Ethnobotanical Leaflets 11: 280-290. 2007.

 

 

Evolutionary Medicine Of Kani Tribal’s Botanical Knowledge In Agasthiayamalai Biosphere Reserve, South India

 

 A. John De Britto* and R. Mahesh

 

PG & Research Department of Plant Biology and Biotechnology

St.Xavier’s College (Autonomous) Tirunelveli – 627 002, Tamilnadu, India

*E-mail: bjohnde@yahoo.co.in: Tel: 0462-2560813; Fax: 0462-2561765.

 

Issued 30 December 2007

 

 

ABSTRACT

           

 Agasthiayamalai Biosphere Reserve in Tirunelveli zones have had five Kani tribal settlement surveys of ethnomedicinal utilization with more than 480 species of which only 70 species are been reported during the field study 2006-2007. Collected ancestral knowledge was documented in database format by the software Visual Basic 6.0 and M.S Access. Kani tribes reveal that they are capable of treating various diseases. Exploitation and documentation of traditional medicine is essential for the future. Such study will be useful to understand the role and importance of the tribal botanical knowledge in the conservation of medicinal plants of this area. 

 

Key: Agasthiayamalai, Kani tribes, Software, Medicinal plants.

 

 

INTRODUCTION

The most ancient and celebrated treatises on Hindu medicine are no doubt the Ayurveda. India also possesses a great heritage of other ancient systems of medicine such as Siddha, Unani and Homeopathy. Nearly 2500 species of plants are used in one way or other by some of these systems. In addition to these traditional systems, there also exists in India a vast knowledge of tribal and folk medicine, which utilize around 7500 species of plants as medicine. Some of the ethno botanically important species have also provided leads for production of modern drugs by pharmaceutical companies. It is estimated that in India 90% of the prescriptions contain plant products. Ayurvedic and other traditional system of Indian medicines fully depend on wild plants for preparation of drugs.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that 80% of the population of developing countries still rely on traditional medicines, mostly plant drugs, for their primary health care needs. Demand for medicinal plant is increasing in both developing and developed countries due to growing recognition of natural products being non-toxic, having no side-effects, easily available at affordable prices. The medicinal plant sector has traditionally occupied an important position in the socio cultural, spiritual and medicinal area of rural and tribal families (WHO., 2002- 2005).

India is known for ancient civilizations and deep-rooted traditions. It is also known for its rich diversity, both cultural as well as biological (Ravikumar et al., 2000). Totally 427 tribal communities are in India (Kala., 2005) having 36 states of Tamilnadu with scheduled tribes. The different ethnic groups settled throughout this place have their own way of life style even in using the plant resources.

 

Bioprospecting is the search of useful products derived from bioresources. The useful products may be chemical compounds, genes, micro & macro organisms and other valuable products that are useful in medicinal, industrial, agricultural and food sectors. Traditional medicine is also known as “Evolutionary medicine.” (Pamplona roger., 2000).

 

 

OBJECTIVES

 

v     This study focuses on the collection of primary data relevant to the experience of the Kani tribes of the Agasthiyamalai especially in the region of Tirunelveli.

v     To establish a database of the plants used by Kani tribes with special reference to their indigenous traditional knowledge.

v     To create awareness to the local communities about the conservation strategies of these valuable genetic resources.

 

 

METHODOLOGY

 

Agasthiayamalai Biosphere Reserve (Kalakakad Mundanturai Tiger Reserve-Map 1) located in Tirunelveli zones have Kani tribes practicing traditional medicine were interviewed in five settlements (Figure 1), Servalar, Agasthiar Kanikudiyiruppu, Mayilar, Periyamayilar and Inchikuzhi (Henry et al., 1984). The native plants used for the preparation of crude drugs and their administrations along with doses were recorded through 15 field trips carried out in  52 days during  2006-2007 academic year. Plant voucher specimens were matched, deposited (Diane Bridson and Leonard forman., 1992) in Xavier’s College Herbarium (XCH)-Tirunelveli. Plants were identified by using relevant floras (Gamble., 1935 & 1994; Gopalan and Henry., 2000; Mohanan and Sivadasan., 2002; Nair and Nayar., 1986 & 1987). Collected information was documented in software using Visual Basic 6.0 and MS Access.

 

 

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

 

Plants have been used as traditional medicine for several thousand years. Traditional knowledge is a divine gift to humanity. Tribal’s, even today, depend on wild plants and animals for their livelihood. Kani tribals are primarily a semi-romantic community and originated from Kerala. They have slowly shifted and settled in the forest of Tirunelveli region. The ethnomedicinal survey held on tribal doctors suggest they use 70 species. The ethnomedicines of the species are arranged in alphabetical order. The database includes the Botanical name, Family, Vernacular name (Viswanathan et al., 2006), Habit, Description, Parts used, Ethnobotanical use, Ethnomedicinal use, Herbal formulation, Dosage and Pictures of the plants. Sample software screens (Figure 2) and Medicinal Plants (Table 1) are given. Identity and their various indigenous technological knowledge are also presented here (Figure 3).

 

Traditional knowledge is not protected within the patent system as it stands today. So, it needs for us to protect the biological traditional knowledge. The “turmeric case” highlights the problems faced by India in preventing bio-piracy. The recording of traditional knowledge seeks to reduce the possibility of bio-piracy, but looks to future legislation to effectively protect the rights of the people.  Some important structural changes based on sound legal footing are proposed, which can be easily incorporated within the present database, and would go a long way in preventing bio-piracy and protecting the interests of the knowledge-holders (Sangeeta Udgaonkar., 2002).

 

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION

 

The present population has little knowledge about the medicinal plants of the area because most of the knowledgeable, older persons have passed away and the younger ones are not as informed of traditional methods. However, as in the past, some empirical knowledge of medicinal plants among the tribes continues to be developed and transmitted orally from one generation to the next. The deterioration of the wild flora of this area is to be blamed on population pressure, forest fires, overgrazing, and browsing.

 

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Ministry of Environment and forests in Government of India, is acknowledged for the financial support for this research work.

 

 

REFERENCES

 

Diane Bridson and Leonard Forman (1992). The Herbarium handbook. Royal Botanic Gardens. Kew.

Gamble JS (1993 & 1994). Flora of the Presidency of Madras. Vol I-III. Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh. Dehra Dun-India.

Gopalan R and Henry AN (2000). Endemic plants of India. (Camp for the endemics of Agasthiyamalai hills, SW ghats). Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh. Dehra Dun-India.

Henry AN, Chandraboss M, Swaminathan MS and Nair NC (1984). Agasthyamalai and its Environs. A potential area for Biosphere reserve. Journal of Bombay Natural History Society. 81: 282-90.

Kala CP (2005). Ethnomedicinal botany of the Apatani in the Eastern Himalayan region of India. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine.1:11. 

Mohanan N. and Sivadasan M (2002). Flora of Agasthyamala. Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh. Dehra Dun-India.

Nair KKN and Nayar MP (1986 & 1987). Flora of Courtallum I-III. Botanical Survey of India. Calcutta.

Pamplona roger GD (2000). Encyclopedia of medicinal plants. Education and Health Library I & II. Spain.

Ravikumar K, Ved DK, Vijaya sankar R and Udayan PS (2000). 100 Red-listed medicinal plants of conservation concern in south India. FRLHT. Bangalore- India.

Sangeeta Udgaonkar (2002). The Recording of Traditional knowledge; will it prevent “bio-piracy”. Curr Sci. 82(4): 413-419.

Viswanathan SN, Harrison Prem Kumar E. and Ramesh N (2000). Ethnobotany of the Kanis. Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh. Dehra Dun-India.

World Health organization (2002- 2005).WHO Traditional Medical Strategy.  Geneva.

 

Map 1. Area of the study

 

 

Figure 1. Kani tribal settlements

 

 

Figure 2. Sample software screens

 

 

 

Figure 3. Indigenous technological knowledge

 

 

Table 1. Medicinal Plants used as Ethnomedicine.

 

S.NO

BOTANICAL NAME

VERNACULAR NAME

FAMILY

HERBAL FORMULATION

Antidote

1.

Achyranthes aspera L.

Naayuruvi

Amaranthaceae

Grains are ground and eaten.

2.

Xanthosoma sagittifolium Schott.

Paalcheambu

Araceae

Leaf pastes are applied on the surface of body.

Asthma

3.

Martynia annua L.

Nagathali

Martyniaceae

Leaf paste is consumed with milk.

Body temperature

4.

Borassus flabellifer L.

Panaimaram

Arecaceae

Toddy regulates body temperature.

5.

Cocos nucifera L.

Thennu

Arecaceae

Toddy regulates body temperature.

Cough and Cold

6.

Elettaria cardamomum (L.) Maton.

Ellakai

Zingiberaceae

Leaves are boiled with water, applied on the face.

7.

Abutilon indicum (L.) Sweet.

Thuthi

Malvaceae

Leaf juice is administered orally.

8.

Datura discoalor Bernh.

Kattu karuoomathai

Solanaceae

Leaf juice is consumed.

9.

Plectranthus amboinicus (Lour.)Spreng

Omavalli.

Lamiaceae

The seeds are inhaled to reduce cough.

10.

Anisomeles malabarica (L.) R.Br. ex Sm.

Sampalthmbai

Lamiaceae

Leaf pastes are consumed with hot water.

11.

Alpinia calcarata Roscoe.

Kattusitharthai

Zingiberaceae

Plant juice is consumed.

12.

Justicia adhatoda L.

Adadodai

Acanthaceae

Leaf juice is drunk.

Cuts and  Wounds

13.

Acacia nilotica (L.) Willd ex Del.

Karuvelam

Mimosaceae

Flower juice applied on the surface.

14.

Argemone mexicana L.

Aathparappi

Papaveraceae

Plant twig resins are applied on the surface.

15.

Centratherum anthelminticum Kuntze.

Malaigambi

Asteraceae

Leaf decoction is applied on wounds.

16.

Celastrus paniculatus Willd.

Peruthi

Celastraceae

Leaf juice is applied on the body.

17.

Tridax procumbens L.

Kattunilamparathipachilai

Asteraceae

Leaf juice is applied on the surface.

18.

Eupatorium odoratum L.

Anavathanchedi

Asteraceae

Leaf powder is mixed with hot oil is applied externally.

Energy stimulant

19.

Trichopus zeylanicus Gaertn.

Arokiyapachai

Dioscoreaceae

Leaves are consumed.

20.

Cucurbita moschata (Decne ex Lam.)Decne ex Poir.

Poosani

Cucurbitaceae

The fruit is consumed to increase weight.

21.

Cyperus rotundus L.

Koraipullu

Cyperaceae

The tubers are consumed for cattle.

Fever

22.

Baccaurea courtallensis (Wight) Muell.Arg.

Maraootipazham

Euphorbiaceae

The pericarp of tender fruit is consumed.

Giddiness

23.

Adenostemma lavenia (L.) Kuntze.

Kattusiruvanthanpatchilai

Asteraceae

Plants paste is consumed with milk.

24.

Asystasia chelonoides Nees.

Kattumaniculiki pachillai

Acanthaceae

The leaves and flowers are consumed with honey.

25.

Derris benthamii (Thw.) Thw

Kattusirukodipachillai

Fabaceae

Leaves and flowers are eaten with honey.

Hair tonic

26.

Helicteres isora (L.) W &A.

Valampuri

Sterculiaceae

Fruits are boiled with coconut oils applied on the head.

27.

Eclipta prostrata (L.) L.

Karisilanganni

Asteraceae

The leaf extract is boiled and applied on the hair.

28.

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis L.

Chembaruthi

Malvaceae

The raw petals are eaten.

29.

Lawsonia inermis L.

Maruthani

Lythraceae

Leaf juices boiled the extract is applied with hair oil.

Menstrual disorder

30.

Aloe vera (L.)Burm.f.

SothuKatthalai

Liliaceae

The outer layer is peeled and the inner fleshy layer is eaten directly.

31.

Terminalia arjuna (Roxb.) ex DC.Wight & Arn.

Marutha maram

Combretaceae

Park juice is consumed.

Mumps

32.

Azadirachta indica A. Juss.

Vemppu

Meliaceae

Leaf cures mumps.

Nemeticidal

33.

Carica papaya L.

Pappalipayam

Caricaceae

Fruits are consumed.

Piles

34.

Amorphophallus paeoniifolius (Dennst.) Nicol.

Karaunaikilangu

Araceae

The rhizomes are consumed twice a day.

Rheumatism

35.

Aegle marmelos Corr.

Vilvam

Rutaceae

The fruit resin is used.

36.

Amaranthus spinosus L.

Mullukirai

Amaranthaceae

Leaves are boiled and juice is mixed with pinch of pepper powder.

37.

Allium cepa L.

Ulli

Liliaceae

Rhizome juice is used.

Scabies

38.

Acalypha indica L.

Kuppaimeni

Euphorbiaceae

Leaves are ground and applied on the sores of scabies.

39.

Acacia sinuate (Lour.) Merr.

Chiyagai

Mimosaceae

The pod powder is applied on the scabies.

40.

Adiantum raddianum Presl,Tent.

Nilasuralipatchilai

Adiantaceae

Plant extract is applied on the surface of body.

Scorpion and Insect bites.

41.

Hemiontis arifolia (Fern)

Vattasuruli

Heminoitidaceae

Whole plants are also used.

Sexual stimulant

42.

Moringa oleifera auct.

Murungamaram

Moringaceae

Entire plant is a sexual stimulator.

Skin diseases

43.

Copadessa baccifera (Roth.) Mig.

Siruvemmpu

Meliaceae

Leaves juice is applied on the affected parts.

44.

Alternanthera sessilis (L.) R.Br. ex DC.

Ponnaganni

Amaranthaceae

Leaf extract is used.

45.

Bacopa monnieri (L.)pennell.

Neerbrabmi

Scrophulariaceae

Whole plant is eaten for rejuvenation of the skin.

Skin Irritating

46.

Scleropyrum pentandrum (Dennst.)

Mulkirayan

Santalaceae

Whole plant parts are applied externally.

47.

Alsotonia scholaris R.Br.

Eliaipalai

Apocynaceae

Leaf pastes are applied on the Skin Swelling.

Stomach disorder

48.

Bidesns pilosa L.

Kuthapachilai

Asteraceae

Leaf juices are consumed with milk.

49.

Acorus calamus L.

Vayambu

Araceae

Dried tuber is eaten with honey.

50.

Nigella sativa L.

Karugesiragum

Ranunculaceae

The seeds are consumed.

51.

Canna orientalis Roscoe.

Vaalai kovai

Cannaceae

Tubers are consumed.

52.

Maranta arundinacea L.

Koovaikilangu

Marantaceae

Tubers are consumed.

53.

Tabernaemontana heyneana Wall.

Kattusirumanthapatchilai

Apocynaceae

Fruits are laxative.

54.

Biophytum intermedium Wight.

Paarainellipachalai

Oxalidaceae

Plant paste is consumed with water.

55.

Psychotria ophioxyloides (Wall. ex Roxb) Thw.

Kaattusirukaapipatchillai.

Rubiaceae.

Leaves and tender fruits are consumed with milk.

56.

Glycosmis mauritiana (Lamk.) Tanaka.

Sirumullipatchilai.

Rutaceae.

Leaves and flowers are consumed with ghee.

57.

Ixora nigricans R.Br. ex. Wight & Arn.

Aathusiruvengaipatchilai

Rubiaceae

Leaves and flowers is consumed.

58.

Tinospora cordifolia (Willd.) Miers. ex Hook &Thomson.

Sangivee

Menispermaceae

The fruits are consumed.

59.

Trichosanthes cucumerina L.

Pudal

Cucurbitaceae

Fruit juice is eaten raw with hot water to cure gas troubles.

60.

Ancardium occidentale L.

Kollankottai

Anacardiaceae

Fruit juice is used.

61.

Cassia auriculata L.

Aavaarai

Caesalpiniaceae

Anthers juices are used as digestive property.

62.

Citrullus colocynthis Schrad.

Kumitikaai

Cucurbitaceae

Fruit is laxative.

63.

Citrus limon (L.) Burm.f.

Narangai

Rutaceae

Fruit juice is consumed.

64.

Coriandrum sativum L.

Yellai

Apiaceae

Decoction of this seeds with palm jiggery provides good digestion.

65.

Datura metal L.

Ummatham

Solanaceae

Fruit is used as a laxative for cattle.

66.

Delonix elata (L.) Gamble.

Vathamadaki

Caesalpiniaceae

The fresh leaves are eaten.

67.

Gloriosa superba L.

Kanthal

Liliaceae

The tubers are boiled and consumed.

Swelling

68.

Morinda pubescens Sm.

Manjanathi

Rubiaceae

Leaves are boiled and bound on the affected part for relief from swelling and inflammation.

Toothache

69.

Ficus bengalensis L.

Allamaram

Moraceae

Prop root is used as toothbrush.

70.

Ficus racemosa L.

Kallathimaram

Moraceae

Seeds are used as purgative.