Open access peer-reviewed chapter

Medicinal Plants Used for Treatment of Prevalent Diseases in Northern Pakistan of Western Himalayas

By Khafsa Malik, Mushtaq Ahmad, Muhammad Zafar, Shazia Sultana, Athar Tariq and Neelam Rashid

Submitted: April 5th 2019Reviewed: September 26th 2019Published: November 7th 2019

DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.89932

Downloaded: 718


In this research study, we have scientifically assessed medicinal species and herbal preparations used by inhabitants of Northern Pakistan to treat joint pain, hypertension, skin diseases and glottis infections. The aim of the study is to document and highlight the ethnopharmacological significance and compare the uses of medicinal herbs for curing prevalent ailments in Northern Pakistan. Ethnomedicinal data were collected from 180 informants using semi-structured interviews and group meetings. A total of 80 plant species in 54 families were reported for the treatment of various health conditions. Heliotropium lasiocarpum, Geranium wallichianum, Parkinsonia aculeata, Rubia cordifolia and Salvadora persica were the favored plants for curing these diseases. Highest RFC was recorded for Neolitsea chinensis (0.956), Rubia cordifolia (0.928). The similarity of the informer’s knowledge about used medicines was found in Aesculus indica and Abies pindrow with high UV. Cuscuta reflexa and Lawsonia inermis had 98–99% fidelity level for management of joint pain, skin diseases, glottis infection and hypertension respectively. In Northern Pakistan, a rich diversity of medicinal plants was used in curing various diseases. The results of this study help us in screening of herbal plants for further phytochemical and pharmacological study which leads to discovery of natural drug and development with global interest for cure of various ailments.


  • herbaceous diversity
  • ethnomedicinal
  • diseases
  • Northern Pakistan
  • herbal preparation
  • frequency of citation

1. Introduction

1.1 Ethnobotany: concept and significance

Ethnomedicinal literature put emphasis on the relation between the indigenous communities and the usage of plants [1]. Plants are important for all biomes and the working of all social societies [2]. Traditional herbal drugs have been effective as a remedy for wide variety of diseases [3]. Traditional medicinal species and plant derivative treatments are extensively utilized in old medicinal systems worldwide, and the therapeutic use of plant species is becoming gradually popular in modern society as natural alternatives to synthetic medications [4]. Ethnomedicinal assessment of medicinal species is essential for preserving security and valuable for incipient plant medicines [5]. Many people of the rural areas retain indigenous knowledge of therapeutic plant species [6] and such plant material still exists because it is transferred from generation to generation [7]. Thus, the race of human generally relies on plant species and their needs are increasing with passage of time [8].

1.2 Medicinal plants used at global level

The usage of medicinal plant species is common, as they have little side effects, less price, easily accessible, consistent by numerous beliefs and traditional performs [9]. Native utilization of medicinal species becomes unavoidable in giving as a source of food and drugs for health care for the rural communities and low income class. The ethnic system of old herbal drugs rely on the utilization of medicinal flora by the people of native populations and has been experienced for spans [10]. These medicinal plants were commonly used by local inhabitants and were of great value so that lot of people was engaged in the trade of essential medicinal species throughout the world [11]. Medicinal herbs gained attention due to elevation in prices of allopathic drugs for the wellbeing, biomedical benefits and accessibility and maintenance of personal health, [12]. So, conservation and sustainability of traditional medicinal system is needed [13].

World Health Organization (WHO) stated that, in developing nations around 80% of the population of the world dependent on indigenous herbal drugs (THD) for treating various diseases. Internationally, 422,000 flowering species are stated [10]. Out of these, around 50,000 plant species are used as medicinal plants and only 5000 species have separated phytochemically to examine their active chemical compounds [14]. In developed nations, 25% of medications are based on plant species and their derivatives [14]. Consequently pharmaceutical companies have made a huge amount of clinical agents, still traditional knowledge of herbal medications and phytotherapies are running in different areas of the globe. The importance of the indigenous traditional medicinal system was highlighted by the WHO that the most of population the rural communities of the emerging states is still relies on the medications for healthcare [15].

Pakistan has about 6000 medicinal plant species out of which 600 are considered to be significant from medicinal point of view [16]. These medicinal herbs are recommended by the local healers, akhuns and hakims who give health care tips within the rural areas. Around 80% of the rural people of Pakistan depend on Unani medicinal system, derived from medicinal species directly or their products [17].The rich biodiversity of Pakistan has nine major ecological amplitudes in which the areas of Northern Pakistan are blessed with a unique biodiversity [4]. Variety of economically essential medicinal plant species for indigenous communities is fairly rich in Northern Pakistan [18]. Therapeutic species have remained utilized as a base of herbal medicinal treatment since human civilization in these areas [19]. Because of diverse climatic conditions and unique phytogeography, the area has a high variety of aromatic and medicinal plant species [20]. People living in hilly areas of Pakistan utilized medicinal species for numerous diseases and they also reliant on herbal products for their shelter, fuel, food, health, and further needs [21].Field of ethnobotany has been presented currently in Pakistan in comparison to other nations however in the recent era much effort was performed in this research study by several scientists in various regions of country [17, 19, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33]. Although, a lot of work has been done on medicinal species in several areas in Pakistan, yet, no study has been carried out on areas of Northern Pakistan in relation to special emphasis on hypertension diseases, skin infections, glottis problems and musculoskeletal disorders. Further, this is the first ever report on these prevalent disorders from Northern Pakistan.

1.3 Objectives

This study has been planned with the objective to document the folkloric knowledge of commonly used therapeutic species from different regions of Northern Pakistan, to save the medicinal knowledge. The current work focused to quantitatively calculate consensus of plants usage for treatment of diseases. This study also aims to form a baseline data for future comprehensive research on bioactive constituents.


2. Methodology

2.1 Study sites

The Northern part of Pakistan in Western Himalayas is situated among world’s largest peaks and high heaps i.e., Himalaya ranges, Alai Ranges, Karakorum, Kunlun, Tien Shan and Hindu Kush [34]. The Himalaya ranges have of world largest peak i.e. Mount Everest and K2 present in this range and the lesser Himalayas Mountains are located on 2000–3000 m elevation. Its topography diverges from desiccated rocky areas in north to forest and green plains in the south. Northern part of Pakistan has rich floral variety particularly of therapeutic plant species [35]. The areas included in the research work were Bannu, Swat, Mahnshera, Dir, Abbottabad, Naran, Khaghan, Hazara division, and other tribal areas of northern parts (Figure 1). It is located at 72°35- to 73°31- east latitude and 33°50- to 34°23- north latitudes. It shares border with FATA (Federal Administered Tribal Areas) in the Western South part, in Northern side Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Gilgit Baltistan in north east while the Punjab in south east. Northern areas of Pakistan are home of the largest peaks these covers 72,496 km2. Mean lowest temperature in January was documented to be 1.7°C, while average highest temperature to be 32.41°C in June. These Northern areas have also very severe winter with heavy rainfall [33]. The chief tribes of the area are Marwat, Shinwari, Afridi, Mohmand, Abbassies, Tareen, Khattak, Mashwani, Jadoon, Tanolis, Awans, Yusufzai, Sardars, Qureshis and Orakzai [30]. Majority of people speaks Pushto other local languages are Potohari, Gujrati and Hindko.

Figure 1.

Dominant families of medicinal plants.

2.2 Ethnobotanical data collection

This work was mainly focused on communities exploiting conventional plant resources for treatment of hypertension, glottis disorders, skin infection, joint pain and throat diseases. The people living in Northern Pakistan have information on the usage of natural resources. The field work was performed for 6 months (from March to September, 2016). Semi-structured interviews were taken from 180 informants having traditional curing methods against variety of ailments after receiving their prior consent. The data about medicinal uses of these plants was collected from local informers and healers and medicinal practionists. Questionnaire forms was comprised of two sections; first section involves the demographic information of participants and the other section contains data about plants vernacular name, part used and mode of administration used against these diseases. Further evaluation of data obtained during field study was done by using quantitative indices.

2.3 Plant collection and preservation

The medicinal plants exploited for different ailments in the Northern Pakistan were first collected and vouchers were constituted for identification at Herbarium of Quaid -i- Azam University Islamabad Pakistan (ISL). Correct scientific families and names were confirmed by database of KEW medicinal plant name services (mpns: and flora of Pakistan [36]. Each plant sample contains vital parts such as stems, seeds, roots, bark, fruits, flowers and leaves, whole plants was generally collected for small herbaceous plant specimen.

2.4 Quantitative analysis of ethnobotanical data

2.4.1 Use value citations (UV)

UV was assessed by means of standard procedure of [24].


“u” denoted the total respondent citing different usages of a medicinal species. Use value is usually larger at close to (1) incase numeral of usage is higher and UV of plant noticeably lowers if it is close to (0). Use values do not deliver data for only one or numerous uses of plants.

2.4.2 Relative frequency of citation (RFC)

The computation of RFC was done by using formula:


The number of respondents stated by “Fc” that specified about therapeutic use related to herbal medicinal plants whereas “N” stands for numeral total value related to the respondents [37, 38, 39].

2.4.3 Family importance value (FIV)

FIV of the plant species being evaluated by using formula as under [40].


where “Fc” is the numeral value of respondents stating the use of the family and N denotes to the total numeral value of respondents contributing in the research work.

2.4.4 Fidelity level (FL)

FL is measured by following formula:


where “Np” is the numeral value of participants who defined medicinal plants as a remedy for particular ailments while “N” is the total number of informants [41].


3. Results and discussion

3.1 Socio-demographic profile of informants

Demographic information of the participants was taken from semi structured questionnaires. A total of 180 respondents were questioned in this field survey. Of the 180 informants, 113 were Indigenous people and the rest (67) were local health practitioners, rest of all information is stated in (Table 1).

Serial numberVariablesCategoriesNo of personPercentages
2.Age group37–47127
4.EducationPrimary level5229
Secondary level3117
Tertiary level2011
5.Informant categoryIndigenous people11363
Local health practitioners6737
7.Marital statusMarried8346

Table 1.

Demographic data of informants of Western Himalayas.

3.2 Medicinal plant diversity

Present research stated 80 medicinal plants used to treat some prevalent diseases in Northern Pakistan (Table 2). These medicinal plants were distributed in 54 families. They show diversity in growth and presented by all growth forms with high proportion of herbs (54%), shrubs (30%) and trees (16%) (Table 3). The main cause for herbs dominancy in the research area may be the easily accessibility resultant from bulk growing in wild area. The native respondent described that most of the hakims and healers commonly use herbs for treatment of ailments because of their easy attainability and availability.

Sr.noTaxonomic names/voucher no/familiesLocal nameLife formPart usedMode of utilizationDiseases categoryRecipesFCRFCURUVFL
1.Abelmoschus esculentus(L.) Moench KN 1011/MalvaceaeBhindiHerbsSeedTeaspimplePlants seeds are boil in water and make tea which is usage in treatment of pimples for 2 weeks250.13910.04080.00
2.Abies pindrow(Royle ex D. Don) Royle KN 1015/PinaceaeKachal/AchalTreesLeave and shootDecoctionsThroat and cough infectionLeave decoction of are given for 3–4 weeks for treatment of throat diseases280.15620.07178.57
3.Achyranthes asperaL. KN 1017/AmaranthaceaePut kandhaHerbsLeaveJuicesRheumatismThe 20 g fresh leave juice is used for treatment of rheumatism after every meal for month180.10010.05655.56
4.Aconitum chasmanthumStapf ex Holmes KN 1019/RanunculaceaeMori, BishmouloHerbsRhizomeDecoctionsMeasles and mumpsThe rhizomes of the plant is boiled in water and decoction is made, are given for weeks to cure diseases420.23320.04876.19
5.Acorus calamusLinn KN 1010/AcoraceaeWajhHerbsRootInfusionsHypertension20-30 g of root infusion are given to relief hypertension until it is controlled1100.61110.00992.73
6.Adiantum venustumD. Don KN 1013/PteridaceaePata, kakwaHerbsLeavePasteHealing of woundThe 50 g of leaves are dried and make paste for healing wounds1440.80010.00784.72
7.Aesculus indica(Wall. ex Cambess.) Hook. OP KN 1014/HippocastanaceaeBankh khoreTreesLeaveExtractsWhooping and coughLeaves extract are used to treat whooping and cough220.12220.09181.82
8.Ajuga bracteosaBenth. AK KN 1017/LamiaceaeKahri bhootiHerbsWhole plantsDecoction and infusionRheumatism and body pain20 g of whole plant is boiled in water and decoction is made this is given to treat body pain100.05620.20080.00
9.Argemone mexicanaLinn KN 1019/PapaveraceaeKandiarhiHerbsAerial partDecoction and infusionDislocate pain and joint painInfusion and decoction of aerial part of plant is suggested for 5 days480.26720.04270.83
10.Barleria cristataL. KN 1020/AcanthaceaeJanglhi poolShrubsRoots and stemPoulticesRheumatic pain25 g of stem and roots are powdered and mix with water and make paste that is used as poultice to treat rheumatism620.34410.01685.48
11.Begonia reniformisBedd. KN 1021/BegoniaceaeShrubsFlowerInfusionsHypertensionInfusion of dry flower is taken to relieve hypertension200.11110.05065.00
12.Berberis lyciumRoyle KN 1024/BerberidaceaeZiarLargayShrubsLeaveDecoction sSore throat and throat infection &2 cups of decoction is taken twice a day for week for curing throat infections360.20020.05669.44
13.Bergenia ciliata(Haw.) Sternb KN 1026/SaxifragaceaeBatweyahaHerbsBarkPastesWound healingPaste of Bark is used to heal up wounds160.08910.06375.00
14.Bryophyllum pinnatum(Lam.) Oken KN 1027/CrassulaceaeZakam e HayhatHerbsLeaveDecoction sHypertension15 g of leaves are boiled in water and decoction is made, 1 cup of decoction is used once a day for hypertension330.18310.03090.91
15.Buxus papillosaKN 1028/BuxaceaeAngarooShrubsLeaveOilsSkin problemOil of leaves are applied on skin to treat skin problem220.12210.04586.36
16.Camellia sinensis(L.) Kuntze KN 1029/CamelliaceaeChaiehShrubsLeaveTeasThroat infection and Cough50 g of leaves are boiled in water to make tea which is used for 2 weeks for cough and throat infections320.17820.06390.63
17.Capparis decidua(Forssk.) Edgew. KN 1030/CapparaceaeKeehraTreesSeedDecoctionsHealing of woundSeeds decoction used 3 cups daily for treatment of disease210.11710.04871.43
18.Capparis spinosaL. KN 1032/CapparaceaeKabharShrubsSeedPowdersHypertensionPowder of the seeds is taken with water 3 times a day to cure hypertension560.31110.01860.71
19.Commelina diffusaBurm. f KN 1034/CommelinaceaeHerbsWhole plantsJuicesHypertension30–35 g of whole plants are crushed to attain juice which is better for hypertension for 3 weeks620.34410.01679.03
20.Commiphora stocksiana(Engl.). KN 1036/BurseraceaeChandrhuShrubsLeave and rootPaste and PoulticeBackache Joint pain and bone fractureLeaves paste and poultice are applied on joints for treatment of rheumatic disorders until its cure760.42230.03988.16
21.Cuminum cyminumL. KN 1038/ApiaceaeZhiraHerbsFruitInfusionsCough80 g of fruits of the plants are dipped whole night in water and make infusion given twice a day for 2 weeks400.22210.02555.00
22.Cuscuta reflexaRoxb KN 1040/ConvolvulaceaeAftimhoonHerbsLeaveDecoctionsHypertension10-20 g of leave decoction is used for hypertension for 3 weeks1110.61710.00999.10
23.Daphne mucronataRoyle. KN 1042/ThymelaeaceaeDaphnee plantsShrubsLeave bark & aerial partDecoctions cooked and PowdersRheumatismsPowder of aerial parts and bark is taken after each meal for treatment of rheumatic disorders. Leaves are dried mix with water and taken for 4–5 days. Aerial parts are cooked and used for cure of diseases830.46110.01296.39
24.Descurainia sophia(L.) Webb ex Prantl KN 1043/BrassicaceaeBurriborhyHerbsWhole plantsDecoctionsCough and throat infection30 g of leave decoctions is used for a 2 week to cure throat infection120.06720.16783.33
25.Equisetum arvenseL. KN 1045/EquisetaceaeHerbsAerial partsExtractsHypertension70 g of aerial parts are required for extraction that is used for hypertension for 20 days1020.56710.01089.22
26.Eruca sativa(L.) Cav. KN 1048/BrassicaceaeJambhooHerbsShoot & seedPastes and decoctionsRheumatic disorders2 cups of hot water is taken and add 2 teaspoons of grinded plant mixed well and used thrice a day for treatment. Seeds paste is used for Rheumatism1090.60610.00990.83
27.Eucalyptus globulusLabill. KN 1049/MyrtaceaeLachi, SufaidaTreesLeave & StemDecoctionsSore throat25 g of eaves decoction is used twice a day after every meal280.15610.03671.43
28.Euphorbia helioscopiaL. KN 1051/EuphorbiaceaeCatt milkHerbsLeavepowderHealing of woundsDried 40 g of leaves are powdered and mix with water and taken orally for 4–5 days210.11710.04866.67
29.Ferula asafoetidaL. KN 1053/UmbelliferaeHinhgHerbsRhizomesDecoction sCoughsA rhizomes of the plant is boiled in water and decoction is made taken 2 cups daily for cough180.10010.05666.67
30.Ficus virgataReinw. ex Blume KN 1055/MoraceaeAnjheer ZardhTreesFruitRawHypertensionFruits are eaten orally for treatment of diseases1000.55610.01089.00
31.Fumaria officinalisL.KN 1057/PapaveraceaeShahtarahaHerbsAerial partJuices and ExtractsHypertension45 g of dried leaves are used for making decoction and juice. 1 cup is used for hypertension480.26710.02160.42
32.Galium abaujenseBorbás KN 1058/RubiaceaeKhrrhataniiHerbsLeavePoulticesWound healing and skin problemPoultice of leaves is applied on wounds170.09440.23552.94
33.Geranium wallichianumD. Don ex sweet KN 1059/GeraniaceaeHerbsRootExtractsHypertension50 ml of extract of 80 g of dried roots is use for hypertension1500.83310.00792.00
34.Glycyrrhiza glabraL. KN 1060/PapilionaceaeMalhathiiHerbsRootDecoction sSore throatsRoots of plants are boil in water then used as decoction for treating sore throat infections230.12810.04378.26
35.Grewia optivaJ. R. Drumm. ex Burret KN 1062/MalvaceaeTamharShrubsLeave and barkDecoctions and powdersRheumatism and bone dislocationPaste of leaves are apply on bones & plant decoction are used for treatment of diseases990.55020.02076.77
36.Gymnosporia senegalensis(Lam.) Loes.KN 1064/CelastraceaeShrubsLeave and rootDecoctionsHypertensionDecoctions of roots and leaves are used for cure of hypertension730.40610.01493.15
37.Heliotropium lasiocarpumFisch KN 1067/BoraginaceaeChulaiHerbsWhole plantsDecoction sHypertension35 g of whole plant is boiled in water and decoction is made that is used for hypertension1350.75010.00789.63
38.Hippophae rhamnoidesL. KN 1069/ElaeagnaceaeTreesFruit and seedDecoctionsSkin problemFruits decoction are used for skin problems1320.73310.00895.45
39.Hordeum vulgareL. KN 1070/PoaceaeJahooHerbsSeedDecoctionsWhooping coughSeeds decoction are used to cure cough, 2 cups of decoctions taken daily twice a day280.15610.03667.86
40.Heracleum candicansWall. ex DC. KN 1072/ApiaceaeKadupanhraHerbsWhole plantsJuicesRheumatic painWhole plant is grinded to make juice and this juice is taken 2 glasses a day760.42210.01385.53
41.Impatiens edgeworthiiHook. f KN 1074/BalsaminaceaeBuntilhHerbsWhole plantsPastesSkin burnsPaste of the plant is applied externally for burns300.16710.03393.33
42.Isodon rugosus(Wall. ex Benth.) KN 1075/LamiaceaeSperkayeShrubsLeavePowdersWound healings and skin problem15 g of leaves powder is used 2 times a day after each meal1220.67820.01693.44
43.Juglans regiaL. KN 1076/JuglandaceaeAkhrootTreesAerial part, leave and stemDecoction sHypertension40 g of dried leaves and roots extract and decoction are used in hypertension for 1 month thrice a day520.28910.01992.31
44.Justicia adhatodaL.KN 1079/AcanthaceaeBehkareShrubsLeaveRawWound healingLeaves are directly applied on wounds for healing250.13910.04072.00
45.Lagenaria siceraria(Molin)
KN 1082/Cucurbitaceae
HerbFruit,RawMuscle and rheumatic painFruit is eaten directly for curing a diseases190.10620.10568.42
46.Lavandula angustifoliaMill KN 1084/LamiaceaeKhushbudharShrubLeaveInfusions & decoctionHypertension20 g of leaves are taken and dipped in water for 2 days, its infusion is antihypertensive620.34410.01669.35
47.Lawsonia inermisKN 1085/LythraceaeMehndiShrubsLeavesInfusionsBoils and skin burnDried and crushed leaves are dissolved in water and are applied for 5–6 days1400.77820.01498.57
48.Laphangium affine(D.Don) Tzvelev KN 1086/AsteraceaeJanglii dodhalHerbsLeavesDecoctionsThroat and cough infection10-20 g of leaves decoction is use for throat infection twice a day for 2 weeks490.27220.04159.18
49.Malvastrum coromandelianum(L.) Garcke KN 1087/MalvaceaeDhamnii bhootiHerbsLeave and rhizomesPowdersMuscular pain3–5 rhizomes of the plants are taken, powder them tea can be made by addition of 2–6 g of powder in 3 cups of water. This is used for cure of muscular diseases520.28910.01988.46
50.Mentha longifolia(L.) Huds. KN 1089/LamiaceaeJangli PodhinaHerbsFlower and leaveExtractsHypertension50 g of leaves extract o is used to cure hypertension750.41710.01381.33
51.Musa acuminataColla KN 1090/MusaceaeKelhaTreesFruits and stemDecoctionsHypertensionStems, fruits and flowers decoctions are effective in relieving from hypertension510.28310.02090.20
52.Myrsine africanaL. KN 1092/MyrsinaceaeGughalShrubsLeaveDecoctionsSkin problemsLeaves were especially used against cough, cold, flue and skin diseases390.21710.02676.92
53.Myrtus communisL. KN 1094/MyrtaceaeManrhooTreesFruitDecoctions and boilsMuscle pain25 g of fruit decoction is taken for muscle disorder for 2 weeks, twice a day670.37210.01570.15
54.Neolitsea chinensisChun KN 1096/LauraceaeMaiddasakTreesShoot & barkPowders and pastesMuscular problemPaste of the 39 g of bark and shoot are apply over muscles for several days until pain is cure1720.95610.00697.09
55.Nepeta praetervisaRech. f. KN 1098/LamiaceaeSimsokHerbsLeaveTeasCough and throat infectionLeaves are boil in water, make tea which is used for throat infection320.17820.06353.13
56.Nerium oleanderL. KN 1099/ApocynaceaeKaneerShrubsLeaveExtractsHypertension30 g of leave extracts are mixed with oil are used for hypertension540.30010.01975.93
57.Ocimum basilicumL. KN 1100/LamiaceaeJangliTulsiHerbLeaveInfusionsHypertensionLeaves infusion in 1 l water is prepared and taken two times/day as needed until improvement occurs810.45010.01281.48
58.Oenothera roseaL′Hér. ex Aiton KN 1101/OnagraceaeJungligulahbHerbsWhole plantsInfusionsWhooping CoughLeaves are dipped in water for 2 days than infusion is used for cough for a week200.11110.05050.00
59.Olea europaea subsp. cuspidata(Wall. & G. Don) Cif KN 1104/OleaceaeGhawarejhaShrubsSeed and leaveTeasSkin problem70 g of dried leaves of plants are boiled and tea is used orally for mouth ulcer and skin diseases for 1 month320.17810.03184.38
60.Opuntia dillenii(Ker Gawl.) Haw. KN 1106/CactaceaeZuqhamShrubsFruitJuicesCough and throat infectionJuice of 90 g of fruit is good in throat infection320.17820.06356.25
61.Opuntia ficus-indica(L.) Mill KN 11071/CactaceaeZahqamShrubsFruitRawMuscular painRaw fruits are taken daily to treat muscle pain1170.65010.00996.58
62.Pinus sylvestrisL. KN 1108/PinaceaeSnobherTreesLeaveExtractsHypertensionFew grams of leaves extract is good for curing disease for 3 weeks560.31110.01876.79
63.Papaver somniferumL.KN 1110/PapaveraceaePostHerbsFruitTeasWhooping, coughFruits are boil in water to make tea and 2 cups of tea are taken thrice a day for cough430.23910.02365.12
64.Parkinsonia aculeataL. KN 1112/FabaceaeJanglii baabarShrubsLeave, seed and rootOilsJoint pain and body swellingSeeds oil of plants are used for joints pain1630.90620.01285.28
65.Picrorhiza kurrooaRoyle. ex Benth KN 1114/PlantaginaceaeKutakhi safedHerbsRootRawSkin burnsIt is beneficial in the treatment of burning sensation400.22210.02550.00
66.Plantago majorL. KN 1117/PlantaginaceaeBarthangeHerbsLeaveDecoctionsHypertensionLeaves decoction is taken for 3 week to cure hypertension970.53910.01081.44
67.Prunus persica(L.) Batch KN 1118/RosaceaeAruuTreesLeave and fruitDecoctionsSkin problem20 g of dry leaves are taken boiled in water, decoction is made that is given for week for skin problems180.10010.05650.00
68.Rhazya strictaDecne. KN 1120/ApocynaceaeHarmaal, vennaShrubsLeaveInfusionsSore throats65 g of leaves are dipped in water whole night and infusion is made that is used to cure sore throat280.15610.03664.29
69.Rhododendron arboreumSm.
KN 1122/Ericaceae
RantoolTreesLeavePowdersRheumatic disorder13 g of leaves are dried and powder are taken against chronic rheumatic disorders for 2 weeks1240.68910.00895.16
70.Rubia cordifoliaL. KN 1124/RubiaceaeMajitheHerbsWhole plants and rootDecoction s and PastesJoint pains40 g of roots are powdered and make paste that are applied at joints for 2 weeks1670.92810.00679.64
71.Rydingia limbata(Benth.) Scheen & V. A. Albert KN 1127/LamiaceaeGhawarejhaShrubsLeaveExtractsSkin problems30 ml of extracts of leaves are taken orally against mouth ulcers and skin diseases1170.65010.00986.32
72.Salvadora persicaL. KN 1128//SalvadoraceaePiiluShrubsStems and leavePoulticesRheumatic diseasesLeaves of plants are heated and tied in cloth and applied over pain areas1380.76710.00772.46
73.Senecio chrysanthemoidesDC KN 1129/AsteraceaeHerbsLeaveOilsSkin problemsOil of 60 g of leaves are used for treatment1020.56710.01087.25
74.Sisymbrium irioL.KN 1131/BrassicaceaeJanglii sarsoHerbsLeaveInfusionsThroat infection & cough50 ml of infusion of leaves is effective against throat and cough ailment300.16720.06776.67
75.Tagete serectaL. KN 1134/ AsteraceaeSatveergaHerbsLeavePoulticesMuscular pain & swelling of bodyHot oil is mixed in leaves and applied on used on swelling body parts1530.85020.01395.42
76.Trachyspermum ammi(L.) Sprague KN 1136/ApiaceaeAjwaainHerbsSeedDecoctionsThroat infection and cough50 g of seed decoction is used for 3 weeks for throat infections1390.77220.01488.49
77.Urtica dioicaL. KN 1137/UrticaceaeBichoo bhootiHerbsRootDecoctionsCough and throat infection30-40 g of root are boiled in water and make decoction that is used for throat infection1290.71720.01686.05
78.Verbascum thapsusL. KN 1138/ScrophulariaceaeGadikhandHerbsAerial partInfusionsPimples and skin problemsAerial plants are grinded and dissolved in water and make infusion that is taken for 3–4 days1090.60620.01896.33
79.Withania somnifera(L.) Dunal KN 1139/SolanaceaeAksaanHerbsLeave & rootPastes and powdersJoint painsRoot of plant are taken, rinse with water, dried and crushed to make powder then it is given in lessen amount for joint disorders. Paste of leaves is used to cure pain1120.62210.00987.50
80.Zanthoxylum armatumDC. KN 1142/RutaceaeTreesSeedDecoctionsSore throat18 g of seeds decoction are given for 3 week to treat sore throat1320.73310.00875.00

Table 2.

Medicinal plants use for some prevalent diseases in Northern Pakistan.

S/NoLife formPercentage (%)

Table 3.

Life form of medicinal plant.

The recorded medicinal species and medicinal uses along with local name, part used, preparations and mode of utilization had been documented in Table 2. The plant family that have higher number of medicinal specie was Lamiaceae(7 species) followed by (4 species) of Papaveraceae, (3 species) of Malvaceae, Apiaceae, Asteraceae and Brassicaceae, (2 species) Acanthaceae, Pinaceae, Myrtaceae, Rubiaceae, Lythraceae, Plantaginaceae, Cactaceae and Capparaceae, (1 species) Ranunculaceae, Berberidaceae, Saxifragaceae, Umbelliferae, Moraceae, Papilionaceae, Poaceae, Oleaceae, Fabaceae, Salvadoraceae, Solanaceae, Rutaceae, Meliaceae and rest of the families presented one medicinal plant (Figure 1). Lamiaceaedocumented higher diversity of medicinal species followed by Asteraceae and Solanaceae; Lamiaceaealso indicated greater diversity of medicinal flora plants [42]. Lamiaceaea diverse family with mostly herbaceous plants producing volatile aroma over all aerial parts, has been described as dominant plant family by [43]. In ethnobotanical studies of lesser Himalayas the high percentage of medicinal plants in the families’ Papaveraceae, Moraceae and Fabaceae has previously been stated by [44].

3.3 Plant parts used as a medicine

In this ethnobotanical study, the part of plant most frequently utilized is was leaves (41%), and seeds and roots (10%) (Table 4). Leaves were used as main part of plant, it has been stated within different ethnomedicinal research of Thailand, India, Bangladesh, Colombia, Pakistan, and China [45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51]. Leaves are the dominantly used plant part because it is easily attainable plant part and requires small effort to collect as compared to other plant parts [43]. Moreover, other important fact of leave utilization is important for conservation and maintenances of plant because collection of other plant parts and roots may kill the plant or endangered the specie [52]. Bulk use of whole plant, fruits, seeds, roots and bark in herbal medicinal preparations may results in decreasing population of plants in nature [53].

S/NoPart usedPercentage (%)
5.Whole plant7
7.Aerial parts6

Table 4.

Plant part used as medicines.

While fruits (9%), whole plant (7%), stem and aerial part (6%), bark (4%), flower (3%), shoots and rhizomes (2%) were also frequently used (Table 4). Fruits, leaves and stem were the key source of herbal medicines in the research study area. In earlier described studies from various parts of the Pakistan whole plant, flower and fruit therapy is very common and it is present among the top of the plant parts usage [54]. Rhizomes, roots and fleshy parts of the plant species have a high amount of bio-active compounds [55].

3.4 Types of herbal preparations

Medicinal species utilized and administrated in herbal medicines in numerous forms in the area. The common preparation methods were categorized into decoction (33%), powder (14%), paste and extracts (11%), infusion (1o%). Juice (5%), tea (7%), poultice (3%), raw (2%) and Oil and cooked (2%) (Table 5). There are several routes of administration, such as, topical use and oral ingestion for the treatment of different diseases (Table 2). Local traditional healers use ingestion to cure most diseases, but topical use is an important route of intake to cure diseases such as skin disorders, glottis diseases, joint pain, hypertension, wounds, and body pain, weakness and poisonous bites [54]. The particular parts of plants and definite quantity of dosages taken for ailments control mainly depends on patients physical health [35].Some individuals use, orange peel, sugar, lemon, banana pulp, tobacco leaf, black pepper and camphor, as adjuvant with various diluents.

S/NoMode of preparationPercentage (%)

Table 5.

Mode of utilization of medicinal plant.

Large number of the plant drugs (74%) was made from fresh part of plants neither the dry parts of plants. In this study it was observed that there are ambiguities in taking exact quantities of medicines between the respondents due to variation of person’s experiences and difference in ethnical information of the respondents.

3.5 Use of phototherapies

This ethnobotanical survey showed indigenous people utilized therapeutic plant species most often for the cure of hypertension (20 reports) followed by cough (14 reports), skin problem (11 reports), rheumatism (10 reports). This survey specified fact that indigenous communities used medicinal plants frequently exploited in skin diseases, respiratory disorders, cough, throat infections, joint pain and hypertension specified that the plant of this zone have versatile medicinal usages against disease [56].The other noticeable diseases were throat infections (10 reports), wound healing (7 reports), Sore throat (5 reports), joint pain (4 reports), skin burn (3 reports). Though, skin problems were followed by pimples and swelling of body (2 reports) and boils and body pain (1 report) (Tables 2 and 6). Recent studies shown that maximum of local populations were dependent on a diversity of native plant species to treat several diseases as the modern health services were out of reached. It was noticed in throughout the field study that old information of indigenous therapeutic species is about to vanishing upcoming age groups belonging to research region. This is because of absence of attention by modern cultures, as they thought herbal medicines are less useful in comparison to allopathic medicines. Despite the fact when these elder persons die than these conventional medicinal practices might be quickly disappeared [57].

S/NoMode of preparationPercentage (%)
3.Throat infection11
4.Sore throat6
5.Wound healing8
7.Joint pain4
8.Swelling of body2
9.Muscular pain2
10.Body pain1
11.Skin problem12
12.Skin burn3

Table 6.

Categories of disease.

3.6 Quantitative analysis

3.6.1 Relative frequency of citation

For examining the ethnobotanical knowledge quantitative analysis was recorded in this study. Most stated plant species identified by a large number of respondents for medicinal purposes. Maximum RFC was documented for Neolitsea chinensis(0.956), Rubia cordifolia(0.928), Parkinsonia aculeate(0.906) and Tagetes erecta(0.850) (Table 2). These findings are related to the fact that a large number of respondents cited the plant species and RFC directly related to the number of respondents describing the usage of this medicinal species [19]. It was followed by Lawsonia inermis (0.778), Zanthoxylum armatum (0.733), Utica dioica (0.717), Opuntia ficus-indica (0.65), Rhododendron arboretum (0.689), Geranium wallichianum (0.833), Hippophae rhamnoides(0.73), Cuscuta reflexa (0.617) and Ficus virgate (0.556). Another cause of why medicinal plant stated repeatedly because of; (1) the trust of people on medicinal plant and old age relationship of the easily accessible medicinal species with people and (2) the comparatively high price of synthetic drugs and non-approach to the systems of medicine [41].

3.6.2 Use value of medicinal plants

Mostly local health practitioners in study area used these species to cure diseases from other communities. The current research showed that the use value varies from 0.094 to 0.006 (Table 2). Plant species recorded with high use values were Aesculus indica, Abies pindrow, Opuntia dillenii, Nepeta praetervisa, Begonia reniformisand Berberis lyceum.These plants were commonly found in people’s homes, the decoction, tea, extract made from leaves was found very effective in hypertension, joint pain and glottis infection. Thus it should be recommended that medicinal plants have maximum UV values, would be further studied for phytochemical and pharmacological evaluation for developing medicinal system of herbal drugs [58]. Neolitsea chinensis(Use value 0.006) revealed least UVs because they were not abundant in the research area. Used value was less in some conditions due to the lower information of the informants about the medicinal plants, that may be of exotic source [59].

3.6.3 Fidelity level (FL)

To find the plant that is most chosen by the respondents for the cure of specific disease is fidelity level. FL in the present study varied from 50 to 99%.Cuscutareflexa(99%), Lawsonia inermis(98%), Daphne mucronata(96%), Hippophae rhamnoides(95%), Impatiens edgeworthii, Isodon rugosusand Gymnosporia senegalensis(93%), Geranium wallichianumand Acorus calamus(92%) Bryophyllum pinnatum, Camellia sinensisand Eruca sativa(90%), Heliotropium lasiocarpum, Equisetum arvenseand Ficus virgata(89%), Commiphora stocksianaand Malvastrum coromandelianum (88%), Withania somnifera(87%), Buxus papillosa(86%), Heracleum candicansand Barleria cristata(85%), Adiantum venustum(84%), Descurainia sophia(83%), Mentha longifolia and Aesculus indica(81%), Abelmoschus esculentusand Ajuga bracteosa(80%) had high fidelity levels for the treatment of muscular pain, skin infections, dermatological diseases and hypertension (Table 2). High FL values of medicinal plant shows the selection of plant by respondents to cure particular disease [60, 61]. These plants might be confirmed as significant medicinal species by further evaluation and assessment by pharmaceutical, phytochemical and biological actions [62]. The species with least FL cannot be ignored as it causes the next generation to control the risk of gradually decreasing medicinal knowledge [63].

3.6.4 Family importance value (FIV) of medicinal flora

The evaluation of family importance value of plant species revealed that Lamiaceaewas most prevailing group of plants having FIV of (142.50) then Asteraceae (86.1), Apiaceae (72.50), Rubiaceae (52.22), Malvaceae (50.56), Geraniaceae (42.22) and Elaeagnaceae (37.22) etc. Lower values of FIV were calculated for Saxifragaceae (5.00), Amaranthaceae, Rosaceae and Umbelliferae (5.56), Cucurbitaceae (5.83), Euphorbiaceae (6.39), Hippocastanaceae and Buxaceae (6.67), Fabaceae (6.94) and Poaceae (8.33) (Figure 2). The ethnobotanical study revealed by [35] showed that maximum FIV was observed by family Asclepiadaceae (FIV 18.5) then Punicaceae (FIV 17.9) whereas minimum value was observes by Myrtaceae (FIV 2.3). All these findings are dissimilar from current research as the numerical ethnomedicinal facts varies because of change in geo-climate and vegetation of the region [19].

Figure 2.

Family importance value of medicinal plants.


4. Conclusion

The ethnobotanical data revealed that the conventional knowledge of therapeutic plants in the Northern Pakistan is mostly sustained by elders, and this knowledge was transferred from their forefathers. This study revealed that the most frequently exploited plants were present in Lamiaceaeand Papaveraceae, The common method of utilization was decoction. Numerical indices of FC, UV, RFC, FL, and FIV reveal that a greater variety of medicinal species is still utilized between the native inhabitants as treatment of various ailments in the study site. Particularly, this ethnobotanical study suggested that the studied species of far-off valley should be further assessed for appropriate research and pharmacological activities to validate their present traditional usage that may help as the primary means to produce plant-derived prescriptions. Future study on the security and usefulness of medicinal herbs, along with ecological and traditional management works, which are required intended for the maintainable development of herbal drugs in the Northern Pakistan.



The authors are thankful to all key medicinal plant practitioners and informants for sharing their valuable knowledge on medicinal flora. Special thanks to the higher education Commission of Pakistan HEC for financial support of this project.



WHOWorld Health Organization
THDtraditional herbal drugs
FATAfederal administered tribal areas
UVused value
FCfrequency of citation
RFCrelative frequency of citation
FIVfamily importance value
FLfidelity level

© 2019 The Author(s). Licensee IntechOpen. This chapter is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Khafsa Malik, Mushtaq Ahmad, Muhammad Zafar, Shazia Sultana, Athar Tariq and Neelam Rashid (November 7th 2019). Medicinal Plants Used for Treatment of Prevalent Diseases in Northern Pakistan of Western Himalayas, Medicinal Plants - Use in Prevention and Treatment of Diseases, Bassam Abdul Rasool Hassan, IntechOpen, DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.89932. Available from:

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