Ethnobotanical Leaflets 14: 136-60, 2010.

 

 

Traditional Knowledge on Medicinal Plants Used by the Irula Tribe of Hasanur Hills, Erode District, Tamil Nadu, India

 

P. Revathi and T. Parimelazhagan*

 

Bioprospecting Laboratory

Department of Botany, Bharathiar University, Coimbatore, 641 046, India

*Corresponding author E-mail: drparimel@gmail.com

 

Issued: Ferbuary 01, 2010

 

Abstract

 

An ethnobotanical survey was carried out among the ethnic groups (Irula) in Hasanur Hills (Southern Western Ghats). The tribal communities of Irulas nurture rich knowledge about medicinal plants and its uses.  Therefore, we have done an exhaustive ethnobotanical survey in this area.  In this present investigation, it is observed that the tribal’s use 70 wild valuable plant species belonging to 42 families were identified with relevant information and documented in this paper with regard to their botanical name, family, local name, parts used and utilization by the local tribal people for different human ailments. The common diseases treated by the herbal practitioner were asthma, digestive problems, paralyzes, skin diseases and diabetes. 

 

Keywords: Hasanur Hills; Irulas; Medicinal plants; Traditional use.

 

Introduction

            Plants have been used in traditional medicine for several thousand years. The knowledge of medicinal plants has been accumulated in the course of many centuries based on different medicinal systems such as Ayurveda, Unani and Siddha.  In India, it is reported that traditional healers use 2500 plant species and 100 species of plants serve as regular sources of medicine (Pei, 2001).

 During last few decades there has been an increasing in the study of medicinal plants and their traditional use in different parts of the world (Lev, 2006).  Herbal remedies are considered the oldest forms of health care known to mankind on this earth.  Prior to the development of modern medicine, the traditional systems of medicine that have evolved over the centuries within various communities, are still maintained as a great traditional knowledge base in herbal medicines (Mukherjee and Wahil, 2006).  Traditionally, this treasure of knowledge has been passed on orally from generation to generation without any written document (Perumal Samy and Ignacimuthu, 2000) and is still retained by various indigenous groups around the world.

Documenting the indigenous knowledge through ethnobotanical studies is important for the conservation and utilization of biological resources.  Ethnobotanical survey has been found to be one of the reliable approaches to drug discovery (Fabricant and Farnsworth, 2001). Several active compounds have been discovered from plants on the basis of ethnobotanical information and used directly as patented drugs (Carney et al., 1999). As indigenous cultures are closely maintained by the tribal and other forest dwellers throughout the world, the ethnobotanical investigation is a prerequisite for any developmental planning concerned with the welfare of tribal and their environment.  It is an urgent, necessity to record as quickly as possible all information about plants and the role of tribes in conserving them. The main focus of the present study is to ascertain the detailed information on the use of plants and their therapeutic practices among Irula tribals of Hasanur Hills, Tamil Nadu.

 

 

Methodology

            An ethnobotanical survey was carried out in Hasanur Hill area, which is found in Sathyamangalam forest sanctuary, Erode District, Tamil Nadu (Fig 1).  Sathyamangalam forest is a part of Western Ghats covered with mixed deciduous vegetation.  The Hasanur Hill is situated at 933 meters above the sea level with a total area of 4532.53 ha.  It lies 77°3”42’ N longitudes and 11°40”16’ latitude.  It includes almost all types of vegetations and one river named Binahanalli. The ethnobotanical survey was carried out among local population and the tribe called Irulas living in this area.  The tribal community was met in their residential areas.  The field visit was conducted several times to the study area.

Ethnobotanical data were collected according to the methodology suggested by Jain (1964) through questionnaire (Appendix A), interviews and discussions among tribal practitioners in their local language.  Our questionnaire allowed descriptive response on the plant prescribed, such as part of the plant used, medicinal uses, and detailed information about mode of preparation (i.e., decoction, paste, powder and juice) form of usage either fresh or dried and mixtures of other plants used as ingredients.

 There were 23 informant between the ages of 35 to 68 in the study area.  Among them 5 were farmers and 18 were regular herbal practitioners.  They were accompanied us to the forest area where they showed us plants that are used in their traditional medicines

            The collected plant specimens were carefully identified with the help of experts in the Botanical Survey of India, Coimbatore. The specimens were properly processed and finally deposited in the herbarium of Department of Botany, Bharathiar University.  Details regarding their uses, medicinal importance, mode of administration and their local names were recorded. The Flora of Presidency of Madras was used to ascertain the nomenclature. Data are tabulated with plant name along with family, local name, parts used, method of preparation and utility (Table 1).

 

LOCATION MAP

Fig. 1 Location map for the ethnobotanical survey of the folk medicinal plants in Hasanur Hills.

 

 

Results

 

The result of this study have revealed 70 plant species belonging to 42 families that are used for various purposes by herbalists, traditional healers and tribal people of Hasanur Hills (Table 1). Seed and tender twigs were recorded as the least used plant parts.  However, leaves were found most frequently used part and constituting 45% followed by root (14%), fruit (10%), and bark (8%) (Fig.2). Maximum use of leaves medicinal purpose indicates either these plants are easily availability or they may have strong medicinal properties.

The methods of preparation fall into seven categories.  The plant parts applied as a paste (44%), boiled (14%), decoction (12%), juice extracted from the fresh plant parts (7%), powder made from dried plant parts (7%), Fumigate (4%), Infusion (3%), and others (9%) (Fig.3). Paste is the main methods of preparation, either for oral or for external administration. The underground parts viz. roots, rhizomes, tubers, etc. were preferably harvested either at the time of senescence or before dormancy break to retain maximum potency of crude drug.

The mode of administration of these formulations is concerned about 41 preparations were prescribed to consume orally and 26 formulations were reported for external use only.    Largest number of remedies are skin diseases (29%) followed by digestive problems (27%), respiratory disorders (17%), diabetes (5%), paralyze (7%), genital disorders (10%), snake bite (3%), toothache (2%) (Fig.4).  Common health ailments in the study area were skin problems such as wounds, boils, psoriasis and the larger number of the remedies were used to treat these ailments.  Common medicinal plants such as Achyranthus aspera, Lantana camera, Indigofera aspalathoides, Terminalia bellarica are used for skin diseases.   

Among the plants surveyed, Ocimum basilicum, Adhatoda vasica are used frequently for the preparation of medicines for the treatment of respiratory disorders.  The result showed that Cassia tora, Solanum xanthocarpum are weeds, which is used as a vegetable.  Fruits of Flacourtia ramontchi, Zyzyphus oenoplia, and root of Hemidesmus indicus are used as edible by the tribal people.  The tribal people mostly eat vegetables of leafy varieties which grown as wild weeds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Fig. 2. Plant parts used by Irula tribes for various ailments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Fig. 3. Drug preparation methods for various ailments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Fig. 4. Percentage of the plants having different pharmacological actions

 

 

 

 

Table 1. Medicinal Plants used by Irula Tribe of Hasanur Hills, Erode District, Tamil Nadu.

 

 

 

S.

No

 

Botanical name

 

Family

 

Local Name

 

Habit

 

Parts used

 

Method of preparation and mode of usage

 

Ailments treated

01.

Adina

cordifolia Hk.  f.

Rubiaceae

Manjal Kadambai

Tree

Bark

Fresh bark is ground with brown sugar and cumin. The paste of this mixture is taken internally to treat female asthenia.

Body Weakness and Uterus related problems

02.

Toddalia

asiatica Lamk.

Rutaceae

Masiha chedi

Herb

Bark

Paste is prepared form fresh stem bark and it is taken internally as well as topically to cure paralyzes

Paralyzes

03.

Strebulus

Asper Lour

Moraceae

Kembara

Shrub

Leaf

Leaf paste is applied topically to treat measles like swellings on the skin

Skin diseases

04.

Asparagus racemosus Willd.

Liliaceae

Neermuthi

Shrub

Leaf and Root

Leaf and root powder is mixed with breast milk.  The paste is taken internally to improve immunity of children

Weakened immunity

05.

Cardiospermum

helicacabum Linn.

Sapindaceae

Thatu putu

Climber

Leaf

Paste of leaves with onion and coconut oil is taken orally for joint pain

Arthritis

06.

Randia dumetorum Lamk.

Rubiaceae

Kaarai kai chedi

Shrub

Seed and Fruit

Fruits are rubbed on hard substances and paste is applied topically to cure skin diseases

Dermatitis

07.

Andrographis paniculata Nees.

Acanthaceae

Periaa nangai

Shrub

Leaf

Leaf paste is taken orally for snake bite and to reduce pain

Snake bite,

Chikun kunai

08.

Ziziphus oenoplia Mill.

Rhamnaceae

Churipala chedi

Shrub

Fruit and Bark

Bark and Fruit paste along with cumin is taken internally to treat diarrhea

Diarrhoea

09.

Caesalpinia sepiaria Roxb.

Caesalpiniaceae

Intha chedi

Shrub

Leaf

Leaves are cooked and taken orally with food for digestion problems

Stomach disorder

10.

Amaranthus spinosus Linn.

Amaranthaceae

Mullu Keerai

Herb

Leaf and Root

Leaf paste along with lemon juice is taken with food to cure stomach ulcer

Stomach ulcer

11.

Acacia

torta Craib.

Mimosaceae

Seeva keerai

Climber

Leaf and Young twig

Leaf is cooked with onion and taken with food. It facilitates the expulsion of gas.

Stomach disorder

12.

Zizyphus mauritiana Linn.

Rhamnaceae

Kodithotti maram

Tree

Leaf

Paste of leaf along with the leaves of Ailanthes excelsa Roxb. is taken internally as well as topically to treat paralyze

Paralyze

13.

Sida acuta Burm.

Malvaceae

Kala karandai

Herb

Leaf

Crush the fresh leaves and the juice is applied topically to treat boils

Boils

14.

Spilanthes acmella Murr.

Asteraceae

Manjal Poo chedi

Herb

Flower

Flowers are crushed and applied on the site of toothache

Toothache

15.

Ailanthes excelsa Roxb.

Simarubaceae

Peevari maram

Tree

Leaf

Decoction is prepared from leaves and taken internally to treat paralyze

Paralyze

16.

Hemidesmus indicus R. Br.

Asclepiadaceae

Nannari

Climber

Leaf

Root and Leaf decoction is taken orally to regulate digestion

Stomach disorder

17.

Argemone mexicana Linn.

Papaveraceae

Manjal Paal chedi

Herb

Latex

Latex of the plant is applied topically on the site of boils

Boils

18.

Mimosa

pudica Linn.

Mimosaceae

Thotta sinungi

Herb

Leaf

Root and Leaf infusion is applied on the wounds

Wound healing

19.

Leucas

aspera Spreng.

Lamiaceae

Kennathumbai

Herb

Leaf

Leaf paste or crushed leaf is taken both externally & internally to treat snake bite, It is also applied topically on the forehead to cure one side headache

Snake bite, One side headache

20.

Ruellia

patula Jacq.

Acanthaceae

Puni chedi

Herb

Leaf

Leaf paste is applied topically all over the body to treat children fever

Children fever

21.

Cissus quadrangularis Linn.

Vitaceae

Perandai

Lianas

Stem and leaf

Paste of stem and leaf is taken orally with food for easy digestion and to increase appetite

Stomach disorder

22.

Achyranthes aspera Linn.

Amaranthaceae

Nauruvi

Herb

Leaf

Paste of leaf with onion is applied externally on the bitten site of dog and to cure skin diseases

Rabies, Skin diseases

23.

Syzygium

cumini Linn.

Myrtaceae

Naval  palam

Tree

Seed

Seed powder mixed with either hot water or cow’s milk are taken orally in empty stomach to treat diabetes

Diabetes

24.

Abrus

precatorius Linn.

Fabaceae

Vellai kundu

mani

Climbing shrub

Seed

Decoction of seed is taken orally to increase sperm count and to treat stomach pain

Stomach problems and sexual disorder

25.

Lantana

camera Linn.

Verbanaceae

Unichedi

Shrub

Leaf

Leaf paste is applied topically to treat wounds

Wound healing

26.

Solanum

nigrum Linn.

Solanaceae

Chukuti chedi

Herb

Leaf and Fruit

Leaves and fruits are chewed and swallowed to cure mouth ulcer

Mouth ulcer

27.

Sesbania. aegyptiaca Pers.

Fabaceae

Sitha

hathi

Shrub

Tender twig and seed

Tender twig and seeds are infused with coconut oil and applied topically on the hair regularly for healthy and black hair

Problems in hair growth and body heat

28.

Tridax procumbens Linn.

Asteraceae

Mookuthi chedi

Herb

Leaf

Leaf juice is applied topically on wounds

Wound healings

29.

Phyllanthus amarus Linn.

Euphorbiaceae

Keela nelli

Herb

Root and fruit

Roots and fruits are crushed and mixed with goat’s milk. The mixture is taken orally to cure jaundice and liver problems

Liver problems

30.

Euphorbia

Hirta Linn.

Euphorbiaceae

Ammaan pachcharsi

Herb

Leaf and fruit

Leaf and fruit powder is mixed with cow’s milk and taken orally to treat Leucorrhoea and to keep the body cool

Leucorrhoea

31.

Jatropha

curcas Linn.

Euphorbiaceae

Katta amankku

Shrub

Bark and latex

Decoction prepared from bark and mixed with water. The water is used to take bath for the treatment of stomach problems during pregnancy.  Latex is taken orally for same purpose

Stomach related problemsduring pregnancy

32.

Bauhinia

retusa Ham.

Fabaceae

Aathi

Shrub

Leaves and fibres

Leaves are fumigated and s inhaled to get relief from fever.  The stem fibres are used in coir production.

Fever

33.

Azima tetragantha Lamk.

Salvadoraceae

Mullu

kuthi chedi

Herb

Leaf

Decoction prepared from leaves and is taken orally to treat cold and cough

 

Cold and cough

34.

Flacourtia ramontchi ‘L’Herit.

Bixaceae

Kejalika chedi

Herb

Fruit

Ripened fruits are taken orally to keep the body cool

Body heat

35.

Cassia

tora Linn.

Fabaceae

Thahara chedi

Herb

Shoot tip

Tender twigs are cooked with onion and taken with food

Used as a vegetable

36.

Solanum xanthocarpum Schrad

Solanaceae

Kandan kattiri

Herb

Fruit

Unripe fruits are cooked and taken with food

Used as a vegetable

37.

Solanum

indicum Linn.

Solanaceae

Mullu chundal

Herb

Fruit

Unripe fruits are cooked and taken with food to expel tapeworms. These fruits are used to preparing pickles

Expelling worms

38.

Ficus

retusa Linn.

Moraceae

Athi maram

Tree

Leaf and fruit

Paste of Leaf along with their fruit combined with cumin is taken orally to cure swellings, Lung blockage.  It is best for treat diabetes and applied topically over the fractured bones.

Diabetes,   bone fracture , cold, swellings

39.

Spilanthes

calva Wt.

Asteraceae

Vettu marunthu chedi

Herb

Leaf

Leaf paste is applied directly on wounds

Wound healings

40.

Capparis

sepiaria Linn.

Violaceae

Thotti chedi

Herb

Fruit and Root

Leaves are pasted with lemon juice and are applied topically to treat swellings. The fruits are edible.

Swellings

41.

Launaea pinnatifida cass.

Goodeniaceae

Kaatu thumbi

Herb

Leaf

Leaf decoction is taken internally to get relief from fever

Fever

42.

Oxalis

Corniculata Linn.

Oxalidaceae

Puliyarai

Small herb

Root

Paste of Root is taken orally to treat common fever

Fever

43.

Euphorbia heterophylla Linn.

Euphorbiaceae

Paal Poodu

Herb

Leaf

Leaf is cooked with coconut oil and onion.  It is taken with food for stomach problems and to treat dysentery

Stomach problems and dysentery

44.

Ocimum basilicum Linn.

Lamiaceae

Thiruneetru pachai

Herb

Leaf

Dried leaves are kept in fire and the smoke is inhaled to cure Asthma

Asthma and other breathing problems

45.

Croton sparsiflorus Morang.

Euphorbiaceae

Sinathamani chedi

Herb

Latex

Plant latex is applied externally on the site of wasp sting

Wasp sting

46.

Cocculus hirsutus Diels.

Menispermaceae

Vella katha kodi

Climber

Leaf

Paste is prepared from leaves and it is administered orally to treat Leucorrhoea

Leucorrhoea

47.

Abutilon indicum G. Don.

Malvaceae

Thuthi

Herb

Leaf

Leaf is cooked with onion and taken orally to treat piles

Piles

48.

Eclipta prostrate Linn.

Asteraceae

karisalanganni

Herb

Whole plant

The powder of Eclipta prostrata, Leucas aspera and Phyllanthus niruri are mixed with butter milk and taken orally to cure jaundice

Jaundice

49.

Lawsonia inermis Linn.

Lythraceae

Maruthondri

Shrub

Leaf

The fresh leaves are ground and gargled to treat mouth ulcer.

Mouth ulcer

50.

Datura metel Linn.

Solanaceae

Karu oomathai

Leaf

Herb

The fresh leaves are boiled with gingelly oil and applied topically on joints to cure swellings

Swelling in joints

51.

Mukia maderaspatans Linn.

Cucurbitaceae

Musu musukai

Leaf

Climber

Boil the leaf juice with gingelly oil and applied topically on the head before taking bath to cure Asthma

Asthma

52.

Trianthema decandra Linn.

Aizoaceae

Sathi charanai

Root

Herb

The root of this plant is taken internally to treat Elephant dialysis

Elephantiasis

53.

Santalum album Linn.

Santalaceae

Santhana maram

Tender twig

Tree

The paste of tender twig mixed with the juice of Phyllanthus emblica are taken orally to treat urinary tract infection and it is best for diabetes

Urinary tract infection and diabetes

54.

Indigofera aspalathoides Vahl.

Fabaceae

Sivanar vembu

Whole plant

Herb

The ash of the whole plant is added with coconut oil and applied topically to treat psoriasis

Skin diseases

55.

Plumbago zeylanica Linn.

Plumbaginaceae

Kodiveli

Root

Herb

Root is pasted with gingelly oil and applied topically to cure piles

Piles

56.

Bauhinia tomentosa Linn.

Caesalpiniaceae

Mantharai

Leaf

Shrub

The leaf powder is mixed with honey are taken internally to treat digestive problems and vomiting

Digestive disorders

 

 

 

57.

Rubus ellipticus Sm.

Rosaceae

Vella mulli

Root

Climber

The root paste is taken internally to treat paralyzes

Paralyze

58.

Cipadessa baccifera Miq.

Meliaceae

Seeruholi maram

Root, leaf and bark

Tree

The paste of root, leaf and bark is applied topically to cure psoriasis

Skin diseases

59.

Cassia hirsuta Linn.

Caesalpiniaceae

Paaparettai

Root

Shrub

The root is pasted with cumin and taken internally to treat stomach burning after a meal.

Digestive disorders

60.

Glycosmis pentaphylla correa.

Rutaceae

Molehulukki

Root

Shrub

The root is pasted with cumin and taken internally to treat Asthma.

Asthma

61.

Alangium salvifolium Wang.

Alangiaceae

Marada kodi

Whole plant

Climber

The fresh plants are fried and taken internally to treat chest burning

Burning sensation

62.

Grewia tiliaefolia Vahl.

Tiliaceae

Thadasu maram

Bark

Tree

The decoction of bark is apply all over the head before taking bath to treat mental illness

Mental illness.

63.

Terminalia bellarica Roxb.

Combretaceae

Thaanthi maram

Bark and root

Tree

The bark and root are grind & took extract, which is applied topically to treat unnecessary peelings on the skin.

Skin diseases

64.

Curculigo orchioides Gaetrn.

Hypoxidaceae

Nilappanai

Whole plant

Tree

The leaf paste taken internally to increase sperm count.

Genital disorder

65.

Rubia cordifolia Linn

Rubiaceae

Chevvali kodi

Leaf

Climber

The leaf paste is applied topically to scorpion sting and dizziness

Scorpion sting

66

Boerhaavia diffusa Linn

Nyctaginaceae

Saranda kodi

Whole plant

Herb

The plant is pasted with cumin and taken internally to cure digestive problems

Digestive disorder

 

 

67.

Lantana whitiana Wall.

Verbanaceae

Vella uni chedi

Leaf

Shrub

The leaf is ground with Cipadessa baccifera root, leaf and bark & applied topically to treat Psoriasis

Skin disease

68.

Adhatoda vasica Nees.

Acanthaceae

Adathodai

Leaf

Shrub

The leaf decoction is taken internally to cure cold and cough.

Cold and cough

69.

Jasminum angustifolium Vahl.

Oleaceae

Kattu mallige

Leaf

Shrub

The leaf is boiled in water and taken with food to cure diahhroea

Diahhroea

 

 

 

70.

Murraya paniculata (L) Jack.

Rutaceae

Sedisil maram

Leaf

Shrub

The leaf paste is applied over the wounds to heal

Wounds

 

Discussion

Herbal remedies are considered the oldest forms of health care known to mankind on this earth.  Prior to the development of modern medicine, the traditional systems of medicine that have evolved over the centuries within various communities, are still maintained as a great traditional knowledge base in herbal medicines (Mukherjee and Wahil, 2006).  Traditionally, this treasure of knowledge has been passed on orally from generation to generation without any written document (Perumal samy and Ignacimuthu, 2000) and is still retained by various indigenous groups around the world. People use more than one plant either separately or mixed together.  They mix several plants as ingredients to cure diseases immediately.  Generally, fresh part of the plant is used for the preparation of medicine.  When fresh plant parts are not used as simple drugs and some plants are used with some other plant parts. The information collected from this study is in agreement with the previous reports (Jain, 2001; Sandhya et al., 2006; Ganesan et al., 2004; Udayan et al., 2005; Mahapatra and Panda, 2002).

From this survey herbs (46%) were found to be most used plants followed by shrubs (26%), trees (14%) and climber (14%) in descending order.  Many Species of the family Euphorbiaceae, Fabaceae, Solanceae and Asteraceae are frequently used in this study area.  The first two families contribute to 10 remedies; the information is showed.

The parts of the plant used for medicinal purposes are leaves, root, stem, fruits, the complete aerial parts, the whole plant, barks (root and stem) and flowers.  However, leaves were found most frequently used part.

Common health ailments in the study area were skin problems.  Kani tribals in Tirunelveli Hills of Tamil Nadu were using 14 plants for the treatment of skin problems (Ayyanar & Ignacimuthu, 2005).  Tribals of Uttar Karnataka district used 52 herbal preparations from 31 plants for skin diseases, a nearest state of Tamil Nadu (Harsha et al., 2003) and people of Eastern Cape Province, South Africa used 38 plant species for the treatment of wounds (Grierson and Afolayan, 1999).

Several studies have enumerated the plants used for wound healing and skin diseases in various parts of the world (Chah et al., 2006; Ayyanar and Ignacimuthu, 2005; Harsha et al., 2003). Ghorbani (2005) reported 16 plant species that were used for respiratory diseases and 48 plants for the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders in north Iran.  Safety and efficacy of the treatment for respiratory tract infections were reviewed (Coon and Ernst, 2004).  Traditional healers of Kancheepuram district used nine plant species to treat stomach problems among them 3 plants to treat stomachache and 6 plants to cure digestive problems (Chellaiah et al., 2006).  Muthukumarasamy et al., (2003) has reported the use of 21 medicinal plants from 20 families to treat gastro-intestinal complaints by using paliyar community. 

The tribal people of Western Madhya Pradesh of India used 13 plants for the treatment of Jaundice (Samvatsar and Diwanji, 2000).  In the present study on Phyllanthus amarus and Eclipta prostrate were used for the treatment of jaundice.  Spilanthes acmella was used to treat toothache. Syzygium cumini, Santalum album and Ficus retusa are reported to treat diabetes.   It is in agreement with earlier reports in the treatment of oral diseases (Tapsoba and Deschampus, 2006; Hebbar et al., 2004).  Andrographis paniculata, Catheranthus roseus and Gymnema sylvestre were used to treat diabetes by the local traditional healers (Chellaiah et al., 2006).  The tribal people of Sikkim and Darjeeling Himalayan region in India utilized 37 species of plants belonging to 28 different families as antidiabetic agents (Chherti et al., 2005).

In this present study ten remedies were used to alleviate problems of the respiratory system.  Among the plants surveyed, Ocimum basilicum, Adhatoda vasica are used frequently for the preparation of medicines for the treatment of respiratory disorders.  Whereas, 14 remedies were used to alleviate the respiratory problems, among the plants surveyed, Adhatoda zeylanica and Vitex negundo are used frequently (Ignacimuthu et al., 2006).

From our survey of ethnomedicinal plants, the results obtained confirm the therapeutic potency of some plants used in traditional medicine.  In addition, these results form a good basis for selection of potential plant species for further phytochemical and pharmacological investigation. The leaf paste of Zizyphus mauritiana along with the leaves of Ailanthes excelsa is taken internally as well as topically to treat paralyzes.  Andrographis paniculata is used to treat poison bites; Leaf juice of Mukia maderaspatana with gingelly oil is applied topically on the head before taking bath to cure Asthma. Leaf and fruit powder of Euphorbia hirta is mixed with cow’s milk and taken orally to treat Leucorrhoea, Leucas aspera (headache and snakebite) and Cardiospermum helicacabum (Arthiritis) also documented.

 

Conclusion

The data collected shows that majority of the remedies are taken orally. Herbal medicines prescribed by tribal people are either preparation based on single plant or a combination of several plant parts.  Most of the reported preparations are drawn from a single plant; mixtures are used rarely. The fresh plant parts are used for the preparation of medicine.  When fresh plant parts are unavailable, dried parts are also used.  Generally, the people of the study area still have a strong belief in the efficacy and success of herbal medicine. The results of the present study provide evidence that medicinal plants continue to play an important role in the healthcare system of this tribal community. 

This study provides an ethnobotanical data of the medicinal plants used by the tribal people of Irulas to cure different diseases.  Moreover, this study will promote a practical use of botanicals and must be continued focusing on its pharmacological validation.  Further detailed exploration and collection of ethnobotanical information, chemical studies and screening for medicinal properties will provide cost effective and reliable source of medicine for the welfare of humanity.

 

References

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