Ethnomedical survey of plants used by the Orang Asli in Kampung Bawong, Perak, West Malaysia
© Samuel et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2010
Received: 10 July 2009
Accepted: 7 February 2010
Published: 7 February 2010
A qualitative ethnomedical survey was carried out among a local Orang Asli tribe to gather information on the use of medicinal plants in the region of Kampung Bawong, Perak of West Malaysia in order to evaluate the potential medicinal uses of local plants used in curing different diseases and illnesses.
Sixteen informants ranging in age from 35 to 65 years were interviewed. A total of 62 species of plants used by Orang Asli are described in this study based on field surveys and direct face to face communication. These plants belonged to 36 families and are used to treat a wide range of discomforts and diseases.
The results of this study showed that majority of the Orang Asli, of Kampung Bawong are still dependent on local plants as their primary source of medication. As the first ethnomedical study in this area, publishing this work is expected to open up more studies to identify and assess the pharmacological and toxicological action of the plants from this region.
Preservation and recording of ethnobotanical and ethnomedical uses of traditional medicinal plants is an indispensable obligation for sustaining the medicinal and cultural resource of mankind. Extensive research on such traditional plants is of prime importance to scientifically validate their ethnomedical claims.
The study of tribal knowledge of plants is an imperative facet of ethnomedical research. People healed themselves with traditional herbal medicines and ancient remedies from time immemorial [1, 2]. Human beings have found remedies within their habitat, and have adopted different strategies depending upon the climatic, phyto-geographic and faunal characteristics, as well as upon the peculiar culture and socio-structural typologies . Most of such information is passed on to the following generations by traditional healers through oral communication and discipleship practice . Moreover, the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that about 80% of the world population relies on traditional medicine to cure ailments [5, 6]. Plants play a major role in the treatment of diseases and still remain the foremost alternative for a large majority of people [7–9]. This knowledge, if wisely utilized, could draw out promising herbal leads .
Results and Discussion
Plants used by Orang Asli in Kampung Bawong, Perak of West Malaysia
Local Malay Dialect
Barleria lupulina Lindl
Penawar Seribu Bisa
Fresh leaves are used to remove warts
Barleria prionitis Linn.
Leaves are crushed and make into paste and applied over the inflamed area
Dipteracanthus repens (L.) Hassk.
Powder of dried leaves is mixed in warm water and drink to remove kidney stones
Eranthemum borneense Hook f.
Paste of leaves is applied to treat muscle cramps
Strobilanthes crispus Blume.
Fresh leaves are masticated and swallowed as such to enhance the immune system
Annona muricata Linn.
Leaves are used to treat to kill all types of lice
Fruit juice is used to treat Stomach pain and hypertension
Uvaria sorsogonensis C.Presl.
Decoction of the leaves is used to cure stomach ulcer
Arthrophyllum diversifolium Blume.
Roots are boiled with water and drink to relieve body pain
Eupatorium odoratum Linn.
Decoction of leaves is used as diuretic
Hoya coronaria Blume.
Crushed leaves are applied to cure cuts and wounds
Bombax ceiba Linn.
Leaves are soaked into water and the decoction is taken for bath to treat body pain
Caesalpinia crista Linn.
Seeds are crushed and mixed with sambal for appetite
Sambucus javanica Reinw. ex Blume
Crushed the leaves with water and applied on inflamed parts to reduce pain and inflammation
Garcinia mangostana Linn.
Fresh juice is used as nutrient drink
Dried powder is used to heal the open wounds
Artemisia argyi Levi. et Vant.
Ulam mak wan
Fresh leaves are chewed in case of cough
Gynura procumbens (Lour.) Merr.
Fresh leaves are used for to control blood glucose level
Agelaea macrophylla (Zoll.) Leenh.
Akar pinang kutai
The paste of leaves is used to treat acne
Cnestis platantha Griff.
Young leaves are warmed and applied to treat high fever
Croton caudatus Geisel
Roots are boiled and the infusion is used as Nutrition.
Euphorbia tirucalli Linn.
Latex is used to remove warts
Jatropha curcas Linn.
Paste of young leaf is applied to treat cuts and wounds
Roots are boiled and infusion is taken to treat diarrhea
Phyllanthus niruri Linn.
Decoction of whole plant is used to treat jaundice
Parkia speciosa Hassk.
Fresh seeds are cooked and used to treat kidney disorders
Gnetum leptostachyum Blume.
The plant was boiled in water and drink for relieve fever and flu
Cassytha filiformis Linn.
Concoction used for the treatment of impotency
Archidendron ellipticum Blume.
Leaves are used to kill lice
Bauhinia semibifida Roxb.
Roots are boiled and the infusion is used to treat fatigue
Peltophorum pterocarpum (DC) K. Heyne
Powdered barks are applied on the affected area to treat psoriasis
Pongammia pinnata Linn.
Kacang kayu laut
Leaves and Seeds
Fresh leaves and seeds are crushed and applied to repel insects
Decoction of barks is used to kill intestinal worms
Dendrophoetoe constricta Dans.
Paste of leaves is applied to treat headache
Abutilon indicum Linn.
Poultice in the treatment of fever
Hibiscus rosa sinensis Linn.
Root barks is soaked in water for overnight and taken in empty stomach to treat ulcer
Hibiscus tiliaceus Linn.
Dried powder is used to cure all types of sexually transmitted diseases
Aglaia odorata Lour.
An infusion is used to reduce fever
Trichilia trijuga Roxb
Fresh barks are crushed and the juice is applied to cure cuts and wounds
Tinospora crispa Linn.
Decoction of the stem is used to treat diabetes
Ardisia colorata Roxb.
Decoction of the leaves is used to cure viral infections such as herpes zoster, measles
Ardisia crenata Sims.
The crushed juice is used to treat earaches and fever
Syzygium cerina Hend.
Roots are boiled with water and drink as an energizer
Syzygium samarangenese Blume.
Leaves are used to treat skin infections
Jasminum sambac (L.) Ait
Young leaves are soaked in cold water and drink to treat gallstones
Roots are boiled and the infusion is taken to treat diabetes mellitus
Averrhoa bilimbi Linn.
A cocktail of the leaves along with the fruit is used to treat Syphilis
Bulbophyllum mutabile (Bl.) Lindl
Leaves are boiled and the decoction is used to treat fever
Imperata cylindrica (L.) Beauv.
Dried powdered plant is applied over the wounds to prevent microbial infections
Talinum triangulare (Jacq.) Willd.
Powder of dried flowers is mixed with tea and drink to treat asthma
Morinda citrifolia Linn.
Fruits juice is used to treat Jaundice
Oldenlandia diffusa (Willd.) Roxb.
Juice of fresh leaves is used as Sedative
Sansevieria trifasciatai Prain.
2 or 3 drops of fresh juice is instilled into ear to reduce pain and inflammation
Planchonella obovata (R. Br.) Pierre
A paste of the leaves is applied on the forehead to relieve headache
Lygodium circinnatum Burm.
Infusion of leaves is used to cure eye infection
Eurycoma longifolia Jack.
Decoction of roots with tea is used as sexual stimulant
Solanum nigrum Linn
Fruits and Leaves
Fruits and leaves are chewed to treat upper respiratory tract infections
Centella asiatica Linn.
Leaves are boiled and the infusion is used for mother who just give birth
Lantana camara Linn.
Bunga Tahi Ayam
Leaves are boiled with water and spray to repel insects
Stachytarpheta jamaicensis Linn. Vahl.
The whole plant was crushed with water and applied on the injured ligament to relieve the pain and inflammation
Curcuma petiolata Roxb.
Juice is used to cure stomach ache
Languas conchigera Burkill
Minced rhizomes are used for digestion
Kaempferia galanga Linn.
Juice of the rhizomes is used for the treatment of stomach pains and coughs
Zingiber ottensii Valeton
Kunyit Terus Hitam
The juice of the rhizomes is used to cure all types of bacterial infections
The plants were often used by most of the informants more or less for the same purpose, and with only slight variations in recipes. The plants are usually collected from wild. All species were easily recognized by the informants with their respective local Malay dialect names. Some of the plants commonly used belong to the family Euphorbiaceae, Acanthaceae, Leguminosae, Zingiberaceae and Malvaceae. Most of these plants were used to relieve pain and to cure wound. Certain plants have specific use such as Strobilanthes crispus Blume., which is used to enhance the immune system and Eurycoma longifolia Jack., roots used as aphrodisiac. Results of this survey indicate that these plants were in use for a long time by the ethnic group.
This current ethnomedical field survey carried out among the Orang Asli living in the Kampung Bawong region of Perak, Malaysia reveals that many medicinal plants are still broadly used by the population in the area where the study was conducted for treating various diseases and ailments. It is believed that there are more than 100 species of traditional herbal medicines found in this region. Since many plant species are indicated as potential resource for treating various diseases, this should encourage further research in ethnomedicine. The informants' consensus in the treatment of the main reported diseases is quite high, giving more validity to the plants as a traditional remedy.
The current data will expand the genetic resources obtainable in the area of research and signify a potential source of natural products for treating various diseases. The preservation of these plant species is the gateway toward developing efficacious remedies for treating diseases. Due to lack of knowledge and interest among the younger generations, some of the traditional medical information was buried together with the previous generations. This implies that the local government and village authorities need to act fast to conserve the ethnomedical knowledge of Orang Asli in the village Kampung Bawong, and the medicinal plants require preservation in addition to the ethnobotanical and ethnomedical knowledge recording. The preservation of these herbs along with the traditional knowledge of how to use them is an indispensable obligation for sustaining traditional medicine as a medicinal and cultural resource. Thus a future extensive research of these plants in this locality is recommended to identify and assess their ethnomedical claim.
The authors are thankful to the management, Dato' Prof. Dr. Ishak Bin Tambi Kechik, Vice-Chancellor and Dato' Edmund Santhara, GCEO, Masterskill University College of Health Sciences, Malaysia, for their funding, continuous encouragement and support. The authors also acknowledge the efforts of Dr. Encik Sani, Botanist, Department of Botany, University Kebangsan Malaysia, Selangor, Malaysia and the Orang asli tribes of Kampung Bawong for their dedicated support.
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