Key words

Ethnomedicinal investigation, tribal people, eastern ghates, andhra Pradesh.


Ethnobotany deals with the direct relationship of plants with man. Early origins of traditional medicine must have had their roots in ethnobotanical folklore, but today, traditional medicine incorporates several well-organized, distinct systems of diagnosis and cure. In India alone, three traditional systems of medicine, namely Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani are distinguished. The use of plants in ‘Ayurveda’ (2500-900 B.C.) the foundation of medicinal science in human culture has been observed as dealing with plants possessing special properties of drugs in various aspects of healing (Bhandari 1984-86). Further, ethnobotany includes study of foods, fibers, dyes, and tannin, other useful and harmful plants, taboos, avoidances and even magico-religious beliefs about plants (Jain 1967 a; Ford, 1978). The plant-based traditional medical systems continue to provide the primary health care to more than three-quarters of the world’s populace. The World Health Organization has estimated that over 80% of the global populations rely chiefly on traditional medicine (Akerele 1992). In India, the use of plants for medicinal treatment dates back to 5000 years. It was officially recognized that 2500 plant species have medicinal value while over 6000 plants are estimated to be explored in traditional, folk and herbal medicine (Huxley 1984) and the roots of Aloe vera (Kalabanda) as a food during famine. Hemadri (1976) wrote a paper on the procurement of raw drugs in Andhra Pradesh. Rao & Hamadri (1979) published the book on Andhra Pradeshlo Mandumokkalu (The Medicinal Plants of Andhra Pradesh). Later, Hemadri wrote two books in Telugu, namely, Andhra Pradesh lo Vanamulikalu (1987) and Shastravettalanu Akarshinstunna Girijana Vaidyam (1994). The latter is about the ethnobotany of various tribes more or less covering the three geographical regions of Andhra Pradesh. The medicinal plant wealth of Andhra Pradesh by Hemadri et al. (1986, 1987) contains a mere list of medicinal plants. Ramarao et al. (1999) published a brief note on phyto-zootherapy of the tribes of Andhra Pradesh. V. S Raju (2001) made a note on Ethnoveterinary medicine in Andhra Pradesh; Ratnam & Raju (2005) reported Folk medicine used for common women ailments by Adivasis in the Eastern Ghats of Andhra Pradesh. S.N. Jadhav & K.N. Reddy (2006) presented detail account on threatened medicinal plants of Andhra Pradesh. Bhakshu & Raju (2007) made abstract account on Ethno-medico-botanical studies of certain medicinal plants and certain Euphorbiaciaceous medicinal plants of Eastern Ghats, Andhra Pradesh. Geetha & Raju (2007) made a note on Ethno-medico-botanical properties of Terminalia species in the forests of Eastern Ghats of Andhra Pradesh. There are ethnobotanical works either based on an ethnic tribe or on phytotherapy of a disease. Anonymous (1966) provided the information on Koyas of Andhra Pradesh. Ramarao et al. (1984) presented the note on ethnobotanical studies in Andhra Pradesh while Ramarao (1988) did his Ph.D. work on the Ethnobotany of Eastern Ghats in Andhra Pradesh. Ramarao & Henry (1996) carried out the publication on Ethnobotany of Eastern Ghats in Andhra Pradesh.

Study area

Eastern Ghats are a long chain of broken hills and elevated plateaus, running about 1750 km with an average width of about 100 km between Mahanadi and Vaigai rivers along the Indian East coast through Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and Tamilnadu. Eastern Ghats in the state are discontinuous range of hills situated between 12° 38¢ -22° 00¢ N latitudes and 78° 50¢-84° 46¢ E longitudes. Its northern boundary is marked by river Mahanadi basin while the southern boundary is the Cauvery and Tamil Nadu uplands and passes through Visakhapatnam, Vijayanagaram, Srikakulam, East Godavari, West Godavari, Khammam, Krishna, Guntur, Mahaboobnagar, Prakasam, Kurnool, Kadapa, Nellore and Chittoor districts. The altitudes range from 300-1500 m above MSL. The highest peak in these Ghats is Sambari Konda with the elevation of 2527m near Gudem village in Visakhapatnam district. The vegetation varies from semi-evergreen forests to scrub jungles. The predominant tribal communities inhabiting the study area are Bagata, Konda Dora, Valmiki, Konda Kammara, Mali, Kotia, Khond, Jatapu, Muka Dora, Gadaba, Porja, Khond and Savaras etc,.

Material and Methods

The information on plants used for treating varies disorders of folklore origin were obtained during the course of ethnobotanical surveys of Eastern Ghats of Andhra Pradesh conducted in 2013-2014. Ethno-medico botanical data were collected through conversation with traditional healers, tribal doctors and old women in the field trips. During the interview local names, useful plant parts, method of preparation, and dosage were recorded. The plant species were identified with the help of regional and local floras (Hooker, 1897; Gamble, 1967; Narayana Rao et al., 1981, Rangacharyulu, 1991; Thammanna et al., 1994 and Matthew, 1983). The method of collection of voucher specimens, their preservation herbaria and technique for the collection of ethnomedicobotanical information follows Jain and Rao (1977).

Result and Discussion

Ethno floristic exploration was made during the period 2012-2014 covering all the regions of Eastern ghates, Andhra Pradesh. The total number of species is segregated according to the family. Thus the family-wise analysis of the ethnic species revealed that, 71 species belonging to 33 families and the dominant 5 families with ethnobotanical importance are furnished. Among them, Fabaceae and Euphorbiaceae is in hierarchy with 7 species constituting 6.18% followed by Mimosaceae with 5 (5.37%), Malvaceae, Combretaceae, Lamiaceae and Moraceae with 4 (5.10%), Rutaceae, Liliaceae, Meliaceae and Verbenaceae with 3 (4.03%), Araceae, Caesalpiniaceae and Plunbaginaceae with 2 (3.49%). Out of the 71 species, angiosperms are 69 (97.2%), followed by 2 species of pteridiphytes (2.8%). Among angiosperms, 61 are dicotyledons (85.9%) and 8 are monocotyledons (11.3%). The drug yielding plants are statistically analysed based on their morphological habit and revealed that herbs dominated with 23 species (33%) followed by trees 25 (35%), shrubs 18 (25%) and climbers 3 (4%). Whereas the Lianes / Stragglers are with 2 species (3%). Different parts or products of medicinal plants are employed for ethnomedicinal purposes like root, root bark, tuber, stem, stem bark, tender branch, rhizome, leaf, flower, fruit, seed, whole plant and latex, gum in different formulations like decoctions, infusion, extract, paste, powder, etc. are in practice. It is probably that the whole herb/plant is thought worth more by the tribal medicine men than the sum total of its parts. Based on the study the different plant parts that are used in crude drug preparation to cure 33 diseases with 71 practices are analyzed.

In case of combination of different ailments, the study has highlighted that about 71 practices are used by using single plant preparation for curing different ailments followed by using combination of two plants. The tribal people are treasures of traditional knowledge of plants from utilitarian point of view. They have successful art of curing diseases in several localities of the Eastern ghates. Frequent field survey and regular personal interviews in different pockets revealed 33 diseases could be treated with 71 medicinal plants in the study area. More prevalent diseases are Blood dysentery, Rheumatism, Galactogauge, Jaundice, Cough, Menorrhoea, Fever, Stomachache, Scabies, Wounds, Itching, Chickenpox, Boils, Backache, Earache, Diabetes, Snake bite, Weakness, Asthma, Purgative, Headache, Leg pain, Tooth decay, Heel crakes, Paralysis, Dandruff, Heart pain, Bone fracture, Sprain, Leucorrhoea, Scorpion sting and Leg pain. In the present study 71 plant species either singly or in combination are used for curing 33 ailments.

Table 1: Ethno medicinal plants used by the tribal people of Eastern ghates.

Botanical name Family Vernacular name Habit Mode of administration and Dosage.
Abutilon indicum (Linn.) Sweet Malvaceae Tuttura benda Shrub Galactagogue: Root paste is applied over the mammae to enhance lactation in nourishing mothers.
Acacia leucophloea (Roxb.) Willd. Mimosaceae Tella tumma Tree Wounds: Stem bark paste mixed with a pinch of turmeric is applied on the affected areas twice a day for 2 days.
Acacia rugata (Lam.) Ham. Mimosaceae Sikaya Straggler Jaundice: Half glass of pod decoction is administered daily once on empty stomach.
Acalypha indica Linn. Euphorbiaceae Kuppinta Herb Toothache: Two to three drops of leaf juice is poured into the affected teeth side of the ear.
Achyranthes aspera Linn. Amaranthaceae Duchheru Herb Jaundice: Root ground with that of Prosopis spicigera is made into soap nut seed sized pills and administered along with buttermilk.
Acorus calamus Linn. Araceae Vasa Herb Fever: Rhizome paste is applied all over the body and a pinch of rhizome or leaf paste is administered with a glass of water only once to keep away evil spirits causing fever.
Actinopteris radiata (Swartz) Link. Actinoptridaceae Mayurasikha Herb Snake bite: One spoon of root paste mixed with that of cow ghee is administered with rice washed water
Adiantum philippense Linn. Adiantaceae Challi Herb Cough: Root paste along with leaf paste of Centella asiatica mixed with water is administered twice a day for 3 days.
Aegle marmelos (Linn.) Correa Rutaceae Maredu Tree Blood dysentery: One spoon of unripen fruit powder mixed with jaggery is administered twice a day.
Ageratum conyzoides Linn. Asteraceae Pumpullu Herb Itching: Equal quantities of leaves and turmeric are ground into paste and mixed with triple the amount of coconut oil, boiled and applied on the affected areas.
Ailanthus excelsa Roxb. Simaroubaceae Peddamaan Tree Nervous weakness: Ten to fifteen drops of seed oil mixed in one glass of milk is administered daily once
Albizia lebbeck (Linn.) Willd. Mimosaceae Dirisena Tree Asthma: One spoon of stem bark juice is administered once a day.
Aloe vera (Linn.) Burm. f. Liliaceae Kalabandh Herb Jaundice: Fleshy leaves are burnt and made into powder. It is mixed in water along with equal amounts of sugar crystals and given orally.
Anisomeles indica (Linn.) Kuntze Lamiaceae Ada beera Shrub Rheumatism: Leaves are crushed with castor oil and warmed and bandaged on the joints.
Bauhinia racemosa Lam. Caesalpiniaceae Chinaware Tree Stomachache: Ten to twenty ml of stem bark juice is taken only once.
Bauhinia vahlii Wight and Arn. Caesalpiniaceae Addachettu Liane Blood dysentery: One small cup of stem bark decotion is administered daily thrice for 4-5 days.
Calycopteris floribunda Lam. Combretaceae Adavijama Shrub Purgative: Two to three spoons of root or leaf decoction is administered for 2-3 days.
Cannabis sativa Linn. Cannabinaceae Ganjai Herb Headache: Leaves are slightly heated, crushed and 2-3 drops are instilled into the two ears
Cereus pterogonus Lam. Cactaceae Nagajemud Shrub Leg pains: Succulent stem with that of Opuntia dillenii, free of thorns is crushed and bandaged on the affected areas.
Chlorophytum arundinaceum Baker Liliaceae Bhundeda Herb Galactagogue: Two spoons of tuberous root paste mixed in a glass of goat milk is administered daily twice for 3 days.
Cipadessa baccifera (Roth) Miq. Meliaceae Palladonda Shrub Chickenpox: Leaves are ground with turmeric. Paste is applied on the affected areas.
Desmodium gangeticum (Linn.) DC. Fabaceae Bhumi ippa Shrub Rheumatism: One spoon of root decoction is administered daily once.
Desmodium pulchellum (Linn.) Benth. Fabaceae Konda anteetha Shrub Wounds: The leaves and tubers ground with the bark of Moringa oleifera and green banana and the paste is applied on the affected areas.
Dichrostachys cinerea (Linn.) Wt. and Arn. Mimosaceae Veluturu chettu Shrub Rheumatism: Quarter cup of root or stem bark juice is administered daily once.
Diplocyclos palmatus (Linn.) Jeffrey Cucurbitaceae Linga donda Climber Tooth decay: Roots are crushed and kept in the cavity of the affected tooth.
Dysophylla quadrifolia Benth. Lamiaceae Rati thulasi Herb Chickenpox: Dried leaves are burnt and the patient is exposed to the fumes and leaf paste is also applied to the body.
Entada rheedii Spr. Mimosaceae Adavi chinta Liane Scabies and Boils: Seed paste is applied on the affected areas.
Eryngium foetidum Linn. Apiaceae Kerala kotthimere Herb Stomachache: Ten g of root paste mixed with 5 g of seed paste of Elettaria cardamom is administered twice a day.
Erythrina variegata Linn. Fabaceae Badita Tree Backache: One spoon of shade dried stem bark powder is taken with one cup of rice washed water only once in night for 15 days.
Euphorbia hirta Linn. Euphorbiaceae Pachabottu Herb Cough: Half spoon of plant juice is administered daily in the morning with pepper.
Euphorbia heterophyllus Linn. Euphorbiaceae Pala chettu Herb Galactagogue: Young leaves and fruits are boiled and ground into paste with garlic is given orally daily once for a week.
Euphorbia ligularia Roxb. Euphorbiaceae Chettu jamudu Tree Heel cracks: Latex and gingelly oil each taken in two spoons mixed with salt is applied on the affected areas.
Euphorbia nivulia Buch.-Ham. Euphorbiaceae Akujamudu Tree Earache: Leaves are warmed and 2-3 drops of juice is squeezed into the ears.
Euphorbia tirucalli Linn. Euphorbiaceae Kada jamudu Shrub Galactagogue: Latex mixed with that of papaya is taken with rice washed water daily.
Ficus benghalensis Linn. Moraceae Marri Tree Diabetes: Quarter glass of stem bark juice is taken daily in the morning.
Ficus hispida Linn. f. Moraceae Boddamarri Tree Menorrhagia: Fruit juice mixed with equal quantities of honey is administered daily (Milk rice is to be taken as food).
Ficus microcarpa Linn.f. Moraceae Juvvi Tree Blood dysentery: Stem bark is crushed into paste, cooked with cow milk and mixed with honey. One spoon of it is administered daily.
Ficus racemosa Linn. Moraceae Medi chettu Tree Backache: Half cup of fruit juice mixed with half spoon of myrobalan seed powder is administered daily twice.
Globba marantina Linn. Zingiberaceae Konda pasupu Herb Fever: Tuber paste is applied on the scalp to reduce high temperatures.
Gloriosa superba Linn. Liliaceae Vankavajjuram Herb Jaundice: One spoon of leaves ground into paste is mixed with butter milk and administered orally.
Glycyrrhiza glabra (Retz.) DC. Fabaceae Athimadhuram Shrub Cough: One spoon of root powder mixed with half spoon of honey is made into pills. One pill is kept in the mouth and the juice is gulped.
Gmelina arborea Roxb. Verbenaceae Gummadu chettu Tree Galactagogue: Root decoction with honey is given once a day for nourishing mothers.
Gmelina asiatica Linn. Verbenaceae Nela gummadi Shrub Dandruff: Fruit paste is applied to scalp for half an hour before bathing once a day for one week.
Morinda pubescens Sm. Rubiaceae Togaru Tree Stomachache: Two spoons of stem bark paste mixed with a spoonful of turmeric is administered twice a day for 2 days.
Mucuna pruriens (Linn.) DC. Fabaceae Dula dama Climber Blood dysentery: Ficus fruit sized root paste is administered with water daily once till cure.
Murraya koenigii (Linn.) Spreng. Rutaceae Karivepaku Shrub Dysentery: One to two spoons of leaf paste mixed with half glass of butter milk is administered for 3-5 times a day.
Nyctanthes arbor-tristis Linn. Nyctaginaceae Parijatam Tree Anthelmintic: One spoon of fresh leaf juice mixed with honey is administered for one week.
Nymphaea pubescens Willd. Nymphaeceae Erra Kaluva puvvu Herb Menorrhagia: Half cup of fruit juice is mixed with little amount of sugar and administered daily thrice.
Ocimum gratissimum Linn. Lamiaceae Rama tulasi Herb Earache: One to two drops of leaf juice is instilled into the affected ears.
Ocimum tenuiflorum Linn. Lamiaceae Krishna tulasi Herb Cough: Leaf juice mixed with ginger juice and honey of equal amounts is administered daily on empty stomach. Leaf juice mixed with honey is given orally.
Oroxylum indicum (Linn.)Vent. Bignoniaceae Pampanga Tree Jaundice: Ten g of stem bark is ground with two g of turmeric. One spoon of paste is administered daily twice for five days.
Phyllanthus emblica Linn. Euphorbiaceae Vusiri Tree Menorrhagia: One to two spoons of fruit powder is taken with water or equal quantities of honey.
Plumbago auriculata Lam. Plumbaginaceae Nalla chitramoolam Shrub Rheumatism: One spoon of root paste is administered with milk or water daily once for 15 days.
Plumbago indica Linn. Plumbaginaceae Yerra chitramulam Herb Paralysis: Small piece (1 inch) of root ground into paste is administered with half glass of water daily once for 15 days.
Plumeria rubra Linn. Apocynaceae Lakshmi poolu Tree Heart pain: Latex of the stem is poked on the chest daily.
Pongamia pinnata (Linn.) Pierre Fabaceae Kangu Tree Diabetes: Three to five g of flower powder mixed with one glass of milk is administered daily once on empty stomach.
Scindapsus officinalis Schott Araceae Atukusaru Climber Bone fracture: Root is ground into paste and bandaged with stem bark of Ceiba pentandra to rejoin the bones.
Semecarpus anacardium Linn.f. Anacardiaceae Nalla jeedi Tree Scabies: Two g of stem bark powder is administered on empty stomach in the morning and evening for five days.
Sesbania grandiflora (Linn.) Poir. Fabaceae Tella sumintha Tree Itching: Fresh stem bark paste is applied on the affected areas.
Sida acuta Burm. f. Malvaceae Nela cheepuru Shrub Sprain: Leaves are crushed with those of Sida cordifolia and rubbed on the affected areas and paste is also applied on it.
Sida cordifolia Linn. Malvaceae Chiru benda Herb Menorrhagia: Five g of root powder mixed with one spoon of honey is taken with one cup of milk daily twice.
Sida rhombifolia Linn. Malvaceae Ativala Shrub Leucorrhoea: One spoon of root powder mixed with sugar is taken with milk regularly.
Soymida febrifuga (Roxb.) A. Juss. Meliaceae Sami chettu Tree Scorpion sting: Stem bark paste is applied on the bitten area and 10-20 ml fresh stem bark juice is administered orally.
Terminalia alata Roth. Combretaceae Nallamaddi Tree Jaundice: Stem bark mixed with that of Oroxylum indicum, and whole plant of Phyllanthus amarus are made into decoction. Quarter cup of it is administered daily once on empty stomach.
Terminalia bellirica (Gaertn.) Roxb. Combretaceae Tani Tree Blood dysentery: One to two spoons of fruit powder mixed with one spoon of sugar candy powder is given orally.
Terminalia chebula Retz. Combretaceae Karakkai Tree Boils: Myrobalan powder mixed with green grass is made into paste and applied externally.
Thalictrum foliolosum DC. Ranunculaceae Piyaranga Herb Rheumatism: One spoon of root paste is administered with half glass of water daily once for 15 days.
Vetiveria zizanioides (Linn.) Nash Poaceae Vatti veru Herb Fever: Half cup of root decoction is administered daily thrice with half cup of milk.
Vitex negundo Linn. Verbenaceae Vayila Shrub Leg pains: One glass of leaf juice is mixed with one glass of gingelly oil and slightly heated and used for massage.
Withania somnifera (Linn.) Dunal Solanaceae Pennerugadda Shrub Rheumatism: One spoon of root paste is taken with water daily once and it is mixed with equal quantities of dried ginger and plastered on the affected areas.
Zanthoxylum armatum DC. Rutaceae Konda kasivinda Shrub Scabies: Leaves mixed with turmeric are ground into paste and applied on the affected areas.


In this context, it may be mentioned that a well-planned and time bound strategy has to be adopted for proper documentation of the inherited ethnic knowledge of not only particular tribe but all the tribes of the country, by involving the state government and local people. The approach has to be very sincere and scientific in real sense of the term. This job has to be taken up on priority basis in view of the fact that after a decade, there may not be single person to tell us about their ethnic knowledge. In view of the above facts, it is felt that it is prime need of the time to establish a full-fledged multidisciplinary Institute of Ethnobiology, which will monitor all such ethnobiological researches and take care that such reports should be taken up seriously and ensure that further work (isolation of active principles, clinical tests, etc.) Should be done and the ethnic communities get their legitimate dues for sharing their ethnic knowledge (which is their intellectual property) with the scientists. It is hoped that the present findings will greatly contribute towards achieving this goal. Careful ethnobotanical research can help safeguard intellectual property rights based on natural resources and their relationships to indigenous knowledge throughout the world. The knowledge gathered from tribals may be returned back to them after value-addition.