Medicinal plants still play an important role in the Kurdish community. Sulaymaniyah Province in South Kurdistan (Iraq) has a great diversity of plants, including medicinal plants, yet very few scattered ethnobotanical studies conducted in Kurdistan are available in the scientific literature. Thus the study of Kurdish ethnobotany may be crucial for understanding local medicinal plant uses and their relationships to surrounding areas. Therefore, the objective of this investigation was to document traditional medicinal plant uses among healers of southern Kurdistan.
An ethnobotanical survey was conducted to document traditional knowledge on medicinal plants uses among traditional healers in the Province of Sulaymaniyah during 2014 and 2015. The data were collected by interviewing 45 traditional healers (36 males and 9 females between the ages of 25 and 80 years) who retain traditional knowledge on medicinal plants. Furthermore, the use value (UV) of taxa was determined and informant consensus factor (ICF) was calculated for the medicinal plants included in the study. Further analysis was carried out to compare the field data with the Kurdish ethnobotanical literature.
The present study found a total of sixty-six plant species, belonging to sixty-three genera within thirty-four plant families, used to treat ninghty-nine different types of ailments and diseases. The most important family was Lamiaceae (7 species), followed by Apiaceae, Asteraceae, and Fabaceae (6 species each). The most frequently used parts were leaves (46 %), followed by flowers (15 %), and seeds (10 %). The most common preparation method was decoction (68 %), whereas few taxa were consumed as a vegetable (13 %) or ingested in powder form (10 %). The respiratory issues category had the highest ICF value (0.68), followed by inflammations and women's diseases (0.58 and 0.54, respectively). The highest UVs were recorded for the species Zingiber officinale (0.48), Matricaria chamomilla (0.37), Adiantum capillus-veneris (0.31), Thymus vulgaris (0.31) and Pimpinella anisum (0.31). A comparison with previous ethnobotanical studies conducted in Kurdistan (especially within the territory of present-day Turkey) and surrounding areas showed that several medicinal plant reports recorded in the current investigation are new to Kurdish ethnomedicine, and that they have possibly been influenced by other scholarly medical traditions.
The present study demonstrates that the area is rich in medicinal plant knowledge. The information reported by the traditional healers of this region is invaluable for further research in the field of cross-cultural ethnobotany and ethnopharmacology.