An ethnobotanical study of medicinal plants and traditional therapies on Batan Island, the Philippines

J Ethnopharmacol. 2013 Jan 30;145(2):554-65. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2012.11.029. Epub 2012 Nov 23.


Ethnopharmacological relevance: We studied the local knowledge and uses of medicinal plants among the Ivatan people of Batan Island by documenting their traditional practices.

Aim of the study: To identify the types of medicinal plants used in self-care by the indigenous people of Batan Island, the Philippines and to investigate the extent to which the plants are used. Conservation of medicinal plants and natural resources is becoming increasingly important; thus, this research aims to collect information from local people concerning the use of medicinal plants on Batan Island.

Materials and methods: A total of 116 informants were interviewed, allowing for calculated informant consensus factors (ICF), use value (UV), and fidelity levels (FL) for each medicinal plant species used to cure various ailments. This helped to establish a consensus on which species are effective for particular ailments, as well as the species' relative importance, and enabled us to understand the extent of the potential utilization of each species.

Results: We describe the therapeutic effects of 112 plant species used medicinally against 13 categories of ailments. The highest ICF value (1.00) was cited for diseases of the ear and respiratory system and for use during pregnancy, childbirth and the postnatal period. The maximum FL of 100% was found for Carica papaya, Stachytarpheta jamaicensis, Musa sapientum, and Pedilanthus tithymaloides, used for the treatment of constipation, cuts and wounds, diarrhea, and dislocations and fractures, respectively. The highest UV was for Hibiscus rosa-sinensis (0.67). All plants with high UV were used for exogenous diseases, certain infectious and parasitic diseases, injuries, poisonings and other consequences of external factors, and diseases of the skin and subcutaneous tissues. In addition to its use for endogenous disease and lifestyle-related diseases and illnesses, Moringa oleifera is also used for diseases of the circulatory system, with a UV of 0.57 and Cocos nucifera is used for diseases of the genitourinary system, with a UV of 0.56.

Conclusions: This study demonstrates that many plant species play an important role in local healing practices and that knowledge of traditional medicine is still utilized and plays a significant role on Batan Island. The documentation of this rich traditional ethno-medicinal knowledge has furnished us with novel information that not only will provide recognition of this undocumented knowledge but also could provide new avenues for pharmacological investigations to improve healthcare for a range of ailments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medicine, Traditional
  • Middle Aged
  • Philippines
  • Phytotherapy
  • Plants, Medicinal*
  • Young Adult