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American-Eurasian Journal of Sustainable Agriculture, 3(4): 862-876, 2009


ISSN 1995-0748
2009, American-Eurasian Network for Scientific Information
This is a refereed journal and all articles are professionally screened and reviewed

O RIGINAL A RTICLES
A survey of medicinal plants in two areas of Dinajpur district, Bangladesh including
plants which can be used as functional foods
1
4

Mohammed Rahmatullah, 2Abu Noman, 1Md. Shahadat Hossan,


Taufiq Rahman, 5Majeedul H. Chowdhury, 1Rownak Jahan

M d. Harun-Or-Rashid,

Department of Biotechnology & Genetic Engineering, University of Development Alternative, Dhanmondi,


Dhaka-1205, Bangladesh.
2
Department of Pharmacy, University of Development Alternative, Dhanmondi, Dhaka-1205, Bangladesh.
3
Department of Pharmacy, Lincoln College, 74 A-C, Jalan SS21/62, Damansara Utama, 47400 Petaling Jaya,
Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia.
4
Department of Pharmacology, University of Cambridge, Tennis Court Road, CB2 1PD, Cambridge, UK.
5
New York City College of Technology The City University of New York 300 Jay Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201,
USA.
Mohammed Rahmatullah, Abu Noman, Md. Shahadat Hossan, Md. Harun-Or-Rashid, Taufiq Rahman,
Majeedul H. Chowdhury, Rownak Jahan; A survey of medicinal plants in two areas of Dinajpur
district, Bangladesh including plants which can be used as functional foods; Am.-Eurasian J. Sustain.
Agric., 3(4): 862-876, 2009
ABSTRACT
Dinajpur is one of the northernmost districts of Bangladesh. The predominantly rural population of this
district is served by traditional medicinal practitioners (Kavirajes), who utilize medicinal plants for treatment
of various ailments. Since the medicinal plants used by the Kavirajes can vary from region to region depending
on the availability of plant species and the background training of the Kavirajes, it was the objective of the
present study to conduct an ethnomedicinal survey among the Kavirajes of Dinajpur district, Bangladesh to
gather information on the medicinal plants used by the Kavirajes of this district. A secondary objective of the
present survey was to determine which medicinal plants can also serve as functional foods and can be taken
on a regular basis for general well-being as well as treatment for ailments. A number of plants were found
that could serve this dual purpose. The plants included Amomum subulatum, Bixa orellana, Cajanus cajan,
Carissa carandas, Cinnamomum tamala, Cinnamomum zeylanicum, Coccinia grandis, Dillenia indica, Ferula
asafoetida, Manilkara zapota, Mentha arvensis, Moringa oleifera, Nymphaea nouchali, Phyllanthus emblica,
Spilanthes acmella, Syzygium aromaticum, Terminalia belerica, and Terminalia chebula. Functional foods can
be important sources of macro- and micro-nutrients and at the same time used for prevention or cure of
diseases. As such, the above plants can play important roles in the maintenance of body health, particularly
of the poorer sections of the population.
Key words: Medicinal plants, functional food, Dinajpur district, Bangladesh, ethnomedicine
Introduction
Plants, besides providing nutrition, have always formed an important source of chemical compounds, which
can be used for medicinal purposes. Human knowledge of the medicinal value of plants date back probably
for more than five thousand years (Sofowora, 1982). Even in recent times, plants have been an important
source of modern drugs like aspirin, ephedrine, digoxin, quinine and tubocurarine, to name only a few (Gilani,
Corresponding Author: Professor Dr. Mohammed Rahmatullah, Pro-Vice Chancellor University of Development
Alternative House No. 78, Road No. 11A (new) Dhanmondi R/A, Dhaka-1205 Bangladesh
Phone: 88-01715032621
Fax: 88-02-815739
E mail: rahamatm@hotmail.com

Am.-Eurasian J. Sustain. Agric., 3(4): 862-876, 2009

863

2005). It has been noted that the original source of many important pharmaceuticals in current use have been
plants used by indigenous people (Balick, 1996), who traditionally has been a rich source of knowledge on
medicinal and edible plants or plant parts. It has been reported that about 64% of the total global population
remains dependent on traditional medicine and medicinal plants for provision of their health-care needs (Cotton,
1996). In recent years traditional medicine has become of interest to both scientists and the general population
for a number of reasons, which include high price of allopathic drugs beyond the reach of the poorer segments
of society in almost every country, lack of access to medical clinics and hospitals by the rural population of
developing countries, the side-effects and toxicities of modern synthetic drugs, and the realization that
phytochemicals present in plants can be effective therapeutic agents by themselves or serve as effective adjunct
therapies to modern drugs.
Along with the progress of human civilization and the accumulation of knowledge, people have become
more concerned with their eating habits. A concept of functional food has taken place, which denotes food
that not only serves to provide nutrition but also can be a source for prevention and cure of various diseases.
In other words, these foods provide health benefits beyond their nutritive values. T his is not totally a novel
concept for even in ancient times people added spices to their dietary items not only to impart color, taste or
flavoring, but also for their health benefits. Functional foods are often also termed food supplements or
nutraceuticals. In recent years, to consider just one country, the functional food market in Taiwan reached
US$ 1.78 billion in 2005 (Sun 2007).
A number of plants or plant products have been demonstrated in scientific studies that they can be
classified as functional foods. These include both medicinal plants and commonly consumed plants or plant
products. To cite a few examples, carotenoids in green peppers (Capsicum annuum, which has been
traditionally consumed in Central and South American countries for thousands of years) has been shown to
demonstrate antimutagenic activity against some nitroarenes (Gonzaez, 1998). It may be noted that green
peppers are also added to a variety of cooked food items and snacks in various regions of the Indian subcontinent. Chickpea, an edible vegetable (Cicer aretinum) is also considered a functional food and intake of
chickpeas has been recommended in humans with altered lipid profile such as type IIa hyperlipoproteinemia
and diabetes (Zulet, 1999). The functional properties of raw and processed pigeon pea, an edible vegetable
(Cajanus cajan) flour has also been reported (Okpala, 2001). Functional foods that have been found to be
potentially beneficial in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disorders include soybeans, oats,
psyllium, flaxseed, garlic, tea, grapes and nuts (Hasler, 2000). It has been reported that bitter herbs have been
consumed from ancient times to alleviate various dyspeptic conditions a condition suffered by about 15-30%
of adult population throughout the world (Saller, 2001). Garlic, a commonly used spice contains over 2,000
biologically active substances and is of importance in dietoprophylaxis and dietotherapy (Swiderski, 2007). The
organosulfur compounds present in garlic appear to be good agents for cancer chemoprevention through
multiple mechanisms like carcinogen metabolism modulation, DNA adduct formation inhibition and upregulation of antioxidant defenses and DNA repair systems (Nagini, 2008). The Zingiberaceae family contains
a number of plants whose rhizomes are eaten as vegetable or added to food items as spices. The family
contains commonly known spices like ginger and turmeric. A study conducted in Taiwan found good
antioxidant and antimicrobial activity in a number of Zingiberaceae plants found within the country (Chen,
2008). The Indian traditional medical systems use turmeric for a number of ailments like wounds, rheumatism,
gastrointestinal disorders, helminthiasis and rhinitis. Other spices used in traditional Indian cooking like onions
and ginger has been found to favorably modulate the process of carcinogenesis, while fenugreek seeds has been
reported to reduce blood glucose and lipids and can be used as an adjunct food in diabetes (Krishnaswamy,
2008). Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi), garden pea (Pisum sativum), Norway spruce (Picea abies) and
large-leaved lime (Tilia platyphyllos) extracts reportedly demonstrated inhibition of pancreatic lipase and so
can be considered promising sources for developing functional foods to decrease fat absorption (Slanc, 2009).
In Korea, the wild plant Adenophora triphylla is commonly used in food materials and traditional medicine
as an analgesic, anti-inflammatory and antitussive. Leaf extracts of this plant showed notable levels of total
phenolics and flavonoids and demonstrated good anti-oxidant activities. The results suggested that the plant
can serve the function of a food supplement (Kim, 2009). Overall, there is a growing realization about
medicinal plants that quite a number of them can serve as functional foods and so can be utilized both
nutritionally and medicinally.
Bangladesh is a developing country with a majority of rural population, who lack access to modern healthcare or cannot afford the cost of allopathic drugs. A sizeable section of the population is below the poverty
level of US$1 per day. As a result, malnutrition and diseases arising from malnutrition and poor hygienic
conditions of living are prevalent. The primary health care of the rural population and a substantial section of
urban population are provided by traditional medicinal practitioners or Kavirajes, who possess considerable
expertise on medicinal plants. The medicinal plants utilized by the Kavirajes are usually kept secret and so

Am.-Eurasian J. Sustain. Agric., 3(4): 862-876, 2009

864

can vary considerably between Kavirajes of various regions or tribes. It was the objective of the present study
to conduct an ethnomedicinal survey among the Kavirajes of different areas in D inajpur district, Bangladesh
to obtain information on medicinal plants used by them for treatment of diverse ailments. A further objective
of the study was to determine which plant or plant part can be used as functional foods. T he criteria for
judging whether a medicinal plant can serve as a functional food were history of long-term edibility without
any side-effects or toxicities, nutritive value of the plant, and whether the plant has been used by the Kavirajes
for considerable lengths of time for treatment of single or multiple ailments. It is expected that such studies
can make the particularly poorer sections of the people more conscious about consuming plants that can serve
as functional foods and so can be effective in providing nutrition and be of preventive as well as curative
values to people who can ill afford the cost of food and medicines.
M aterials and M ethods
2.1. Study area
Dinajpur district is one of the northern-most districts of Bangladesh and falls roughly between 88 o 20 89 20 E and 25 o 10 - 26 o 05 N. The area is bounded by Nilphamari and Rangpur districts to the east, W est
Bengal province of India to the west, Thakurgaon and Panchagarh districts to the north and Joypurhat district
to the south. The Atrai and the Punabhaba rivers are the major rivers flowing through the district. The survey
was conducted in and around the areas of Bhelamoyee and Shalbon in the district.
o

2.2. Data collection and sampling techniques


A total of 4 Kavirajes were interviewed for this survey. Informed consent was obtained from all Kavirajes
prior to interviews. Kavirajes were explained the reasons for conducting the survey and the information that
will be collected. A semi-structured questionnaire was used for the interviews. The basic survey method
followed was that of Martin (1995) and Maundu (1995). In this method, the informant takes the observer on
guided field-walks through areas from where the informant collects the medicinal plants. The plants are shown
to the observer along with providing information on plant name (local), plant parts used, ailments treated,
formulations, dosages and side-effects, if any. The information was later cross-checked and every item verified
in evening meetings held with the Kavirajes. Plant specimens, as pointed out by the informants (Kavirajes)
were collected, pressed and dried on site. All collected specimens were later brought to the Bangladesh
National Herbarium for complete identification.
Results and discussion
3.1. Plants and their distribution into families
The result of the present study shows that 111 species of plants were used by the Kavirajes of Bhelamoyee
and Shalbon areas in Dinajpur district, Bangladesh. These medicinal plants belonged to 59 families (Table 1).
The Fabaceae family provided the largest number of species (12), followed by the Apocynaceae and
Euphorbiaceae families (7 plants each). The medicinal plants included a number of edible fruit plants. These
plants included Carissa carandas, Bixa orellana, Terminalia belerica, Terminalia chebula, Dillenia indica,
Phyllanthus emblica, Moringa oleifera, and Manilkara zapota. Fresh fruits were consumed when in season for
their nutritive as well as medicinal values. During off-season, the Kavirajes were found to administer dried
fruits of plants like Terminalia belerica, Terminalia chebula, and Phyllanthus emblica. The seeds of Cajanus
cajan, which is cultivated like the above-mentioned fruit plants are cooked like pulses and eaten occasionally
by the general population. A number of other plants were also cultivated because of their use as spices as well
as medicinal values. These plants were Mentha arvensis, Cinnamomum tamala, Cinnamomum zeylanicum,
Syzygium aromaticum, and Amomum subulatum. Nymphaea nouchali is an aquatic plant, which grows both in
the wild as well as planted in homestead ponds for ornamental purposes. The plant is cooked and eaten as
vegetable, mostly by the rural population.
3.2. Plant parts used and mode of preparation
The various plant parts used included leaves, roots, stems, flowers, fruits, barks, seeds, gum, and rhizomes.
Of these, leaves formed the part of the plant predominantly used (54.9%), followed by flowers (11.0%) and
fruits (10.4%). Out of a total of 111 plants, it was observed that 60 plants had more than one plant part used

Am.-Eurasian J. Sustain. Agric., 3(4): 862-876, 2009

865

M edicinal plants used by Kavirajes of Bhelam oyee and Shalbon areas in D inajpur district, Bangladesh for treatm ent of various
ailm ents.
Botanical nam e
Fam ily
Local nam e
Parts used
Ailm ents treated and dosage

Table 1:
Sl.
N o.
1

Andrographis paniculata
N ees

Acanthaceae

Kalom egh,
Kalam nath,

Leaf, stem

Justicia adhatoda L.

Acanthaceae

Bashok,
D ankuni,
H arbaksho

Leaf

Justicia gendarussa L.

Acanthaceae

Bishjaron

Leaf

D racaena spicata Roxb.

Agavaceae

Agunikundu

Leaf

Agavaceae

Takbir m ati

Leaf

Sansevieria roxburghiana
Schultes & Schultes f.
Aerva sanguinolenta (L.) Bl.

Am aranthaceae

Rong-chita

Leaf

Am aranthus spinosus L.

Am aranthaceae

Kata-khora

Root

Crinum asiaticum L.

Am aryllidaceae
alt. Liliaceae

Bon piyaz,
D hako-ali

Leaf, fruit

Curculigo orchioides Gaertn.

Am aryllidaceae
Talm uli
alt. H ypoxidaceae

Leaf, root

10

Semecarpus anacardium L.

Anacardiaceae

Bhela

Leaf

11

Alstonia scholaris (L.) R.Br.

Apocynaceae

Chatim

Leaf

12

Carissa carandas L.

Apocynaceae

Korom cha

Leaf, fruit

13

Catharanthus roseus
(L.) G.D onn.

Apocynaceae

N oyon tara

Leaf, flower

14

Apocynaceae

Kurchi

Leaf

15

H olarrhena pubescens
Buch.-H am . W all.
Ex G. D on
Nerium indicum M ill.

Apocynaceae

Korobi

Leaf

16

Rauw olfia serpentina Benth.

Apocynaceae

Sharpagondha

Leaf, stem

17

Tabernaem ontana divaricata


(L.) Roem . & Schult.
Scindapsus officinalis
(Roxb.) Schott

Apocynaceae

Leaf, flower

Araceae

Bon korobi,
Bon togor
Takbir gach

Typhonium trilobatum
(L.) Schott
Aristolochia indica L.

Araceae

Cham ghas

Leaf

Aristolochiaceae

Ishwarm ul

Leaf, root

18

19
20

Leaf

Long-term fever, any type of severe body pain.


M ixture of leaves and stem s is taken twice daily
for 14 days Kalpanathfor long-term fever. Leaf
juice is taken thrice daily for 21 days for body
pain.
Coughs in hum an, any porcine diseases. Leaf juice
is taken for 7 days.
Any type of pain. C rushed leaves are applied to
affected area once daily for 7 days.
D ebility, pain. Juice from crushed leaves is taken
twice daily for 8 days.
Paralysis. Leaf juice is m assaged to affected area
twice daily for 1 week.
Fever. Leaf juice is m ixed with m olasses and taken
twice daily for 8 days.
Gout, gastric problem s, to stop bleeding from cuts
and w ounds. Leaves are tied to areas affected
by gout. Leaf juice is taken for 7 days for
gastric troubles. Paste of leaves is applied to
wounds to stop bleeding from cuts and w ounds.
To stop frequent urination. Roots are taken on an
em pty stom ach for 7 days.
Rheum atic pain, acidity, dysentery. Leaf juice
is slightly warm ed and applied to affected area
twice daily for 4 days for rheum atic pain. Leaf
juice and fruit is taken on an em pty stom ach
thrice daily for 14 days for acidity and
dysentery.
Leucorrhea, leukem ia. R oot juice is taken for 21
days for leucorrhea. Leaf juice is taken for 14
days for leukem ia.
Jaundice. Leaves are boiled in water and then
strained followed by drinking of the juice for
14 days.
Coughs, m ucus, colds. Paste of leaves is taken
with honey in the m orning and evening on a
full stom ach for 7 days.
A ppetite stim ulant. Leaves are boiled in w ater to
m ake a syrup and then taken twice daily for 7
days. Fruit is edible.
Anti-cancer, diabetes, bacterial diseases, added as
perfum e to other m edicines. Crushed leaves and
flowers are heated and the decoction taken twice
daily for 9 days. 1-2 fresh leaves are also
swallowed with water daily to keep blood sugar
under control during diabetes.
Hypertension, dysentery. Powdered leaves are boiled
in water to extract juice followed by drinking
of the juice twice daily for 12 days.
Any type of skin disorders. Crushed leaves are
applied to affected areas of skin once daily for
10 days.
H ypertension, m ental instability. Pills m ade from
crushed or powdered leaves and stem s are taken
thrice daily for 14 days.
U sed as perfum e.
Fever, rheum atism , pain. Powdered leaves are taken
for 21 days for fever and pain. W arm ed leaves
are applied to affected area for rheum atism .
A ppetite stim ulant. Leaves are cooked and taken
as vegetable.
Allergy, skin diseases. Leaves and roots are boiled
together to extract juice. Juice is applied twice
daily for 7 days.

Am.-Eurasian J. Sustain. Agric., 3(4): 862-876, 2009


Table 1: Continue
21
Calotropis gigantea
(L.) R.Br.

866

Asclepiadaceae

Boro akondo

Leaf, stem

22

H emidesm us indicus R.Br.

Asclepiadaceae

Anantam ul

Leaf, root

23

Asparagus racemosus W illd.

Asparagaceae
alt. Liliaceae

Shotom uli

Leaf, root

24

M ikania cordata
(Burm . f.) B. L. Robinson
Spilanthes acm ella M urr.

Asteraceae/
Com positae
Asteraceae/
Com positae

Assam lota

Leaf, flower

Rakhal-porni,
Roshun shak

Leaf, flower

28

Wedelia chinensis
(O sbeck) M err.
Xanthium indicum J.
Koenig ex Roxb.
O roxylum indicum Vent.

Asteraceae/
Com positae
Asteraceae/
Com positae
Bignoniaceae

H agra,
Ghaghra
Kanai-dingi

Fruit

29

Bixa orellana L.

Bixaceae

Lotkon

Leaf, fruit

30

Bom bax ceiba L.

Bom bacaceae

Shim ul

Leaf, root

31

Cactaceae

M onsha-debi

Leaf

Clusiaceae
alt. Guttiferae
Colchicaceae
alt. Liliaceae

Ashar pata,
N ageshwar
U lot chandal

Leaf, bark

33

O puntia dillenii
(Ker-Gawl) Haw.
M esua nagassarium
(Burm .f.) Kosterm .
G loriosa superba L.

34

Terminalia arjuna Bedd.

Com bretaceae

Arjun

Bark

35

Term inalia belerica Roxb.

Com bretaceae

Bohera

Leaf, fruit

36

Term inalia chebula Retz.

Com bretaceae

H oritoki

Leaf, fruit

37

Ipom oea mauritiana Jacq.

Convolvulaceae

Bhui-kum ra

Leaf, root

38

Costus speciosus
(Koen.) Sm .

Costaceae alt.
Zingiberaceae

Keu,
Basukoron

Leaf, stem

39

Crassulaceae

Pathorkuchi

Leaf

40

Kalanchoe pinnata
(Lam .) Pers.
Coccinia grandis (L.) Voigt

Cucurbitaceae

Telakucha

Leaf

41

Cyperus scariosus Br.

Cyperaceae

N agarm otha

42

D illenia indica L.

D illeniaceae

Am ortishar

Leaf,
stem , root
Leaf, fruit

25

26
27

32

M ohabhringoraj Leaf, flower


Leaf

Leaf

Body pain, asthm a. Leaves and stem s are m ixed


together, powdered and pills m ade from the
powder. For body pain, pills are taken once
daily for 7 days. For asthm a, pills are taken
once daily for 14 days.
N erve weakness, debility. Juice from m ixed leaves
and roots is taken for 7 days.
Physical and m ental w eakness. Leaves and roots
are boiled together to m ake a syrup and taken
twice daily for 14 days.
Skin diseases. Juice from leaf and flower is
applied to affected area.
Stop bleeding from gum s, dysentery, antibacterial, anem ia. Leaves are boiled in w ater
followed by gargling w ith the water for stopping
bleeding from gum s. Leaf juice is taken for 7
days for dysentery. Leaf juice is also used for
bacterial infections. Leaf and flower juice is
taken on a regular basis for anem ia.
Stop hair loss, prom ote growth. Juice from
leaves and flowers is applied to hair for 7 days.
To induce blood clotting. Leaf paste is
applied to cuts and w ounds.
Jaundice. Fruit juice is taken twice daily for 14
days.
Appetite stim ulant, aids digestion, debility. Pills
m ade from a m ixture of leaf and fruit is taken
thrice daily for 1 week. Fruit is edible and
consum ed when in season.
D ebility, to increase growth. Leaves and roots are
boiled and the juice extracted. Extracted juice
is taken thrice daily for 3 weeks.
Paralysis. Leaf juice is m assaged on the paralyzed
area twice daily for 4 weeks.
Constipation. A m ixture of leaf and bark is
taken twice daily for 1 week.
Skin diseases, rheum atism , leucorrhea. Powdered
leaves are m ixed with warm oil and applied to
affected area for 21 days.
H eart diseases, rheum atism . Pills m ade from bark
powder is taken twice daily for 21 days.
Im potency, coughs, indigestion. Leaves and fruits
are boiled to extract juice. Juice is taken thrice
daily for 7 days. Fruits are edible and consum ed
when in season to m aintain healthy body
conditions.
Bacterial diseases. C rushed leaves are boiled and
juice extracted. Juice is taken thrice daily for 8
days. Fruits are edible and consum ed when in
season to m aintain healthy body conditions.
Leucorrhea, sexually transm itted diseases. Leaves
and roots are boiled in w ater to extract juice.
Extracted juice is taken twice daily for 21 days.
(1) Rheum atism . Powdered leaf and stem is
m ixed with m ustard oil and applied to affected
area.
(2) To hypnotize som ebody, debility. Leaf juice
is taken twice daily for 14 days.
Kidney stones, any type of w ounds, indigestion.
Juice from leaves is taken thrice daily for 21 days.
H ypertension, diabetes. Leaf juice is taken thrice
daily for 7 days. Leaves are also chewed every
m orning to keep blood sugar under control
during diabetes.
D ebility, fever. Juice from crushed leaves, stem s
and roots are m ixed together and taken.
D ysentery. Leaf juice is taken twice daily for 21
days. Fruits are edible and consum ed when in
season.

Am.-Eurasian J. Sustain. Agric., 3(4): 862-876, 2009


Table 1: Continue
43
D ioscorea hispida D ennst.

867

D ioscoreaceae

Bon-alu, Kulu

Leaf, root,
tuber, upper
part of tuber

44

D ioscorea bulbifera L.

D ioscoreaceae

Shorochm an

Leaf

45
46

D ioscorea pentaphylla L.
Croton tiglium L.

D ioscoreaceae
Euphorbiaceae

Thubri
Jaipal

Leaf, vine
Leaf

47

Euphorbia hirta L.

Euphorbiaceae

D udhi

Leaf, flower

48
49

G elonium m ultiflorum A. Juss. Euphorbiaceae


Jatropha gossypifolia L.
Euphorbiaceae

Bar-dal
Jam al-gota,

Leaf
Fruit, seed
Kendar,
M ajon gach

50

Phyllanthus em blica L.

Euphorbiaceae

Am loki

Leaf,
bark, fruit

51

Phyllanthus niruri L.

Euphorbiaceae

Bhui-am la

Leaf, flower

52

Ricinus com m unis L.

Euphorbiaceae

Verenda,

Leaf, root
Venna

53

Bauhinia acum inata L.

Fabaceae

Shet-kanchan

Leaf

54

Butea m onosperm a
(Lam .) Taub.

Fabaceae

Polash

Leaf, gum

55

Caesalpinia bonduc
(L.) Roxb.

Fabaceae

N atai

Leaf, fruit

56

Cajanus cajan (L.) M illsp.

Fabaceae

Arhor

Leaf,
flower, seed

57

Cassia alata L.

Fabaceae

D adhm ordon,

Leaf
D adhm onijol

58

Cassia fistula L.

Fabaceae

Shonalu,
Banor lathi

Leaf, fruit

59

Cassia occidentalis L.

Fabaceae

Boro kalokashunda

Leaf

60

Cassia sophera L.

Fabaceae

Thon-thoni

Leaf

61

Cassia tora L.

Fabaceae

Chakinda

Leaf

62

D esm odium m otorium


(H outt.) M err.

Fabaceae

Turog-chandal

Leaf

63

M im osa invisa
C. M artius ex C olla
Saraca asoca
(Roxb.) D e W ilde
Flacourtia sepiaria Roxb.

Fabaceae

Shada
lajjaboti
Ashok

Leaf, bark

Flacourtiaceae

Anisom eles indica (L.)


Kuntze

Gobura,
Labiatae

Bayuch,
Prem kata,
H elahuta
Ish-langol

Leaf,
fruit,
flower
Leaf

64
65

66

Fabaceae

Leaf

M ole, insect bites, insom nia. Leaf, root, tuber and


upper part of tuber are boiled in w ater and the
juice taken twice daily in the m orning and evening
on a full stom ach for 7 days.
Elephantitis. Leaves are boiled and the juice fed
thrice daily for 10 days.
Paralysis. Juice from leaf and vine is applied.
Body pain, swelling. Juice from crushed leaves
is taken for 7 days as rem edy for body pain.
Slightly warm ed leaves are applied to affected
areas to reduce swellings.
M ucus in stool. Paste of leaf and flower is taken
with m olasses.
D ysentery. 3 drops of leaf juice is taken for 7 days.
(1) C onstipation. Powdered fruit or seed is taken
on a full stom ach for 7 days.
(2) Tooth decay. Leaf juice is applied to teeth for
1 week.
H air loss, indigestion, debility. Crushed leaves and
barks are boiled to extract juice. Juice is taken
thrice daily for 14 days. Fruits are edible and
consum ed when in season to m aintain healthy
body conditions.
M ucus in stool. Anti-bacterial, analgesic. Paste
of leaf and flower is taken w ith m olasses for 7
days.
Analgesic. Juice from leaves and roots is taken.
At the sam e tim e, a pinch of salt is m ixed with
leaf paste, slightly warm ed and applied to areas
of pain.
Preparation of Ayurvedic m edicines. Leaf juice
is added as an ingredient for good m ixing in
Ayurvedic m edicines.
H elm intic infections, wounds. Leaf juice is taken
for 7 days for helm inthiasis. Gum is applied to
wounds for healing.
Skin diseases, debility. Leaves and fruits are m ixed
and boiled in water followed by drinking of the
decoction twice daily for 3 weeks.
Jaundice. Juice from leaves and flowers is taken
thrice daily for 21 days. Seeds are cooked and
eaten as pulses.
Scabies, skin diseases. Leaf juice is applied to
affected area thrice daily for 10 days; alternately
twice daily till cure.
Long-term coughs, nervous weakness, constipation.
Juice from leaves and fruits is taken thrice daily
for 14 days. Leaf juice is taken thrice daily for
2 weeks for constipation.
Eczem a, gastric problem s. Paste of leaf is applied
to eczem a for 21 days. Juice of leaves is taken
in the m orning and evening on a full stom ach
for 14 days for gastric disorders.
Pain-killer, insect and snake bites. Leaves are
chewed with salt and applied to bitten area.
Itches, eczem a. Juice from leaves is m ixed w ith
oil and applied to affected area for 7-14 days.
Frequent urination. The leaves are chewed and
the juice taken every m orning on an em pty
stom ach for 5 days.
Pain, skin diseases. A paste of leaf and bark
is applied to affected area for 2 weeks.
W hite discharge. Juice from leaves is taken thrice
daily for 8 days.
Leucorrhea. Juice from leaf, fruit and flower
is taken for 7 days.
Tearing of internal organs during delivery.
Leaf juice is taken for 7 days.

Am.-Eurasian J. Sustain. Agric., 3(4): 862-876, 2009


Table 1: Continue
67
Leucas aspera (W illd.) Link

868

Labiatae

Kashta phol,
Cheton kum ar

Leaf,
root, flower

68

O cim um tenuiflorum L.

Labiatae
alt. Lam iaceae

Tulshi

Leaf,
stem , root

69

M entha arvensis L.

Lam iaceae

Pudina

Leaf, stem

70

Cinnam om um cam phora


(L.) J. Presl

Lauraceae

Korpur

Leaf, bark

71

Cinnam om um tam ala


N ees and Eberm .

Lauraceae

Tejpata

Leaf

72

Cinnam om um zeylanicum
Blum e

Lauraceae

D aruchini

Bark

73

Litsea chinensis Lam k.

Lauraceae

Pipul-jongi,
Kak-jonga,
Bijla

Leaf, flower

74

Barringtonia racemosa
(L.) Spreng.
Aloe barbadensis M ill.

Lecythidaceae

M oha sam udra, Leaf


D udh-kuruj
Ghrito-kum ari Leaf

75

Liliaceae

76

Lygodium flexuosum
(L.) Sw.

Lygodiaceae

77

Sida rhom bifolia L.

M alvaceae

78
79

U rena lobata L.
Stephania japonica
(Thunb.) M iers

80

81

Tinospora crispa (L.)


M iers ex H ook. f. &
Thom s
M im osa pudica L.

82

Kukur m utha,
Kukur shuka,
Bon tam ak
Pith-berela

Root

Fruit

M alvaceae
M enisperm aceae

Bon-okra
Takam uti,
M akondi

Leaf
Leaf,
flower

M enisperm aceae

Guloncho-ban

Leaf, stem

Shada lojjaboti Leaf

Ficus hispida L.

M im osaceae
alt. Legum inosae
M oraceae

Kak-dum ur

Leaf

83

M oringa oleifera Lam .

M oringaceae

Sajna

Leaf, fruit

84
85

M yristica fragrans H outt.


Syzygium aromaticum
(L.) M err. & Perry

M yristicaceae
M yrtaceae

Joiphol
Labanga

86

Syzygium fruticosum
Roxb. DC.

M yrtaceae

Bonjam ,
Kathjam

Fruit
Leaf,
flower,
flower bud
Leaf

87

Nym phaea nouchali


Burm . f.

N ym phaeaceae

Lal shapla,
Shaluk

Tuber

Bone fractures, debility, asthm a, respiratory


difficulties, coughs. Leaf paste is applied to bone
fractures. Root juice is taken for debility. Flowers
are m ixed with root juice from O cim um
tenuiflorum and honey and taken for asthm a and
respiratory difficulties. Flower juice is taken for
coughs.
Coughs, anti-bacterial, asthm a, respiratory
difficulties, m ucus, leucorrhea. Juice from leaf and
stem is considered anti-bacterial. R oot juice is
m ixed with flowers of Leucas aspera and
honey for asthm a and respiratory difficulties.
Leaf juice is taken for coughs, m ucus, and
leucorrhea.
D ysentery, indigestion, stom ach pain. Leaf juice
is taken thrice daily for 7 days. Leaves and
stem s are also used as spice.
Skin diseases and toothache. Powdered leaves and
barks are applied to affected areas of skin and
gum s.
Coughs, colds. Leaves are chewed; alternately, pills
m ade from powdered leaves are taken for 4 days.
Leaf is also used as spice.
D ebility, dysentery, growth retardation. Pills m ade
from bark powder is taken twice daily for 13 days.
Bark is also used as spice.
(1) Burning sensations during urination. Paste of
flower along with juice of leaves boiled in water
is taken for 7 days.
(2) To increase physical strength, constipation.
Leaves are boiled in water and the extracted
juice taken once every m orning for 21 days.
Stop bleeding from gum s. Leaf paste is
applied to gum s.
Leucorrhea. Leaves are boiled with water and sugar
and the juice extracted. Extracted juice is taken
thrice daily for 14 days.
D ysentery. Juice from warm ed roots is taken
on a full stom ach in the m orning and evening
for 14 days.
Leucorrhea, wet dream . Juice from crushed fruits
are taken in the m orning and evening on a full
stom ach for 7 days.
Skin diseases. Leaf juice is applied to affected area.
Bone fractures, debility. Leaves are tied around
fractured area. Leaves or flowers im m ersed in warm
water are taken for 7 days for debility.
Rheum atism , body pain. Leaf and stem juice is
m assaged onto the affected area tw ice daily for
7 days.
Rheum atic pain. Juice is taken thrice daily for 7
days.
Jaundice. Leaves are boiled in water and taken
twice daily for 3 weeks.
Chicken pox, body pain. Pills are m ade from a
paste of leaves and fruits and taken thrice daily
for 8 days. Leaves and fruits are edible; they are
cooked and eaten as vegetable. Leaves are hung
around the walls and consum ed by household
m em bers as a preventive m easure against
chicken pox.
W hite discharge in urine. Fruits are taken.
Coughs, debility, increase m ental strength.
C rushed leaves and flowers are taken w ith honey
for 7 days. D ried flower bud is used as spice.
Appetite stim ulant. Leaf juice and m olasses
are m ixed together and taken twice daily for 7
days.
Cancer. Tubers are eaten. Tubers are also
cooked and eaten as vegetable.

Am.-Eurasian J. Sustain. Agric., 3(4): 862-876, 2009


Table 1: Continue
88
Piper chaba W . H unter

Piperaceae

89

Piper cubeba L.

90

91

869

Leaf

Piperaceae

M achm achunda
Kababchini

Piper longum L.

Piperaceae

Pipul

Leaf, flower

Cymbopogon citratus
(D C.) Stapf
H edyotis corym bosa
(L.) Lam .
Randia dum etorum
(Retz.) Lam .
Clausena heptaphylla
(Roxb.) H ook. f.)

Poaceae
alt. Gram ineae
Rubiaceae

Lem on ghas

Leaf

Khetpapra

Leaf, flower

Rubiaceae

D honkata

Leaf, stem

Rutaceae

Pan-porag

Leaf

95

Santalum album L.

Santalaceae

Shet chandan

Leaf, stem

96

Sapotaceae

Sofeda

Fruit

97

M anilkara zapota
(L.) P. Royen
Scoparia dulcis L.

Scrophulariaceae

Leaf, flower

98

Sm ilax m acrophylla Roxb.

99

D atura m etel L.

Sm ilacaceae
alt. Liliaceae
Solanaceae

Bon-dhone,
Chini-dhonia
Kum ari lota
D hutura

Leaf, flower

100

Physalis micrantha Link.

Solanaceae

Fruit

101

Solanum nigrum L.

Solanaceae

Bon-tepari,
Shod-tepari
Kakm achi

102

Abrom a augusta L.f.

Sterculiaceae

U lot-kom bol

Leaf,
root, flower

103

Sterculia villosa Roxb.

Sterculiaceae

U dal

Leaf

104

Aquilaria m alaccensis Lam k.

Thym elaeaceae

Agor

Leaf, bark

105

Ferula asafoetida L.

U m belliferae

H ing

Leaf,
flower, seed

106

Clerodendrum indicum
(L.) Kuntze.
Clerodendrum viscosum
Vent.

Verbenaceae
alt. Lam iaceae
Verbenaceae
alt. Lam iaceae

Bam onhati

Leaf

Bhati, Foksha

Leaf, fruit

108

Vitex negundo L.

Verbenaceae

N ishinda

109

Cissus quadrangularis L.

Vitaceae

H arjora

Leaf,
root, fruit
Leaf

110

Leea m acrophylla
Roxb. ex H ornem .

Vitaceae

H osti-korno
-polash

Leaf

111

Am om um subulatum Roxb.

Zingiberaceae

Elach

Leaf, seed

92
93
94

107

Leaf, stem

Leaf, stem

Leaf

N ote that bold lettering indicates plants where whole plant or plant parts can serve as

D ebility, rheum atic pain. Leaves are fried in oil


and taken twice daily for 7 days.
Rheum atism . Juice from leaf and stem is applied
to the affected area twice daily for 7 days.
Indigestion, stom ach disorders. Juice from leaves
and flowers is taken on an em pty stom ach
thrice daily for 7 days.
Bleeding from wounds. Juice from crushed
leaves is applied to wounds to stop bleeding.
To prom ote growth. Juice from leaves and flowers
are taken thrice daily for 7 days.
Bone fractures. Paste of leaves and stem s is applied
to fractured area for 2-3 weeks.
Toothache. Leaf juice is applied thrice daily to
affected area for 7 days. Leaf is also chewed
occasionally as preventive m easure for tooth decay.
D ysentery. Leaves and stem s are crushed and boiled
to extract juice. Juice is taken twice daily for 7
days.
D iseases arising out from m alnutrition. Fruits are
edible and eaten.
To dissolve gall bladder stones. Juice of leaf and
flowers is taken for 7-15 days.
Rheum atism , body pain. Crushed leaves and stem s
are applied to affected area.
Joint pain, pain in leg. Leaves are soaked in oil,
warm ed and applied to areas of pain.
D ebility. D ried and powdered fruits are kept beside
the head.
Jaundice, debility. Leaves are boiled to extract juice.
Juice is taken thrice daily for 7 days.
Leucorrhea, m enstrual problem s. Juice from leaf
and flower is taken for 7-14 days for leucorrhea.
Sm all pieces of roots are taken for 7 days for
m enstrual problem s.
Cleansing of gastric tract. Leaf juice is taken every
m orning on an em pty stom ach for 7 days.
H eadache. Paste of leaf and bark is applied to the
forehead.
Asthm a. Juice from leaf, flower and seed is m ixed
together and taken twice daily for 7 days. Seed
is also used as spice.
Skin infections in throat of children. Leaf
juice is taken twice daily on a full stom ach.
H elm inthiasis, dysentery, jaundice. Juice is
extracted from pow dered or crushed leaves and
fruits and taken thrice daily for 7 days for
helm inthiasis and dysentery. Leaf juice is taken
thrice daily for 14 days for jaundice.
D ental and skin diseases, fever. Juice from leaf,
root and fruit is taken twice daily for 21 days.
Bone fracture. C rushed leaves are applied to
fractures.
Rheum atic pain. Leaves are shredded, m ixed
w ith m ustard oil and heated . T h e m ix tu re is
applied to affected areas for 21 days.
C oughs, sexually transm itted diseases. A shes of
burned leaves are m ixed with m ustard oil and
taken twice daily for 7 days. Seeds are used as
spice.
functional foods.

in combination for medicinal purposes. 14 plants had uses of a combination of leaves with flowers, 10 plants
had uses of a combination of leaves with fruits, and 9 plants had combined uses of leaves with roots. Other
plant parts used in combination were leaves with stems, leaves with barks, leaves with gum, fruits with seeds,
and leaves with seeds. In the case of several plants, three plant parts were administered in combination to treat
ailments. These combinations included leaves with stems and roots (Cyperus scariosus), leaves with fruits and
flower (Flacourtia sepiaria), and leaves with roots and fruits (Vitex negundo). In most cases, juice was
extracted from the plant part(s) and taken orally or applied topically. Other modes of oral administration were

Am.-Eurasian J. Sustain. Agric., 3(4): 862-876, 2009

870

boiling the plant part in water and drinking the syrup (e.g. Carissa carandas), direct taking of the plant part
(e.g. root of Amaranthus spinosus), taking pills made from dried plant part (e.g. Terminalia arjuna) or cooking
the plant part and taking it as vegetable (e.g. Typhonium trilobatum). Other modes of topical applications also
included application of crushed plant part to affected area (e.g. Justicia adhatoda), mixing powdered plant parts
with mustard oil followed by topical application (e.g. Costus speciosus) or mixing plant part paste with salt
followed by topical application (e.g. Ricinus communis).
3.3. Medical applications
W ith one exception, in all cases, a single plant was used by the Kavirajes to treat one or multiple
ailments. The exception was the use of a combination of Leucas aspera flowers with Ocimum tenuiflorum root
juice for treatment of asthma and respiratory difficulties. Tabernaemontana divaricata did not have any
medicinal use; its leaves and flowers were used as perfumery. Bauhinia acuminata also did not have any direct
medical use; the leaves of this plant were used by Kavirajes as an ingredient or base for good mixing of
Ayurvedic medicines. It is to be noted in this regard that Ayurvedic medicine is one of the oldest form of
traditional medicine practiced in the Indian sub-continent. The practitioners of Ayurvedic medicine are also
known in Bangladesh as Kavirajes. The Kavirajes interviewed in the present survey though practiced what is
generally referred to as folk medicine, which while having certain similarities with Ayurvedic medicine is
quite different in its simplicity and plant choice.
3.4. Plants which can be classified as functional foods
A number of plants were found among the 111 medicinal plants shown in Table 1 in which plant parts
can serve both nutritive and medicinal purposes and so can be classified as functional foods. These plants were
Amomum subulatum, Bixa orellana, Cajanus cajan, Carissa carandas, Cinnamomum tamala, Cinnamomum
zeylanicum, Coccinia grandis, Dillenia indica, Ferula asafoetida, Manilkara zapota, M entha arvensis, Moringa
oleifera, Nymphaea nouchali, Phyllanthus emblica, Spilanthes acmella, Syzygium aromaticum, Terminalia
belerica, and Terminalia chebula. The edible parts of these plants along with the ailments that are treated or
prevented with the edible parts are shown in Table 2. It is to be noted that Table 2 is not confined to the
present survey only but also presents information obtained thus far in our ongoing ethnobotanical surveys
conducted in different regions and among different tribes of Bangladesh.
It can be seen from Table 2, that the eighteen plants listed as food supplements are also in use in other
regions of Bangladesh by K avirajes, albeit to treat different ailments. The ailments for which the plant parts
were used were diverse and ranged from disorders of body organs to parasitic diseases and diseases arising
from bacterial, viral and fungal infections. Two plants appear unique (at least in our ethnobotanical data
collected thus far) in their use by the Kavirajes of Dinajpur district. These plants are Ferula assafoetida and
Mentha arvensis. Although our available data does not indicate the use of Ferula asafoetida and Mentha
arvensis in other regions of Bangladesh (note that gathering of more ethnobotanical data may change this
picture), a related species of Mentha arvensis, namely Mentha spicata was found to be commonly used by
Kavirajes in other regions of the country. W hile Mentha arvensis was used by the Kavirajes of Dinajpur
district for dysentery, indigestion, and stomach pain, uses of whole plant or leaves of Mentha spicata included
treatment for cancer, nerve disorders, bronchitis, anorexia, indigestion, dysentery, stomach pain, vomiting,
diabetes, edema, fever, headache, lack of appetite, stomach and intestinal diseases, helminthiasis, bloating,
typhus, dermatitis, and seizures, and use as an appetizer (data not shown).
Besides curative purposes, the plants indicated as functional foods also can provide nutritive values, and
regular consumption can have a preventive role against a number of ailments or to maintain healthy body
organs. The most notable plants that we observed in this regard were Coccinia grandis (leaves are chewed
every day by diabetic patients to keep blood sugar under control), Phyllanthus emblica, Terminalia belerica
and Terminalia chebula (fruits are consumed to maintain healthy body conditions), and Spilanthes acmella
(leaves and flowers are taken on a regular basis both to prevent and to treat anemia). Plant parts from other
plants like Mentha arvensis, Cinnamomum tamala, Cinnamomum zeylanicum, Syzygium aromaticum, and
Amomum subulatum are added to cooked food items as spices by the general population on an almost daily
basis and can play a preventive role in the occurrence of gastrointestinal disorders, respiratory problems, and
through increasing palatability and flavor of foods make them more digestible and serve to maintain good
health. It is further to be noted in this regard that Mentha arvensis is usually taken after partaking of meat and
fatty items or items highly rich in calories, where digestibility may be of concern.

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871

M edicinal plants of D inajpur district indicating plant parts which can be classified as functional foods based on their edibility
and preventive or curative effects of various ailm ents.
Plant nam e
Edible part
Ailm ents for which plant parts are used to provide preventive or curative effects (includes
data from ethnobotanical surveys conducted in other regions of Bangladesh)
Am om um subulatum
Seed
Acne, gout, spasm s, indigestion, cardiac arrhythm ia.
Bixa orellana
Fruit
Cancer, gonorrhea, kidney diseases, m alaria, colic, digestive aid, debility, appetite stim ulant,
gastric ulcer, cuts or wounds on hands or feet.
Cajanus cajan
Seed
Jaundice, coughs, bronchitis, itches, astringent, edem a, tum or, snake bite, stim ulant, edem a,
diarrhea, skin disorders.
Carissa carandas
Fruit
M alaria, epilepsy, nerve disorders, pain, headache, fever, insanity, anorexia, appetizer, blood
purifier, m yopathic spasm , dog bite, coughs, colds, itches, leprosy.
Cinnam om um tam ala
Leaf
D iabetes, flatulency, sore throat, tum or, coughs, cold, to m aintain strong teeth, im potency,
hypocholesterolem ic, stim ulant, itches, astringent, colic, antidote to poison, scars, anorexia,
indigestion, diarrhea, piles, derm atitis, jaundice, indigestion, carm inative, biliary disorders.
Cinnam om um
Bark
Tonic, hypocholesterolem ic, cardiac disorders, debility, dysentery, growth prom oter, appetite
zeylanicum
stim ulant, laxative, anorexia, low sperm count, rheum atism , biliary disorders, diabetes, to
reduce nervous tension, to increase m em ory, colds, to stop vom iting, headache, rheum atic
pain.
Coccinia grandis
Leaf
D iabetes, edem a, eye diseases, carm inative, hypertension, fever, inflam m ation, headache,
typhoid, sunstroke, coughs, nerve depressant, jaundice, stom ach pain, dizziness, m ental
disorders, respiratory disorders, eczem a, acne, leucorrhea, diarrhea, dysentery, blood
dysentery, increased tem perature of hands or head, bloating, blood disorders, derm atitis,
m yopathic spasm , baldness, scars, leukoderm a, lesions of the tongue, burning sensations in
hands or feet, insanity, bed wetting in children.
D illenia indica
Fruit
Cholera, purgative, antidote to poison, anti-hem orrhagic, anorexia, dysentery, appetizer,
abortifacient, stom ach pain, astringent, fever, coughs, appetite stim ulant, acidity, rheum atoid
arthritis, rheum atic pain, epilepsy, to increase lactation, low sperm count, boils, sprains,
debility, headache, hypertension, food toxicity.
Ferula asafoetida
Seed
Asthm a.
M anilkara zapota
Fruit
H epatic disorders, dysentery, tonic, appetizer, hypertension, diseases arising out of m alnutrition,
astringent, fever.
M entha arvensis
Leaf, stem
D ysentery, indigestion, stom ach pain.
M oringa oleifera
Leaf, fruit
Colds, fever, joint pain, gout, hypertension, constipation, acidity, epilepsy, skin eruptions,
leukoderm a, tonic, helm inthiasis, body pain, chicken pox, stim ulant, vom iting-induced stom ach
pain, em etic, carm inative, toothache, cracked foot, sterility, cancer, skin lesions, constipation,
indigestion, edem a, wounds, eczem a, boils, m yopathic spasm s, night blindness, derm atitis,
hernia, cardiovascular disorders, snake bite, paralysis, tetanus, rheum atoid arthritis, waist pain,
spleen enlargem ent, sedative, cathartic, diabetes, leprosy, conjunctivitis, pain.
Nym phaea nouchali
Leaf, stem
Indigestion, cardiovascular disorders, anti-hem orrhagic, stom ach pain, cancer, m enstruation
control, astringent, diarrhea, indigestion, diabetes.
Phyllanthus em blica
Fruit
Appetizer, gonorrhea, toothache, itches, leucorrhea, arteriosclerosis, diabetes, jaundice, eye
diseases, heatstroke, edem a, gastrointestinal disorders (stom ach pain, acidity, constipation,
diarrhea, dysentery, indigestion), body ache, appetite stim ulant, im potency, debility, anem ia,
fever, sudden unconsciousness, alopecia, skin diseases, to m aintain healthy hair, hair loss and
graying of hair, to m aintain strong teeth, fistula, sore throat, pain, sex stim ulant, jaundice,
to strengthen body organs (heart, stom ach, liver, m uscle, nerves), hepatitis, cold, loss of taste,
anorexia, burning sensations during urination, acne, m arks on face, to increase facial
com plexion.
Spilanthes acm ella
Leaf
To stop bleeding from gum s, dysentery, anem ia, toothache, oral lesions, stom ach pain,
gastrointestinal problem s, insect repellent, erectile dysfunction, to increase sperm count, head
infections.
Syzygium aromaticum Flower bud
Coughs, debility, to increase m ental alertness.
Term inalia belerica
Fruit
Constipation, sexual diseases, leprosy, piles, diarrhea, dysentery, blood dysentery, tonic, fever,
erectile dysfunction, coughs, indigestion, im potency, sex stim ulant, edem a, respiratory
problem s, hair tonic, appetite stim ulant, acidity, nerve stim ulant, edem a, inflam m ation, to
increase sensitivity of the senses, anorexia, headache, nerve stim ulant, hernia, typhus,
stim ulant, intestinal infection, skin diseases, constipation, asthm a, allergy, to m aintain healthy
body organs (heart, lungs, liver), lung problem s, liver dysfunctions, bloating, untim ely
graying of hair.
Term inalia chebula
Fruit
Cancer, jaundice, bronchitis, indigestion, piles, syphilis, leucorrhea, conjunctivitis, tum or, itches,
cardiovascular disorders, tuberculosis, heatstroke, ulcer, energy stim ulant, burns, low sperm
count, debility, inflam m ation, purgative, coughs, urinary troubles, carm inative, asthm a, biliary
problem s, jaundice, stim ulation of appetite, digestive aid, acidity, bloating, constipation, hair
loss, leprosy, edem a, m alaria, hepatitis, hoarseness, sore throat, leucorrhea, helm inthiasis,
pain, hepatic disorders, respiratory problem s, acne, m arks on face, to im prove facial
com plexion.
Table 2:

Discussion
A number of plants classified as functional foods (Table 2) have been studied scientifically for their
nutritional content and pharmacological activities. This discussion will provide an overview of some of the

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872

more important plant species. The leaves of Spilanthes acmella and Dillenia indica are consumed by Khasi
tribal women of India as unconventional wild edibles to supplement their regular diet (Agrahar, 2006). In the
Sri Lankan traditional medicine, Spilanthes acmella flowers are used for their diuretic effects; this has been
confirmed in scientific studies conducted in rats using cold extract of flowers (Ratnasooriya, 2004) and thus
can have therapeutic uses in edema. Ethanol extracts of flower buds of the plant reportedly exhibited inhibitory
activities on pancreatic lipase and so can be a potential source to reduce obesity (Ekanem, 2007). N-isobutyl4,5-decadienamide isolated from the flowers of the plant has been reported to possess analgesic activity
(Ansari, 1988). In Taiwan, the plant is used as a common spice and has been administered for years in
traditional folk medicine to cure toothache, stammering, and stomatitis. A bio-active compound, spilanthol has
been isolated from the plant which demonstrated anti-inflammatory effect on murine macrophages by downregulating lipopolysaccharide-induced inflammatory mediators (W u, 2008). Other reported bio-active compounds
with good anti-oxidant activities, isolated from volatile oil from fresh leaves of this plant include germacreneD, trans-b-caryophyllene, b-elemene, nor-copaanone and bicyclogermacrene (Kawaree, 2008). Antioxidant and
vasorelaxant activities of extracts of the plant have also been demonstrated (W ongsawatkul, 2008). In Thai
traditional medicine, the plant is used to treat toothache, rheumatism, and fever. A number of bio-active
compounds isolated from chloroform and methanol extracts of the plant showed inhibitory activities against
a number of microorganisms like Corynebacterium diptheriae and Bacillus subtilis. The compounds included
phenolics like vanillic acid, trans-ferulic acid, and trans-isoferulic acid; coumarin (scopoletin); and triterpenoids
like 3-acetylaleuritolic acid, b-sitostenone, stigmasterol and stigmasteryl-3-O-b-D-glucopyranosides, in addition
to a mixture of stigmasteryl- and b-sitosteryl-3-O-b-D-glucopyranosides (Prachayasittikul, 2009). Taken together,
it may be concluded that the available studies justify the use of this plant has a functional food.
Partaking of Triphala (formulation from the dried fruits of three plants Phyllanthus emblica, Terminalia
belerica and Terminalia chebula) has been described in the ancient Indian Ayurvedic medicine to be good for
maintaining healthy heart conditions as well as a therapeutic agent for heart diseases. Since then, numerous
reports have been published on the preventive and curative properties of the fruits of these plants taken in
combination or individually. Feeding of a dried powder of fruits from the three plants have been shown to
reduce total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol and triglycerides in hypercholesterolemic rats and to increase excretion
of bile acids (Nalini, 1999). W hen administered individually, the fruits of the plants were found to reduce
cholesterol in cholesterol-induced hypercholesterolemia and atherosclerosis in rabbits (Thakur, 1988). The
methanolic extract of fruits of the three plants, individually or in combination, reportedly showed antioxidant
potential in vitro and anti-diabetic activities in alloxan-induced diabetic rats (Sabu, 2002). Both acetone and
methanol extracts of Terminalia belerica and Terminalia chebula reportedly showed a broad spectrum of
antibacterial activity including inhibition of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (Aqil, 2005). Pretreatment of mice with aqueous extract of Terminalia belerica fruits has been shown to confer protection
against experimental Salmonellosis and result in total survival of animals when challenged with lethal doses
of Salmonella typhimurium (M adani, 2008). Alcoholic extracts of fruits of Phyllanthus emblica and Terminalia
belerica conferred protective effects in isoproterenol-induced myocardial necrosis in rats (Tariq, 1977). The
antioxidant potential of Terminalia belerica (fruit), Terminalia chebula (fruit), and Nymphaea nouchali (flower)
has been reported and attributed to the presence of phenolic compounds like hydroxybenzoic acid derivatives,
hydroxycinnamic acid derivatives, flavonol aglycons and their glycosides (Saleem, 2001). Gallic acid, present
in fruits of Terminalia belerica has been found to have a protective effect against carbon tetrachloride-induced
hepatotoxicity and kidney damages in rats (Shukla, 2005; Jadon, 2007).
Analysis of Terminalia belerica fruits indicated that they are enriched in iron, phosphorus, cobalt and
selenium (Garg, 2005). The fruits of Terminalia chebula have been found to be enriched in magnesium (Garg,
2007). It has also been reported that the fruit tissue of Terminalia chebula contained 10.3 and 14.5 times more
vitamin C and protein, respectively when compared with commercial apples. The recommended dietary
allowance for selenium, potassium, manganese, iron and copper can also be met if 100g of the raw fruit is
taken (Barthakur, 1991). The fruits of Terminalia belerica and Terminalia chebula have been found to be rich
sources of gallic acid; the leaves and fruits of Terminalia belerica for ellagic acid; and the leaves of Moringa
oleifera for kaempferol (Bajpai, 2005). All the above three compounds are bio-active, with gallic and ellagic
acid being strong anti-oxidants and so can serve as preventing damages caused by cardiovascular disorders,
hypertension, diabetes and a host of other disorders. In fact, the ripe fruits of Terminalia chebula have been
postulated to possess the potential to play a role in the hepatic prevention of oxidative damage in living
systems (Lee, 2005). Chemical analysis of edible fruit tissues of Phyllanthus emblica showed that it had,
respectively, 3-fold and 160-fold protein and ascorbic acid concentrations than present in apples (Barthakur,
1991). The ascorbic acid (vitamin C) was found to be exceptionally stable in both fresh and dried fruits
(Shishoo, 1997). The fruits also contain flavonoids, which have been shown to inhibit hepatic HMG CoA
reductase activity and reduce lipid levels in serum and tissues of rats with hyperlipidemia (Anila). Powdered

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dried fruits of Phyllanthus emblica has been suggested to become a useful remedy for Alzheimers disease on
account of its various beneficial effects such as improving memory, cholesterol lowering property and
anticholinesterase activity (Vasudevan, 2007); pre- and post-supplementation of fruit extract of the plant has
also been shown to significantly reduce arsenic-induced oxidative stress in liver (Sharma, 2009).
The fruit juice of Manilkara zapota has been shown to be one of the rich sources of sugars, proteins,
ascorbic acid, phenolics, carotenoids, and minerals like iron, copper, zinc, calcium and potassium; apart from
the nutrients, the fruit juice also showed antioxidant activity (Kulkarni, 2007). Activity-guided fractionation of
a methanol extract of fruits of this plant also revealed presence of a number of polyphenols with aniti-oxidant
activity; the highest activity was demonstrated by Me-4-O-galloylchlorogenate (Jun, 2003). The fruits of
Dillenia indica have also been found to be rich in phenolics with good antioxidant and free radical scavenging
activities (Abdille, 2005).
Among five Cinnamomum species studied, Cinnamomum zeylanicum leaves demonstrated highest DPPH
(1,1 -diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl) radical scavenging activity, total antioxidant activity and reducing power, while
Cinnamomum tamala leaves exhibited highest superoxide anion scavenging activity (Prasad, 2009).
Consumption of Cinnamomum species thus can be of beneficial effect for both preventing and ameliorating
diseases like cardiovascular disorders, hypertension, and diabetes for their antioxidant properties. Oleoresins
obtained from the bark of Cinnamomum zeylanicum also showed excellent antioxidant activity as demonstrated
through inhibition of primary and secondary oxidation products in mustard oil. Volatile oils obtained from
leaves and barks of this plant were also highly effective against a number of fungi tested (Singh, 2007). The
plant is enriched in micro-nutrients like iron, cobalt, chromium, sodium, potassium, phosphorus and zinc
(Singh, 2006). Eugenol, linalool, b-caryophyllene and caryophyllene oxide has been reported to be the major
components in the leaf oil of Cinnamomum tamala (Baruah, 2005; Ahemd, 2000). Eugenol is an antioxidant
and is known to protect nicotine-induced superoxide mediated oxidative damage in murine peritoneal
macrophages in vitro (Kar, 2009). Linalool has been reported to possess antiinflammatory and antinociceptive
properties including attenuation of allodynia in neuropathic pain induced by spinal nerve ligation in mice
(Berliocchi, 2009). Thus the leaves of this plant, which are used as spice can be of both protective and curative
values in different sorts of ailments causing pain or oxidative damages. Additionally, the leaves of this plant
are known to contain a number of bio-active flavonoids like kaempferol, quercetin, myricetin, kaempferol-3-Orhamnoside and quercitrin (Singh, 2002). The antioxidant property and presence of polyphenols (which are
antioxidants) have been confirmed in leaves of this plant using rat brain synaptosomes from control and
streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats as a model system (Devi, 2007). Taken together, the various Cinnamomum
species, which has been used as spices for hundreds of years in the Indian sub-continent and elsewhere can
be effective food supplements and so can be characterized as functional foods.
The seeds of Cajanus cajan, which are eaten as pulses throughout Bangladesh are known to have a high
content of potassium and phosphorus and moderate content of calcium and magnesium. The seeds also contain
iron, zinc, copper and manganese. Also because of its protein content (19.34%), it is considered as a most
important grain legume for human nutrition in the protein-deficient countries of the world (Nwokolo, 1987).
Since the seeds of the plant are used in the folk medicinal system of Bangladesh to combat diverse ailments
like jaundice, coughs, bronchitis, itches, astringent, edema, tumor, snake bite, stimulant, edema, diarrhea, and
skin disorders, this plant can also be considered an important functional food.
For a developing country like Bangladesh, it is important to identify functional foods, which can be
consumed on a regular basis by the population to serve both nutritional and medicinal purposes. The present
survey, besides collecting information on medicinal plants, also analyzed those plants with the objective of
determining which medicinal plant can serve as a functional food. Since a number of plants have been
identified, which can serve the dual purposes of medicinal and nutritive values they can be targeted for mass
cultivation and conservation. At the same time, the population can be made aware of the consumption values
of these plants or plant parts, which in turn can lead to reduced health costs, prevention and cure of a number
of prevalent diseases, and an improved diet.
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