Aristolochia as an alexipharmic in Dayak Tribes of Kalimantan

Morris (1887) wrote Aristolochia plants have been a well-known traditional medicine to cure snake-bite. The remarkable properties of the plant spread in almost all continents, but mainly practiced in Asia. The inhabitants of "new world" (red Indians) used extracts of various Aristolochia species as antidote to snake and spider bites. Similarly to other parts of the world, Dayak ethnics relied on Aristolochia plants as their main antidotes.
Dayak ethnics spread across Kalimantan (Borneo) island and considered as one of the oldest native tribes. The island is now separated into three countries, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei Darussalam. There are strong connections between each of Dayak tribes, for example the use of traditional medicines from the surrounding forest. Punan tribe lives in Malinau, nothern part of East Kalimantan, which belongs to Indonesia. Kadazan and Murut tribes live in Malaysian part, at the southern part of Sabah, near the boundary to Indonesia. Kulip (2005) describes Kadazan and Murut tribes shared 81 (23%) of identified medicinal plants. One of them is "Babas lontong" (Aristolochia papilifolia). In Punan, the local name for the plant is "Tabar Kedayan". Dayak tribes have segrerated name for medicinal plants based on its claimed function. "Babas" in Dayak Sabah language means antidote.
In the Dayak people of Kalimantan, knowledge of traditional medicinal plants become rare and kept secret from generation to generation. A social study reported that in oral teachings from one generation to another, almost 40% of local knowledge is not successfully transmitted (Chazdon 2003). This social practice is now under critics. In this modern world, major medicinal knowlege from Dayak had been revealed since 1931. During the Dutch missionary Adela S. Baer and A.H. Klokke exploration in Kalimantan, identification and medicinal plants from the Dayak tribes have been recorded (Baer 1931; Salilah and Klokke 1998).

Overall, it is estimated about 10% of plants that grow in tropical forests have the defensive capabilities-based chemical compounds (Newman 1994). Tropical forests are said to have potential sources of medicines, which until now has not been completely characterized. Aristolochia plants are mainly found in tropical zones, spread across the continents from Asia, Africa and America.
Morris (1887) elaborated Aristolochia as “herbs or shrubs often twining over trees with peculiar inflated and lurid coloured flowers. The plant has a strong smell, mostly because of volatile oil with bitter resin and extractable acrid substance.” Aristolochia has a vast range of characteristics, but mainly live in dry and rocky woods. The height of the plant is 8-24 inches while the flower colour may vary between species.

Scientific approval
Aristolochia has active chemical properties mainly derived from terpenoids. For example, it may contain acyclic monoterpenoids like Geraniol and (S)-Linalool, Menthanes like Limonene, and other structure of terpenoids as described by Tian-Shung et al (2004).
Recently, Armenta-Acosta (2006) filed a patent based on an extract of Aristolochia gigantea that may act as viper and rattlesnake antidote. Extract of Aristolochia plant is prepared by boiling the rhizomes, stems, and foliage in water which then being concentrated. Embodiment of the medicine contains 7-15% of plant extract, 25% of alcohol (96% purity), and 65% of water. The administration of plant extract may also by other means like intramuscular and intravenous injections. Effective doses of the extract are 3ml/kg for children under 1 year, 6ml/kg for children less than 30kg, and at maximum 13ml/kg for adult.


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