• 1 H.E.J. Research Institute of Chemistry
    International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences
  • 1 Dr. Panjwani Center for Molecular Medicine and Drug Research
    International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences
  • 1 Prof. Dr. Atta-ur-Rahman Laboratories (TWC)
    International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences
  • 1 LEJ National Science Information Center
    International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences
  • 1 ICCBS Group Photograph
    International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences
  • 1 LEJ Nanotechnology Center
    International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences
  • 1 Prof. Dr. Salimuzzaman Siddiqui Auditorium
    International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences
  • 1 HEJ Library
    International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences
Summary of the Study
Summary of the Study

Medicinal Palnts play a key role in the healthcare of human society since time immemorial. River Indus civilization is among the most ancient civilizations of the world, at par to Egyptian, Samarian, and Babylonian civilizations. People live on the bank of mighty river Indus have evolved a culture of co-existence; respect for the diversity, value to the innovation, and an efficient and democratic system of governance. In this conducive environment, knowledge flourished scholarship nurtured and innovation took roots. The use of various plants for the treatment of the prevailing disorders, based on trial and errors and folk wisdom, is among the heritage of Sindh civilization. Though in last 100 years, Western medicines became the main system of healthcare in urban Sindh, the rural Sindhis continue to benefits from the folk knowledge of the use of plants as medicines. Unfortunately most of this knowledge base has never been documented and thus threatened to disappear with the rapid demographic changes especially the growing urbanization of towns and rural to urban migration of the population.

This project was the first serious and broad based efforts to save this invaluable folk knowledge of ethanomedicines of our province, before it deplete to an insignificant level.

With this strong realization of  the importance of preserving the folk ethanobotanic knowledge of the Sindh, the International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS) University of Karachi, Karachi and Department of Planning and Development Government of Sindh, Pakistan, developed a partnership, and study was initiated in 2006.
Many extensive discussion sessions were held before the execution of the field studies, and following objectives were agreed upon:

  1. To compile the centuries old folk knowledge of Sindh, as an easy to access document.
  2. To create an authentic folk ethnomedicinal database of medicinal practices in Sindh for the purpose of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) protection.
  3. To initiate scientific evaluation of folk medicines of Sindh for the purpose of development of cheaper and easily accessible medicines for people of Sindh.
  4. To work on value addition to the floral resources of Sindh by possible production of standardized raw material.
  5. To increase the possibility of access to cost effective, safe and culturally acceptable medicines for rural population, based on indigenous knowledge.

To begin with, extensive dialogue was arranged between various senior experts to design an appropriate survey strategy for the field work. An elaborate program was then chalked out to carefully select survey sites, and assembled a team of young and experienced scholars, belonging to all relevant fields, such as chemistry, anthropology, taxonomy, medicines, etc.

Over a three years times; an extensive field work was conducted in breadth of the entire province, often in very difficult situations. The out reach and interaction with community in the far fledge areas was among the major focus of this field study. Each survey visit was often spread over several days with many stopovers and small gatherings. This field study included the following:

  1. Name of the place and exact geographical locations
  2. Name of the people interviewed, along with their economic and social backgrounds
  3. Duly executed survey forms
  4. Photographs of the people interviewed.
  5. Photographs of the medicinal herbs/plants collected or purchased
  6. Prepration of taxonomic specimen of the plant
  7. Information about the plant parts used for therapeutic purposes.
  8. Method of preparation of herbal formulation

The information gathered were validated through the taxonomic identification at the Herberium of the University of Karachi, where specimen of the each plant was deposited under the supervision of trained taxonomist. An extensive scientific literature survey was conducted on each plant, by using library and digital resources. The library books, databases and online information sources, used for literature survey included the following:

  1. Chemical Abstracts  (In Print)
  2. Sci Finder (Online)
  3. Science Direct (Online)
  4. Journals of Natural Products
  5. Phytochemistry
  6. Other journals of pharmacognosy, ethnobotany,  and herbal medicinal research

Based on the scientific literature survey, the novelty of the ethanobotanic information was assessed. Results of various surveys were crtically analyzed by using critical and probability matching approach.

In cases, where the plants were found to have widespread use against a specific disease or a unique use based on global literature survey, a phytochemical and biological screenings were carried out. For this purpose, collected plants material were properly cleaned, dried under shade, pulverized, and soaked in appropriate solvents, most often 80% ethanol – H2O. After several days of soaking, extracts were filtered and dried under vacuum. The ethanolic extracts were then further extracted by using  various organic solvents (Ethanol, dichloromethanol, hexanes). Each extract was then used for the biological screenings for a number of activities,  Such as:

  1. Antibacterial  Bioassays
  2. Antifungal Bioassays
  3. Antileishmanial Bioassays
  4. Phytotoxicity Bioassays
  5. Antiglycation Bioassays
  6. Cytotoxicity Bioassays
  7. Antimalarial Biassays
  8. Others Assay

Specific emphasis of scientific studies was on the disease for which a particular plant was used in indigenous system. Based on the bioassays screenings, selected group of plants were assessed by in vivo testing, and in one case human clinical trials was also conducted under the supervision of well trained chimicians by using standard protocols after ethical committee’s clearance.

The results of the entire study are presented in this monograph, which firmly establish the fact that the ethanobotanic knowledge of Sindh deserves further scientific studies to transfer the benefits of the ancient knowledge to the local communities, to the province in the Pakistan and to the modern world.

A summary of the list of plants and their medicinal uses

Linking Folk Knowledge with Modern Science - Local Efforts to Treat Global Diseases
International Center of Chemical and Biological Sciences, University Of Karachi
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