A Study of Medicinal Plants Utilization of Folk Healers: A Case Study of Folk Healers in Chiang Rai Province Thailand

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Sawai Wanset Daranee Onchomchant

Abstract

Northern (Lanna) Thai indigenous (folk) medicines plays an important role in the society and the knowledge of such indigenous medicine or folk healing has been passed down from generations to generations. However, much of such knowledge has disappeared over time as it was passed down through only words and memorization. Much of the information was not written down officially. Therefore, the objective of this study was to compile all knowledge related to medicinal plants used by folk healers (mor ya mueang) in Chiang Rai province and identify their explicit use in order to preserve the useful wisdom for the people. This study was performed using in-depth semi-structured interviews with three indigenous healers in the province to collect the qualitative information on medicinal herbs. Data were collected and then analyzed to determine frequency; and a content analysis was performed. Results have shown that the folk healers use 75 species of medicinal plants (in 29 families), mostly dicots, 31 are herbaceous plants, followed by 26 shrub plants and 9 climbers. For medicinal purposes, the leaves are mostly used, followed by rhizomes and whole-plants. Eleven drug preparations are identified, mostly boiling for 47 herb species; and 22 species have a pungent taste. And most of the drugs are used for treating the illnesses of the gastrointestinal, respiratory and integumentary systems. In conclusion, folk healers still play a key role in community health care providing traditional medical care for the people. So, further studies should be conducted on the efficacies and safety of herbal drugs.

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References

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