Ethnobotanical study of medicinal plants used by the Jah Hut peoples in Malaysia
Lviv National Medical University, Lviv, Ukraine
Lin K W
Lviv National Medical University, 69 Pekarska Street, 79010 Lviv
Context: An ethnobotanical study was carried out among the Jah Hut people who live in the central part of peninsular Malaysia. Materials and Methods: The information on the medicinal plants was obtained from interview with a traditional medicinal man. The traditional uses and remedies were documented. The literature searches were carried out for the evaluation on the current status of investigations on these plants. Results: In this study, we present 16 species of plants, which are commonly used among the Jah Hut people to cure some common diseases. Discussions: This study is important to preserve the knowledge of medicinal plants used by Jah Hut people. The surveys of phytopharmacological literatures of these plants have great pharmacological and ethnobotanical significance.
Keywords: Ethnobotany, herbs, Jah Hut, Malaysia, medicinal plants
The area of ethnobotanical study is located in Pahang state, the central part of peninsular Malaysia. This study was carried out amongst small ethnic group of 'Orang Asli' (aboriginal peoples), Jah Hut, who live in Kampung Keboi ('Kampung' means village), within the tropical forest in Jerantut district. The climate is equatorial with an average temperature of 23-32°C. The annual rainfall is between 1525 and 3050 mm/year. These climate conditions allow the growth of diverse plants with economical value and many of which are therapeutically important. There are about 1300 medicinal plant products registered by the Ministry of Health of Malaysia and are available in market.
There are approximately 4000 Jah Hut peoples distributed over 11 villages, which extend along the west bank of Pahang River from Jerantut in the north to Termeloh in the south. They speak the Jah Hut language, which is affiliated to the Mon-Khmer branch of Austroasiatic family. It does assimilate with many Malay words. In Jah Hut language, 'Jah' means 'people' and 'Hut' means 'no', however they cannot explain the meaning of these combined words. Kampung Keboi is one of the smallest Jah Hut settlements and has about 100 inhabitants. Jah Hut people live in Malay style houses, which stand on stilts. Their main agricultural activities include rubber tapping, growing rice, and rearing domestic fowls, such as chicken. The wood carving activities are practiced among the Jah Hut. This is not the only source of income, but also an extension of their traditional ideological framework based on their religious beliefs. Although they live in forests, they are not complete isolated, their economical dealing with neighboring people exist since a few 100 years ago.
The traditional herbal knowledge is passed from generation to generation in the verbal form by traditional medicinal man or 'bomoh'. In recent years, folk medicine is no more an attraction to the younger generation, they are more dependent on western medicine. They are unable to recognize the herbs and possess very little knowledge on traditional herbal remedy. Nowadays many young people migrate to urban areas for education and job opportunities. As a consequence, only the elder people possess the knowledge of herbs and it is estimated only a handful of people are able to use the traditional remedy to treat illness. Thus, the traditional knowledge is rapidly eroding. In addition, there is a lack of ethnobotanical survey carried out in these areas. For these reasons, the documentations of the traditional uses of indigenous plants are important to preserve their knowledge. The purpose of this study is to investigate the traditional uses and remedies of various indigenous plants, which are commonly used among the Jah Hut people.
Source: Indian J Med Sci 2005;59:156-161.