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A study on the indigenous medicinal plants and healing practices in Chittagong Hill tracts (Bangladesh)

Niaz Ahmed Khan
AZM Manzoor Rashid


It has been unequivocally established that medicinal plants and associated knowledge play a significant role in the general welfare of the upland communities of Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), Bangladesh. Notwithstanding the recognition, however, organised research on indigenous medicinal plants and knowledge has been strikingly limited. This local wisdom is fast eroding for such reasons as biotic interference, shrinking land resource base, deforestation, insufficient support from the government and public policies, and lack of appropriate management and institutional structure. In this context, this article, drawing on an empirical fieldwork, sheds some lights on the indigenous medicinal plants and associated practices in six selected locations of CHT. After a general introduction, the second section summaries selected key literature on the subject. The third section presents some observation on the medicinal plant resources in the study areas, while the next section introduces the practice of traditional healers or Baidyas together with their problems. The concluding section furnishes the following clues on improvement: (a) systematic documentation and recording of the existing medicinal plants; (b) organised motivational and awareness raising campaign regarding medicinal plants and their benefits; (c) establishment of experimental propagation nurseries; (d) research support for proper documentation and dissemination of the knowledge on medicinal plants and associated folk and herbal treatment methods; (e) utilisation of the local press, media and folk cultural practices as community-based extension and dissemination media to highlight the importance of medicinal plants and knowledge; (f) development of a network or platform to bring the Baidyas together by utilizing the community-based organisations.

Keywords: Bangladesh, healing practice, indigenous knowledge, medicinal plants, upland community

African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines Vol. 3(3) 2006: 37-47

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eISSN: 0189-6016