Ethnobotanical Leaflets 13: 1029-41, 2009.



Ethnomedicinal Plants Used Against Jaundice in Dir Kohistan Valleys (NWFP), Pakistan


Gul Jan*, Mir Ajab Khan* and Farzana Gul**


*Department of Plant Sciences Quaid-I-Azam University, Islamabad

                        ** Department of Micro Biology Quaid-I-Azam University, Islamabad

Correspondence Address: [email protected]



Issued  August 01, 2009




            The paper enumerates the traditional uses of 42 plant species belonging to 28 families, which are used by the village communities of Dir Kohistan Valleys, (NWFP, Pakistan) for the treatment jaundice. Asteraceae is the leading family with four species. It is followed by Malvaceae, Solanaceae and Rhamnaceae with three species each. Some of useful species are under serious threat due to unsustainable activities. Hence, a proper documentation of useful plants with their present status and local traditional knowledge as well as practices is urgently needed. Effort should also be initiated to implement appropriate conservation measures for preservation and sustainable uses of these useful species.


            Dir Kohistan Valley NWFP, (Pakistan) covers 1 40,351 acres of the coniferous forests situated between latitude 350- 9΄ to 350-47΄ and longitude 710-52΄ to 720-22΄ in the northern position of the watershed of Panjkora river. The Hindu Raj range bound the area generally known as Dir Kohistan on the north and northwest, by the Torwal and Gabral range on the east, by Dodbah Sarghar on the south, and by Btarai ghar on the Southwest. Pangkora is a pashtu word meaning five streams; the five tributaries of the rivers are Azgologh, Zandrai, Shandoor, Gwaldai and Dokdara khwars. Territories adjoining the tract are Chitral on the north as well on the West, Swat Kohistan and Upper Swat on the east, and Painda khel and Dir on the South. The total area of Dir Kohistan is 4, 12,570 acres i.e., 645 squares miles. Of this, an area of 1, 40,351 acres covered with coniferous forests. (Source: District Census Report of Kohistan, NWFP Pakistan)

            The rural communities of Dir Kohistan Valley (NWFP, Pakistan) are still dependent upon wild plants for their primary healthcare and treatment of diseases. They collect the useful plants from various habitats such as forests, scrub, grassland, cultivated fields and use these plant materials as raw drugs. These communities have acquired good knowledge on the useful and harmful properties of the useful plant resources in course of their constant association with forest and agro-ecosystems. However, at present, this vast store of information is being eroded as a result of human’s unsustainable activities. The loss of traditional knowledge within cultures undergoing rapid change is just as irreversible as the loss of species (Joshi and Joshi, 2005). Hence efforts should be made to document the various uses of plants before some of these plants are eliminated from the area, or before these inhabitants shift over to modern remedies. In this context, the rich and diverse forest ecosystems and vast tribal population with traditional knowledge systems due to cultural and environmental diversity in the country have attracted a number of workers for ethnomedicinal studies in the past (Shinwari and Khan, 1998, Hamayun, 2003, Ahmad et al., (2004, Ahmad, 2005). However, the vast store of ethno-medicinal information of these study areas has not been fully documented.

In the present paper an attempt has been made to present indigenous knowledge and uses of the wild plants which are used by local communities for treatment of Jaundice.  The study is carried out in some villages of Dir Kohistan Valley (NWFP, Pakistan). The land forms of the study areas are characterized by moderate to steep sloppy mountainous terrain. The study areas are endowed with rich and varied vegetation types due to their diverse topography and variable climatic conditions. The human pressure on these vegetative resources is very heavy except on very steep, almost vertical and inaccessible rock faces near the river.  The villages are inhabited by different ethnic tribes which are rich in folk lore.


Materials and Methods

Several field trips in and around the study areas were undertaken during the years 2006-2008 with a view to collect plant species of ethnomedicinal value and to document the indigenous practices.  The information was gathered using various techniques such as open and structured interview, and discussion with local informants, such traditional healers and experienced village elders including midwives and by direct observations. About 100 informants were interviewed in this regard.

 On the way different plant materials were being collected and used. The plant specimens were identified with the help of floras. Voucher specimens are deposited in the Department of plant sciences Quaid-I-Azam University. Nomenclature used in this report follows Nasir and Ali (1972).



During the field survey, ethnobotanical information of 42 species of medicinal plants belonging to 28 families was compiled from various habitats of the study areas. The study shows that among the jaundice, pneumonia, asthma, digestive problem, dysentery, dyspepsia, diabetes and eye problems are the major diseases in the village. During the treatment of the diseases, various forms of preparation are used. In the following enumeration, the species are arranged alphabetically. Botanical name followed by family, uses of the plants and their parts as reported by the local inhabitants and habitat along with the information collected areas.


Botanical Name                      Adiantum incisum L.

Local Name                             Phunka

Family                                     Adiantaceae

Habit and Habitat                   Perennial herb

Part used                                 Leaves

Local Uses                              Leaves are used for the extraction of juice which is recommended

                                                for jaundice.


Botanical Name:                     Abutilon indicum (L.) Sweet

Family:                                    Malvaceae      

Part Used:                               Leaf    

Local Use:                               The leaves are dried, powdered and boil in water. The filtrate

                                                is used for jaundice.


Botanical Name:                     Adiantum  Capillus veneris L.

Local Name:                            BeBe Ayesha Sanra

Family:                                    Pteridacea

Parts Used:                              Frond

Local Uses:                             Syrup is made from its fronds and rhizomes. It is flavored

                                                with orange flowers and uses it for gallstones and jaundice.


Botanical Name:                     Ajuga bracteosa Wallich ex Benth.

Local Names:                          Kori booti

Family:                                    Lamiaceae

Parts used:                               Leaves

Local Use:                               Decoction of the leaves is used in jaundice.  


Botanical Name:                     Allium cepa L.

Local Name:                            Pyaz

Family:                                    Liliaceae

Habit:                                      Herb   

Local Uses:                             Bulbs of the plant are very useful in jaundice.


Botanical Name                      Althea rosea L.

Local Name                             Gul e Khaira

Family                                     Malvaceae

Habit & Habitat                      Shrub

Part used                                 Roots

Flowering Period                   July-September

Ethnomedicinal Uses:             Roots are dip in new earthen pot for whole night. In the following

                                                morning the water juice is drunk for jaundice.


Botanical Name                      Artemisia absinthium L.

Local Name:                            Jaukay

Family                                     Asterceae

Habit                                       Herb

Parts used                                Whole plant

Local uses                               The powdered herb in small amount mixed in soup, will serve to

                                                relieve the yellow hove of jaundice from skin.


Botanical Name                      Asparagus adscendens L.

Local Name                             Musli sufaid.

Family                                     Liliaceae

Habit and Habitat                   Climber

 Flowering Period                   July-September

Part used                                 Rhizome.

Local uses                               The clean rhizome is boiled in water then filtrate is used

                                                for jaundice.



Botanical Name:                     Berberis lycium Royle

Family:                                    Berberidaceae

Local Name:                            Ziar Largay

Habit:                                      Shrub

Part Used:                               Root bark

Local Use:                               Decoction of the root bark is used in jaundice.


Botanical Name:                     Chenopodium murale L.

Family:                                    Chenopodiaceae

Part Used:                               Leaves
Local Uses:                             Leaves are crushed, mixed with water and kept for night dew in a

                                                pot. It is used for the treatment of jaundice it is usually taken

                                                early in the morning.


Botanical Name:                     Chenopodium album L.

Local Name:                            Sarmay

Family:                                    Chenopodiaceae

Habit:                                      An annual wild weed of fields.

Part Used:                               Root and Vegetative portion.

Local Uses:                             Roots used in jaundice.


Botanical Name:                     Cucurbita maxima Duch.ex Lam.

Local name:                             Wun

Family:                                    Cucurbitaceae

Parts Used:                              Fruit

Local Uses:                             Unripe and ripe fruits are used as vegetable and used for jaundice.


Botanical Name:                     Cucurbita pepo L.

Local Name:                            Gharangy Kadoo

Family:                                    Cucurbitaceae

Habit:                                      An annual prostrate to climbing cultivated herb.

Part Used:                               Fruit

Local Uses:                             It is diet for patients suffering from jaundice.


Botanical Name:                     Clematis grata Wall.                          

Family:                                    Ranunculacaeae

Parts Used:                              Whole Plant

Local Uses:                             The decoction of plant is used for jaundice.


Botanical Name:                     Calotropis procera L. 

Local Name:                            Aok

Family:                                    Asclepiadaceae

Part Used:                               Whole Plant

Local Uses:                             The whole plant is used for jaundice.


Botanical Name:                     Coriandrum sativum L.

Local name:                             Nasky

Family:                                    Umbelliferae

Parts Used:                              Fruits and leaves                    

Local Uses:                             Fruits and leaves are used in jaundice


Botanical Name                      Cuscuta reflexa Roxb

Family                                     Cuscutacea

Local name                              Maraz botay

Habit                                       Herb, which climb the host plants.

Parts used                                Shoots

Local uses                               Juice extracted from plan is used in jaundice,

Flowering period                     Aug.-September


Botanical name                       Cynodon dactylon L.

Family                                     Poaceae (Graminae)

Local name                              Drab

Habit                                       Herb Prostate grass

Parts used                                Whole plant

Local uses                               It is used along with Rose flowers in Jaundice.

Flowering period                     April-October


Botanical Name:                     Evolvulus alsinoides L.          

Family:                                    Convolvulaceae          

Habit:                                      Herb

Part Used:                               leaf     

Local Use:                               The fresh leaves are boiled in water and the decoction is used for



Botanical Name:                     Gallium aparine L.

Family:                                    Rubiaceae

Part used:                                Leaves

Local Use:                               Leaves are used in jaundice.


Botanical Name                      Jasminum humile L.

Local Name                             Peeli chembaili.

Family                                     Oleaceae

Habit and Habitat                   shrub

Part used                                 Flowers.

Flowering Period                    April-May

Ethnomedicinal Uses              Flowers are sun dried and powdered and boiled in water.

                                                The decoction is used for blood purification and jaundice.


Botanical Name                      Melia azedarach L.

Local Name:                            Shandai

Family:                                    Meliaceae

Part Used:                               Leaves
Habit:                                      Tree

Ethnomedicinal uses               The decoction obtained after crushing and squeezing the leaves

                                                 is used in jaundice.


Botanical Name:                     Malva sylvestris L.

Local name:                             Sonchal

Family:                                    Malvaceae

Parts Used:                              Whole Plant

Local Uses:                             The whole plant is boiled in water and the decoction is used

                                                in jaundice.


Botanical  Name:                    Oxalis corniculata L.

Family:                                    Oxalidaceae

Local Names:                          Khutkorla

Parts used:                               Whole plant.

Local Use:                               Fresh leaves are crushed, extract is mixed with water, and sugar is

                                                 mixed and syrup “Sharbat” is used in jaundice.


Botanical name                       Peuced palustre L.

Family                                     Umbelliferae

Habit                                       Herb

Parts used                                Seed

Local uses                               The seeds are mild and gentle and given in powder form

                                                in jaundice.

Flowering period                     July-Sep.


Botanical Name:                     Pistacea integrima J. L. Stewart ex Brandis

Family:                                    Anacardiaceae

Local Name:                            Shnai

Habit:                                      Tree

Part Used:                               Fruit

Local Use:                               Fruits and galls extract is given in jaundice.


Botanical Name:                     Phyllanthus amarus Schum.

Family:                                    Euphorbiaceae

Part Used:                               Whole plant    

Folk Use:                                 The whole plant is used for jaundice.


Botanical Name:                     Physalis minima L.    

Family:                                    Solanaceae     

Part Used:                               Leaf    

Local Use:                               Fresh leaves are boiled in water and filter. The filtered water is

                                                used for jaundice.


Botanical Name:                     Pistacia integrrima J. L. Stewart ex Brand.

Local Name:                            Shnai

Family:                                   Anacardiaceae

Part Used:                               Wood, leaves, fruits

Local Uses:                             These entire component are crushed together, little water is

                                                added and then exposed to night dew in a vessel. Then filtered

                                                 through a cloth and used early in the morning as a useful

                                                remedy for jaundice.


Botanical Name:                     Podophyllum emodi Wall. ex Royle

Local Names:                         Bankakri

Family:                                    Podophyllaceae

Parts used:                               Roots and rhizomes.

Local Uses:                             The dried fruits or seeds crushed and mixed with root bark

                                                of Berberis lycium is taken with water in jaundice.


Botanical Name:                     Rumex acetosa L.

Local name:                             Churkuy

Family:                                    Polygonaceae

Parts Used:                              Whole plant

Local Uses:                             Decoction of the whole plant is used for jaundice.


Botanical name                       Solanum nigrum   L.

Family                                     Solanaceae

Local name                              Tore danie

Habit                                       Perennial rhizomatous weed/herb.

Parts used                                Vegetative Parts.

Local uses                               Vegetative parts is used in jaundice.

Flowering period                     Throughout the year   


Botanical Name:                     Raphanus sativus L.

Local Name:                            Mooley.

Family:                                    Cruciferae

Habit:                                      Cultivated herb.

Part Uses:                                Root.

Local Uses:                             It is also used as salad in jaundice.


Botanical Name:                     Sonchus asper L.

Family:                                    Asteraceae                  

Habit:                                      Herb

Parts Used:                              Whole Plant

Local Uses:                             Juice of the plant is reported its use in jaundice.


Botanical Name:                     Swertia spaciosa (D.Don)

Local Name:                            Kori Jari

Family:                                    Genitaceae

Habit:                                      Herb   

Parts Used:                              Whole plant    

Local Uses:                             Aqueous extract of whole plant is useful in jaundice.

Other Uses:                             Also used in typhoid.


Botanical Name:                     Solanum miniatum Benth. Ex Wild

Local Name:                            Kachmachu

Family:                                    Solanaceae

Habit:                                      A wild herb

Parts Used:                              Lleaves.

Local Uses:                             Leaves are used in jaundice.


Botanical Name                      Taraxaium officinale webber.

Family                                     Asteraceae

Local name                              Ziar Gulae

Habit                                       Herb

Parts used                                Flower, root and leaves

Local uses                               Its decoction is used in jaundice.

Flowering period                     Feb.-April


Botanical Name:                     Taraxacum stenolepium Hand.-Mazz.

Local name:                             Dado

Family:                                    Asteracese

Parts Used:                              Roots and leaves

Local Uses:                             Powdered roots are used for jaundice.


Botanical Name:                     Viola canescens Wall ex Roxb.

Local Name:                            Binawsha

Family:                                    Violaceae

Habit:                                      Herb

Part Used:                               Whole plant

Local Uses:                             Decoction of Root is thought useful in jaundice.


Botanical Name                      Viola serpens Wall.ex.Roxb

Local Name                             Binafsha

Family                                     Violaceae

Habit and Habitat                   It is common small size herb

Part used                                 Flowers

Flowering Period                    November-December

Local Uses:                             Flowers are dried under shade and ground to make powder. The 

                                                decoction of the flower is used against jaundice.

Other Uses

Botanical Name:                     Ziziphus oxyphylla Edgew.

Family:                                    Rhamnaceae

Local Name:                            Sezen                          

Habit:                                      Shurb                          

Part Used:                               Fruits and root

Local Uses:                             Roots are used in curing jaundice.


Botanical Name:                     Zizyphus mauritiana L.

Local name:                             Ashar

Family:                                    Rhamnaceae

Habit:                                      Shrub

Parts Used:                              Leaves

Local Uses:                             The juice of fresh leaves is given in Jaundice.


Botanical Name:                     Zizyphus oxyphyla Edgew.

Family:                                    Rhamnaceae

Local Name:                            Elanai                         

Habit:                                      Shurb                          

Part Used:                               Roots, fruits                           

Local Uses:                             Roots are sun dried and boil in water and filter. The filtered water

                                                is used in curing jaundice.




       The use of plants for the existence of human being is as old a practice as the human race itself. The accumulation of knowledge of plant use however co-evolved with human civilization through the experiential use of plants, generation after generation. People would have remained exposed to epidemic, endemic and chronic diseases, besides acute ailments (Hamayun, 2003).





In Dir Kohistan valley the percentage of traditional knowledge about the use of medicinal plants is clear from Graphs 1 and 2. Old aged people, women and hakims add 50% of it and use that much (about 50%) to cure their ailments. Elder have 30% knowledge and use 5% of the local drugs. Young people know about 15% of it but they use little (about 1%) or none at all of the local medicinal plants in case of illness. Children know about 5% of the uses but they were forced to take 40% of the folk medicinal recipes for the treatment of diseases (Graphs 1 and 2).

        The results of the present study revealed that wild plants and their parts are widely used for jaundice in the Dir Kohistan Valleys (NWFP, Pakistan). Local people have remarkable detailed knowledge of species identity and characteristics. As more than 60 percent of plant species useful for jaundice appear to be restricted to shaded forest habitats in the forests, the anthropogenic unsustainable activities such as deforestation, habitat destruction, urbanization etc. may pose a serious threat to the species. Hence, priority should be given to the following three measures:

 1) Investigation related to taxonomy, chemical screening and documentation of the useful species and their habitats;

2) Initiation of conservation action works with appropriate measures involving local participation;

3) Implementation of awareness activities with integrated approach for sustainable development.



Special thanks are due to Dr. Rizwana Aleem, Dr. Mushtaq Ahmad and M. Zafar (Quaid-I-Azam University, Islamabad) for their valuable help in identification of many plants collected from the study area.



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