretic. Leaves are anti diabetic.

Accacia farnesiana Willd. (Guababla)
A decoction of bark with black pepper is applied in diarrhoea. A decoction of root with honey is used for cough and sore.

Andrographis paniculata Nees. (Kalamagh)
All parts of the plant above ground are employed in preparing the medicinal decoction which is very bitter and given in fever, worms, dysentery, gastritis cough and lever trouble.

Aloe vera (Ghereetokanchan)
Leaves cut in several parts soaked overnight in a glass of water, next morning they are filtered with fine clothe and the extract is given for cough, fever and weakness.

Amaranthus spinosus Linn. (Katanote)
Leaves are used as vegetables. Total plants are crushed and place in water and the extract is filtered through fine cloth and given to the patient as leucorrhoea.

Aristolochia indica Linn. (Iswarmul)
The root is applied to wounds. The root (8 g) made into paste and given twice daily for three days as an antidote to snakebite. The plant is believed to keep snakes away. The root (3 g) is made into a paste and given twice daily for diarrhoea.

Asparagus racemosus Wild. (Satomuly)
Roots are used in stomach troubles. The root is pounded with tendril of Smilax zeylenica and is prescribed as a drink to cure urinary disorder as well as discharge of blood in urine.

Azadirachta indica A Juss. (Nim)
A few leaves are boiled with water and are washed by this boiled for remedy of sore, itching, astyptic etc.

Bryophyllum calycinum Salisb. (Pathar Kuchi)
The leaves are made into paste and given with honey as a remedy for gonorrhea, kidney stone and piles.

Bombax ceiba L. (Simul Mul)
The root of young plant (10 g) is made into paste and filtered through cloth and given twice daily for four to five days in spermatorrhoea.

Calotropis gigantea R.Br. (Baro Akanda)
The milky juice is used as purgative, leaves after crushing are applied on the injury or swelling, rheumatism, leprosy; the bark of the root is given in dysentery.

Cannabis sativa Linn. (Bhang)
Root is made into a paste with 25 black pepper and given twice daily for crazy and tetanus. It also relieves pain of dysmenorrhoea, menorrhagia and phthisis. Seed oil is used in rheumatism. It is also used in cancer chemotherapy and its extract is effective in curing cancer pain.

Cassia alata Linn. (Dad Mardon)
The root 5 g is made into paste along with 31 black peppers and given to nursing women for purification of the milk. Sugar candy water is given for drinking, used in eczema, ring worm.

Cassia fistula Linn. (Sonalu)
Pulp of the fruits is used as purgative.

Cassia occidentalis Linn. (Boro Kalkasunda)
The root is made into a paste and given to nursing women for purification of the milk.

Cassia tora Linn. (Kalkasunda)
Leaves and seeds are used as remedy for ring worm, skin disease and asthma.

Centella asiatica (Linn.) Urban. (Thankuni)
The whole plant mixed with Oxalis corniculata is boiled and taken to cure dysentery. Paste of leaves with black pepper and salt is used to cool down the body heat.

Cissus quadrangularis Linn. (Harzora)
Stem juice is used to remove sprain and also hasten the union of fractured bones.

Cleome viscosa Linn. (Hurhurea)
Five drops of fruit juice are dropped in each ear once daily for three days to cure intermittent fever. The juice from crushed fruits is dropped in to an aching ear.

Coccinia cordifolia L. Cogn. (Talakucha)
The root is made into paste with Cynodon dactylon and the paste is again mixed with goat’s milk which is given once daily in an empty stomach for five days to lady after child birth for lactation. It is also effective for rheumatism and leaf used in diabetes.

Croton tiglium Linn. (Jaipal)
A decoction of the bark (10 g), rhizome of Zingiber monfonum and black pepper is given in cholera and diarrhoea.

Curculigo orchiodes Gaertn. (Tal Muley)
Tuber is made into paste with 10 seeds of gram and given once daily to stop nose bleeding. The tuber (about 1 cm) is boiled, coated with boiled rice and swallowed twice daily as a cure of piles.

Curcuma zedoaria Roscoe. (Sati)
The rhizome (8 g) is made into paste and given twice daily for three days as an antidote to snakebite. The rhizome is made into a paste with rice water (decanted water after cooking rice with little jaggery) and given for diarrhoea.

Cuscuta reflexa Roxb. (Sarnalata)
Plant is made into a paste and used a balm in body-ache and rheumatism.

Cynodon dactylon Pers. (Durba)
Leaf juice is applied to cuts wounds and scabies, stop bleeding.

Desmodium gangeticum DC. (Salpany)
The whole plants are useful for piles, diarrhoea.

Desmodium motorium (Houtt). (Turut Chandal)
Worm leaf juice is applied on the chest in case of cough. The bark is used in medicine applied in eyes, especially for babies. A soup made with bark of this and leaves of Adhatoda vasica is given to cure cough and cold.

Datura fastuosa L. (Dutura)
The bark is mixed with Terminalia arjuna and pounded. The resulting paste is rubbed on the body in cases of internal injuries (by falling etc.). It is also believed to knit broken bone, seed leaf used in asthma.

Embelica officinalis Gaertn. (Amloky)
Fruits are called the king of vitamin C. By eating it gonorrhea and itching are remedy.

Euphorbia trigona (Narasaj)
The root is crushed with equal quantity of ginger and made into pills. One pill is taken in the morning till piles are cured.

Euphorbia pulcherrima Wild. (Dudhea)
In body pain, fever and blood dysentery, the root is powdered and taken with water. It is useful in removing worms in children and bowel complaints. The latex of the herb promotes formation and flow of milk in women.

Gloriosa superba Linn. (Ulat Chandal)
The root-paste is applied to the tongue in Benga disease in cows (the tongue becoming thick and full of tubercles). The root is also used as a single dose of the paste of 1cm. long root and three black peppers with milk in administered; this work in pregnancies of up to four months. Root made into a paste with mustard oil which is applied on the body for curing periodic fever. It should be continued for four days. Leaf paste is heated and applied on the forehead and neck for seven days for curing asthma of children. Pulverised leaves and stem with sugar candy are soaked overnight in a glass of water: Next morning they are pressed in between the palms and strained. The decoction thus prepared is prescribed once daily on an empty stomach for seven days Gonorrhea and for concentration of semen.

Heliotropium indicum Linn.(Hatisur)
Leaf juice is used for curing fistula. A paste of the roots is applied on bone fracture. The treatment is renewed each day till the bone heals.

Hemidesmus indicus R. Br. (Anantomul)
The root is made into a paste with Cynodon dactylon and the paste is again mixed with goat’s milk which is given once daily on an empty stomach for seven days to a lady after birth for lactation.

Ipomoea mauritiana Jacq. (Bhui Kumra)
Underground tuber (10 g) made into paste and given with sugercandy twice daily for two to three days in diabetes. The rhizome is also taken in a very small proportion and given with breed for rheumatism and paralysis.

Justicia gendarusa Linn. (Bissllo Caroly)
The leaves are made into paste. The paste is kept and lied in case of fructured and dislocated bones. Some times it is mixed with Cissus queadrangularis and ginger juice for a more effective cure.

Leea macrophylla Hornem. (Hasticorno Polas)
This plant is an herbal supplement for men who are concerned about sexual performance or penile erectile dysfunction or male libido. This herb has a high flavonoid and flavonoid glycoside content with the many benefits ie. Initiates an erection at awakening, increases the frequencies of erections, improves the strength of the penis, lengthens the duration of the erection, prolongs the duration of the erection after ejaculation, increases interaction frequency, increase sexual life satisfaction. According to local folklore, it has been told that a man who regularly takes the root reached the age of 180 years.

Leucas aspera Spreng. (Satodron)
Leaf juice is put into eyes two or three times daily with leaf juice of Ocimum americanum to relieve burning sensation and redness of eyes. A leaf decoction is given in cough; Leaf juice is applied for the treatment of skin diseases.

Leucas cephalotes Spreng. (Dondokalas)
The leaf paste is fried and applied on the forehead to relieve pain.

Justicia oreophyllas C.B. Clarke. (Choto Arusha)
The leaves are an ingredient for the preparation of a medicine used in curing insect stings of a serious nature.

Mentha spicata L. (Podina)
Cure chest problem, the leaves are dried, crushed and mixed with oil. The paste is applied on the chest for cough. The whole plant is made in to paste along with 5 black peppers and given to nursing women for purification of the milk. Suger candy water is given for drinking.

Mimosa pudica Linn. (Sada Lazzabaty)
The root (5 g) is made in to paste with Talmul (Curculigo orchiodes), Satomul (Asperagus racemosus) and konto kumarey (Smilax zeylanica) filtered through cloth and given twice daily for four to five days in spermatorrhoea.

Mucuna pruriens DC. (Alkusi)
Seeds eaten for increasing potency, hairs of seed coat admistered as vermifuge.

Ocimum americanum Linn. (Sada Tulsi)
The juice of the leaves mixed with little salt is poured in eyes in conjunctivitis and other eye diseases.

Ocimum basilicum Linn. (Babui Tulsi)
The ripe seeds of the plant are soaked in water and put into the eyes for bringing out foreign particles.

Ocimum sanctum Linn. (Kala Tulsi)
The entire plant is dried, powdered and sprinkled over the plants infested with insect pests. The leaves are used in cold and cough.

Oxalis corniculata Linn. (Amrul)The whole plants along with ginger is made a paste and applied for dysentery. The leaf juice taken along with honey is claimed to cure chronic cough. The leaves are also used for curing kidney problems.

Paederia foetida Linn. (Gandhavadulia)
Leaves are used as vegetables. It helps in movement of bowels, useful in stomach pain and rheumatism.

Physalis minima Linn. (Ban Tepariya)
Leaves and tender stems are used as greens. Fruits are edible.

Piper longum Linn. (Pipul)
A few leaves are cooked with rice and given to children to relieve cough. The decoction of leaves is reported to cure enlarged spleen in children as well as in adults.

Plumbago zeylanica Linn. (Chata)
The roots are washed, pounded and boiled in milk and given to relieve muscular pain: They are also tied round the wrist or round the same purpose.

Polygonum hydropiper Linn. (Pani Biakataly)
The leaves are mashed into a paste and applied as a balm for skin disease.

Polygonum lapathifolium Linn. (Biskalaly)
Leaf paste is applied to ring-worm and itching of skin surfaces.

Rauvolfia serpentina Benth. (Sarpoghandha)
The root (3 g) is made into a paste and given to relieve stomachache and to expel thread worms. A decoction of the root along with black pepper is given to expel intestinal worms in children. Root is used in insomnia, high blood pressure anxiety, excitement, schizophrenia, insanity, epilepsy, hypochondria and disorders of the central nervous system.

Rauvolfia tetraphylla Schott. (Sarpoghandha)
Root is made into paste, which is prescribed in anaemia once daily an empty stomach for four days. Children suffering from the disease of wetting at night are cured if they eat their food served on the leaves of this plant and use the stem as a toothbrush in toothache, spongy gum and worm out teeth.

Scindapsus officinalis (Roxb) Schpt. (GojPapul)
Crushed roots of the young plants (10 g) or seeds are given to relieve stomachache.

Sida acuta Burm. (Choto Balla)
The paste of the root (8 g) with three black peppers is administered once daily for three days in swelling of the neck. Root is made into a paste which is mixed with mustarded oil and heated. It is applied on the waist as a remedy for pain, for two or three days.

Sida cordifolia L.
Pulverised leaves and stem with sugar candy are soaked overnight in a glass of water: Next morning they are pressed in between the palms and strained. The decoction thus prepared is prescribed once daily on an empty stomach for seven days Gonorrhoea and for concentration of semen.

Smilax zeylanica Linn. (Kumarilata)
This is very important medicinal plant and used in various diseases ie. dysentery, epilepsy, leucorrhoea, menstrual disorder, rheumatism, spermatorrhoea and tuberculosis.

Solanum xanthocarpum Schrad And Wendl. (Kantokeary)
Paste of roots bark in water is used to reduce heat in the body as well as in sexual disorder.

Solanum ferox Linn.(Ram Bagun)
Green leaves are used in the treatment of stomachache.

Syzygium cumini (L.) Skeel. (Kalazaam)
Crushed of seeds are soaked and filtered by fine clothe.This extract is given for diabetes.

Terminalia arjuna Bedd (Arjun)
Bark with sugar candy are soaked over night in a glass of water. Next morning they are filtered and is prescribed once daily on an empty stomach for seven days in heart diseases.

Terminalia belerica, Roxb. (Bohera)
Fruit are crushed and given in cough and fever.

Vitex negundo Linn. (Nisinda)
The leaves when boiled and taken, cure severe stomach aches; for cuts and injuries, the apical leaves are made into paste with slaked lime and applied on the cuts; this stops the bleeding. A decoction of the leaves (five to six) is given in malarial fever. The leaf paste is applied externally in body pain the leaf extract is given orally in dropsy. It is also used in jaundice.

Withania somnifera Dunal. (Ashogandha)
It is a very important herb in ayurveda, the traditional medicine. It is used for tumors, inflammation including arthritis) and a wide range of infectious diseases. The shoots and seeds are also used as food and to thicken milk.

Under the present investigation the information regarding medicinal plants in the Rajshahi district was carried out by questionnaires survey. We have developed the questionnaires for the survey of medicinal plants through trial and errors under several observations. There are many questionnaire survey used by different workers. Information collected by their survey was not totally applicable in my cases and every one had some limitations on our perspectives. Most of the herbal doctors are illiterate and in most cases inherited the expertise from their fore fathers and they are very much reluctant about sharing any knowledge. Herbal doctors are not agreed to show any medicinal plants even they are not agreed to talk any name of medicinal plants in some cases. Herbal doctors have strong believed on the effectiveness of medicinal plants. There has been superstition among the herbal practitioners and they believe if they share this knowledge, the medicinal plants will lose their activation. For collection of sufficient information many important medicinal plants or their seeds are supplied to the herbal doctors as the incentive to make them agreed for sharing knowledge.

Herbal doctor=s indigenous knowledge is very important. They acquire this knowledge from their fore fathers or teachers (Ostad) and by practical application there is no records in any books or journals about their indigenous knowledge. In this study ethnobotanically a total 200 plant species were reported to be used by the people of this area, of which most of them are used for medicine, vegetables and fruits. Remaining was used as house building material, fuel, fodder etc. Medicinal plants were reported to be used in traditional health care system to cure common ailments (i.e., fever, headache, rheumatism, diarrhoea, teethache, stomach pain, wounds and boils, asthma, jaundice, eye disease, cold and cough, hurt/fracture, delivery). The method of application varies according to the nature of ailment. In majority of the cases, a decoction was used or rubbed on the body. Usually decoction was made by crushing the parts in a mortar, sometimes plants parts were boiled with water and the liquid is decanted. Decoction was applied externally on the wounds or the infected part. In some cases (in fracture) the part(s) was plastered to set dislocated or fractured bone or relieve muscular pain i.e., Heliotropium indicum, Cissus, quadrangularis, Lasia spinosa. In some cases combinations of plant parts are used for best results i.e., fever. Combinations of leaves or seeds of Cassia occidentalis and leaves of Andrographis paniculata are found to be best result. In some cases single plant is used for different diseases i.e., root of Curculigo orchioides is used for piles, Jaundice, Asthma, Gonorrhoea, leaves of Andrographis paniculata are used for worm control, fever, cough, stomach pain. Traditional practices as observed under the study in most of the cases were found similar to the recorded information published in different medicinal books and journals. But some observations were found unique and unilaterally existing over this study area as traditional practices.

In recent years, there has been growing interest in the herbal medicines which are in use in the Ayurvedic, Uniani and other systems of medical treatments. The recording of indigenous knowledge based on traditional health care systems becomes increasingly important. The Rajshahi district is a large area and one of the significant geographical regions of the country still holds some ancient culture and practices. The results and information came out from the present investigation suggests that there is a strong need of extensive inventories and documentation of uses as well as indigenous knowledge available over the areas of the Rajshahi district.

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