Acanthaceae and Asteraceae family plants used by folk medicinal practitioners for treatment of malaria in Chittagong and Sylhet divisions of Bangladesh.
Malaria is a debilitating disease causing high mortality rates among men and women if not treated properly. The disease is prevalent in many countries of the world with the most prevalence noted among the sub-Saharan countries, where it is in an epidemic form. The disease is classified as hypo-endemic in Bangladesh with the southeast and the northeastern regions of the country having the most malaria-affected people. The rural people suffer most from malaria, and they rely on folk medicinal practitioners for treatment, who administer various plant species for treatment of the disease as well as associated symptoms like pain and fever. Plant species have always formed the richest sources of anti-malarial drugs, the most notable being quinine and artemisinin. However, quinine has developed drug-resistant vectors and artemisinin is considered by some to developing initial resistance, particularly in China, where it has been used for thousands of years to combat malaria. Thus new sources of anti-malarial drugs need to be found before artemisinin develops drug-resistance, and plant species can form the easiest sources for exploring and discovering new anti-malarial drugs. Since Acanthaceae and Asteraceae family plants have been reported to be excellent families of plants with a number of species demonstrating anti-malarial properties, the objective of the present study was to conduct an ethnomedicinal survey among the folk medicinal practitioners of Chittagong and Sylhet Divisions Bangladesh for these two family species, which are used by the practitioners for treatment of malaria. Three plant species belonging to the Acanthaceae family and five plant species belonging to the Asteraceae family were observed by the folk medicinal practitioners of Bangladesh for malaria treatment. The Acanthaceae family plants were Andrographis paniculata, Justicia adhatoda, and Justicia aurea. The Asteraceae family plants were Blumea lacera, Eclipta alba, Helianthus annuus, Parthenium hysterophorus, and Siegesbeckia orientalis. A perusal of the scientific literature demonstrated that a number of plants in use in Bangladesh as anti-malarials have been reported to contain relevant bio-activities which can justify the use of these species for malaria treatment. Taken together, the plants used in Bangladesh as anti-malarials deserve further scientific study towards discovery of novel antimalarial drugs.