USED BY TRADITIONAL COMMUNITIES IN EAST KALIMANTAN Faiqotul Falah1 and Noorcahyati2 ABSTRACT Traditional communities lived around forest in East Kalimantan have been using traditional medicinal plants for women’s health for centuries. This paper aims to obtain information about the usage of medicinal plants species for the women’s health by several tribes in East Kalimantan, i.a. tribe of Dayak Benuaq in Tanjung Soke village (around Gunung Beratus Protection Forest), tribe of Dayak Bahau in Nehas Liah Bing village (around Wehea Forest), and Kutai tribe in Menamang villages (around Kutai National Park). This research conducted by a qualitative method. Data were collected by : 1) Doing interview with 5 (five) traditional midwives of those villages; 2) Collecting the medicinal plant specimens in their natural habitat; 3) Doing botanical identification of those specimens in Herbarium Wanariset Samboja; 4). Literature reviewing to get information about the usage of those medicinal plants by traditional communities in other places. This research has collected data of 44 species medicinal plants from 30 families used by traditional communities for cosmetics, maternal uses, and women’s reproductive health. The used parts of the medicinal plants were the roots, leaves, barks, stem, and fruits. The medicinal plants were processed by simple methods, i.e. pounding, dabbing, squeezing, soaking, and boiling. Utilization of grass medicinal plants for postpartum recovery based on local philosophy that every plant which can naturally germinated after be uprooted was efficacious for stamina recovery. At least there were 27 species also used by other communities for similar or different efficacies, and the active chemical compounds of 25 species have been known.
Keywords : medicinal plants, women’s health, traditional midwives
ABSTRAK Masyarakat tradisional yang tinggal di sekitar hutan di Kalimantan Timur telah menggunakan tumbuhan obat tradisional untuk kesehatan perempuan sejak beratus tahun yang lalu. Tulisan ini bertujuan menyediakan informasi mengenai penggunaan jenis-jenis tumbuhan obat bagi kesehatan perempuan oleh beberapa suku di Kalimantan Timur, yaitu : suku Dayak Benua di Desa Tanjung Soke (sekitar Hutan Lindung Gunung Beratus), suku Dayak Bahau di Desa Nehas Liah Bing ( Hutan Wehea), dan suku Kutai di Desa Menamang (sekitar Taman Nasional Kutai). Penelitian ini dilakukan dengan metode kualitatif. Pengumpulan data dilakukan dengan cara : 1) melakukan wawancara dengan 5 (lima) bidan tradisional di desa-desa tersebut di atas; 2) mengumpulkan spesimen tumbuhan obat di habitat alaminya; 3) melakukan identifikasi botani spesimen tumbuhan obat di Herbarium Wanariset Samboja; 4). Studi pustaka untuk memperoleh informasi tentang penggunaan tumbuhan obat tersebut oleh masyarakat tradisional di tempat lain. Penelitian ini telah mengumpulkan data 44 spesies tumbuhan obat dari 30 famili yang digunakan oleh masyarakat tradisional sebagai kosmetik, untuk keperluan kebidanan/ibu melahirkan, dan kesehatan reproduksi perempuan. Bagian tumbuhan yang digunakan sebagai obat adalah daun, akar, batang, kulit batang, buah, bunga, dan biji. Tumbuhan obat tersebut diproses dengan metode sederhana seperti ditumbuk, dioles, diremas, direndam, dan direbus. Pemanfaatan rerumputan sebagai tumbuhan obat untuk pemulihan stamina pasca melahirkan berdasar pada filosofi lokal bahwa setiap tumbuhan yang bisa bertunas kembali secara alami setelah dicabut berkhasiat untuk memulihkan stamina. Paling sedikit ada 27 spesies yang juga digunakan oleh masyarakat di tempat lain baik untuk khasiat yang sama maupun berbeda, dan senyawa kimia aktif 25 spesies telah diketahui.
Kata kunci : tumbuhan obat, kesehatan perempuan, bidan tradisional
The tropical rain forests of Borneo have high biodiversity including species richness of plants which produce food, medicine, and energy. Traditional communities living around the forest, especially who had bad accesibility to reach modern health facilities, have been utilized traditional medicinal forest plants from time immemorial. People have found remedies within their habitat, and have adopted different strategies depending upon the climatic, phyto-geographic and faunal characteristics, as well as upon the peculiar culture and socio-structural typologies (Nichter, 1992 in Samuel et al, 2010). In those olden days herbal remedies provided the only relief when modern medicines were not available (Kulip, 2003). The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported in 2011 that an estimated 80 percent of the population in Africa and Asia rely largely on these plant-based drugs for their health care needs, and the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2008 has estimated that in coming decades a similar percentage of the world population may well rely on plant-based medicines (Marshall, 2011).
The women (as a different sex from men) have a spesific need of medicine due to their biological and social condition. They use spesific medicines for beauty treatment/cosmetics, women’s reproductive health, and maternal purposes. The women in traditional community around remoted forest area have no exception for those spesific need of medicine. They usually use traditional medicine for daily reproductive health and beauty treatments. The knowledge of women’s daily medicine has been inherited from mothers to daughters for years. A traditional community usually has one or several traditional midwives who considered has special knowledge in chidldbirth, maternal, and reproductive health issues (Kerrie, no number of year; Okonofua, no number of year; Mupfumira, 2012; Falah et al, 2013).
Knowledge about traditional medicinal plants has been handed down for generations orally, without writing documentation. Community knowledge on the traditional medicine have to be documented, therefore the knowledge would not be vanished due to the inclusion of modern medicine (Susiarti, 2005; Noorcahyati et al., 2010). Once the medicinal plants have been thoroughly documented, then future research on their biological and phytochemical potential may provide important information on their safety and efficacy for women worldwide, who are searching for alternative natural therapies for their medical problems.
This paper aimed to obtain information about the utilization of women’s health medicine by several forest traditional communities in East Kalimantan. In addition to the purposes of documenting traditional knowledge, is also expected to contribute information for ethnobotanists in developing technology of medicinal plants utilization.
II. MATERIAL AND METHODS
A. Study Site
This research has been conducted from June to November, 2010. The research subjects are : a) Dayak Benuaq community in Tanjung Soke and Gerunggung villages, sub district of Bongan, West Kutai Regency. Tanjung Soke and Gerunggung located around Gunung Beratus Protection Forest (GBPF); b) Dayak Bahau community in Nehas Liah Bing village, sub district of Muara Wahau, East Kutai Regency (around Wehea Forest), and c) Kutai tribe community lived around the Kutai National Park (KNP) in Menamang Kiri and Menamang Kanan villages, sub district of Sebulu, Kutai Kartanegara Regency. General condition of the research location described on Table 1.
Table 1. General condition of research location
Aspect of condition
Tanjung Soke and Gerunggung
Nehas Liah Bing
Name of nearest forest area
Gunung Beratus Protection Forest (19.800 hectares)
Wehea Forest (38.000 hectares)
Kutai National Park (198.604 hectares)
Geographic location of the forest area
1o00’00.00” – 1005’03.24” LS 16015’51.61” - 116021’22.98” BT
Chainsawmen, oil palm plantation and coal mining labors, fishermen, merchants
Oil palm plantation labors
Still carried out several Dayak ceremonies as cultural heritages
Ritual ceremony before starting the rice planting and harvest festival
Not actively carried out, only for wedding ceremonies
Materials and Tools
The objects of this research were : 1) The traditional midwives in Tanjung Soke, Gerunggung, Nehas Liah Bing, and Menamang villages who considered have much knowledge about medicinal plants for women’s health; and 2) Medicinal plants around the Gunung Beratus Protection Forest, Nehas Liah Bing village, Wehea Forest, and Menamang village.
The materials used in this study were: 1) an interview guidance, and 2) methylated spirit of medicinal plant specimens’ preservation. The tools used in data collection were recorder, camera, plastic bags, machetes, cutting scissors, label paper, and newsprint.
C. Data Collecting and Analysis Methods
This research used qualitative methods of the moderate participant observation, where the researcher were involved in a day-to-day activities of the informers (like farming activities or participate in traditional meeting), but did not follow the overall activities of the informers within a day (Sugiyono, 2007). The key informers were the traditional midwives, whose according to the members of traditional community were considered most know or recognize women’s medicinal plants. There were 5 key informers whose selected using purposive sampling, one traditional midwife for each village of Tanjung Soke, Gerunggung, Nehas Liah Bing Menamang Kiri, and Menamang Kanan.
The data was collected through these steps :
1) Structured interviews with the key informers. The local name, efficacy, used part, and utilization method of each medicinal plant were recorded;
2) Collecting herbarium specimens of those medicinal plants from their natural habitat around settlements, gardens, and the forest region. Specimens that were easily identified in the field were only noted, not collected. Unidentifiable specimens were numbered and brought to the Herbarium Wanariset for further identification.
3) Identifying the herbarium specimens in the Herbarium Wanariset Samboja, East Kalimantan. Species identification used morphological characteristics that be compared with known databases in Herbarium Wanariset. Characteristics observed include general character, structures of stems, roots and leaves, embryology and flowers. The specimens also deposited if have not yet been in the herbarium collection.
4). Literature reviewing to get information about the usage of those medicinal plants by traditional communities in other places. Descriptive data were analyzed qualitatively.
Due to their spesific biological and physical conditions and the socio-cultural demands, female human have specific needs of medication in order to maintain their health, as well as for the prevention and treatment of illnesses. For the women who lived in the remoted or isolated area that are difficult to get medication or modern cosmetics, their special medicines were obtained from the plants that grew in the surrounding area, based on their ancestral knowledge passed down for decades or hundreds of years. They gained the knowledge and experience based on empirical and experimental observation of the existing plants in the vicinity, for example that plants that taste bitter allegedly able to cure malaria, or a plant that is able to regenerate quickly have the capability to recover the stamina (Falah et al., 2013).
The Knowledge Inheritance System
The knowledge of traditional plants utilization for women’s health medicine passed down from mothers to daughter, usually being a secret or clandestine of a family lineage (Trubus, 2010; Hariyadi, 2011; Noorcahyati, 2012). In the Dayak community, although at the same tribe, each family can have traditional medicine knowledge which is different from their ancestors. Medicinal plant knowledge transfer process conducted orally, being enclosed information or a secret, and not documented (Setyawati, 2010; Trubus, 2010; Noorcahyati, 2012). They stated that the knowledge of traditional medicine can only be passed on to people who have great intention and high willingness to learn (Falah et al., 2013).
In terms of delivering knowledge on medicinal plants utilization, the interviews results on several traditional healers indicated that they tend to be enclosed to outsiders. This is due to the consideration that traditional knowledge of medicinal plants is a heritage to be protected and kept secret. Knowledge is only delivered to certain people. Level of disclosure of the medicinal plants information to outsiders is different at each location. For example, for the Dayak Siang people in the Central Kalimantan, the act of delivering of information on medicinal plants to outsiders may be subject to a customary fine called jipen (Noorcahyati, 2012). The people of Dayak Benuaq in Tanjung Soke village required embedding nails and certain things of ritual offerings before taking specimens of medicinal plants in Gunung Beratus Protected Forest.
Respondents with the deepest traditional knowledge on women’s health medicine were the traditional midwives who were all over 50 years aged. At the present the usage of traditional medicine for women’s health being abandoned and became obsolette due to several factors such as the influence of modern education and lifestyle changes. Kulip (2003) said that traditional plants utilization is fading due to migration, restriction from religion, lost interest of younger generations and heavy dependence on modern medicine. Deforestation for agricultural development and timber harvesting makes the resources scarce which is also contributing to the loss of knowledge. It is feared that traditional knowledge will be lost (Susiarti, 2005). Currently modern medicine is preferred because it is more practical (no need to collecting ingredients, and to process and mix the potion) and is relatively easy to obtain (Falah et al., 2013). But the traditional medicinal plants could be a good option if the modern drugs price is not affordable or not available to treat an illness.
Medicinal Plants Utilization Method
The types of herbs that are often used by people to have life forms such as shrubs, trees, bushes, epiphytes, lianas, roots and grass. Utilization of shrubs as an ingredient in traditional medicines is more favorable than the trees. According to Noorhidayah and Sidiyasa (2005), the use of trees as medicinal plants could be a possible threats to the species extinction, because they could be become extinct if the people taking them excessively. In addition, efforts to cultivation of trees take a long time and the growth requirements are not easy.
The mostly used parts of the plants as medicine were the roots ( 43,18%). Other used parts were the leaves (29,54%), barks (13,63%), stem (6,82%), fruits (4,54%), and all parts (2,27%). The people used simple methods to process the medicinal plants, such as squeezing, soaking, boiling, shredding, and pounding. The treatment dose was determined only by habits (such as a glass of water) or size of the patient's body, so it still need a laboratorium experiment to determined the proper dosage.
Most of the medicinal plants were found in the forest, while the rest were grew wild in the resettlement area. This indicates that cultivation of medicinal plants has not been done by the community. In GBPF, people also did specific ritual before taking the plants, by driving a nail to mark the location of the medicinal plants. In terms of conservation, the ritual was performed by the community to prevent excessive taking and avoiding the scarcity of medicinal plants in the future (Falah et al., 2013). From the conservation perspective, the uses of the roots as medicine ingredients could led to the death of the plants (Noorhidayah and Sidiyasa, 2005). Therefore, the medicinal plants those only could be found in the forest were need to be cultivated (ex-situ conservation), particularly for the root used species.
The Species of Medicinal Plants Used for Women’s Health
The species of traditional medicines plants used for women’s health could be divided into three categories, i.a : a) medicine for women’s reproductive health; b) medicine for maternal purposes such as pospartum recovery and increasing breastmilk supply; and c) cosmetics for women’s beauty care. Each category of women’s medicinal plants would be described at the followed paragraphs.
The traditional medicinal plants used for women’s reproductive health
An immense number of plant species have been and continue to be used by women and traditional healers worldwide in all aspects of women’s health, such as menstruation, conception, pregnancy, birth, lactation, and the menopause (Stuart, 2004). Just like women and traditional healers in other traditional community, women around Gunung Beratus Protected Forest, Wehea Forest, and Kutai National Park have used medicinal plants for maintain their reproductive health and cure reproductive organ illnesses for hundred of years. The species of medicinal plants used for women’s reproductive health were described in Table 2.
Table 2. The traditional medicinal plants used for women’s reproductive health
Species / Family
Proceed and usage methods
Callicarpa longifolia (Verbenaceae)
Squeezing the leaves, boiling, then drinking the potion
Almost all of the medicinal plants in Table 2 (Macaranga winkleri forexception) are also used as folk medicinal plants for same or different efficacies in Asia and the tropical region worldwide (see Table 5). Parameria polyneura also used by Malays people for the same efficacy. The species have commercially produced as herbal medicine for women in Indonesia and Malaysia, but so far no reference found about chemical compound of Parameria polyneura.
Some species belong to the same genus with medicinal plants in Table 2 are also used by other traditional communities as herbs for women. For example, in Lao PDR, Macaranga denticulate (Blume) Müll.Arg. (the same genus with Macaranga winkleri) also used for postpartum recovery treatment. Also in Lao PDR, Callicarpaarborea Roxb. (the same genus with Callicarpa longifolia) is used for postpartum recovery treatment, expel lochia, postpartum abdominal pain, perineal healing, and for uterus retracting (Lamxay et al., 2011).
The traditional medicinal plants used for maternal uses
The traditional midwives usually gave medicinal plants for childbirth, postpartum use to recover mothers’ stamina after delivering a baby, and increasing breastmilk supply (lactogogue). The species of medicinal plants used for maternal uses were described in Table 3.
Table 3. The species of traditional medicinal plants used for maternal uses
Processing and usage methods
Abrus precatorius L. Gaertn.(Leguminosae)
Boiling the roots of penisip, belimbing and tabat barito, then drink the potion
Cnestis platantha Griff.
Ficus deltoidea Jack. (Moraceae)
Aleurites moluccana (Euphorbiaceae)
The bark is heated over a fire, then be trampled
Alpinia galanga Willd. (Zingiberaceae)
Washing the root, soaking, boiling, then drink the potion, or shredded and rubbed into stomach skin
Blumea balsamifera DC. (Asteraceae)
Cutting the roots of Morinda citrifolia, Hyptis brevipes, Blumea balsamifera, and mimosa pudica into pieces, soaking, boiling, then drinking the potion
2. Health and stamina recovery after childbirth; 5. To stop postpartum bleeding;
3. Leg swelling after childbirth; 6. Increasing breastmilk supply.
Delivering a baby (childbirth) is a riskfull and exhausting struggle, therefore traditional midwives tend to used easily gained plants in the surrounding environment, so the postpartum medicinal treatment could be done quickly and efficiently for the safety and health of the mother and the baby. They also used to do simple method to proceed the plants to be traditional herb medicine, such as squeezing, simple cutting, and boiling. Indegenous people around Gunung Beratus Protection Forest have special philosophy to select plants species for the postpartum recovery, i.e. every plant that could naturally germinated after be uprootedhas the efficacy to recover health and stamina for the mother after childbirth (Falah et al., 2013).
At least 22 medicinal plant species in Table 3 also used for the same or different efficacy in other communities, such as Eurycoma longifolia and Ficus deltoidea.Those two species not only have been used as medicines for various ailments in the Malay Archipelago, but also pharmaceutical tested to be have medicinal chemical compounds (see Table 5). Eurycoma longifolia and Ficus deltoidea have been distributed and formulated as capsules, tea, and tonic tea throughout Malaysia (Effendy, et al., 2012; Bunawan, et al., 2014). The medicinal plant Arbus precatorius that used to make easy and smoothing childbirth by the Kutai people in Menamang villages also used for the same efficacy in Guinea-Bissau and Ivory Coast. The same species also used for antifertility, contraceptive, and abortifacient in several communities in Asia and Africa (see Table 5), and has pharmaceutical proven to be have some medicinal effects, i.e. abortifacient, antiestrogenic, antifertility effect, anti-implantation, antispermatogenic, contraceptive and/or interceptive, analgesic, antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory effects (Ross, 2003).
The traditional medicinal plants used for cosmetics
The women always have an instinct to care for and beautify herself, even if they live in the isolated area, therefore the women of the forest community have the knowledge of utilization of the surrounding plants using as cosmetics. The knowledge had passed down from mothers to daughters for the time immemorial. The species of medicinal plants used for cosmetics were described in Table 4.
Table 4. The traditional medicinal plants used for cosmetics
At least 2 medicinal plants species used as cosmetics in Table 4 have pharmaceutical tested for the similar efficacy (see Table 5). Baccaurea lanceolata (used in Menamang to brighten the skintone) has pharmaceutical tested as antioxidant agent (Manulang, 2013; Bakar et al., 2014). Brucea javanica (used for acne treatment) has pharmaceutical tested as antibacterial agent (Sornwata, 2013). Other species in Table 4 also used as medicinal plants in other communities for the similar or different efficacies.