Friday, 27 March 2015

A study of medicinal plants used as ethnoveterinary: Harnessing potential phytotherapy in Bheri, District Muzaffarabad (Pakistan)

Volume 159, 15 January 2015, Pages 209–214
Research Paper

A study of medicinal plants used as ethnoveterinary: Harnessing potential phytotherapy in Bheri, District Muzaffarabad (Pakistan)


Ethnopharmacological relevance

Medicinal plants are utilized for handling health care system and in preventing a variety of diseases. A survey was conducted to document the rapidly disappearing traditional knowledge of medicinal plants in union council Bheri, District Muzaffarabad, Azad Kashmir, Pakistan.

Materials and methods

Questionnaire format was used to collect the medicinal uses of plants. The 180 informants were interviewed from six villages in total, 30 from each village (20 male and 10 female) regarding the ethnoveterinary uses of plants in several ailments. For the reliability of ethnoveterinary knowledge, the informant consensus factor (FIC), and fidelity level (FL) were calculated and the literature cited was surveyed. The medicinal information was gathered from local inhabitants, healers, shepherds and old men and women of different age groups.


A total of 24 medicinal plant species used as ethnoveterinary were found belonging to 22 genera and 19 families. The most dominant family was Polygonaceae (3 species) followed by Araceae, Asteraceae, Lamiaceae each with 2 species and remaining families having one species. The important medicinal plant species showed the highest fidelity level (FL) such as: Rumex nepalensis, Primula denticulata, (100%) used for dysuria, red urination, Skimmia laureola (100%), Swertia paniculata (99%), and Angelica glauca (97%), used for ague, cold, shivering, gastric ailments, Melia azedarach (100%), used to reduce intestinal worm load in cattle showing the conformity of knowledge on these species. Highest FIC was recorded for foot and mouth diseases and ectoparasite (1) followed by ague (0.98) and dysuria (0.99) depicting that a few species were used to cure various animals׳ ailments.


The findings of the research revealed that merely a few species are used as ethnoveterinary medicine supported by pharmacology study. Due to anthropogenic pressure the extinction of each species from the areas could result in disappearing knowledge regarding century׳s old traditional methods of curing diseases from these plant species.

Graphical abstract


  • Ethnoveterinary;
  • Medicinal plants;
  • Informants consensus factor;
  • Fidelity level;
  • Bheri

1. Introduction

District Muzaffarabad, Azad Kashmir lies between latitude 33°–36° in the North and longitude 73°–75° in the East and comprises an area of 13,297 square kilometers. The topography of the district falls into the hilly zone. Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJ&K) is very plentiful in natural beauty. Recently, an ethnoveterinary survey in union council Bheri, District Muzaffarabad and remote areas of different ecological zones ranging from temperate to alpine zone was carried out. The study areas lay between 73.50° and 73.58° East longitude and 34.50° and 34.57° North latitude and comprise a total area of 6700 square kilometers. These areas are rich in natural beauty and medicinal flora. The total population of union council Bheri, mentioned in that survey, was about 2500 and almost evenly distributed.
The climate of the area fluctuates with the elevation. It is very cold during the winter, with heavy snowfall. The minimum temperature ranges from 3.2 °C to 22.8 °C while the average daily temperature ranges from 15.9 °C to 37.6 °C from January to June respectively. The average yearly rainfall is 1540.7 mm. The farm animal population in the region was 2921 herds of cattle, 3265 sheep, 2185 goats, 75 donkeys, 125 horses and mules and 996 chickens in 2012.
Plants have been used throughout human evolution. This interaction established allopathic medicinal industry for further exercises and exploring the bioactive constituents of medicinal plant species worldwide (Cardozo et al., 2004). The ethnoveterinary traditional knowledge has been reported worldwide, for instance, in India (Sri and Vikrama, 2010), Nigeria (Musa et al., 2008), Africa (Toyang et al., 2007), Zimbabwe (Matekaire and Bwakura, 2004) and in Pakistan (Hussain et al., 2008 and Khan et al., 2010) to cure numerous livestock diseases. The ethno-veterinary studies explore the information regarding diseases and their control, remedies and clinical practices for treatment and prevention, management, feeding, breeding strategies and the human resources that carry information and experiences (Mathias, 2004). Ethnoveterinary practice for the treatment of parasitic diseases in cattle of Cholistan Desert, Pakistan, has been reported (Farooq et al., 2008) and 35 plant species of greater Cholistan Desert of Pakistan were collected and are being used for the treatment of various diseases of cattle (Khan, 2009). It has been described that the leaves and fruits of Azadirachta indica have anti-parasitic and anti-coccidal potential significantly validated in animals ( Tipu et al., 2006). The methanolic extract has been practiced for anti-hepatotoxic activity against carbon tetrachloride induced liver toxicity in experimental rats and revealed significant anti-hepatotoxic activity of the methanolic extract at the concentration of 100 mg/kg ( Karan et al., 1999). Plants infusion is used to treat east coast fever of cattle ( Tabuti et al., 2003) and treatment of mastitis in cattle, especially buffaloes ( Dilshad et al., 2010). The local people are highly dependent on herbal remedy to treat various ailments ( Nigam and Sharma., 2010) and in a report, 24 plant species of ethnoveterinary importance were found useful for curing various livestock ailments, such as gastrointestinal disorders, fever, cough, respiratory tract infection, urinary tract diseases, promote lactation, wound healing, placenta removal, deworming, carminative and flatulence in the Arab system of medicine ( Sher and Alyemeni., 2011).

2. Material and methods

2.1. Field study

An extensive survey in the rural and remote areas of different ecological zones ranging from temperate to alpine was carried out during the month of March and October in 2012 for the present study. The voucher specimens were collected from different localities of the area during the field work. The survey localities include the following six villages: Chowki, Bheri, Seri, Doba, Baseri, and Domelaan. The following allied areas were also included in the survey: Baandda and lower Makra (Fig. 4). These areas were particularly selected for study due to dense population.
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Fig. 4. 
Location maps of the study areas.
The collected plant samples were identified with the help of flora of Pakistan (Ali and Nasir, 1970–2002) and also verified online using plant databases (The Plant List, 2013) 〈〉 and 〈〉. The collected specimens were mounted on herbarium sheets and deposited in the herbarium of Department of Botany University of AJ&K. The study of plants is used in term of number and type of uses attributed to the species was carried out.

2.2. Data collection

Informants were interviewed individually in the local language (Hindku). Semi-structured interviews addressed questions regarding informants׳ details: name, age, gender, education, occupation, religion and data about medicinal plant and its use: included plant local names, name of diseases treated, effectiveness of plant, plant parts used, method of collection, marketability of species, abundance, habitat, other parts or herbs used along with (if any), methods of remedy preparation, remedy preservation, mode of administration (Cotton, 1996). The Prior Informed Consent (PIC) was obtained verbally before commencing each interview. Ethical guidelines followed the International Society of Ethnobiology Code of Ethics (International Society of Ethnobiology, 2008). Prior to data collection, survey was held along with a veterinarian and a community leader who were well informed about local healers and shepherds. Initial survey led to the identification of a total of 210 people out of which 180 people were key respondents who gave their consent for providing the ethnoveterinary traditional knowledge. The total number of informants involved in the ethnomedicinal survey was 180 (120 male and 60 female). The age of the individuals ranged from 35 to 90 year (average 45). Answers of respondents were translated into English and noted down by the interviewer.

2.3. Data analysis

Information consensus factor (ICF) was calculated for each category to identify the agreement of the informants on the reported cure. ICF was calculated by equation [ICF=nur−nt/nur−1] where nur is the number of use citation in each category and nt is the number of species used. The fidelity level (FL), the percentage of informants claiming the use of a certain plant for the same major purpose, was calculated by, [Np/N×100]. Where Np is the number of informants who claimed the use of a plant species for a particular use and N is the number of informants who used the plants. Such methods are helpful in the selection of plants for further studies ( Alexiades, 1996 and Andrade-Cetto, 2009).

3. Results

A detailed description regarding the ethnoveterinary uses of 24 medicinal plants, plants scientific names, families, vernacular names and plant parts used, method of preparation to cure various ailments of livestock in Bheri, District Muzaffarabad is given in the table (Table 1). Results showed that in the study areas, most dominant families with respect to species number were Polygonaceae (3) followed by Araceae, Asteraceae, Lamiaceae (each 2) and remaining families having one species (Fig. 3).
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Fig. 3. 
Species distribution among different families.

4. Discussion

Ethnobotany is the most significant instrument to examine the natural resource management of indigenous people and to keep open the fast disappearing knowledge regarding plants. In the present survey, the folk veterinary uses were revealed from local nomadic, veterinary practitioner and shepherds. A total of 24 plant species in 22 genera and 19 families were found which are used to treat several diseases of animals and poultry by the people of the union council Bheri and their modes of remedy preparation were decoction, infusion, poultice and in the powder form (Table 1).
Table 1. List of ethnoveterinary practices of important plants in Bheri, District Muzaffarabad, AJK, and Pakistan. nameFamilyVernacular. nameParts usedBioactive componentsEthnoveterinary practicesAilments
1Amaranthus viridis L.Amaranthaceae.Safed kannarLv, SeGlycosides, saponone,tannin (Ahmed et al., 2013)DecoctionsMalarial fever
2Arisaema flavum (Forssk.) SchootAraceaeTooshLv
Infusion,Mouth and foot diseases of cattle
3Arisaema jacquemontii BlumeAraceaeTooshgandaWp
As whole plantCholera, flu, dysentery, dyspepsia and inflammation of gut and snake bite
4Senecio chrysanthemoides DC.AsteraceaeBghooAeCoumarine, alkaloid, flavonoid (Joshi et al., 2013)DecoctionAnthelmintic, antiscorbutic and diaphoretic
5Lactuca brunoniana (DC.) Wall. ex C.B.ClarkeAsteraceaeKorijariWp
The whole plantPinworms
6Impatiens scabrida DC.BalsaminaceaePale ponytail
naphthoquinone alkaloid (Rastogi and Mehrotra, 1990, 1991, 1995).The whole plantLaxative, diuretic
7Leptopus cordifolius Decne.PhyllanthaceaeKurkaniR, Lv
8Quercus oblongata D.DonFagaceaeReenLv, Br
DecoctionAstringent, diuretic, antiasthma and anorexia.
9Swertia paniculata Wall.Gentianaceae.MalyjariWP(Swerchirin ),alkaloid, flavonoids. (Brahmachari et al., 2004)Decoction /dried plant powder is mixed with gurr and flourMala, Ague (characterized by cold, shivering) and indigestion and constipation
10Aesculus indica (Wall. ex Cambess.) Hook.SapindaceaeBankhorrFrAescin, aesculuside, β sitosterol, decanoic acid,quercetin (Harpreet and Arvind., 2013)PowderGeneral weakness, Stimulant
11Mentha longifolia (L.) L.LamiaceaeSafedpodinaAeFlavonoid, alkaloid, cardiac glycoside, terpenes (Ashfaq et al., 2012)InfusionAnti-cholera, anti-dyspepsia, anti-emetic
12Isodon rugosus (Wall. ex Benth.) CoddLamiaceaePeemarAesesquiterpene hydrocarbons (Padalia, and Verma, 2011)InfusionAgainst flea
13Melia azedarach L.MeliaceaeDrekSe
14Ficus palmata Forssk.MoraceaePagaaarLvAlkaloids, steroids, flavonoids, (Saklani and Chandra, 2012)WholeAnorexia
15Indigofera heterantha BrandisLeguminosae PapilionaceaeKainthiTwIndigoferin, β-sitosterol (Tariq et al., 2011)As fodderMilk and meat
16Fagopyrum acutatum (Lehm.) Mansf. ex K.HammerPolygonaceaeKhattraAeLuteolin, rhamnetin, luteolin-dime-thylethe, (Ruana et al., 2013)As fodderAntimicrobial, diuretic and bactericidal
17Fagopyrum esculentum MoenchPolygonaceaeKhattraAeFlavonoid, protein, (Hagels. 1999)As fodderAntimicrobial, diuretic and bactericidal
18Rumex nepalensis Spreng.PolygonaceaeHullaWpQuinone betasitosterol;,glucopyranos,galactopyranoside, (Rastogi and Mehrotra, 1990, 1991, 1995)DecoctionHepatitis, malarial fever, dysuria and red urination
19Primula denticulata Sm.PrimulaceaeChiatpatraWp
DecoctionHepatic fever, dysuria and hemoglobinuria
20Aquilegia pubiflora Wall. ex RoyleRanunculaceaeMuneeriAe
PowderThe herb is fatal to cattle in large amount. Anthelmintic
21Sorbaria sorbifolia (L.) A. BraunRosaceaeKarleeeAe
As fodderStimulant,
22Skimmia laureola Franch.RutaceaeNeeraLvFatty aster and quinone alkakloid (Sultanaa et al., 2005)Powder, decoctionCold, shivering (ague) diarrhea, dysentery, and anti worms
23Bergenia ciliata (Haw.) Sternb.SaxifragaceaeButpeewaRhSteroid, terpenoids, flavonides, anthraquinone. (Uddin et al., 2012)Powderchronic stomachic and intestinal trouble
24Angelica glauca Edgew.ApiaceaeChooraWpCourmarine (Kapoor et al., 1972)Decoctionague and cold shivering
Several previous studies have been reported regarding the role of medicinal plants for treating several ailments of cattle practiced in Azad Kashmir (Ishtiaq et al., 2006). It has been explored that the ethnoveterinary uses of 58 plants , prescribes dosage and mode of administration to livestock in Nepal (Bhattari, 1992). The 19 plant species relating to 14 ailments of animals were used as veterinary medicines to cure livestocks diseases by local people of Poonch Valley Azad Kashmir (Khan et al., 2012). As far as their utilization is concerned, the roots, rhizome, bark, leaves, and stem were the chief characters of plant species used while decoctions and infusions were the primary methods of preparation (Fig. 1 and Fig. 2). The medicinal plants were under high biotic pressure that leads to threat of species extinction in these fields. The poisonous plants were: Aquilegia pubiflora and Leptopus cordifolius. Out of total 24 species Melia azedarach, Skimmia laureola, Rumex nepalensis, Primula deticulata, Swertia paniculata and Angelica glauca were commonly used to treat chills and fever, dysuria, hemonglobinuria and other infirmities in all study areas. The ethnomedicinal uses are supported by pharmacology study, but only a few species have not yet practiced as ethnomedcine braced by pharmacology studies such as Aquilegia pubiflora, Sorbaria sorbifolia, Lactuca brunoniana, Primula denticulata, Aquilegia pubiflora, and Quercus oblongata. These species have not yet screen for phytochemical constituents.
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Fig. 1. 
The percentage of plants parts used by local people.
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Fig. 2. 
The method used for the preparation of remedy.
During the study, it was discovered that the medicinal plants are also being applied to treat human disease. Some of these medicinal plants were used to treat human diseases and were under the threat of extermination, such as Aconitum heterophyllum, Rheum webbanum, Taxus wallichiana, Trillium govanianum, Valeriana jatamansi and Saussurea lappa. These were rather under a high biotic pressure due to excessive exploitation by local people, smuggling by foreigners and deforestation and fire wood extraction by the local community. Vegetation is affected by the people in many ways, such as having a great deal of livestock pressure, lumbering and dragging of wood logs that crushed the plants of those fields. Another factor that results in decreased vegetation of the survey areas was that, the excessive grazing by the cattle, goats and sheep of the local people, nomadic people and shepherds during the blooming seasons. The endangered species that include: Swertia paniculata and Angelica glauca are under a threat due to excessive collection and marketing.
In the present study the FIC value ranges from 0.95 to 1 and FL ranges from 86 to 100% (Table 2 and Table 3). The elderly people have better traditional knowledge and male individuals are more respondent than the females. Moreover, a high FIC value for a particular disease category might indicate the military position of the plants in treating this disease category and possibility of containing the important active constituents in these plants (Cakilcioglu et al., 2011 and Kadir et al., 2012). The present investigation for the first time explored ethnoveterinary folk use, and also analyzed through a literature survey; exploring that most plant species are used as herbal medications in different countries of the universe. For instance the efficacy of Azadirachta indica, mentioned as an anthelmintic by livestock farmers, against gastrointestinal nematodes of sheep by Costa et al. (2006) and Iqbal et al. (2010). Skimmia laureola, Rumex nepalensis, Swertia paniculata, Angelica glauca and Primula denticulata are novel plant species normally used to treat complaints such as ague, dysuria, hepatitis, and dysentery by local dwellers in Bheri. The most common privilege diseases were ague, mouth and foot diseases, intestinal worms and hepatitis.
Table 2. Categories of ailments and informant consensus factor for ethnoveterinary.
Disease categoriesAilmentsNumber of species (ns)Number of use- reports (nUR)Informants׳ consensus factor (FIC)
Malarial feverAgue, cold shivering041680.98
Wound infectionsHealing,021400.99
Viral diseasesFoot and mouth disease01781
Urine diseaseDysuria, pain,071780.97
AnthelminticPinworms, round worms05840.95
Stomach diseasesDyspepsia, dysentery061630.97
Respiratory ailmentsCoughing, sneezing031140.98
Table 3. Fidelity level value of medicinal plants commonly reported against a given veterinary ailment category.
Medicinal plantTherapeutic categoryNpNFL value (%)
Angelica glauca,Ague687097
Skimmia laureolaAgue154154100
Rumex nepalensisDysuria, pain,130130100
Swertia paniculataAgue878899
Arisaema jacquomontiiPinworms, round worms698086
Primula deticulataAgue, dysuria9292100
Melia azedarachAnthelmintic9090100
Mentha longifoliaDysentery, flue779086

5. Conclusion

Medicinal plants compete with the synthetic drugs due to biocompatibility, cost-effective and lesser or no side effects. As evolving time novel diseases are emerging in animals and human beings by irrational uses of antibiotics and increasing industrialization. Nowadays it is the need of the hour to work more extensively on the plants in the larger interest of humanity. Due to high biotic pressure the important medicinal plants were disappearing rapidly in the study areas. We concluded that plants having high FL mean that a few plant species were used for treating a particular disease in an area. The plants such as Rumex nepalensis and Primula denticulata have medicinal potential and are used for dysuria, red urination, Skimmia laureola, Swertia paniculata and Angelica glauca are used for ague, cold shivering, gastric ailments. These have been smuggled. Thus the issue for conservation of the species diversity is the theme of the international concern. Extermination of the each endangered species from the areas could result in disappearing knowledge regarding century׳s old traditional methods of curing diseases from these plant species. However to authenticate such knowledge, detailed pharmacological studies must be explored for synthetic drug and conserve medicinal plants at global perspectives. Because the local healer collects plant unscientifically. The survey also drew attention to the preservation of the local plants, which have been used as food and traditional medicine to cure human related ailments.


The author thanks especially to Dr. Tanweer Akthar (taxonomist) who helped in identification of plant species and also local community; who shared their valuable traditional knowledge and experiences with us. This work is supported by Department of Botany, University of Azad Jammu and Kashmir Muzaffarabad, Pakistan.


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