Supply and demand of medicinal plants

Many medical plant species are collected directly from forests in Malaysia and their value to the medicinal industry, the nation and the people is of great significance. It is difficult to determine the total value of medicinal plants collected from forests or supplied to the industry or transacted in the market. This is because there has been no extensive study carried out at the national level.

A study by Mohd Azmi & Norini (2001) on the supply and demand of medicinal plants harvested from the forest can be used as the pioneer study to indicate the dependence of the traditional Malay industry on local resources. Based on the interviews with 28 collectors in Peninsular Malaysia, it is found that the average monthly harvest per collector is 276 kg green weight of medicinal plants. By assuming ten working months per year, the total amount of harvested material by 28 collectors is estimated to be approximately 77,280 kg per year. However, only 67% (52,000 kg per year) of the total collection was supplied to the industry and the remaining 33% (25,280 kg) was for the collectors’ own use (sold either as raw materials or as processed products). Table 13 shows the total collection of plants by 28 collectors in Peninsular Malaysia during the study period (1998/2000).

Table 13. Average monthly collection of medicinal plant collectors in Peninsular Malaysia

ZonesStatesAverage quantity ordered per month per industry  (kg)2
North Kedah
Perlis
Penang
266.00
180.00
250.00
Average 255.27
South Johor
N.Sembilan
Malacca
960.00
350.00
600.00
Average 718.75
East Kelantan
Terengganu
Pahang
303.33
607.50
160.00
Average 406.67
Peninsular Malaysia Average 652.52

Source:

Mohd Azmi & Norini (2001)
Based on 28 collectors interviewed
The quantity of medicinal plants collected is based on green (wet) weight

To estimate the requirement of medicinal plants from the forest by the local traditional medicine industry in Peninsular Malaysia, 28 manufacturers were interviewed. The study found that about 652.52 kg of medicinal plants had been ordered by the industry from the regular supplier per month (Table 14). The majority of the manufacturing companies (64%) obtained their raw materials from regular suppliers. Five of the manufacturers collected medicinal plants using their own crews and only one manufacturer paid its  workers to collect the materials. Using this information and taking the Traditional Malay Medicine Manufacturers Association (PURBATAMA) members (73 manufacturers) as the basis and 10 working months per year, the estimated total amount of medicinal plants needed by the industry was about 476,339 kg per year. These figures do not include unregistered manufacturers since this information was not available. The requirement of medicinal plants from local sources would be more than the real situation if the unregistered manufacturers were taken into account.

Table 14.  Average quantity of medicinal plants ordered per industry in Peninsular Malaysia

ZonesStatesAverage quantity ordered per month per industry  (kg)2
North Kedah
Perlis
Penang
266.00
180.00
250.00
Average 255.27
South Johor
N.Sembilan
Malacca
960.00
350.00
600.00
Average 718.75
East Kelantan
Terengganu
Pahang
303.33
607.50
160.00
Average 406.67
Peninsular Malaysia Average 652.52
ZonesStatesAverage quantity ordered per month per industry  (kg)2
North Kedah
Perlis
Penang
266.00
180.00
250.00
Average 255.27
South Johor
N.Sembilan
Malacca
960.00
350.00
600.00
Average 718.75
East Kelantan
Terengganu
Pahang
303.33
607.50
160.00
Average 406.67
Peninsular Malaysia Average 652.52

Source:

Mohd Azmi & Norini (2001)
Based on 28 companies interviewed
The quantity of medicinal plants is based on green (wet) weight

By comparing the estimated amount of medicinal plants which could be supplied by 28 collectors (77,280 kg per year) and the estimated requirement of the local sources by 28 companies (476,339 kg per year), it is found that the shortage of raw material supply is critical. Such a situation will become more critical in the future, as the industry will expand due to the high demand for traditional medicine.

The most popular species of medicinal plants collected were tongkat ali (Eurycoma longifolia), selayak hitam, bunga pakma, kacip fatimah and rancang besi. Table 15 provides the scientific names of these species. Because the collectors collected a number of medicinal species simultaneously per trip, the exact amount of each species that was collected cannot be easily determined. It can only be estimated from the amount of total medicinal plants collected during each trip. 44 other popular medicinal plant species harvested during the collection session are as shown in Table 16.

Table 15. Most popular species of medicinal plants harvested by collectors1

Local nameScientific name

Tongkat ali

Eurycoma longifolia

Selayak hitam

Goniothalamus macrophyllus

Bunga pakma

Rafflesia hasseltii

Kacip fatimah

Labisia pothoina

Rancang besi

Artaboltrys sp

1The medicinal plants were the species most frequently harvested by the collectors interviewed

Table 16. List of 44 popular medicinal plant species harvested by collectors interviewed

NoMalay vernacular nameScientific nameFamily name

1

Akar bakawali

Epiphyllum oxypetalum

Cactaceae

2

Akar jarom emas

Striga asiatica

Scrophulariaceae

3

Akar jarom perak

Leptonychia heteroclita

Sterculiaceae

4

Akar jeraka merah/putih

Eurya japonica

Stroemiaceae

5

Akar kachip fatimah, akar kunci fatimah, kachip fatimah

Labisia pothoina

Myrsinaceae

6

Akar kelawar

Torenia polygonoides

Scrophulariaceae

7

Akar larak

Fissistigma fulgens

Annonaceae

8

Akar menjuak (menjuat)

Cryptocarya  moschata

Lauraceae

9

Akar padang kering/padang terbakar

Cnestis palala

Connaraceae

10

Akar selayak

Goniothalamus scorthechinii

Annonaceae

11

Akar serapat

Parameria polyneura

Apocynaceae

12

Akar tembusu

Fagraea obovata

Loganiaceae

13

Binasa mertua

Plumbago indica

Plumbaginaceae

14

Bunga pakma

Rafflesia hasseltii

Cytinaceae

15

Celaka merah/putih

Plumbago indica

Plumbaginaceae

16

Chekur, cekur

Kaempferia galanga

Zingiberaceae

17

Daun kaduk

Piper penangense/ Piper sarmentosum

Piperaceae

18

Gajah beranak

Goniothalamus scortechinii

Annonaceae

19

Halban

Vitex pubescens

Verbenaceae

20

Halia gunung

Globba aurantiaca

Zingiberaceae

21

Hempedu beruang

Brucea amarissima

Simarubaceae

22

Juak

Heynea trijuga

Meliaceae

23

Kancing baju

Corchorus capsularis

Tiliaceae

24

Kayu putih

Melaleuca leucadendron

Myrtaceae

25

Kemarau bulan lima

Ischaemum muticum

Gramineae

26

Kenduduk akar

Anplectrum glaucum

Melastomaceae

27

Kipas angin

Belamcanda chinesis

Iridaceae

28

Koro (sekentut bulu)

Lasianthus oblongus

Rubiaceae

29

Kucing galak

Adenosma capitatum

Scrophulariaceae

30

Lada ekor

Piper cubeba

Piperaceae

31

Larak api

Fissistigma lanuginosum

Annonaceae

32

Lemba batu

Staurogyne merguensis

Acanthaceae

33

Lemuni hitam

Vitex negundo

Verbenaceae

34

Mata pelanduk

Ardisia crispa

Myrsinaceae

35

Medang kemangi, teja lawang

Cinnamomum iners

Lauraceae

36

Menkoyan (menkoyan pinang)

Rhodamnia trinervia

Myrtaceae

37

Menkunyit, sekunyit, kekunyit

Coscinium blumeanum

Menispermaceae

38

Nenas batu

Ananas comosus

Bromeliaceae

39

Tongkat ali

Eurycoma longifolia

Simarubaceae

40

Rancang besi

Freycinetia malaccensis

Pandanaceae

41

Seranti muda/tunjuk langit

Helminthostachys zeylanica

Ophioglossaceae

42

Serapat kuning

Hippocratea indica

Celastraceae

43

Teja

Cinnamomum javanicum

Lauraceae

44

Sireh rimau putih

Piper argyrites

Piperaceae

Basically, local sources of medicinal plants demanded by the industry are collected from the forest. A number of species are in great demand. These include bunga pakma (Rafflesia hasseltii), (Kumari et al., 1998; Latiff, 1989) and tongkat ali (Eurycoma longifolia)) (Kumari et al., 1998; Latiff, 1997). An industry survey conducted by Mohamad Setefarzi & Mansor (2001) on 163 herb manufacturers found that five herb species from local sources that commonly used were pegaga (Centella asiatica), tongkat ali (Eurycoma longifolia), Ganoderma mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum), lemon grass (Cymbopogon nardus) and kacip fatimah (Labisia pumila). Without proper monitoring and conservation measures, over-exploitation of medicinal plants from the forest may result in the problem of extinction. This could result in these species being categorized as endangered species.