Pakistan is a country diverse in geography, climate, flora and fauna and rich in history and culture. Pakistan’s diverse topography has permitted the survival of traditional knowledge related to medicinal plants. In Pakistan, about 6,000 plants were recorded as native or naturalized. Sindh, the second most populous province of Pakistan, is a blend of most developed and least developed regions with a population of over 35 millions and land area of 141,014 sq km. Sindh has a diversity of vegetation and the local population has always used medicinal plants for the treatment of various diseases throughout the history. The surrounding plants for these people form an integral part of their culture and the information about the plants get passed on from one generation to another through only oral folklore, although many times it is kept secret. These plants play a significant role in providing primary healthcare services to rural population in Sindh. They serve as therapeutic agents, as well as important raw materials for the manufacture of traditional and modern medicine.
Traditional medicines are not only used for the treatment of general diseases but also for the treatment of women diseases. This includes birth control, including abortion at initial stages, preventing conception, also to cure sterility or to enhance chances of conception. Plants are also used for curing widespread sexual diseases like gonorrhea (serious infection and sexually transmitted disease (STD), caused by having sex with an infected person), syphilis (serious infection and sexually transmitted disease), Chlamydia trachomatis, a bacterial infection which damage women reproductive system (STD), vulvovaginal yeast infections by Candida albicans, dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation), menorrhagia (abnormally heavy and prolonged periods), amenorrhea (absence of monthly periods), leucorrhea (vaginal discharge), yeast diseases, premature menopause, sexual dysfunction, infertility
and to regularize periods, etc. These traditional and herbal medicines also provide healthcare throughout the entire birth process, from pregnancy through conception to postpartum.
In Sindh, there has been no ethnobotanical study ever conducted regarding the womenfolk diseases and the indigenous knowledge of medicinal plants as folk remedies are getting lost owing to migration from rural to urban areas, industrialization, rapid loss of natural habitat, access to modern medicine and changes in lifestyle of people. In view of these, documentation of traditional uses of medicinal plants is an urgent matter and it is important to preserve the folk knowledge of the province. In an article “The healing Garden and Integrated Healthcare”, the Prince of Wales wrote, “True healing is a synergy that comes not by courtesy of medical diploma, or simply through plants. It lies in the hands and the hearts of us all-so so we help to open people’s hearts once again to the remarkable healing possibilities that exist if we integrate our hearts with our minds and restore a sense of harmony with Mother Nature”. This clearly means that natural products can play a major role in the health and economy of the province of Sindh.
Following were the objectives of this study:
- To preserve the indigenous healing knowledge related to womenfolk diseases.
- To identify and record plant species used in folk medicines against women diseases.
- To compile authentic ethnobotanical information of folk medicinal practices in rural areasof Sindh, in the form of reports, databases and monographs.
- To conduct scientific evaluation of selected medicinal plants to ascertain their efficacy and safety.
- To establish a database of traditional knowledge to be used in protecting the knowledge- base and for further studies.
- To produce educational materials on traditional uses and along with the names of plants with the goal of promoting the safe cultural practices.
- To look into possible economic opportunities in traditional and plant-based medicine.