Journal of Rural Development and Agriculture (2017) 2(1): 41-56
Ethnomedicinal uses of plants for blood purification in disitrict
Swabi, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan
*, Mushtaq Ahmad
, Muhammad Zafar
, Muhammad Qasim
, Sheikh Zainulabidin
Key Message The present study represents the first ethnobotanical study to record the indigenous
knowledge of district Swabi about the use of sixty-six medicinal plants for blood purification.
ABSTRACT Medicinal plants act as a very important and accessible source of blood purification in the rural
communities of district Swabi, Pakistan. Current study represents the first ethnobotanical study of district
Swabi to keep the record of medicinal plants to be used as blood purification. Approximately, 190 informants
including local people (88.95%) and local health practitioners (LHPs) (11.5%) were interviewed for ethno-
medicinal data documentations using semi structured interviews. Quantitative ethno botanical indices like
frequency citation (FC), relative frequency citation and family importance value (FIV) were used to analyze
the data. Total 66 medicinal plants belonging to 41 families and 63 different genera have been reported as
blood purifying plants. Results indicated that Zygophyllaceae, Asteraceae and Solanaceae are families with
more number of species (each have 4 sub-species), herbs were documented as dominant life form (71%).
Relative frequency citation value ranges from 0.11- 0.95 in the current study. Azadirachta indica A. Juss.,
Fumaria indica (Hausskn.) Pugsley, Cuscuta reflexa Roxb, Mimosa pudica Mill. and Melia azedarach are the
mostly cited blood purifying plant species. Approximately 50 plant species were reported as blood purifying
plant in district Swabi. The ethnobotanical information demonstrated in this study to be useful for a high level
of diversity of medicinal plants. The study disclosed the popular knowledge of medicinal plants and their use
for blood purification which is still alive in the study area. New medicinal plants reported will provide new
research topics for chemical and activity studies.
Key words: Ethno botany, Blood purifying medicinal plants, Swabi, Pakistan
Department of Plant Sciences, Quaid- i- Azam University Islamabad-45320, Pakistan
Department of Botany, Hazara University Mansehra, KPK, Pakistan
*Correspondence author: Rozina (
To cite this article as: Rozina, Ahmad, M., Zafar, M., Qasim, M., & Zainulabidin, S. (2017). Ethnomedicinal
uses of plants for blood purification in district Swabi, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. Journal of Rural
Development and Agriculture 2(1), 41-56
Medicinal plants are used for curing and healing throughout the history of human beings and have been
transferred from generation to generation (Perumal et al., 1998; Pieroni & Quave, 2005; Perumal &
Ignacimuthu, 2000; Napar et al., 2012; Jan et al., 2015; Qasim et al., 2016). About eighty percent population of
the word relies on plant remedies for their primary health (Riaz Ullah et al., 2010). Medicinal plants are main
sources to cure most of the diseases practiced by herbal pharmaceuticals (Hamayun 2005; Rehecho et al.,
2011). Various surveys have been conducted in different communities of the world (Kargoglu, et al., 2008;
Ratnam & Raju 2008; Jamila & Mostafa, 2014). In Pakistan, ethnobotany is maturing gradually, and it is
receiving attention of the people for good health (Bhatti et al., 2001; Qureshi, 2002; Khan & Khatoon, 2004).
In Pakistan, about 400–600 medicinal plants have been listed by various reporters being practiced
traditionally by the herbalists (Gupta et al., 1999; Bhatti et al., 2001; Hamayun, 2005; Qureshi & Bhatti, 2009;
Qureshi et al., 2009; Shinwari & Qaiser, 2011; Bahadur, 2012; Abbasi et al., 2013; Ahmad et al., 2014).
Journal of Rural Development and Agriculture (2017) 2(1): 41-56
Ethnobotany refers to people and their forest interaction defining an area of ecology necessary for rural
development (Beg, 1978). Plants can be considered as biological factories for the production of various
medicinal compounds. A number of toxins, microbes and other dangerous compounds are introduced in the
blood stream of our body by our diet and the external environment. The removal of these toxins from the
blood flow by various medicinal compounds is known as blood purification (Suzuki & Hirasawa, 2016).
Cleansing of blood is a safe way to improve immunity, prevent heart diseases, improve overall health and
fight cancer. Current study aimed at documentation of indigenous knowledge of the local people regarding
blood purifying plants of district Swabi, Pakistan and its compilation by applying quantitative index
information (QII), relative frequency citation (RFC) and family importance value (FIV) to compare
ethnobotanical data.
Study area
District Swabi is located at 34° 7', 48" North and 72° 28', 11" East of Khyber Pakhtoon Khwa province of
Pakistan sharing boundaries with river Indus (Fig. 1). It has alluvial fertile soil supporting rich phytodiversity.
However, original plant cover has been prohibited by extreme biotic and abiotic stresses. District Swabi has
severe climate. Rise in temperature is observed from May to September. Frequent dust storms at night are
detected during May and June. A high raise in temperature i.e. 41.5 °C happens in the month of June. Decrease
in phytodiversity, increase in soil errosion and soil compactness are resultants of these factors (Lyaruu,
2010). Disorganized usage of vegetation caused degradation to phytodiversity (Chaughtai et al., 1989). The
valuable medicinal plants and indigenous knowledge are losing day by day in the area. Several vegetation
studies were conducted in the past in district Swabi and other parts of KPK, Pakistan (Hussain & Taj-Malook,
1984; Chaughtai et al., 1989; Hussain et al., 1995; Heinrich et al., 2009). Dominant plant species of district
Swabi include Dalbergia sissoo, Melia azedarach, Ziziphus nummularia, Acacia modesta, Morus nigra, Morus
alba, Calotropis procera, Cynodon dactylon, Cyperus rotundus and Treibulis rerristris.
Socioeconomic conditions of the area
Approximately 85 percent of the population depends on farming. The cash crop of Swabi is tobacco. Other
important crops are sugarcane, maize and wheat. Citrus fruits grow well in this area along with apricot,
peaches and watermelons. Swabi is considered as the second district of KPK with high literary rate (70%).
Although there are government health care centers, still local people practice medicinal plant remedies for
curing diseases. There are a number of herbalists or hakims whom are visited and trusted by local people for
the treatment of diseases. Some of these are very experienced and professional.
Data collection
The study was conducted during 2014-2015 using the methods of Heinrich et al. (2009). The plant specimens
(66) were collected from the selected site. During this study, 190 informants, 435 locals and 15 traditional
healers were interviewed. Before starting interviews, informant consent (IC) was obtained. The plant
specimens were collected, dried, preserved and mounted on herbarium sheets using techniques suggested by
Jain and Rao (1977). Preserved specimens were then identified with the assistance of Dr. Mushtaq Ahmad,
Associate Professor, Department of Plant Sciences, Quaid- i- Azam University Islamabad, Pakistan and Flora of
Pakistan. Preserved specimens were collected in the Herbarium of Pakistan, Quaid-i-Azam University,
Islamabad. Ethnobotanical data were collected through semi-structured interviews and free listing open
ended questions with some key witnesses as reported by Ghorbani et al. (2011). The views were required to
expressive knowledge about the plants in the area such as where they grew and how they were used.
Edwards et al. (2005) method was used to design questionnaire containing both open and closed ended
questions on the use and method of preparation of ethnobotanicals and socioeconomic characteristics (age,
ethnicity, spiritual opinion, nationality, education and occupation) of the local people were conducted during
2014-2015. Other information like plant name (both local and scientific), respective family, living habitat,
nature, habit and relative abundance were also documented.