Indigenous systems of medicine are one of the natural health care systems practiced by all human cultures irrespective of geographic realm since time immemorial. The rich repository of biodiversity in each area paves the way for the development of such healthcare rehearses. Kerala, the southernmost tip of Indian Peninsula is really blessed with luxuriant vegetation and biodiversity, and the same has immense role to meet indigenous healthcare needs. The present study reports the medicinal plants used by different tribal communities residing in Kasargod District in Kerala. Floristic and ethnobotanical tribal knowledge was collected through extensive groundtruthing and interviews. A total of 44 plants, their vernacular name, plant parts used and method of preparation are recorded. The medicinal potentialities of plants are important and could be explored to formulate newer drugs with more potential.
Ethnobotany, Malavettuva, Marattis, Mavilans, Koragas
The use of medicinal plants for curing various ailments is an ancient idea and a lion part of the population still rely on this indigenous mode of treatment (Mesfin et al., 2013). Nowadays A number of drugs is developed from plants, which are active against a plethora of diseases (WHO, 1991). In developed countries 25 percentage of medicinal drugs are based on plant derivatives (Principe, 2005). The use of medicinal plants is well known among indigenous people in rural areas in developing countries. India, the biodiversity hotspot, is also not an exception in the use of plant based treatments and also as nutraceuticals (Singh, 2011). Moreover, herbal medicine is important in primary health care in developing countries like India (Deviprasad et al., 2009). The WesternGhats region of Kerala is a great emporium and treasure trove of ethnobotanical wealth. Tribal medicine offers a vast scope for medicinal research with fewer side effects in cost effective ways. The present study is an attempt to investigate and document some of the medicinal plants used by different tribal groups of Kasaragod district to cure various ailments.
Kasaragod district, Northern district of Kerala which lies between 12.5°N latitude and 75.0°E Longitude (Fig 1). North and east bounded by Karnataka state, south by Kannur district and west by Arabian sea. It has an average elevation of 19 metres (62 feet). The district receives an average of about 3500 mm rainfall annually. The major source of rainfall is southwest monsoon from June to September which contributes nearly 85.3% of the total rainfall of the year. The northeast monsoon contributes nearly 8.9% and balance of 5.8% is received during the month of January to May as pre monsoon showers. The average mean monthly maximum temperature ranges from 29.2 to 33.40 C and minimum temperature ranges from 19.7 to 250 C.
Kerala is a homeland of number of tribal communities who inhabit in the western slope of Western Ghats. Thirty six communities are listed in scheduled tribe list of the state as per 1991 census record. There are four types of scheduled tribe people present in the district which includes Koragas, Marattis, Mavilan, and Malavettuvas.
One of the most primitive tribes, living in Kasaragod Taluk only. The traditional occupation of these people is basket and skep making. They speak tulu and kannada. These people are backward financially, educationally as well as culturally. The community superstitious and reluctant to take medicine other than Gurukara (head of hamlets), who controls all socio- religious activities in a hamlet.
They are educationally and culturally forward in comparison to the other tribes in the district.
A tribal community inhabits Kannur and Kasaragod districts of North Kerala. In the past, they were dependant on forest and forest produce. They had been leading a hunting, gathering and horticulture way of life until the encroachment of Janmi (landlord) to their habitat. According to the 2001 Census, the population of Mavilan in Kasaragod district is 25110. Out of this, 12310 are males and 12800 females. Their major settlements are Chengala, Puthigae, Karadukka, Kodom, Belloor, Kinnanur, Karimthalam, Badiyadukka, Balal, Kallar and Panathady panchayath.
Community classified as an Other Eligible Community (OEC) till the Amendment (Act 10 of 2003), is a new entry into the list of Scheduled Tribes of Kerala. They are distributed only in the Ghat areas of Kasaragod and Kannur Districts. They speak a mix of Malayalam and Tulu. The headman of Malavettuvans is called ‘Kiran’ who according to tradition was appointed by their respective landlords. The ‘Kiran’ took orders from their landlord and supplied manual workers to the landlords. Traditionally Malavettuvans are experts in ‘Punamkothu’. Now they subsist mainly on agricultural labour. However the community is well organized and ready to respond to various development initiatives by the government. They reside in Kuttikol, Balal, Kallar, Kodombelur, East Eleri, West Eleri and Kinanoor – Karinthalam panchayaths.
Ethnobotanical information was gathered from the indigenous peoples of the study area by extensive groundtruthing. During the course of exploration ethnobotanical information about plants is rather specialized and is limited to elder members in community who recognized as Vaidyar. Details of medicinal plants used, was documented by direct observation as well as through Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) and Rapid Rural Appraisal (RRA) along the study area.
Results and Discussion
The present study identified a total f 45 species of medicinal plants belonging to 28 families, which are common in use among the tribals of Kasaragod district. The documented medicinal plants are given in Table 1 with family, vernacular name and parts used along with their ethnobotanical uses. Out of the 45 plant species enumerated, 38 species belongs to dicotyledons, 6 of them are monocotyledons and 1 pteridophyte. Based on life forms, there are 13 herbs, 10 shrubs, 10 climbers/twiners and 12 trees. The dominant families analyzed and found that Bignoniaceae, Rutaceae, Asclepiadaceae, Commelinaceae and Fabaceae are represented with three species. The obtained results support the comprehensive and highly formulated ethnobotanical practices among tribal people in the region. Several ethnobotaniocal studies conducted worldwide already expressed real concern on rapid and profound loss of transmission of traditional knowledge and skill to their next generation with in communities. Documenting these knowledge banks is promising and will help to frame more treatment modalities and also newer drugs with more specificity and accuracy to combat not only emerging diseases but also superbugs (Herndon et al., 2009; Dikid et al., 2013 and Boire et al., 2013).
List of medicinal plants documented in the study
Root powder used for the preparation of decoction which effective against uterine disorders
Fresh fruit or fruit pulpgrounded make paste .the extract used orally to cure Liver cirrhosis
Leaf and stem extract administered orally against spider attack
Root and leaf make in to paste which is mixed with milk and rice medicated rice used against Snake poison
Dried rhizome powder one teaspoon mix with milk, taken twice daily to cure urinary disorders
Stem bark and leaf extract along with rice water administered orally against ulcers
Fresh whole plant sliced make into a paste the paste filtered by using cotton cloth filtered extract use thrice in a day foreye disease.
Leaf and stem boiled in water themedicated water called vethu which used against Arthritis
Crude extract of leaf used against whitefields
Fresh leaves boiled with water the medicated water used to cure chikunguniya
Stem extract applied externally on bone fracture,ear ache
Crused juice of herb is given twice a day for tratment of jaundice
Intact plant crude extract used against diarrhoea
Intact plant make into paste, plant extract mix with water used against Diabetes mellitus
Powdered seed mixed with milk used against Gynaec problems
Fissured bark grounded into paste.Paste used externally to relieve Heat burns
Leaf bud boiled with milk used to cure infertility problems
Three Leaf bud or bark extract mix with boiled milk to cure infertility problems
Intact flower put into water overnight. Filtered water used to treat Conjunctiva . use three drops thrice in a day
Leaves boiled with water .medicated water used for bathing tender leaf extract used orally against viral fever
Root used along with bark of lagerstromiaflos -reginae, malaxisrheedi, zizphusrugosa and malaxisrheedi. Prepare dection which is used against psoriasis
Root used as Blood purifier. Root decoction used along with milk root paste externally applied on wounds
Root extract mixed with milk against menarche problems
Dried fruits and seed used for oil extraction the used to cure skin disease.
Root along with Fiushispida bark make a rice water which used against menustral problems
Leaf and stem boiled in water the medicated water used against Arthritis Arthritis
Fresh plant sliced and boiled in water. The medicated water used as Antiinflamatory
Intact plant dried and powdered, the powder mix along with piper longum and piper nigrum.the mixture make into a crude paste by using honey. The mixture effectively used against Asthma
Muscular pain and diarrhoea
Tender leaf paste used against ringworm infection Foot disease
Leaf paste applied externally t treat skin disease such as scabies
Processed root used for the preparation of decoction. The decoction mix with milk or ghee take two times in a day to cure Ulcers
Bark or hard wood put into water uptoovernight . the medicated water orally adfministered for three months to cure Diabetes
Along with leaves of alstoniascholaris, tylophoraasthmatica, terminaliabellerica fruit powder mix with coconut oil .medicated oil externally applied against psoriasis
Stem and leaf burnt ash applied externally on wounds
Tender leaf paste and fruit pulp mix with boiled water take twice in a day to cure gastric problems
Bark and root boiled in coconut oil .This medicated oil used against Backpain
Bark extract mix with milk used against Gynaec problems
Tenderleaves covered with cotton cloth make a small kits.The leaf kit dipped in boiled water . warmth the affected portion like joints to treat Arthritis
Stem and leaf extract filtered in cotton cloth and filtered extract applied on eyes to cure migrain
Leaf extract applied on affected areas spider attack
Leaves crushed into paste this used externally to deep wounds and ringworm infection
Leaf soaked in coconut oil up to 7 days the oil become turned in to blue coloured, the medicated oil used against Skin disease
Root tuber crushed and grinded with rice water make a paste. Paste applied on face mumps affected areas such as face and throat
List of medicinal plants documented in the study
Present study focuses on the utilization of plants available with tribal people of Kasaragod district in Kerala State as traditional knowledge for the treatment of various diseases. There is an urgent need for systematic documentation and scientific validation of this knowledge by using scientific tools. The intersection of technological, social, economic, political and environmental factors is the need of the hour to reshape the meanings and importance of local environmental knowledge and associated genetic resources, which paves the way for the growth and consolidation of ethnobotany, both in terms of its theoretical sophistication and its social relevance.
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