Medicinal Plants in Farwest Nepal: Indigenous Uses and Pharmacological Validity
ABSTRACT Medicinal plants have been used indigenously since ancient past as medicines for the treatment of various ailments. However, the knowledge of indigenous therapies have been distorting to these days due to changing perception, acculturation, commercialization and socio-economic transformations. The present study compares indigenous knowledge of therapies of 48 medicinal plants with the latest common pharmacological findings. Traditional indigenous plant knowledge and phytomedicine are consistently gaining acceptance in global society. The present study found that over two-thirds of traditionally used plants in the region show clear pharmacological efficacy. Total 23 species possessed strong resemblances and the species Euphorbia royleana, Ricinus communis, Plantago major, Chenopodium album, Cordyceps sinensis, etc. contributed the most. The complementarity of indigenous therapies and pharmacological uses is obvious and it is base of the modern therapeutic medicine. The increasing use of indigenous therapies demands more scientifically sound evidence, therefore further investigation and phytochemical screening of ethnopharmacologically used plants and assessment of the validity to the indigenous uses is worthwhile.
Received: 23 July, 2009. Accepted: 25 October, 2010.
Original Research Paper
Medicinal and Aromatic Plant Science and Biotechnology ©2010 Global Science Books
Medicinal Plants in Farwest Nepal:
Indigenous Uses and Pharmacological Validity
Ripu M. Kunwar1,2* • Chundamani Burlakoti2 •
Chhote L. Chowdhary2 • Rainer W. Bussmann3
1 Ethnobotanical Society of Nepal, GPO Box 5220, Kathmandu, Nepal
2 Center for Biological Conservation, GPO Box 19225, Kathmandu, Nepal
3 William L. Brown Center, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, USA
Corresponding author: * email@example.com
Medicinal plants have been used indigenously since ancient past as medicines for the treatment of various ailments. However, the
knowledge of indigenous therapies have been distorting to these days due to changing perception, acculturation, commercialization and
socio-economic transformations. The present study compares indigenous knowledge of therapies of 48 medicinal plants with the latest
common pharmacological findings. Traditional indigenous plant knowledge and phytomedicine are consistently gaining acceptance in
global society. The present study found that over two-thirds of traditionally used plants in the region show clear pharmacological efficacy.
Total 23 species possessed strong resemblances and the species Euphorbia royleana, Ricinus communis, Plantago major, Chenopodium
album, Cordyceps sinensis, etc. contributed the most. The complementarity of indigenous therapies and pharmacological uses is obvious
and it is base of the modern therapeutic medicine. The increasing use of indigenous therapies demands more scientifically sound evidence,
therefore further investigation and phytochemical screening of ethnopharmacologically used plants and assessment of the validity to the
indigenous uses is worthwhile.
Keywords: Baitadi district, Chenopodium album, coumarin, pharmacology, traditional therapy
Archaeological discoveries of 60,000 year-old Neanderthal
burial grounds in Shanidar, Iraq, pointed to the use of seve-
ral plants like Marshmallow, Yarrow and Groundsel that are
still used in contemporary folk medicine (Lietava 1992).
Evidence for the medicinal use of Papaver somniferum, the
opium poppy, dates back to 8,000 years (Stockwell 1989;
Lewington 1990). Concomitantly, the earliest written record
of plants used as medicine in the Himalayas is found in the
Rigveda in about 6,500 years ago (Malla and Shakya 1984),
in the Atharvaveda in about 4,000 year ago (Nambier 2002)
and in the Ayurveda in about 2,500 year ago (Kunwar et al.
2006). Hippocrates (460–377 B.C.) described the usage of
leaves and bark of willow tree to treat fever and pain (Jul-
kunen-Tuto and Tahvanainen 1989). According to Schmid
and Heide (1995), there is a report of preparation of salicy-
late pain remedies for indigenous uses from Birch bark in
North America in 200 B.C. Therefore, until the 19th century,
plants were the main therapeutic agents used by humans,
and even today their role in medicine is immense (Bhattarai
et al. 2009; Uprety et al. 2010).
The first medically useful alkaloid was morphine iso-
lated from Opium poppy Papaver somniferum (Solanaceae)
in 1805 (Fessenden and Fessenden 1982); the name mor-
phine comes from the Greek Morpheus, god of dreams. A
drug used in indigenous culture transformed into a medica-
tion and research tool since 1864 after the first systematic
studies of Claude Bernard (Bernard 1966) on physiologic-
Therefore, the essence of phytomedicine recounts pre-
historic and isolation of useful plant constituents and resear-
ches are imminent. Scientific study of traditional medicines
and research of drug discovery through traditional medi-
cines is designated as ethnopharmacology (Bussmann 2002)
was first used in 1967 by Efron et al. (1970) in a book, Eth-
nopharmacological Search for Psyactive Drugs (Heinrich
and Gibbons 2001). Tubocurarine was the first ethnophar-
Fig. 1 Some Himalayan medicinal plants. (Left) Rhus parviflora. Fruits are indigenously used for diarrhea and dysentery. (Center) Urtica dioica. Stem
juice is valued for sprain and fractures. (Right) Euphorbia royleana. Plant is kept in roof of house for protecting from evil.
Medicinal and Aromatic Plant Science and Biotechnology 4 (Special Issue 1), 28-42 ©2010 Global Science Books
macological drug, derives from Menispermaceae (Chondro-
dendron spp.) and Loganiaceae (Strychnos spp.), researched
and medicated extensively (Bisset 1991). There are many
other examples (quinine from Cinchona succirubra, colchi-
cine from Colchicum autumnale, etc.) of pharmaceutical
relevant substances, which were developed based on obser-
vations of indigenous drugs during the last century (Hein-
rich 2001). Quinine, the cure for malaria, was originally the
ritual medicine of Incas of Peru (Osujih 1993). The phyto-
compound used for medication and entered into the interna-
tional market was ephedrine, an amphetamine like stimulant
from Ephedra sinica (Patwardhan et al. 2005).
Numerous other traditional therapy base phyto-drugs
artimisinin from Artemisia annua as a potent antimalarial
drug, alkaloids of Rauvolfia serpentina as hypertension,
phyllanthin of Phyllanthus emblica as antiviral, etc. deserve
special interest. Some other plants and their compounds
worth from traditional therapy to modern medicine are
Holarrhena for amoebiasis, Mucuna pruriens for Parkin-
son’s disease, Commiphora as hypolipidaemic, Asclepias as
cardiotonic, psoralens for vitiligo, curcumines for inflam-
mation, baccoside for mental retention, picrosides for
hepatoprotective, indirubin for cancer, diosgenin for the
synthesis of steroidal hormones, guggulsterons as hypolipi-
demic, piperidine as bioavailability enhancers, asarone as
hallucinogenic, withanolides and many other steroidal lac-
tones and their glycosides as immunomodulators, etc. (Jain
1994; Patwardhan 2000). Till 2002, 1141 different traditio-
nal plant drugs were registered for their therapeutic activi-
ties (Patwardhan et al. 2005) and it is estimated that about
25% of the prescription drugs contain active principles of
higher plants (Farnsworth and Morris 1976; Tiwari and
Joshi 1990; Cox 1994), and most are entrenched from tradi-
tional therapies. In some cases, about 60% of the anti-
tumoral and antimicrobial medicines currently available in
the markets are derived mainly from the higher plants
(Cragg et al. 1997). Therefore, global demand of herbal
medicine is accelerating and its worth was US $ 19.4 billion
in 1999 (Laird and Pierce 2002). Herbal trade of over US
$ 60 billion per year and its 7% annual increment was esti-
mated (Nagpal and Karki 2004). Its market was valued for
2.3 and 2.1 billion in 1994 respectively in Asia and Japan
(Grunwald 1995). The worth annual growth rate about 20%
was reported in India (Srivastava 2000; Subrat 2002).
Interest of phytomedicine is gradually renewed (Bhat-
tarai et al. 2010) or increased and numerous medicinal plant
based drugs have spread into the international market
through exploration of ethnopharmacology and indigenous
therapies (Bussmann 2002). The search for pharmacological
principles from existing indigenous therapies is encour-
aging and complemented the achievements of modern
medicine. With increasing use of traditional therapies of
plant resource base (Acharya and Acharya 2010), a verifica-
tion of efficacy by western scientific means would be inter-
esting, because the traditional health system adopt cus-
tomized and multi-pronged strategies in treatment involving
drug, diet and therapy (Patwardhan et al. 2005). Moreover,
the indigenous therapies have been criticized due to inade-
quate research, critical evaluation, in vivo studies and vali-
dations (Houghton 1995; Fong 2002).
Despite growing interest in assessing phytochemical
constituents of plants with pharmacological activities and
modern medicine (Dalvi et al. 1994; Gupta 1994; Vaz et al.
1998; Dahanukar et al. 2000), to date only about 5% of the
total plant species have been thoroughly investigated (Gos-
wani et al. 2002; Patwardhan et al. 2005; Palombo 2006) to
ascertain safety and efficacy of traditional remedies. More-
over, the current species extinction rate (the world is losing
one major drug every two years) (Groombridge and Jenkins
2002) and distortion and percolation of indigenous know-
ledge, use and ethnopharmacology (Bussmann et al. 2007)
aggravating the situation further. In this connection, present
study aimed at surveying and assessing indigenous know-
ledge of uses and therapies of medicinal plants and their
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Field study for primary data collection was carried out in Baitadi,
Dadeldhura and Darchula districts of West Nepal in May-June,
December 2006 and Jan-Feb 2007, March-April 2008. Study sites
Anarkholi, Dasharathchand, Jhulaghat, Khodpe, Kulau, Panches-
wor, Patan, Salena, and Sera from Baitadi; Brikham, Jakh, Jog-
budha, Patram and Rupal from Dadeldhura and Dumling, Gokule,
Joljibi, Khalanga, Lali, and Uku from Darchula district were vis-
ited. All three districts are delineated as western borders to the
country and adjacent to India. Dadeldhura district ranges with
29°–29°30?N latitude, 80°03?–80°50?E longitude and altitude 390-
2950 m; Baitadi district with 29°22?–29°57?N latitude, 80°05?–
80°57?E longitude and altitude 390-2950 m; and Darchula district
lies within 29°26?-30°15?N latitude, 80°22?-81°9?E longitude and
357-7132 m altitude. Owing to varied topography, bioclimate and
elevation, the districts harbor diversity of forest products (Devkota
and Karmacharya 2003, Pant and Panta 2004), and the products
have been collecting by local ethnic groups since time immemorial
for both the subsistence and commercial purposes, however the
subsistence use is profound particularly for home herbal healing
(Burlakoti and Kunwar 2008; Kunwar et al. 2009).
Primary data collection was facilitated by ten local assistants.
Group discussions, informal meetings, questionnaire surveys and
field observations were made for primary data collection. Group
discussions, as informal interactions and meetings were held at the
immediate spot and they were managed within the community
forest user groups. Altogether 172 questionnaires were asked to
the particular respondents representing ethnic groups: Badi, Bijale,
Chanda, Chuhar, Dadal, Dhami, Hodke, Lawad, Lohar, Pali, Pari-
yar, Parki, Sitoli, Tamata, Uud, etc; age groups (25-74 year), sexes
(both male and female), and occupations (collectors, cultivators,
traders, herders, traditional healers). Information was validated by
common responses (at least by three responses) and responses
from less than three respondents were considered as insignificant.
Species with common responses were preceded for crosschecking
and key informant survey. Elders, traditional healers - Baidhyas,
medicinal plant cultivators and collectors were individually asked
for detail analysis. The species possessed highest common res-
ponses were considered for the present assessment. The assess-
ment was made with comparing the present observations and latest
and common phytochemical findings.
Observations (*significant and # partial affinities)
#Adiantum capillus-veneris L. Maidenhair fern (English),
Gophale (Nepali), Hansapadi, Nilkanthasikha (Sanskrit),
Indigenous uses: Root juice is applied for snake bite, mig-
raine, and scorpion sting.
Principal chemical compounds: Adiantone, carotenoid,
filicene, flavonoides, kaemferol, leucopelarcogonidin, mol-
lugogenol, quercetin, tannins (CSIR 1988).
Pharmacological uses: Whole plant extract possess hypo-
glycaemic activity (Jain and Sharma 1967). It showed pot-
ent antimicrobial activity against Escherichia coli, Tricho-
phyton rubrum and Aspergillus terreus (Singh et al. 2008).
Plant extract is potential elicitor of phytoalexins in sorghum
and soybean (Meinerz et al. 2008).
*Rhus parviflora Roxb. (Fig. 1) Nepal Sumac (English),
Bewoti (Local), Satibayer (Nepali), Tintideek (Sanskrit),
Indigenous uses: Fruit decoction is taken for diarrhoea and
Principal chemical compounds: Abinoside, biflavonoides,
hetriocontane, kaemferol, lignoceric acid, myricetin, quer-
cetin, rhamnoside, sitosterol (Husain et al. 1992).
Pharmacological uses: Methanolic extracts of the ripen
fruits possess antidiarrhoeal effect (Thangpu and Yadav
2004). Rhus species have reactive oxygen (RO) which can
damage DNA resulting in mutagenesis, aging, carcino-
genesis, and antimicrobial effect (Lin et al. 2008). Plant ex-
Medicinal plants in farwest Nepal. Kunwar et al.
tract is also antibacterial (Mahato 2006) in effect.
*Angelica archangelica L. Angelica (English), Gannano
Indigenous uses: Dried roots are anthelmintic and useful in
gastric, and stomachache.
Principal chemical compounds: Angelicin, coumarin,
furocoumarin, isoimperatorin, pinene, prangolarin, umbelli-
ferene (Anonymous 1948; Kaul 1997).
Pharmacological uses: Ethanol extract of root of this plant
shows anti-trypanosomal activity (Schinella et al. 2002).
#Pleumeria rubra L. Pagoda tree (English), Choya phool
(Local), Galaincha phool (Nepali), Kshirchampaka, Sweta-
champa (Sanskrit), Apocynaceae.
Indigenous uses: Flowers are useful in indigestion and cho-
Principal chemical compounds: Acetonine, amyrin, borne-
sitol, farnesol, fluroplumierin, kaemferol, lignan, lupeol,
melilotic acid, oleanic acid, para-coumaric acid, plemeride,
plumeric acid, plumerinine, quercetin, rubrinol, syringic
acid, vanilic acid (Cambie and Ash 1994; Coppen and Cobb
Pharmacological uses: Plant extract is antibiotic, anti-
tumour, antiviral, analgesic, antispasmodic, etc. and fluro-
plumierin inhibits mycobacteria (Sundarrao 1993; Cambie
and Ash 1994).
Ageratum conyzoides L. Goat weed (English), Nilgandhe
(Local), Kalo jhar (Nepali), Visamusti, Osari (Sanskrit),
Indigenous uses: Stem juice is useful in bleeding control.
Principal chemical compounds: Ageratochromene deriva-
tives, caffeic acid, chromenes, conyzorigun, coumarin, echi-
natine, eupalestin, friedelin, fumaric acid, kaemferol, lycop-
samine, quercetin, rhamnoside, scutellarein, sitosterol, stig-
masterol (Cambie and Ash 1994; Ayyanar and Ignacimuthu
Pharmacological uses: Embryotoxic, tannin is insecticidal,
antidiarrhoeal, anti-inflammatory, anticoagulant, muscle
relaxant, analgesic (Sharma et al. 1978; Cambie and Ash
1994). Fumaric acid shows hepatoprotective properties
(Sharma et al. 1995). Caffeic acid is effective against
viruses, bacteria and fungi (Brantner et al. 1996).
Ainslea latifolia (D.Don) Sch. Bippekuro (Local), Astera-
Indigenous uses: Root juice is taken for stomach pain.
Principal chemical compounds: Plant contains flavonoids
(Chandel et al. 1996).
Pharmacological uses: Ethanolic extract plant roots is
diuretic (Chandel et al. 1996). Flavonoides are anti-inflam-
matory and anti-aggregant in properties (Mekhfi et al. 2004;
Artemisia indica Willd. Mug wort (English), Kurje pati
(Local), Titepati (Nepali), Surparnaa, Nakuli, Nagadamni,
Damanaka (Sanskrit), Asteraceae.
Indigenous uses: Plant is used in headache, fever and it is
also used as insecticide. Leaves are used in skin itching and
Principal chemical compounds: Artemisin, exiguaflavo-
none, maackiain, sesquiterpene, thujone.
Pharmacological uses: Root extracts possessed insignifi-
cant hypoglycaemic effects (Villasenor and Lamadrid 2006).
Plant infusion is used to reduce the post operative blood
loss and relieve purulent inflammation (Davidov et al.
1995). Artemisin and its derivative ?-arteether are used as
antimalarial (Vishwakarma 1990).
*Cirsium verutum (D.Don) Spreng. Creeping thistle (Eng-
lish), Thakil, Dhande kanda (Local), Thakailo (Nepali),
Indigenous uses: Root is used as refresher and for calmness.
It is also applied for stomachache and abdominal pain.
Principal chemical compounds: Cicin, monogalactosyl-
diacyl glycerol, sterols, terpenes, etc. (Lee et al. 2002).
Pharmacological uses: Methanolic extract of whole plant
juice is antimicrobial (Lee et al. 2002; Barbour et al. 2004).
#Inula racemosa Hook.f. Elecampane (English), Rithaula
(Local), Puskarmul (Nepali), Puskaram (Sanskrit), Astera-
Indigenous uses: Root extract is useful in severe stomache-
ache, dysentery and blood pressure.
Principal chemical compounds: Alantolactone, aplotaxene,
curcumine, elemene, inunolide, ionone, tetraene (Husain et
Pharmacological uses: Methanol extract of root exhibited
antimycobacterial activity (Cantrell et al. 1999) and its al-
coholic extract enhanced liver glycogen and lowered blood
glucose level (Tripathi and Chaturvedi 1995). Lung fibrosis
(Thresiamma et al. 1996), blood pressure control (Dikshit et
al. 1995) and anti-inflammatory properties (Kohli et al.
2005) are due to curcumine of the plant.
*Xanthium strumarium L. Sheep burr, Bur weed (English),
Musekuro (Local), Bhede kuro (Nepali), Sankesvara, Arista
Indigenous uses: Seed powder is useful in earache, dysen-
tery and skin diseases.
Principal chemical compounds: Atractyloside, caffeyol-
quinic acid, carboxyatractyloside, caffeoylquinic acid, gly-
cosides, hydroquinone, isoxanthanol, oxalic acid, strumaro-
side, thiazinedine, xanthanol, xanthin, xanthostrumarin,
xanthanolide (Badam et al. 1988; Joshi 2004).
Pharmacological uses: Plant extract is antitussive, antibac-
terial, antifungal, antimalarial, hypoglycemic, stomachic,
cytotoxic (Kupiecki et al. 1974; Gautam et al. 2007). Fruits
are anti-inflammatory in effect (Han et al. 2007).
*Drymaria cordata (L.) Willd. ex Roem. & Schult. Light-
ening weed (English), Abijalo (Nepali), Caryophyllaceae.
Indigenous uses: Leaf is used as calmness, fresh and for
Principal chemical compounds: Plant contains methoxy-
canthin, starch, etc.
Pharmacological uses: The methanolic extract of Dry-
maria was active against Gram-positive bacteria (Taylor et
al. 1995). The extract of the plant has been reported to be
useful in sinusitis, cold attack, burns and skin diseases
(Mukherjee et al. 1995) which could suggest anti-inflam-
matory and antitussive activities (Mukherjee et al. 1997).
The pounded leaf is applied to snake bites in China (Duke
and Ayensu 1985). Uses of plant extract as emollient, febri-
fuge, laxative and stimulant have also been reported (Chop-
ra et al. 1986).
*Chenopodium album L. Goose foot, Pigweed (English),
Bethe (Local, Nepali), Vastukah (Sanskrit), Chenopodia-
Indigenous uses: Whole plant is useful in constipation and
Principal chemical compounds: Ascariodes, beta-carotene,
catechin, caffeic acid, ecdysteroides, ethereal oil, ferulic
acid, furanocoumarins, linolenic acid, oxalic acid, oleanic
acid, phenolic acid, polypodine, sitosterol, vitamin C (CSIR
1988; Joshi 2004).
Pharmacological uses: Oil, leaf infusion and whole plant
parts possess anthelmintic activity against sheep gastro-
intestinal nematodes (MacDonald et al. 2004; Jabbar et al.
2007). The compounds like betain, oxalic acid, oleanolic
acid and furanocoumarins (Nicholas et al. 1955; Hegnauer
1989) may be responsible for anthelmintic activity. The
ethanolic extract reveals anti-inflammatory (Matsuda et al.
1997) and antipruritic effects (Dai et al. 2002).
*Cordyceps sinensis (Berk.) Sacc. Caterpillar fungus (Eng-
lish), Jara (Local), Yarsagumba (Nepali), Sanjiwani (San-
Medicinal and Aromatic Plant Science and Biotechnology 4 (Special Issue 1), 28-42 ©2010 Global Science Books
Indigenous uses: Whole plant is tonic and aphrodisiac and
useful to increase memory and immune system.
Principal chemical compounds: Adenosine, cadoverin,
campesterol, cerevisterol, cordycepic acid, cordycepin, dau-
costerol, ergesterol, guanosine, mycosporin, quinic acid,
spermidine, uracil, uridine (Halpern 1999; Watanabe et al.
Pharmacological uses: Cordyceps has been used as an
anti-tumor herb and an adjuvant of chemo and radiotherapy
for various cancers (Bok et al. 1999; Huang et al. 2000; Wu
et al. 2007). It is also used as haemostatic, mycolytic, anti-
asthmatic, expectorant and tonic (Wang and Shiao 2000;
Kunwar 2002). Cordycepin and polysaccharides are most
widely detected cytotoxic, antibiotic, antitumor (Chen et al.
1997; Kodama et al. 2000), anti-oxidation (Li et al. 2001),
and potentiating the immune system (Liu et al. 1992).
*Coriaria napalensis Wall. Musoorie berry (English),
Dahikamlo, Bhojinsi (Local), Machhaino (Nepali), Masuri
Indigenous uses: Bark paste is applied on burns and scalds.
Principal chemical compounds: Coreolic acid, coriamyr-
tin, heptulose, naringenin, tannin, ursolic acid (Buckingham
Pharmacological uses: Methanolic extract of plants and
fruits showed significant antimicrobial activity on Escheri-
chia and Staphylococcus bacteria (Joshi and Bhatta 1999).
Ursolic acid shows hepatoprotective (Saraswat et al. 1996)
and antitumor properties (Bilia et al. 2004).
Dioscorea deltoidea Wall. Deltoid yam (English), Vyakur
(Local), Gittha (Nepali), Brahmakanda, Varahi (Sanskrit),
Indigenous uses: Yam is used as pesticide and anthelmintic.
Principal chemical compounds: Diosgenin, epismilagenin,
kryptogenin, nitrogenin, rhamnopyranoside, smilagenin,
yamogenin (Husain et al. 1992; Sharma 2004).
Pharmacological uses: Diosgenin is used as anabolic,
antiarthritic, antinflammatory, antiinfertility (Sharma 2004).
Rhizome extract reveals cytotoxic activity against human
cancer (Hu and Yao 2002).
*Euphorbia royleana Bioss. (Fig. 1) Cactus spurge (Eng-
lish), Siudi (Local, Nepali), Snuhi (Sanskrit), Euphorbia-
Indigenous uses: Stem latex is used in joint pain/leg pain.
Principal chemical compounds: Amyrin, campesterol,
cycloroylenol, diterpene, ellagic acid, ingenol, luepol, octa-
cosanol, phenolics, sitosterol, stigmasterol, succinic acid,
taraxerol, terpenes, tetracosanol (Husain et al. 1992).
Pharmacological uses: Ethanolic plant extract shows anti-
inflammatory (Amatya 1994) and latex reveals anti-arthritic
activities (Bani et al. 1996).
*Ricinus communis L. Castor bean (English), Indeya
(Local), Arandi (Nepali), Eranda (Sanskrit), Euphorbiaceae.
Indigenous uses: Root juice is analgesic and seed is used in
Principal chemical compounds: Avenasterol, avercetin, ?-
amarin, brassicastrol, campesterol, carotene, casbene, chlo-
rogenic acid, coumarin, ellagic acid, haemaglutinin, lupeol,
lectin, linolenic, palmitic acid, phenolics, quinic acid, rici-
nin, ricin, ricinoleic acid, stearic acid, sitosterol, stigma-
sterol, tannins, terpene, vitamins B6, B1 (Cambie and Ash
1994; Singh 1986).
Pharmacological uses: Plant is diuretic, larvicidal, anticho-
lestatic, antiamoebic, analgesic, estrogenic, laxative, cyto-
toxic, arbortifacient (Singh 1986; Desta 1993) and antimy-
cotic (Rai 1996) and its seed is hepatoprotective (Reddy et
al. 1993) and antidote for scorpion sting. Phenolics are anti-
septic and anti-inflammatory when taken internally (Baner-
jee et al. 1991; Sharma 2004).
#Bauhinia vahlii Wight & Arn. Camel’s foot climber (Eng-
lish), Malu (Local), Bhorla (Nepali), Murva (Sanskrit),
Indigenous uses: Bark is used in cuts, wounds, sprain and
fracture. Root is tonic.
Principal chemical compounds: Agathisflavone, betulinic
acid, campesterol, kaemferol, quercetin, sitosterol, stigma-
sterol (Husain et al. 1992).
Pharmacological uses: Methanolic extract of the plant
possesses activity against herpes simplex virus (Taylor et al.
1996). Quercetin is effective in reducing infectivity (Cowan
1999). Betulinic acid is anti-inflammatory (Mukherjee et al.
Caesalpinia decapetala (Roth.) Alston. Black bonduc,
Fever nut (English), Ulto Kanda (Nepali), Lata karanja
Indigenous uses: Bark is poisonous and used in fish poi-
Principal chemical compounds: Braziline, caesalpine,
heptocosan, sitosteroide, etc. (Datte et al. 2004)
Pharmacological uses: Fruit extract shows inhibitory effect
against Candida albicans (Kumar et al. 2006) and anthel-
mintic effect (Datte et al. 2004), however failure reports on
inhibition had also been noted (Rai 1996).
*Cassia tora (L.) Roxb. Sickle pod (English), Tinkosi,
Chakramandi (Local), Tapre (Nepali), Ayadham, Chakra-
mardha (Sanskrit), Fabaceae.
Indigenous uses: Plant relieves bronchitis and its juice is
anthelmintic and antiseptic.
Principal chemical compounds: Anthraquinones, cassia-
side, chrysophanol, emodin, obtusifolin, rubrofusarin, tora-
lactone, torachrysone, toralactone (Buckingham 1994).
Pharmacological uses: Plant seed extract is antibacterial,
anticoagulant, antifungal, hepatoprotective (Mukherjee et al.
1995). Alcoholic extract of seeds exhibited hypoglycemic
effect (Simon et al. 1987; Rao et al. 1994). Methanolic ex-
tract of seeds insignificantly inhibits leukotriene, which
causes pain, inflammation and broncho-muscular constric-
tion (Kumar and Muller 1999). Anthraquinones contracts
intestinal walls and stimulate bowel movement and make
stool loose (Sharma 2004).
Entada pursaetha DC. Mackay bean, Ladynut (English),
Pangar (Local, Nepali), Kakavali, Gilagaccha (Sanskrit),
Indigenous uses: Fruits are used in cuts and wounds, and
Principal chemical compounds: Entadamide, entanin,
myristic acid, palmitic acid, phaseoloidin, phenylacetic acid,
prosapognine, thionine, threonine, tryptophan (Buckingham
1994; Joshi 2004).
Pharmacological uses: Seed saponin is spasmolytic and
central nervous system active (Chandel et al. 1996). Enta-
nin is an antitumor saponin. Saponins have strong haemo-
lytic action and depressant effect (Joshi 2004).
Milletia extensa (Benth.) Baker Milletia (English), Gaujo
Indigenous uses: Root is useful as insecticide and piscicide.
Principal chemical compounds: Auriculatin, aurimillone,
iso-flavones, miletin, sumatrol (Husain et al. 1992).
Pharmacological uses: Milletia have chemoprotective
(Shirwaikar et al. 2003), antipyretic (Srinivasan et al. 2003),
anti-inflammatory (Yankep et al. 2003) and cytotoxic pro-
perties (Ito et al. 2004). Leaf methanolic extract showed
antimycobacterial activity (Taylor et al. 1996).
Mimosa pudica L. Sensitive plant (English), Lajjabati
(Nepali), Lajja, Saptaparni (Sanskrit), Fabaceae.
Indigenous uses: Leaves are used in skin diseases.
Principal chemical compounds: Amino acid, amyrin, cro-
cetin, ?-sitosterol, friedelin, gentisic acid, jasmenic acid,
mimosine, nor-epinephrine, pinitol, sitosterol (Husain et al.
1992; Cambie and Ash 1994; Joshi 2004).
Pharmacological uses: Plant juice is used as antiviral, anti-
Medicinal plants in farwest Nepal. Kunwar et al.
bacterial, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, diuretic (Singh
#Sophora mollis (Grah. ex Royle) Himalayan laburnum
(English), Chunnjado (Nepali), Fabaceae.
Indigenous uses: Roots are taken for rheumatism, and cold.
Principal chemical compounds: Cystine, matrine, rutin,
Pharmacological uses: Matrine is anti-inflammatory, anti-
diarrhoeal, analgesic and antotumorous, and it inhibits liver
fibrosis (Tan and Zhang 1985; Zhang et al. 2001) and
reduces body weight (Cheng et al. 2006). Rutin, a flavonoid
protects heart (Chopra and Singh 1994), relieves acute and
chronic inflammations (Lee et al. 2000) and strengthens
capillary walls (Sharma 2004).
#Didymocarpus villosa D.Don. Kumkum dhup (Nepali),
Indigenous uses: Leaf infusion and dust are useful in res-
piratory problem of children and chronic asthma.
Principal chemical compounds: Anthraquinone, chalcone,
didymocalyxin, isoflavone, onyselin, pedicinin (Segaw et al.
Pharmacological uses: Plant oil is weak antimicrobial
(Chandel et al. 1996). Plant is also affirmative in body
weight reduction (Rao et al. 1999).
*Morchella esculenta (L.) Pers. Morel mushroom (English),
Mathyaura (Local), Guchhi chyau (Nepali), Helvellaceae.
Indigenous uses: Plant stalk and cap are aphrodisiac in
properties and used as tonic and immunostimulant.
Principal chemical compounds: Amino acid, carotene,
protein, saponins (Zheng et al. 1998).
Pharmacological uses: Methanolic extract of plants in-
hibits leukotriene, which causes pain, inflammation and
broncho-muscular constriction (Kumar et al. 2000).
Colebrookea oppositifolia Sm. Bedmauri (Local), Dhursool
Indigenous uses: Leaf juice is taken for skin disease.
Principal chemical compounds: Chrysin, flavonene, lada-
nein, negletein, sitosterol, triacontane, triacontalol (Husain
et al. 1992; Yang et al. 1996).
Pharmacological uses: Ethanolic root extract is central ner-
vous system active (Chandel et al. 1996).
#Leea indica (Burm. f.) Merr. Galeno (Nepali), Kakanasika
Indigenous uses: Leaf is useful in spleen problems. Young
leaves are digestive.
Principal chemical compounds: Eicosanol, farnesol, gallic
acid, leeaoside, lupeol, palmitic acid, phthalic acid, sitos-
terol, solanesol, ursolic acid (Srinivasan et al. 2008).
Pharmacological uses: The methanolic extract of L. indica
was reported to possess strong antioxidant and nitric oxide
inhibitory activities (Saha et al. 2004) and it was due to
gallic acid, a well known antioxidant compound (Srinivasan
et al. 2008). Plant extract is antiviral and anticancer in pro-
perties (Jain et al. 1991).
#Melia azedarach L. Bead tree, Persean lilac (English), Ba-
kaino (Local, Nepali), Mahanimba (Sanskrit), Meliaceae.
Indigenous uses: Bark and leaf juice is useful in spleen
Principal chemical compounds: Azaridin, azadirachtin,
bakalactone, bakayanin, benzoic acid, deacetylsalanin, di-
hydronimocinol, fraxinellone, quercetin, meliacarpinin,
meliacine, meliotannic acid, melazolide, nimbolinin, rutin,
salanin, salannal, vilasinin (Husasain et al. 1992; Watanabe
et al. 2005).
Pharmacological uses: The extract of leaf suppresses nitric
oxide (NO) synthesis, since increased NO production is
associated with acute and chronic inflammation (Lee et al.
2000) and it is antioxidant (Virgili et al. 1998). Methanol
extract of root, stem bark and leaves showed a broad spec-
trum of antibacterial activity (Khan et al. 2001). Meliacine
can be used as a therapeutic agent against HSV-1 ocular
infection (Petrera and Coto 2003).
*Psidium guajava L. Guava (English), Ambak (Local),
Amba, Belauti (Nepali), Amratphala, Peruk, Mamsala (San-
Indigenous uses: Fruit is laxative, colic, astringent to bowls
and beneficial to constipation.
Principal chemical compounds: Amritoside, arjunolic acid,
asiatic acid, brahmic acid, daucosterol, ellagic acid, eugenol,
gallic acid, guavin, isostrictin, latechin, lupol, maslinic acid,
pedunculagin, procyanidin, quaverin, quercetin, oleanolic
acid, strictinin trans-cinnamic acid, ursolic acid, zeatin
(Buckingham 1994; Cambie and Ash 1994).
Pharmacological uses: Leaves are antidiabetic due to ped-
unculagin, and are antibacterial, antimycobacterial, antifun-
gal, antimalarial, analgesic, anti-inflammatory (Suksamrarn
et al. 2002), antidiarrhoeal, anticough, antiamoebic, muscle
relaxant, hypoglycaemic (Cambie and Ash 1994; Lozoya et
al. 1994; Tona et al. 1999; Antoun et al. 2001).
#Dactylorhiza hatagirea (D.Don) Soo. Marsh orchid, Salep
(English), Hathajadi (Local), Panchaunle (Nepali), Salam-
misri, Munjatak (Sanskrit), Orchidaceae.
Indigenous uses: Root juice is taken in cuts and wounds.
Principal chemical compounds: Albumin, butanedic acid,
dactylorhizin, hydroquinone, lesoglossin, militarrin, py-
ranoside, pyrocatechol, volatile oil (Kizu et al. 1999).
Pharmacological uses: The decoction and plant extract
with sugar are useful in pierce, cuttings, wounds, and the
plant is tonic and aphrodisiac (Thakur and Dixit 2007).
*Oxalis corniculata L. Creeping sorrel (English), Chalmaro
(Local), Chari amilo (Nepali), Changeri, Amla patrika (San-
Indigenous uses: Leaves are stomachic and useful for
Principal chemical compounds: Carotene, citric acid, eu-
genol, glycoxylic acid, malic acid, pentylfuran, pyruvic acid,
tartaric acid, tocopherols, votexin, etc. (Ayyanar and Igna-
Pharmacological uses: The plant is antihypertensive, hypo-
glycemic, uterine relaxant, muscle relaxant and rich source
of Vitamin B (Cambie and Ash 1994). Eugenol is con-
sidered a bacteriostatic and fungistatic (Duke 1985). Alco-
holic leaf extract is antibacterial (Joshi 2004).
*Plantago major L. Blond psyllium (English), Ishabgol
(Nepali), Ashvagola, Snigdhabija (Sanskrit), Plantagina-
Indigenous uses: Plant seeds are useful in diarrhea, dysen-
tery and indigestion.
Principal chemical compounds: Apigenin, ascorbic acid,
aucubin, baicalein, benzoic acid, caffeic acid, catalpol, chlo-
rogenic acid, cinnamic acid, papa-coumaric acid, ferulic
acid, hispidulin, loliolide, luteolin, majoroside, nepetin,
plantagonine, planteose, scutellarein, syringic acid, van-
nillic acid, vitamin A (McCutcheon et al. 1992).
Pharmacological uses: Root and seed extract is antibacte-
rial, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antitumor, hypotensive,
oestrogenic, wound healer, kidney stone disintegration, diu-
retic (McCutcheon et al. 1992). Ethanolic root extract show
little inhibitory effect of human tumor cell growth (Whelan
and Ryan 2003). Caffeic acid is effective against viruses,
bacteria and fungi (Brantner et al. 1996). Seeds are useful
in diarrhea and amoebic dysentery (Sharma 2004).
Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers. Bermuda, Dog’s teeth grass
(English), Dubi (Local), Dubo (Nepali), Durva (Sanskrit),
Indigenous uses: Plant paste is effective on sprain. Inflo-
rescence is grinded with water and applied for earache.
Principal chemical compounds: Coumarin, ferulic acid,
phytol, stigmasterol, syringic acid, tricin, vanilic acid
Medicinal and Aromatic Plant Science and Biotechnology 4 (Special Issue 1), 28-42 ©2010 Global Science Books
(Husain et al. 1992).
Pharmacological uses: Rhizome juice possesses antiviral
property (Foster and Duke 2000). The aqueous extract of
Cynodon dactylon has high antidiabetic potential along with
significant hypoglycemic and hypolipidemic effects (Singh
et al. 2007). The aqueous plant extract is used as anti-
inflammatory, diuretic, anti-emetic and purifying agent (Ah-
med et al. 1994) and used in treating dysentery, dropsy and
secondary syphilis (Chopra and Handa 1982). The ethanolic
extracts of the plant showed antioxidant activity (Auddy et
*Imperata cylindrica (L.) Beauvois. Cogon grass (English),
Siru (Local, Nepali), Sarba (Sanskrit). Poaceae.
Indigenous uses: Rhizome paste is applied for urinary
Principal chemical compounds: Arundoin, chromone,
cylindrene, cylindol, fernenol, flidersiachromone, grami-
none, imperanene (Matsunaga et al. 1995; Yoon et al. 2006).
Pharmacological uses: Rhizome extracts possessed insig-
nificant hypoglycaemic effect (Villasenor and Lamadrid
2006), weak antibacterial activity (Risal 1994) and de-
creased the urine volume (Kanchanapee 1966; Sripanidkul-
chai et al. 2001). Imperanene showed inhibitory activity on
platelet aggregation (Matsunaga et al. 1995) and chromone
is neuroprotective (Yoon et al. 2006).
*Rumex nepalensis Spreng. Sheep sorrel (English), Ban
haldi (Local), Halhale (Nepali), Amlavetasa (Sanskrit),
Indigenous uses: Root extract is applied in joint pain and
Principal chemical compounds: Anthraquinones, chryso-
phanol, emodin, lupeol, musizin (nepodin), orientalone,
physcion, sitosterol, tannins (Husain et al. 1992).
Pharmacological uses: Methanol extract significantly pos-
sesses the hypotensive effect and shows the property of
muscle relaxant and tranquilizer (Murugesan et al. 1999;
Ghosh et al. 2002). Tannins draw the tissues closer and im-
prove the resistance to infection (Sharma 2004).
*Thalictrum cultratum Wall. Meadow rue (English), Pel-
jadi (Local), Dampate (Nepali), Peet ranga (Sanskrit),
Indigenous uses: Root juice is commonly used in stomache-
ache and dysentery.
Principal chemical compounds: Berberine, diterpene, jat-
rorhijine, magnoflorine, palmatine, thalictrine (Husain et al.
Pharmacological uses: Root extract is antiperiodic, diuretic,
purgative (Chauhan 1999) and antimicrobial (Omulokoli et
al. 1997; Schmeller et al. 1997; Iwasa et al. 1998). Ber-
berine is antibacterial and antimalarial (Yamamoto et al.
1993) and Thalictrine has inhibitory effect on lymphoma,
sarcolymphoma and hepatoma (Jain et al. 1991).
*Agrimonia pilosa (D.Don) Nakai. Hairy agrimony, Couch
grass (English), Kathlange (Nepali), Rosaceae.
Indigenous uses: Plant is used to cure dysentery and root
juice is used as antidote for snake bite.
Principal chemical compounds: Agrimonolides, agrimo-
phol, apigenin, coumarins, ellagic acid, flavonoides, luteo-
lin, phenylpropanoides, quercetin, pilosanol, pyranoside,
triterpenes, tormentic acid (Kimura et al. 1995).
Pharmacological uses: Antitumor, bacteriostatic, antiyeast,
antidysenteric (Kimura et al. 1996, Peter 1969). Triterpenes
show antitumor and expectorant properties (Sharma 2004).
Ellagic acid is antimutagenic (Kaur et al. 1997) and anti-
microbial (Gyamfi and Aniya 2002). Luteolin has better
antiviral activity against Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)
(Ma et al. 2002). RSV is a major cause of pneumonia and
bronchiolitis in infants, in young children, and even in
adults. Luteolin demonstrates anti-inflammatory effect
(Park et al. 2001; Panthong et al. 2007). Luteolin and quer-
cetin inhibit proliferation of cancer cells (Elangovan et al.
Rubus ellipticus Sm. Golden raspberry (English), Ainselu
(Nepali), Gauriphala (Sanskrit), Rosaceae.
Indigenous uses: Root juice is given for relieving fever and
diarrhoea and dysentery.
Principal chemical compounds: Amyrin, arjunetin, rosa-
multin (Bilia et al. 1994)
Pharmacological uses: Antiimplantation and early abortifa-
cient activities of Rubus ellipticus were denoted (Dhanabal
et al. 2000).
Anthocephalus chinensis (Lam.) A. Rich. ex Walp. Wild
cinchona (English), Kadam (Nepali), Kadamba (Sanskrit),
Indigenous uses: Fruits are used in urinary problems.
Principal chemical compounds: Cadambine, dihydro-
cadambine, geraniol, linalool, linalylacetate, nonanol, phel-
landrene, saponins, sitosterol, selinine (Husain et al. 1992).
Pharmacological uses: Bark extract is astringent and useful
in snake bite poison (Yusuf et al. 1994). Linalool exhibits
significant antimutagenic and antioxidative properties
(Deans et al. 1993; Stevic et al. 2004).
*Citrus medica L. Adam’s apple, Citron (English), Bimiro
(Nepali), Mahulunga (Sanskrit), Rutaceae.
Indigenous uses: Leaf is antipyretic and used as insect or
Principal chemical compounds: Aureusilin, bergamotene,
caffeine, grandmarin, hesperidine, kinocoumarin, limonene,
lumbelliferone, nomilinic acid, resveratrol, rutaevin, theo-
phylline, xanthyletin (Buckingham 1994; Kretschmar and
Baumann 1999; Govindachari et al. 2000).
Pharmacological uses: Leaf extract is useful in fever and
febrile illnesses (Ajaiyeoba et al. 2003). Peel is aromatic
and tonic (Font Quer 1992). Seeds, leaves and fruit pulp
have anticancer property due to their limonin content (Tian
et al. 2001; Arias and Laca 2005). Oil from leaves pos-
sesses antibacterial property (Limyati and Juniar 1998).
Osyris wightiana Wall. Wild tea (English), Nundhikya
(Local), Jhuri, Nundhiki (Nepali), Santalaceae.
Indigenous uses: Bark infusion is given to stop bleeding.
Leaf and bark decoction is used in sprains and fractures.
Principal chemical compounds: Lanceol, proline, tannins,
etc. (Chandel et al. 1996)
Pharmacological uses: Leaf extracts possess antiviral acti-
vity (Chandel et al. 1996). Tea made from the leaves of O.
wightiana stimulated the flow of breast milk and also acted
as a labor-inducing agent (Osujih 1993).
Aesandra butyracea (Roxb.) Baehni. Butter tree (English),
Chiura (Local), Chiuri (Nepali), Sapotaceae.
Indigenous uses: Oil cake is used to escape out snake, and
it can be used as fish poisoning. Oil or ghee is taken to cure
cracked heels and lips. Root juice is useful in dysentery.
Principal chemical compounds: Betulinic acid, friedelin,
hentriacontane, linoleic acid, oleanic acid, palmitine, proto-
basic acid, quercetin, rhamnoside, stearic acid, sitosterol
(Husain et al. 1992; Bhattacharjee et al. 2002).
Pharmacological uses: Betulin and quercetin of Butter tree
are anti-infectivity (Cowan 1999) and anti-inflammatory in
properties (Mukherjee et al. 1997).
*Astilbe rivularis Buch.-Ham. ex D.Don. Astilbe (English),
Sutkeribelo (Local), Thulo okhati, Budho okhato (Nepali),
Indigenous uses: Root juice is used for easy delivery and
control bleeding during child birth. It is valued for diar-
rhoea, dysentery and hemorrhage.
Principal chemical compounds: Aesculatin, astilbic acid,
astilbin, aticoside, bergenin, dimethylaesculatin, daucosterol,
eucryphin, palmitine, peltoboykinoleic acid, scopoletin,
sitosterol, stilbene (Jain et al. 1991; Buckingham 1994).
Pharmacological uses: Pharmacological experiments indi-
Medicinal plants in farwest Nepal. Kunwar et al.
cated the extracts from Astilbe chinensis had antineoplastic
and immunopotentiating activities (Chen et al. 1996). Dried
rhizome is used as substitute drug for Shengma (Han et al.
1998). Astilbic acid is beneficial in regulating various in-
flammatory processes (Moon et al. 2005).
*Urtica dioica L. (Fig. 1) Stinging nettle (English), Sisnu
(Local, Nepali), Agni damani (Sanskrit), Urticaceae.
Indigenous uses: Stem is valued for sprain and fractures.
Root juice is given for gastric problems and maintaining
Principal chemical compounds: Acetylcholine, betaine,
choline, flavonoides, histamine, linoleic acid, oleic acid,
palmitic acid, plastoquinone (Husain et al. 1992).
Pharmacological uses: The aqueous extract has antihyper-
glycaemic effect (Bnouham et al. 2003; Farzami et al.
2003), and it is also a good antioxidant (Pieroni et al. 2002),
hepatoprotective (Lebedev et al. 2001), analgesic (Gulcin et
al. 2004), antiviral (Manganelli et al. 2005), diuretic and
hypotensive in properties (Tahri et al. 2000; Testai et al.
2002). Flavonoides shows the anti-aggregant property
(Mekhfi et al. 2004).
#Callicarpa arborea Roxb. Urn fruit, Beauty berry (Eng-
lish), Gotmelo (Local), Dahikamlo (Nepali), Gandhaphali
Indigenous uses: Fruits are edible and help in indigestion.
Principal chemical compounds: Amyrin, apigenin, astilbin,
beta sitosterol, calliterpenone, cartegolic acid, luteolin, mas-
linic acid, oleanoic acid, oleanolic acid, sitosterol, ursoleic
acid (Husain et al. 1992).
Pharmacological uses: Luteolin has antiviral (Cheng Ma et
al. 2002) and anti-inflammatory effects (Park et al. 2001;
Panthong et al. 2007). Along with quercetin, luteolin in-
hibits cancer cell proliferation (Elangovan et al. 1994).
*Viscum album L. Mistletoe, Devil’s fuge (English), Had-
chur (Local), Ainjeru (Nepali), Viscaceae.
Indigenous uses: Plant is used in fractures and sprains.
Principal chemical compounds: ?-sitosterol, caffeic acid,
dimethoxyflavone, eleutheroside, flavonoides, glycopro-
teins, kaemferol, lectin, oleanic acid, pectin, quercetin, syr-
ingin, triterpene, ursolic acid (Husain et al. 1992; Ergun and
Deliorman 1995; Lyu et al. 2000; Deliorman et al. 2005).
Pharmacological uses: Immuno-regulatory, diuretic, anti-
bacterial, antiviral, inhibits cell proliferation (Yoon et al.
1999), diuretic, anti-inflammatory as well as immunosti-
mulant effects (Yesilada et al. 1998). The extract produces
antihypertensive (Ofem et al. 2007) and antioxidant effect
(Ucar et al. 2006).
Cissus repens Lam. Wild grape (English), Pureni (Nepali),
Asthisamharaka (Sanskrit), Vitaceae.
Indigenous uses: Stem juice is useful in eye redness.
Principal chemical compounds: ?-sitosterol, luteolin, pice-
atannol, pallidol perthenocissin, resveratrol (Adesanya et al.
1999; Gupta and Verma 1991).
Pharmacological uses: Pharmacological studies revealed
the bone fracture healing property (Chopra et al. 1976;
Deka et al. 1994) and antiosteoporotic effect (Shirwaikar et
al. 2003). Murthy et al. (2003) reported the antibacterial
and antioxidant activities of the extract. Plant demonstrates
anti-inflammatory effect (Singh et al. 1984) due to ?-sitos-
terol and luteolin of the plant (Park et al. 2001; Panthong et
Traditional medical systems
Prehistoric uses of medicinal plants as therapy for illness in
farwest Nepal has been investigated in present study. Tradi-
tional therapies abound in nearby medicinal plants (Bhat-
tarai et al. 2010), and the tribal people/ethnic groups,
wherever they exist, chiefly rely on herbal medicines.
Traditional medicines are conferred in ancient, natural
health care practices such as folk/tribal practices, home her-
bal remedy, Baidhya, Ayurveda and Amchi healing systems.
Folk-lore medicine, home herbal remedy and Baidhya prac-
tices are indigenous to farwest Nepal and are partly influ-
enced by the Ayurveda (Kunwar and Bussmann 2008).
Baidhyas are traditional herbalists of far western Nepal
(Bhattarai 1992) and adjoining areas of India (Kala 2005)
and they pursue their remedies to cure diseases and aliments,
taking advantage of the abundance of nearby medicinal
plants. Amchi healing system is widely accepted and prac-
ticed throughout high altitude areas (Kunwar et al. 2006)
and the Darchula district is particularly influenced, albeit
with varying degrees of modifications (Lama et al. 2001).
All these traditional medicinal systems are popular with a
long tradition in the use of medicinal plants (Uprety et al.
2010) and they are due to easy and open access, availability
and cheaper in use (Shale et al. 1999; Kunwar and Buss-
mann 2008). Ayurveda is most important in bio-prospecting
of new medicines (Patwardhan et al. 2005) in among. Con-
sequently, acceptance of the Ayurveda is gearing up (Kun-
war et al. 2009).
The traditional therapies have played vital roles in
health care delivery systems especially in high hills and
remote areas of study districts where clinics and hospitals
are absent or sparsely located. Moreover the extensive
usage of traditional therapies is due to high cost of western
pharmaceuticals and healthcare. Inadequate modern medi-
cal facilities (Sherpa 2001) and government subsidies, and
intensive uses of plants (Bussmann and Sharon 2006) also
made home herbal remedies pertinent in the Himalayas.
Modern medicines are also difficult to find (Manandhar
2002) when needed particularly in the Himalayas due to
complex geomorphology. Such situation consents to the
data where there is one traditional healer for less than 100
people (Gillam 1989) and one physician for 6,000-20,000
people (WRI 2005, Pradhan 2007).
Since the apposite of traditional therapies, the role of
natural products and herbal medicine is being increasingly
appreciated (Cragg et al. 1997) in recent years. The thera-
pies mostly using plants and plant products of western
Nepal incorporate ancient beliefs and are passed down from
generations to generations by oral tradition and/or guarded
literatures (Bhattarai 1997; Kunwar and Bussmann 2008).
This study shows that information obtained from traditional
healers and local herbal medicine practitioners can support
to renew and increase in use of herbal medicines and dis-
covery of therapeutically useful agents and vice versa.
However, changing perception of local people, accultura-
tion, commercialization and socio-economic transforma-
tions have jeopardized the indigenous knowledge of phyto-
therapies. Furthermore, some tribal therapies were not sup-
ported by systematic ethnopharmacological findings. There-
fore validity assessment of indigenous therapies of plant
resources base received greater attention.
We compared the traditional and modern pharmacological
uses of 48 medicinal plant species commonly used in folk-
lore of farwest Nepal. The species represented from 34
families and 34 genera. Families Fabaceae and Asteraceae
contributed the most and provided 7 and 6 species res-
pectively. Euphorbiaceae and Rutaceae families possessed
the most contribution in earlier study (Kunwar et al. 2009)
and moderate contribution in present study, rendered two
and one species respectively. Among the surveyed 48 spe-
cies in the present study, 15 species possessed weak ana-
logy or their indigenous uses were differed to the pharma-
cological findings. It was may be due to knowledge distor-
tion. Changing perception of local people, commerciali-
zation and socio-economic transformations are prevalent in
study area (Kunwar et al. 2010) and they contributed mis-
leading situations to the traditional therapies. Moreover,
younger generations were uninterested on traditional thera-
Medicinal and Aromatic Plant Science and Biotechnology 4 (Special Issue 1), 28-42 ©2010 Global Science Books
pies. The situation was also provoked due to research lim-
itations and diverse resource users. As a result, essence of
ethnopharmacological surveys and cross-referencing ap-
proaches on those species revealing trivial affinities is war-
ranted. Misled of indigenous knowledge and use of ethno-
medicine out of the experience or ignorance and willful
deception may deviate knowledge out of standard and ulti-
mate cause illness and even fatal (Zhao et al. 2006; Kumar
Approximately 68% (33) species used in indigenous
medicine of the present study demonstrated some analogous
effects and the 23 species (48%) bestowed the strong sup-
ports. This fair corroboration of pharmacological activity
gives the claims by traditional healers a significantly high
credibility and such similar conceivable remarks were also
observed in abroad by Marles and Farnsworth (1995),
Chandel et al. (1996), Hamza et al. (2006) and Gautam et al.
(2007). These results substantiated the importance of sur-
veys of indigenous knowledge of utilization plant resources
for screening plants as a potential source for bioactive com-
pounds. Hence ethnomedicine and ethnopharmacology
could result in discovery of novel constituents because they
are developed through long trial and error operations (Rijal
Strong affinities between indigenous and
There were two species: Euphorbia royleana and Ricinus
communis from Euphorbiaceae exhibited strong ethnophar-
macological properties in present study. Ethnopharmacolo-
gical usage of latex of Euphorbia royleana for joint/leg pain
is supported by phytochemical investigations: ethanolic ex-
tracts of plant latex has anti-arthritic activities (Bani et al.
1996). Root juice of Ricinus communis is indigenously
taken as analgesic and antidiarrhoeic in study area resem-
bled to the findings of pharmacology where plant possessed
anticholestatic, antiamoebic, analgesic, arbortifacient, estro-
genic (Singh 1986; Desta 1993), antiseptic and anti-inflam-
matory effects when taken internally; are due to phenolics
(Sharma 2004). The phenolic acid of the plant acts as chola-
gogues, stomach refresher, and immuno-stimulants, as well
as anti-tumor, antioxidant, antibacterial, and antifungal
agents (Hamauzu et al. 2005; Mishima et al. 2005). Ricino-
leic acid, an active component of castor oil causes irritation
and inflammation to the intestinal mucosa, results an in-
crease in the net secretion of water and electrolytes into the
small intestine (Pierce et al. 1971; Luderer et al. 1980) and
induces diarrhea (Gaginella et al. 1975). Euphorbiaceae that
is rich in active compounds including terpenoids, alkaloids,
phenolics and fatty acids, having various ethnopharmaceu-
tical uses (Rizk 1987). Terpenenes are active against bac-
teria (Kubo et al. 1992; Habtemarium et al. 1993), fungi
(Taylor et al. 1996; Rana et al. 1997), viruses (Fujioka and
Kashiwada 1994), and protozoa (Vishawakarma 1990).
Root juice of Cirsium verutum (Asteraceae) is ethno-
pharmacologically applied for stomachache and abdominal
pain, and the use is coincided to biological activity of ter-
penes. Plant is rich in cicin, glycerol, sterols and terpenes
(Lee et al. 2002) and its uses as antimicrobial (Lee et al.
2002; Barbour et al. 2004) supports the folklore. Topical
anti-inflammatory properties of Xanthium strumarium
(Asteraceae) fruits (Han et al. 2007) supports the use of
plants’ seeds and fruits for treatment of inflammatory dis-
eases in folk medicine. The natural xanthones showed good
inhibitory activity against pathogenic fungi (Gopalakrish-
nan 1997). Juice from the plant Drymaria diandra is used to
treat coughs, fever and eye disease (conjunctivitis) (Man-
andhar 1990), which could all possibly be caused by bac-
teriostatic properties (Mukherjee et al. 1997). The metha-
nolic extract of Drymaria diandra was active against Gram-
positive bacteria. Various researches have already shown
that Gram positive bacteria are more susceptible towards
plant extracts as compared to Gram negative bacteria (Lin
et al. 1999; Parekh and Chanda 2006). Gram-negative bac-
teria are multilayered in structure and more resistant (Yao
and Moellering 1995).
Diterpenoid alkaloids, commonly isolated from the
plants of Ranunculaceae family, are commonly found to
have antimicrobial properties (Omulokoli et al. 1997). Root
juice of Thalictrum cultratum (Ranunculaceae) commonly
used in stomachache and dysentery in study area is af-
firmative to the in vitro antimicrobial properties. Berberine,
a benzylisoquinoline alkaloid, acted as an antibacterial and
antimalarial drug (Yamamoto et al. 1993), is a principal
chemical constituent of T. cultratum. Berberine shows
strong antimicrobial activity to both Gram-positive and
-negative bacteria as well as to other microorganisms
(Schmeller et al. 1997; Iwasa et al. 1998). It is potentially
effective against trypanosomes (Frieburghaus et al. 1996)
and plasmodia (Omulokoli et al. 1997). Ethanol extract of
root of Angelica archangelica (Apiaceae) also shows resis-
tant to the trypanosomes (Schinella et al. 2002). Dried roots
of Angelica are anthelminthic and useful in gastritis and
stomacheache in the study area.
Root juice or raw roots of Astilbe rivularis (Rosaceae)
are consumed for easy delivery and control bleeding during
child birth. Because of its effects, it is called as sutkeribelo
in local dialect i.e. plant is useful in parturition for easy
delivery and controlling bleed. Because of its astilbic acid,
it is beneficial in regulating various inflammatory processes
(Moon et al. 2005). Stilbene and asiaticoside from Astilbe
rhizomes have wound healing properties (Gomathi et al.
2003; Kapoor et al. 2004) and accentuate burn and wound
healing. Furthermore, astilbin and bergenin are effective in
treatment of obesity (Han et al. 1998). Astilbin has anti-
arthritic and antiallergy effects (Cai et al. 2003) and Berge-
nin, an isocoumarin prevents arrhythmia, liver injury (Pu et
al. 2002), and gastric troubles (Goel et al. 1997). Scopo-
lamine (hyosine) of Astilbe rhizomes is used as analgesic
(Yamamoto et al. 1993; Iwasa et al. 1998) and is tranquili-
zer in property (Duke 1992).
We observed anti-arthritic and anti-paralytic effects of
plant juice of Rumex nepalensis (Polygonaceae). Tannin
from Rumex nepalensis (Polygonaceae) draws tissues toge-
ther and improves their resistance to infections (Sharma
2004). Polygonaceae is also widely used as anthelmintic
due to its anthraquinones (Midiwo et al. 1994). R. nepalen-
sis is also persuaded as antipyretic (Suresh et al. 1994) and
its lupeol and its derivatives regulate genito-urinary systems
(Anand et al. 1995). Coriaria nepalensis (Coriariaceae)
contains tannins and ursolic acid as main constituents. Tan-
nin is antinflammatory, muscle relaxant, analgesic, etc.
(Sharma et al. 1978; Cambie and Ash 1994) and ursolic
acid shows hepatoprotective (Saraswat et al. 1996) and anti-
tumor properties (Bilia et al. 2004). Tannin cures and pre-
vents variety of illness (Scortichini and Rossi 1991; Haslam
1996). In folklore, Coriaria bark is applied on burns and
scalds and it is coincided to its anti-inflammatory, analgesic,
antibacterial, muscle relaxant and antimicrobial properties
(Joshi and Bhatta 1999).
It is well known that Plantago major (Plantaginaceae)
has demonstrated antineoplastic activity against cancer of
the breast, anus, stomach, eye, foot, intestine and liver, and
against neuroblastoma cancer (Duke 1985). P. major con-
tains caffeic acid which is effective against viruses, bacteria
and fungi (Brantner et al. 1996). Plant seeds are used in
indigestion and dysentery as ethnomedicine. Ethnomedi-
cinal use was beneficial due to its antibacterial and antiviral
properties of caffeic acid. Ageratum conyzoides and Viscum
album also contain caffeic acid. Caffeic acid, coumarins and
tannins of A. conyzoides (Asteraceae) possess antibacterial
(Mahato and Chaudhary 2005), anthelmintic, anti-inflam-
matory, analgesic (Hedberg et al. 1983; Namba et al. 1988;
Tandon et al. 1994) and anticoagulant and muscle relaxant
(Cambie and Ash 1994) effects. Anti-inflammatory activity
was also shown by sterols, especially stigmasterol (Garcia
et al. 1999). Coumarin of A. conyzoides is a potential insec-
ticide (Kamboj and Saluja 2008). Folk use of stem juice of
A. conyzoides as bleeding control was supported by haemo-
Medicinal plants in farwest Nepal. Kunwar et al.
static (Akah 1988) and antibacterial (Mahato and Chaud-
hary 2005) effects. Plants’ use as bleeding control could be
a part of further research because the juice of plant is exten-
sively used in cuts, wounds and bleeding control in western
Nepal (Bhattarai 1993; Manandhar 1998; Joshi and Joshi
Agrimonia pilosa (Rosaceae) is indigenously used to
cure dysentery and its root juice is taken as antidote for
snake bite. The purport of indigenous uses was substanti-
ated by pharmacological findings, A. pilosa plant extract
and its active constituent the coumarin act as bacteriostatic,
antiyeast and antidysenteric, etc. (Peter 1969; Kimura et al.
1996). Coumarin also act as antithrombotic (Thastrup et al.
1985), anti-inflammatory (Piller 1975), and vasodilatory
(Namba et al. 1988). Ellagic acid of the plant is antimicro-
bial (Gyamfi and Aniya 2002) and supports ethnopharma-
Antibacterial and antiviral properties of caffeic acid of
Viscum album (Viscaceae) (Yoon et al. 1999) support its in-
digenous use for sprain and fracture. Leaf and fruit extracts
of V. album possesses immunostimulant effects (Yesilada et
al. 1998). Viscum album, Psidium guajava and Coriaria
nepalensis species of present survey contains ursolic acid.
Ursolic acid and its derivatives have shown a significant
activity against P-388 and L-12 10 lymphocytic leukemia
cells as well as human lung carcinoma (Bilia et al. 2004).
These biological studies indicate that the antitumor activity
of the plant could be due to presence of triterpenes. Eugenol,
available in plant extract of Psidium guajava (Myrtaceae)
and Oxalis corniculata (Oxalidaceae), was found as bac-
teriostatic and fungicidal (Thomson 1978) corroborates eth-
nopharmacological uses of Psidium fruits for constipation
and colic. Gallic acid derivatives from Psidium fruits are
more effective against both types of Staphylococcus aureus
(Sato et al. 1997) and they show potent antimicrobial pro-
perties (Gyamfi and Aniya 2002). Pedunculagin of P. gua-
java is anti-inflammatory (Suksamrarn et al. 2002) in
effects. In our observation, O. corniculata has been used to
cure throat pain and mouth problems. The cure of aphthae
might be due to eugenol and supplement of Vitamin B com-
plex to quick healing and there by relieving of pain. The
mechanism of action of these plants on aphthae is worth for
The compounds like betalain alkaloids, phenolic acids,
betain, oxalic acid, oleanolic acid, sitosterol, furanocouma-
rins and saponins may be responsible for anthelmintic acti-
vity of Chenopodium album (Chenopodiaceae) (Nicholas et
al. 1955; Hegnauer 1989). The oil and infusion of plant
leaves possess worth anthelmintic activity against gastroin-
testinal nematodes (MacDonald et al. 2004; Jabbar et al.
2007). Catechin, a flavonoid of C. album also exhibited
antibacterial, antiviral and antimicrobial properties (Saka-
naka et al. 1992; Vijaya et al. 1995; Borris 1996). The indi-
genous use of C. album species for constipation and indi-
gestion is rational to its antibacterial, antiviral and antimic-
Indigenous use of Rhus fruits decoction for diarrhea and
dysentery concurred its antidiarrhoeal properties (Galvez et
al. 1993; Su et al. 2000). Because, most naturally occurring
flavonoids of plant show an antioxidant and antidiarrhoeal
effects (Galvez et al. 1993; Thangpu and Yadav 2004), but
some flavonoids are mutagenic in bacterial and mam-
malian systems (Mdee et al. 2003) and have antiviral and
anti-inflammatory activities (Farnsworth 1966; Sharma
2004). Flavonoides, essential constituents of the cells of all
higher plants (Brouillard and Cheminat 1988), play a major
role in successful medical treatment of ancient times and
their use has preserved till date (Dixon et al. 1998). Rhus
species, widely distributed in the subtropical regions of the
world and used medicinally in various ways, are rich in
biflavonoids. Flavonoides along with sterols work as bio-
active for diabetes (Rhemann and Zaman 1989; Patil et al.
2005). Plant extract of Urtica dioica (Urticaceae) also con-
tains active flavonoides. Flavonoides pose anti-inflam-
matory, antibacterial and wound healing properties (Afolo-
yan et al. 2008) and have shown to increase mucus sec-
retion, prostaglandin synthesis and blood flow (Singh et al.
1998). Urtica stem is indigenously valued for sprain and
fractures and its root juice is valued for gastric and blood
pressure problems. Aqueous U. dioica plant extract control
blood sugar level (Bnouham et al. 2003; Farzami et al.
2003), and it is a good antioxidant (Pieroni et al. 2002) and
hypotensive (Tahri et al. 2000; Testai et al. 2002) due to
flavonoids (Galvez et al. 1993). Antiviral, anti-inflam-
matory and anti-aggregant properties of flavonoides (Farns-
worth 1966; Su et al. 2000; Mekhfi et al. 2004; Sharma
2004) of U. dioica are consistent to the folk uses.
Polysaccharide is one of the active components in Co-
rdyceps sinensis (Clavicipitaceae) that has multiple pharma-
cological activities. It has high concentrations of adenosine,
guanosine and uridine (Li et al. 2001) among these; adeno-
sine is most worth in pharmacology. Adenosine has wide-
spread effects on circulation of blood, cerebral and coronary
(Berne 1980; Toda et al. 1982), prevention of cardiac ar-
rhythmias (Pelleg and Porter 1990), inhibition of neuro-
transmitter release and the modulation of adenylate cyclase
activity (Ribeiro 1995), potentiating immune system (Liu et
al. 1992; Xu et al. 1992) and antitumor activity (Chen et al.
1997). The indigenous uses of plants as tonic, aphrodisiac,
immuo-stimulative and useful in memory longetivity
throughout Nepal (Uprety et al. 2010) are justifiable to the
pharmacological observations. Inhibition of LTB4 biosyn-
thesis and lipoxygenase activity by the Morchella esculenta
(Helvellaceae) extracts supports their indigenous uses in
various diseases known to be mediated by 5-lipoxygenase
products, i.e. leukotrienes. Plant stalk and cap are con-
sidered as aphrodisiac (Kunwar 2006) and are used as tonic
and immunostimulant in folklore. Methanolic extract of
plants facilitates healing and soothing (Kumar et al. 2000).
Lipoxygenase induces inflammation and the activity of
lipoxygenase can also be inhibited by the rhizome extract of
Imperata cylindrica (Matsunga et al. 1995). Rhizome ex-
tracts of I. cylindrica (Poaceae) decreased the urine volume
(Kanchanapee 1966). Alike to pharmacological findings,
ethnomedicinal use of the plant rhizome paste was for uri-
Pharmacological literatures reveal antipyretic, digestive
and tonic properties of Citrus fruits and leaves (Font Quer
1992; Ajaiyeoba et al. 2003) since the antipyretic effect of
Citrus (Rutaceae) is recognized by folklore in Nepal Wes-
tern Himalaya. Anticancer properties have been associated
with the components of various natural products including
polyphenols, resveratrol, and limonene (Kaegi 1998). Res-
veratrol and limonene of Citrus fruits have multiple biolo-
gical activities including vasodilatory (Duarte et al. 1993),
anticarcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral
effects, etc. (Brown 1980; Middleton and Kandaswami
1992). Cassia tora (Fabaceae) is used for bronchitis and its
juice is applied as anthelmintic and antiseptic in study area
argued with the antibacterial, antifungal (Mukherjee et al.
1995), anti-inflammatory and broncho-dilator efficacies of
the plant (Kumar and Muller 1999). Seed extracts is anti-
coagulant (Mukherjee et al. 1995) and hypoglycaemic
(Simon et al. 1987; Rao et al. 1994). Plant anthraquinones
placate intestinal walls and stimulate bowel movement and
make stool loose (Sharma 2004).
Moderate affinities between indigenous and
Alcoholic extract of Inula racemosa (Asteraceae) enhanced
liver glycogen and lowered blood glucose level (Tripathi
and Chaturvedi 1995). Lung fibrosis (Thresiamma et al.
1996), blood pressure control (Dikshit et al. 1995) and anti-
inflammatory properties (Kohli et al. 2005) are due to
curcumine of the plant. Root extract of the plant is useful in
stomachache, dysentery and blood pressure in study area.
Indigenous use of plant for stomachache and dysentery
infers connotation of antibacterial and antiviral properties.
Antibacterial (Negi et al. 1999) and antiviral (Bourne et al.
Medicinal and Aromatic Plant Science and Biotechnology 4 (Special Issue 1), 28-42 ©2010 Global Science Books
1999) properties of curcumin are suggested. Curcumin, a
yellow colored phenolic pigment, is found to inhibit arachi-
donic acid metabolism, cytokines, and release of steroidal
hormones. It has strong oxygen radical scavenging activity
which is responsible for anti-inflammatory property (Kohli
et al. 2005; Singh et al. 2008).
Rutin, a flavonoid from Melia azedarach (Meliaceae)
strengthens capillary walls (Sharma 2004), relieves acute
and chronic inflammations (Lee et al. 2000) and protects
heart (Chopra and Singh 1994). Methanol extract of plant
root, stem bark and leaves showed a broad spectrum of anti-
bacterial activity (Khan et al. 2001) and it is partially con-
sented to the indigenous usage as bark and leaf juice is the-
rapeutically used for spleen disorders. Rutin from Sophora
mollis (Fabaceae) protects heart (Chopra and Singh 1994),
and relieves acute and chronic inflammations (Lee et al.
2000) and capillary wall infections (Sharma 2004). The
cardioprotective action of the plant is traditional therapy
base where the plant roots are taken for rheumatism, and
cold. Antiviral property of Leea indica (Leeaceae) (Jain et
al. 1991) and indigenous use of plant leaves as digestive are
partially justified. Leaves of Artemisia are used in skin it-
ching and scabies in ethnopharmacology, and in phytoche-
mical studies plant leaf extract possessed activities against
bacteria (Bhattarai et al. 2009) which produce malodors in
skin surface (Moulari et al. 2004).
Pleumeria rubra (Apocynaceae) is antibiotic, antiviral,
etc. and fluroplumierin of the plant inhibits mycobacteria
(Sundarrao 1993; Cambie and Ash 1994) which consented
to the indigenous uses as digestive and anticholeric. Fruit of
Callicarpa arborea (Verbenaceae), considered as edible and
digestive in study area, has antiviral property because of its
luteolin (Cheng Ma et al. 2002). Bark of Bauhinia vahlii
(Fabaceae) is used in cuts, wounds, and fractures and this is
substantiated by quercetin and betulin of the plant which are
respectively anti-infectivity (Cowan 1999) and anti-inflam-
matory in properties (Mukherjee et al. 1997).
Discrepancies between indigenous and
Antiimplantation and early abortifacient activities of Rubus
species were denoted (Dhanabal et al. 2000). The results are
in agreement with the traditional use of this plant as abor-
tifacient by the tribal of Nilgiri, India but such folklore was
not observed in study area. Rubus root juice was given for
relieving fever, diarrhea and dysentery in far-western Nepal.
Caesalpinia bonduc has been cited as a cure for cutaneous
eruptions and stomachache (Kerharo and Adams 1974) but
we observed only its usage as fish stupefying. Rhizome
juice of Cynodon dactylon (Poaceae) possesses antiviral
pro-perty (Foster and Duke 2000) and its aqueous extract
has anti-inflammatory, diuretic, anti-emetic effects (Ahmed
et al. 1994) and is useful in treating dysentery, dropsy and
secondary syphilis (Chopra and Handa 1982). The ethanolic
extracts of the plant showed antioxidant activity (Auddy et
al. 2003). However, the plant rhizome paste was recognized
only for sprain and its grinded inflorescence was applied for
earache by local people in farwest Nepal. Several instances
were rational behind a certain function of a chemical cons-
tituents of a species therefore further research is imperative
to delve the actual medicinal effect of a species against par-
Plant resources have been used as immediate and ultimate
ingredients for therapies and the indigenous therapies have
been employed and appreciated by local populace for cen-
turies. Because of prolong existence and uses, the therapies
have become an integral part of the culture. Knowledge
base for therapies were also stemmed from customs, liveli-
hood strategies and available nearby resources. The ethno-
medicinal and ethnopharmacological information gleaned
from the present research provided the potential to identify
which plants are most likely to be useful in treatment of
diseases. Despite the high potential plants have as sources
of new antimicrobial agents, they may soon disappear
because of over-population, indiscriminate exploitation and
irrational managements (Fabry et al. 1998). The environ-
ment where people learnt and experienced folklore is im-
periled on account of deforestation and overexploitation
(Bhattarai 1997) and acculturation and social transforma-
tion of aboriginal life (Kunwar and Bussmann 2008). It is
therefore important that the age-old plant based indigenous
therapy to be explored and documented properly for future
uses before it is lost. Significant corroboration of pharma-
cological activity gives the claims by traditional healers a
significantly high credibility albeit with varying degrees of
modifications. Some plants that were thought to be effective
in ethnopharmacology were ineffective while pursuing their
comparative assessment with phytochemical findings, as a
result. Several instances are rational behind a certain func-
tion of a phytomolecule. Such species can be reevaluated in
the fields for their effect therefore further research is im-
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