Traditional Herbal Treatments for Tuberculosis in Laos: Ethnobotany and Pharmacognosy Studies
Elkington, Bethany G.
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In the Lao PDR (Laos), centuries-old medical palm leaf manuscripts provide an invaluable record of traditional treatments through history. Today, traditional herbal remedies are still frequently used throughout the country. In effort to preserve the indigenous knowledge held by healers and the information contained in the sacred manuscripts, an attempt was made to translate some of the traditional healing practices into biomedical terms. To accomplish this, medical manuscripts were investigated for symptoms of tuberculosis, a problem that has been afflicting Southeast Asia for thousands of years. The corresponding treatments in the manuscripts were then translated into the modern Lao and English languages. Simultaneously, ethnobotanical interviews were conducted with contemporary healers throughout the country to see which plants they are currently prescribing for the same symptoms. Plant samples of the parts used traditionally were collected and documented with voucher herbarium specimens. In addition, two commercial multi-component products were analyzed. The samples were screened through in vitro biological assays against virulent Mycobacterium tuberculosis H37Rv (Mtb). The results demonstrated that some of the plants used in traditional remedies have in vitro activity against Mtb, and anti-Mtb compounds were isolated, providing some scientific support of the traditional claims. In addition, this research brings attention to the rich diversity of medicinal plants in Laos and will hopefully provide incentive to preserve the undeveloped forested areas that remain, which still hold a wealth of medical information for future discoveries.
palm leaf manuscripts
Date available in INDIGO2013-06-28T18:06:01Z