Economic Botany

, Volume 58, Supplement 1, pp S265–S273 | Cite as

Plants used medicinally by folk healers of the Lahu people from the autonomous county of Jinping Miao, Yao, and Dai in Southwest China

  • Hu-Yin Huai
  • Sheng-Ji Pei
Special Section on Medicinal Plants


The Kucong, a branch of Lahu and an indigenous ethnic group living in Jinping County, Yunnan Province, China, have a very short history of settled village life (about 40 years). According to the data of ethnobotanical investigation, 118 species of medicinal plants belonging to 57 families and 98 genera used by Lahu healers have been inventoried. The characteristics of medicinal plants coming from a great number of families and genera relate to the traditional life-style of the Lahu. The more common the diseases are, the more abundant the related medicinal knowledge is. The most frequently used parts of medicinal plants are the leaf (35.22%) and root (32.08%). The disappearance of environments related to the traditional life-style of the Lahu threatens the existence of their traditional medicinal knowledge, similar to threats facing many other traditional medicines. Collection and inventory should be essential research fields in studies of traditional medicine.

Key Words

China ethnobotany healers inventory Jinping medicinal plants Lahu traditional medicine 

Literature Cited

  1. Anderson, E. F. 1986. Ethnobotany of hill tribes of Northern Thailand. II. Lahu medicinal plants. Economic Botany 40:38–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. — 1993. Plants and people of the Golden Triangle: Ethnobotany of the hill tribes of Northern Thailand. Silkworm Books, Chiang Mai, Thailand.Google Scholar
  3. Brown, J. W. 1975. Native American contributions to science, engineering, and medicine. Science 189: 38–40.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Caniago, I., and S. E. Siebert. 1997. Medicinal plant ecology, knowledge and conservation in Kalinantan, Indonesia. Economic Botany 52:229–250.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Fabrega, H., Jr. 1975. The need for an ethnomedical science. Science 189:969–975.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Farnsworth, N. R. 1993. Ethnopharmacology and future drug development: The North American experience. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 16:63–97.Google Scholar
  7. Gill, L. S., M. Idu, and D. N. Ogbor. 1997. Folk medicinal plants: Practices and belief of the Bini people in Nigeria. Ethnobotany 9:1–5.Google Scholar
  8. Huai, H. Y., and J. C. Xu. 2000. Indigenous knowledge: An inexhaustible information ‘bank’ to toxin research. Toxicon 38:745–746.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. —, S. J. Pei, and J. C. Xu. 1998. Indigenous knowledge on ‘Banlangen’ (Baphicacanthus cusia: Acanthaceae) of the Hani People. Ethnobotany 10: 127–129.Google Scholar
  10. Joyce, C. 1992. Western medicine men return to the field. Bioscience 42:599–607.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Katewa, S. S., and R. Sharma. 1998. Ethnomedicinal observations from certain watershed areas of Rajasthan. Ethnobotany 10:46–49.Google Scholar
  12. Li, X. W. 1994. Two big biodiversity centers of Chinese endemic genera of seed plants and their characteristics in Yunnan Province (in Chinese). Acta Botanica Yunnanica 16:221–227.Google Scholar
  13. Ndubani, P., and B. Hojer. 1999. Traditional healers and the treatment of sexually transmitted illnesses in rural Zambia. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 67: 15–25.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Nolan, J. M. 1998. The roots of tradition: Social ecology, cultural geography, and medicinal plant knowledge in the Ozark-Ouachita highlands. Journal of Ethnobiology 18:249–269.Google Scholar
  15. Plotkin, M. J. 1988. The outlook for new agricultural and industrial products from the tropics. Pages 106–116 in E. O. Wilson, ed., Biodiversity. National Academy Press, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  16. Voeks, R. A. 1996. Tropical forest healers and habitat preference. Economic Botany 50:381–400.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Weniger, B. 1991. Interest and limitation of a global ethnopharmacological survey. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 32:37–41.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Xiao, G. 1997. Culture of Lahu people (in Chinese). Yunnan University Press, Kunming.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hu-Yin Huai
    • 1
    • 2
  • Sheng-Ji Pei
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Ethnobotany, Kunming Institute of Botanythe Chinese Academy of SciencesKunming, Yunnan ProvinceP.R. China
  2. 2.College of Biology & BiotechnologyYangzhou UniversityYangzhou, Jiangsu ProvinceP.R.

Personalised recommendations