Unveiling the Power of Ethnomedicinal Plants in Balochistan

Pakistan is among the richest countries in the world because of its distinct plant biodiversity, geographic position, and range of meteorological and ecological conditions.

Ethnomedicine is the study or comparison of traditional medicine used by different ethnic groups, particularly those who have limited access to Western treatments, such as indigenous peoples, and is based on bioactive substances found in plants and animals. Traditional medicine and Ethnomedicine are sometimes used interchangeably. Balochistan is endowed with a wide variety of flora, many of which are therapeutic. Due to a shortage of medical facilities, Balochistan’s rural communities continue to rely on medicinal plants for their healthcare needs.

Pakistan is among the richest countries in the world because of its distinct plant biodiversity, geographic position, and range of meteorological and ecological conditions. Circumstances combined with a highly significant diversity of medicinal plants.

More specifically the highlands of Northern Balochistan are the hot spots of medicinal and endemic plants in Pakistan. Balochistan ranks third in terms of the richness of medicinal plants, with significant hotspots. Baluchistan’s indigenous people are deeply concerned about the usage of therapeutic herbs since ages.

Even now, there is a lot of financial and commercial trading that occurs both nationally and internationally. In the province, research is underway on therapeutic herbs. The sustenance of indigenous people of Balochistan is thoroughly dependent on natural resources. Indigenous people employ herbal medicines extensively among these natural resources as accessible, affordable treatments for a wide range of health conditions.

                                                                 Ethnomedicinal plant 

Geographical importance of Balochistan:

The province Balochistan, the least populated province of Pakistan and the largest province by area, is divided into 36 districts and eight divisions. It is located on the south-eastern part of the Iranian plateau and it encompasses 34.7 million hectares, or over 44%, of the nation’s land area.

Balochistan is a large, rocky plateau that is physically split into basins by peaks that are sufficiently high and harsh. Broadly, Balochistan geographic region may be classified into four major zones: Upper highlands, lower highlands, plains, and deserts.

The native languages are Pushto and Balochi but every ethnic group living in the province speaks Urdu to communicate with one another. Balochistan has a continental semiarid Mediterranean climate. Annual precipitation ranges from 200 to 350 mm, with a variable amount falling as rain and snow in the middle of winter or as intense showers in the summer.


                                             Geographical map of Balochistan’s divisions 

Ethnomedicinal plants past history and future perspective 

Human societies have had a close interaction with their environment since the beginning of time, using its natural resources to create food and medicine. People learned how to use plants to make food and medicine by trial and error, and finally they were able to employ their surroundings to meet their own needs.

Long-term, slow transfer of knowledge about medicinal plants from generation to generation has contributed to the progressive completeness of human knowledge as civilizations have developed and additional facilities have been introduced.

Medicinal plants are used as a source of medicine in almost every society. Ensuring the efficacy, safety, and purity of medical plants and herbal treatments in developing and industrialized nations is a relatively recent imperative. By standardizing and evaluating the state of active compounds obtained from plants for the treatment of human and animal diseases in the future, herbal medicines can help us to combat the health problems.

Knowledge of medicinal plants may be highly helpful in the exploration and utilization of natural plant resources. To protect historical information about medicinal plants and use them for human benefit before they are irreversibly gone, collaboration and a well-thought-out plan are needed.

Diversity of endemic plants and their therapeutic uses

The recent researches has shown the indigenous plant species’ therapeutic use against a wide range of human and animal diseases by the local population in upper Balochistan, Pakistan.

The native people of northern Balochistan highland employed a total of 24 indigenous plants from 19 species and 14 families to treat 12 different types of diseases. Fabaceae (a family of six species) produced the greatest number of medicinal plant species, followed by Apiaceae and Asteraceae (2 genera and 2 species).

These indigenous plant species were found in northern and upper Baluchistan’s highlands which is occupied by districts Zhob, Killa Saifullah, Pishin, Quetta, Ziarat and Kalat, while five species were found in the province’s lowlands and coastal regions.

Various diseases are commonly treated with these medicinal plants and a sizable number of plant species have been found in Balochistan to treat different health issues such as gastrointestinal problems, cardiovascular diseases, skin allergies, inflammatory diseases and diabetes etc. Gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea and constipation are one of the most prevalent illnesses in Balochistan, owing to inadequate food and contaminated water.

Other diseases such as skin allergies, alopecia, skin infections as well as skin blisters and tumors, oral mumps and measles, cardiac problems, respiratory problems such as asthma and pneumonia are treated with these traditionally used medicinal plants. 

Different diseases which are treated with these medicinal plants 

These ethnomedicinal plants are conventionally used to treat various health problems such as

  • Dermatological problems, gastrointestinal problems, Glandular Diseases, Respiratory Diseases, Muscular problems, Veterinary use etc.

Different Ethnomedicinal plants of Balochistan and their traditional therapeutic uses

The highlands of Balochistan are the hotspots of medicinal plants with 18 different families that have ethnobotanical perception among the local communities. Many of the species identified have medicinal properties for treating common diseases. Puncture vine (Tribulus terrestris), locally named as Markundai in Pashto language are useful in inflammation of urogenital system and help in relieve infection and uterine disorders.

Rosa damascena, more commonly known as Damask rose, is regarded as refrigerant for the vital organs stomach and intestine. Peganum harmala, known as Spilani in Pashto, leaves are used for joint pain, and its seeds are antiseptic, and also used as insect repellent when burnt. Chicory (Cichorium intybus), known as Han in Pashto, is used as a tonic for fever, vomiting and diarrhea. Curly dock (Rumex crispus), known as Shulkhay” in Pashto, is used as a pot herb and for healing injuries.

It is a laxative, an alternative tonic and can be used in rheumatism, and skin diseases. Acacia nilotica, known as “Kikar” in Pashto, is used as a mouthwash in cancerous and syphilis infections. It is an effective tonic in chronic diarrhea and diabetes mellitus. Fried gum is a useful nutritive tonic and aphrodisiac for sexual disability. 


The northern highlands of Balochistan are home to several rare and medicinal species, making them hotspots for the region’s biodiversity. People frequently employ these plants in their daily lives for medical purposes.

Despite being rich in medicinal plants, this area still need further research and study. Thus it is vital to document and recreate the remainders of the old medical practices which exist in Balochistan and other places of the world, and conserve this information for future generations.

There is no phytotherapeutic evidence for the endemic species utilized in Balochistani traditional medicine. Research on the phytochemical or pharmacological properties of plants is required to determine whether they have therapeutic value. The region is gravely threatened with the loss of its rare and unique medicinal plants due to overgrazing, urbanization, and unsustainable harvesting practices.

By Syed Aman Ullah

I Mr. Aman ullah belong to Balochistan and currently enrolled in M. Phil Pharmacology, University of Agriculture Faisalabad.