Ethnobotanical Leaflets 11: 231-234. 2007.
Importance of Ferns in Human Medicine
Kamini Srivastava, M.Sc, D.Phil
Department of Botany
Mailing Address: C/O Madhusudan Prasad
Telephone +91(0532) 2413049 (Residence)
Cell Phone +910941530558
This paper focuses on the ethnomedicinal value of ferns. People throughout the world frequently use ferns as medicines for the cure of various disorders. The present review is based on information gathered from local tribals and other sources.
Key Words: Ethno medicinal uses, ferns.
The ferns are thought by most people to be quite useless members of the plant kingdom. The deleterious effects of rapid fern growth are well publicized, but their useful aspects are largely ignored. Ferns are found to provide food, medicine, fiber, crafts and building material, abrasives and of course decoration. But recently ethno botanical studies have attracted a number of field workers and they have supplied a lot of information about different uses of plants world wide. Today, ethnobotany has become an important and crucial area of research and development in resource management, conservation of biodiversity at genetic, species and ecosystem levels, and socio-economic development of the region. The ancient medical knowledge of various tribes and folklore systems of medicine, sometimes referred to as ethno-therapeutics, has therefore provided a more powerful and effective strategy for the discovery of clinically useful compounds.
Material and Methods
Plant materials for the present study were obtained from the forests at
Pachmarhi, Madhya Pradesh, kushmi
Wounds, cuts, sores, snakebites and Fever: When boiled in oil
or fat, Ophioglossum vulgatum
is said to be a panacea for wounds and to reduce inflammation. A poultice or
lotion made from the roots of Botrychium. virginianum is applied to snakebites,
bruises, cuts and sores in the
Mental disorders : Dryopteris cochleata is used in mental disorder. Filtered water
extract of rhizome is given to the unconscious persons suffering from
Respiratory and throat disorders: The rhizome of Helminthostachys zeylanica is
chewed with areca to treat whooping cough. About ten grams of the whole plant
of Adiantum lunulatum
mixed with black pepper is made into paste and pills. Two pills given twice a
day for one month, cures bronchitis and asthma in
Stomach disorders: Filtered water extract of rhizome and
petiole of Tectaria macrodonta is
used in constipation in
Menstrual, gonorrhea, childbirth, sterility, and contraception
disorders: Rhizome of Helminthostachys Zeylanica in
All medicinally significant ferns should be conserved and measures should be taken to prevent their extinctions. Also their medicinal value should be discussed and disseminated throughout the world for the benefit of human beings. Management actions for these ferns consist of many tasks which include the following:
1) We must gain a variety of experiences and acquire a basic understanding of the environment and its associated problems of these medicinally significant ferns; 2) We should acquire a set of values and feelings of concern for the environment and the motivation for active participation in environmental improvement and protection of these ferns; 3) We should also acquire skills for identifying and solving problems regarding medicinally important ferns 4) We should evaluate environmental measures and education programs of ferns in terms of ecological, economic, social, aesthetic, and educational factors; 5) An easy opportunity should also be made available to be actively involved at all levels in working towards the resolution of fern problems; 6) The wire fence around the habitat of medicinally important ferns should be constructed to exclude live stock from the immediate area; and, 7) Educated persons should tell others about the multiplication of ferns through tissue culture technique.
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