Bangladesh is a small developing country with the majority of population living in over 86,000 villages spread around the country. A substantial portion of the urban population lives in slum areas. Both rural population as well as the urban slum population resides under conditions where proper sanitation conditions are lacking and the drinking water quality is usually poor. As a result various types of gastrointestinal disorders are prevalent throughout Bangladesh. A large number of the rural and urban slum people obtain treatment for various gastrointestinal disorders from folk medicinal practitioners (Kavirajes), who rely on simple preparations of medicinal plants for treatment. The objective of the present study was to conduct a survey among the Kavirajes of various randomly selected areas in four districts, namely, Rajshahi, Jessore, Tangail, and Dinajpur in Bangladesh. The districts are located, respectively, in the northern, southern, central, and northern part of the country. Informed consent was obtained from the Kavirajes prior to the survey. Interviews were conducted with the help of a semi-structured questionnaire and the guided field-walk method, where the Kavirajes took the interviewers to spots from where they collected their medicinal plants, pointed out the plants, and gave their local names and uses. All plant specimens were collected and dried in the field and later brought to Bangladesh National Herbarium, Dhaka for complete identification. Considerable variation was observed in the family and species of medicinal plants used for treatment of gastrointestinal disorders by the Kavirajes of the four districts surveyed. The Kavirajes of two surveyed villages of Rajshahi district used 9 plants distributed into 8 families; the Kavirajes of four surveyed villages of Jessore district used 5 plants distributed into 5 families; the Kavirajes of a small town surveyed in Tangail district used 7 plants distributed into 6 families; and the Kavirajes of two villages in Dinajpur district used 25 plants distributed into 18 families. The use of whole plant or plant parts also differed considerably between the Kavirajes of the four districts. The Kavirajes of Rajshahi district used the leaves, roots, fruits, and seeds, while the Kavirajes of Jessore district used only the leaves, stems, and barks of plants. The Kavirajes of Tangail district used mainly the stems followed by roots, while the Kavirajes of Dinajpur district used mostly the leaves of medicinal plants followed by fruits. The survey highlights the considerable differences in medicinal plant usage by Kavirajes of different areas of Bangladesh. At the same time, the survey points out the diversity of plant species present in the country for treatment of gastrointestinal disorders, which comprises of a number of ailments prevalent worldwide and suggests that considerable potential exists for modern scientific studies to be carried out on the medicinal plant species in the quest for better drugs. Key words: Folk medicine, medicinal plants, gastrointestinal disorders, Bangladesh_
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