The residents of remote areas mostly depend on folk knowledge of medicinal plants to cure different ailments. The present study was carried out to document and analyze traditional use regarding the medicinal plants among communities residing in Koh-e-Safaid Range northern Pakistani-Afghan border.
A purposive sampling method was used for the selection of informants, and information regarding the ethnomedicinal use of plants was collected through semi-structured interviews. The collected data was analyzed through quantitative indices viz. relative frequency citation, use value, and family use value. The conservation status of medicinal plants was enumerated with the help of International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List Categories and Criteria (2001). Plant samples were deposited at the Herbarium of Botany Department, University of Peshawar for future reference.
One hundred eight informants including 72 male and 36 female were interviewed. The informants provided information about 92 plants species used in the treatment of 53 ailments. The informant reported maximum number of species used for the treatment of diabetes (16 species), followed by carminatives (12 species), laxatives (11 species), antiseptics (11 species), for cough (10 species), to treat hepatitis (9 species), for curing diarrhea (7 species), and to cure ulcers (7 species), etc. Decoction (37 species, i.e., 40%) was the common method of recipe preparation. Most familiar medicinal plants were Withania coagulans, Caralluma tuberculata, and Artemisia absinthium with relative frequency (0.96), (0.90), and (0.86), respectively. The relative importance of Withania coagulans was highest (1.63) followed by Artemisia absinthium (1.34), Caralluma tuberculata (1.20), Cassia fistula (1.10), Thymus linearis (1.06), etc. This study allows identification of novel uses of plants. Abies pindrow, Artemisia scoparia, Nannorrhops ritchiana, Salvia reflexa, and Vincetoxicum cardiostephanum have not been reported previously for their medicinal importance. The study also highlights many medicinal plants used to treat chronic metabolic conditions in patients with diabetes.
The folk knowledge of medicinal plants species of Koh-e-Safaid Range was unexplored. We, for the first time, conducted this quantitative study in the area to document medicinal plants uses, to preserve traditional knowledge, and also to motivate the local residents against the vanishing wealth of traditional knowledge of medicinal flora. The vast use of medicinal plants reported shows the significance of traditional herbal preparations among tribal people of the area for their health care. Knowledge about the medicinal use of plants is rapidly disappearing in the area as a new generation is unwilling to take interest in medicinal plant use, and the knowledgeable persons keep their knowledge a secret. Thus, the indigenous use of plants needs conservational strategies and further investigation for better utilization of natural resources.