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J Ethnopharmacol. 2014 May 29. pii: S0378-8741(14)00400-0. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2014.05.031. [Epub ahead of print]

Ethnobotanical uses of medicinal plants in the highlands of Soan Valley, Salt Range, Pakistan.

Author information

  • 1Environmental Biology and Ecotoxicology Laboratory, Department of Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Biological Sciences, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan. Electronic address: sadia_envsci@yahoo.com.
  • 2Environmental Biology and Ecotoxicology Laboratory, Department of Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Biological Sciences, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan.
  • 3Department of Agriculture and Food Systems, Melbourne School of Land and Environment, The University of Melbourne, Parkville 3010, VIC, Australia.



Two thirds of the world's population relies on medicinal plants for centuries for several human pathologies. Present study aimed to identify, catalogue and document the large number of medicinal plants used in traditional medicine in Soan Valley, Salt Range, Pakistan.


Informal interviews were conducted involving a total of 255 villagers (155 male and 65 female and 35 herbalists) to elicit the knowledge and use of medicinal plants.


Local communities possessed knowledge of fifty eight (58) medicinal plant species belonging to thirty five (35) families to treat fifteen ailment categories. Whole plant and leaves were the most frequently used plant parts (24%) followed by seed (14%), root (12%), flower (7%), bulb (6%), fruit (4%), stem (3%), latex and rhizome (2%) and sap and gum (1%). Frequently used growth forms of medicinal plants were wild herbs (63%) followed by cultivated herbs (14%), wild trees (11%), wild shrubs (10%) and wild and cultivated herbs (2%). Preparations were administrated generally through oral and topical routes. Local people were familiar mostly with the species in order to deal common ailments particularly cough, cold, digestive problems, fever, headache, and skin infections. Complex ailments were treated by traditional healers. Justica adhatoda, Olea ferruginea, Amaranthus viridis and Mentha royleana were identified as plants with high use value (UV).


This study revealed that the area harbors high diversity of medicinal flora. Despite gradual socio-cultural transformation, local communities still hold ample knowledge of plants and their uses. The reliance on traditional medicines was associated with the lack of modern health care facilities, poverty and the traditional belief of their effectiveness. Medicinal plants play a significant role in management of various human diseases in the study area. A high degree of consensus among the informants was an indicative that plant use and knowledge were still strong, and preservation of this knowledge showed good foresight in the future. Awareness was thus needed to be raised among local people on sustainable utilization and management of plant resources.

Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.


Communities; Disease; Ethnobotany; Herbalists; Medicinal plants; Traditional use

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