An ethnomedicinal survey among the Manipuri tribe in Maulvibazar district, Bangladesh
Sabnam Roy Suma and Mohammed Rahmatullah
Background: The medicinal practices of indigenous people, have in the past and more so in the present, forming valuable sources of information towards discovery of new medicines. The use of plants as medicines has been going on possibly since the first evolution of human beings. Ancient human beings kept alive the medicinal tradition through memorization and oral transmission from generation to generation, much like what various indigenous people/tribes practice till the present day. Bangladesh has a number of tribes, and the objective of this survey was to conduct an ethnobotanical survey among the Manipuri tribal people in Maulvibazar district in the northeast part of Bangladesh. The survey was limited in extent because not only the tribal population has dwindled, but also most of the tribal medicinal knowledge has been forgotten because of the influence of allopathic drugs.
Methods and findings: Interviews were conducted of four tribal medicinal practitioners (TMPs). After building up rapport with the tribal community through a number of field trips, information about their use of medicinal plants was obtained with their full consent. Pictures were taken of the plants used by the TMPs and plant specimens identified by a trained botanist. Information on only seventeen plants could be obtained.
Conclusions: The present survey gives valuable insights into the tribal medicinal customs of the Manipuri people. The survey also indicates that tribal medicinal practices may be on the verge of disappearing because of dwindling forests along with sharply declining population of the indigenous people.