Ethnobotanical Leaflets 13: 123-30. 2009.
Homeopathic Flora of Bilaspur District of Himachal Pradesh, India: A Preliminary Survey
Ajay K. Gautam and Rekha Bhadauria
School of Studies in Botany, Jiwaji University Gwalior, M.P. India
Issued 30 January 2009
The present study was made in nine villages of Bilaspur district of Himachal Pradesh, a north Indian state known for its vast herbal flora. About 23 plant species belonging to 18 families used in the homeopathic system of medicine are highlighted in the present study along with their taxonomic description including botanical name, medicine name, plant part used and ailment against which the medicines are used. The collected plant specimens were identified, taxonomically defined and submitted to the herbarium for future records.
Key words: Homeopathy, medicinal plants, Bilaspur (HP).
Homeopathy derived its name from the Greek words homoios, "similar" + pathos, "suffering" or "disease" is a form of alternative medicine first defined by Samuel Hahnemann in 1796 (abchomeopathy.com). Homeopathy came to India as early as 1810 when some German physicians and missionaries came to Bengal and started distributing homeopathic remedies. Dr. John Martin Honigberger and Hahnemann were recognised as the persons who have brought homeopathy to India. Dr. Honigberger arrived at Lahore in 1829–30, later on went to Calcutta and started practice there. This royal patronage helped the system to have its roots in India (Hpathy.com).
Homeopathy is one of the alternative systems of medicines having a well documented pharmacopoeia (Ashvin and Mishra, 2007). About two percent of people in the United Kingdom and the United States using homeopathy in any one year while it is about fifteen percent in India, where it is considered part of Indian traditional medicine. This system of medicines relies mainly on plants and mineral components as drug (Ashvin and Mishra, 2007). According to homeopaths, serial dilution, with shaking between each dilution, removes the toxic effects of the remedy while the qualities of the substance are retained by the diluent (water, sugar, or alcohol). The end product is often so diluted that it is indistinguishable from pure water, sugar or alcohol. Practitioners select treatments according to a patient consultation that explores the physical and psychological state of the patient, both of which are considered important to selecting the remedy (Hahnemann Samuel, 1833; Ernst, 2002 and Wayne et al, 2003).
Fig. 1 Map of study area (Source: Internet)
Himachal Pradesh, a hilly North- West Himalayan state, known for its wide diversity of plants. The state is situated at 31°19'N latitude and 76°50'E longitude. The total area of the district is 1.167 Sq. Km and average height of the area is 673 meters (map of India.com). Out of total 45,000 species found in country, 3,295 species are reported in state (Manisha Bhardwaj, 2006). District Bilaspur of the state also have wide diversity of flora. The maximum population of the district is resides in rural areas. They use folk methods to cure different diseases through folk herbal medicines. But, they are not much aware about the homeopathic uses of these folk herbal medicines. Keeping this aspect in view, we have started a survey work on medicinal plants of district Bilaspur (H.P.) used in homeopathy system of medicine. The abundance of homeopathically useful herbal flora in the district attracted our attention to identify and highlight these herbal plants used in homeopathic system of medicine to cure diseases, so that awareness about their homeopathic importance could be enhanced and these rare medicines can be conserved.
More than nine villages were visited during different time intervals to gather useful information about these plants. The collected specimens were identified, 23 important medicinal plants of homeopathy were selected with the help of available literature and discussion with the homeopathic practioners. After their identification, a herbarium was prepared to preserve them under optimum climatic conditions before submitting them in herbarium records for future use. Herbariums of these plants were deposited in School of Studies in Botany, Jiwaji University, Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh (India).
The plants were arranged alphabetically by their botanical name, family, medicine name and therapeutic potential.
1) Achyranthes aspera L. (Acanthaceaee)
Common Name: Latjira, Aghada, Kutri, Apamarg.
Parts Used: Fruit juice
Medicine name: Achyranthes Aspera
Uses in Homeopathy: Diarrhoea, dysentery, diuretic, menorrhagia, astringent, bad effects of dog and snake bites and skin diseases.
2) Adhatoda zeylanica Medik. (Acanthaceae)
Common Name: Adusa, Vasaka
Parts Used: Whole Plant.
Medicine name: Justica Adhatoda
Uses in Homeopathy: Headache and respiratory disorders.
3) Aegle marmelos (L.) Correa (Rutaceae)
Common Name: Beel, Belpatra, Shriphala, Bilwa.
Parts Used: Fruits
Medicine name: Aegle Folia
Uses in Homeopathy: Bleeding pills, diarrhoea, dysentery, fever with dropsy and impotence.
4) Allium cepa L. (Liliaceae)
Common Name: Onion, Piyaz
Parts Used: Fresh Bulb
Medicine name: Allium Cepa
Uses in Homeopathy: Cough and cold, injury, nasal polypus, diarrhoea, influenza, throat affection.
5) Allium sativum L. (Liliaceae)
Common Name: Garlic, Lahsun
Parts Used: Fresh Bulb
Medicine name: Allium Sativum
Uses in Homeopathy: Stomach, head, respiratory affection.
6) Aloe- vera L.(Liliaceae)
Common Name: Gwarpatha
Parts Used: Leaves
Medicine name: Aloe Socotrina
Uses in Homepathy: Abdominal disorders, anal affection, colic, constipation, cough, dysentery, diarrhoea, haemorrhoids skin affections.
7) Azadirachta indica A. Juss. (Meliaceae)
Common: Name: Neem, Nimba, Margosa tree.
Parts Used: Whole plant and bark.
Medicine name: Azadirachta Indica
Uses in Homeopathy: Eczema, fever and stomachache, scabis, leprosy, helminthiasis, gonorrhoea, glossitis.
8) Calotropis gigentea (L.) R.Br. (Asclepiadaceae)
Common: Madar, Aak, Akauwa, Arka
Parts Used: Roots
Medicine name: Calotropis Gigantea
Uses in Homeopathy: Toothache, elephantiasis, purging, vomiting.
9) Cannabis sativa (L.) (Cannabaceae)
Common Name: Bhang, Ganja, Charas, American Hemp.
Medicine name: Cannabis Sativa
Parts Used: Whole plant
Uses in Homeopathy: Constipation, respiratory disorders, urinary affections, gonorrhoea.
10) Centella asiatica (L.) Urb. (Apiaceae)
Common Name: Brahmi
Parts Used: Juice
Medicine name: Hydrocotyle Asiatica
Uses in Homeopathy: Acne, eczema, uterus affection, elephantiasis, leprosy.
11) Citrus vulgaris Risso (Rutaceae)
Common name: Bitter orange
Parts used: fruit and fruit peel
Medicime name: Citrus Vulgaris
Uses in Homepathy: Headache with nausea, vomiting and vertigo, facial neuralgias mostly right-sided, thoracic oppression, frequent and irresistible yawning.
12) Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers. (Poaceae)
Common Name: Grandhi, Durva, Dub, Talla
Parts Used: Bukni, Juice.
Medicine name: Cynodon Dactylon
Uses in Homeopathy: Haemorrhage, dysentery, dropsy, leucorrhoea, Scabies
13) Ficus benghalensis L. (Moraceae)
Common Name: Banyan tree
Parts used: Hanging aerial roots
Medicine name: Ficus Indica
Uses in Homeopathy: Headache, respiratory disorders.
14) Ficus religiosa L. (Moraceae)
Common name: Peepal tree
Parts used: Tender leaf
Medicine name: Ficus Religiosa
Uses in Homeopathy: Headache, respiratory disorders, monorragia.
15) Ocimum sanctum L. (Lamiaceae)
Common Name: Tulsi, Shiva, Bharti, Krishna- mul.
Parts used: Seeds
Medicine name: Ocimun Sanctum
Uses in Homeopathy: Asthma, catarrh, tonsillitis, cold, ophthalmia neonatum, typhoid, worm affection.
16) Ricinus communis L. (Euphorbiaceae)
Common Name: Arand, Castor.
Parts Used: Seed and seed oil
Medicine name: Ricinus Communis
Uses in Homeopathy: The digestive system is the primary focus of this remedy. Typical symptoms treated include nausea, profuse vomiting, constipation. and diarrhoea.
17) Solanum nigrum L. (Solanaceae)
Common Name: Black night shade, Makoi
Parts Used: Whole plant
Medicine name: Solanum Nigrum
Uses in Homeopathy: Head, eye, nose, respiratory, fever, skin and stomach.
18) Tinospora cordifolia (Wilad.) Miers ex Hook. And Thoms. ( Menispernaceae)
Common Name: Giloy, Ninjara, Guluchu, Gulwali, Gharal
Parts used: Stem
Medicine name: Tinospora Cordifolia
Uses in Homeopathy: Seminal debility, fever, jaundice, spleenic affections, leprosy, leucorrhoea, rheumatism, gonorrhoea.
19) Vitex nigundo L. ( Verbenaceae)
Common Name: Nirgundi
Parts Used: Roots, root, flowers, leaves, bark
Medicine name: Vitex nigundo
Uses in Homeopathy: Abscess, alcohlism, anaemia, asthma, fever, heart affection, kidney, skin affection
20) Mangifera indica L. (Anacardiaceae)
Common name: Aam
Parts used: Seed, Bark
Medicine name: Mangifera Indica
Uses in Homeopathy: One of the best general remedies for passive hemorrhages, uterine, renal, gastric, pulmonary and intestinal. Rhinitis, sneezing, pharyngitis, and other acute throat troubles, suffocative sensation as if throat would close.
21) Syzygium cumini L. (Myretaceae)
Common name: Jambool
Parts used: seeds
Medicine name: Syzygium Jambolanum
Uses in Homeopathy: Diabetes mellitus and ulcer.
22) Terminalia chebula Retz. (Combretaceae)
Common name: Haritiki, Harara
Parts used: Fruits
Medicime name: Terminalia chebula
Uses in Homeopathy: Bleeding, pile, diarrhoea, chronic dysentery, constipation, billary colic, glossitis, headache, vertigo, dropsy, skin disorders.
23) Viola odorata L. (Violaceae)
Common name: Banfasan
Parts used: fresh blooming aerial parts
Medicime name: Viola Odorata
Uses in Homeopathy: Head, eye, ear, urinary and respiratory disorders.
The present preliminary survey revealed that Bilaspur district of Himachal Pradesh (India) is rich in diverse medicinal flora used in homeopathic system of medicine. Unfortunately, rapidly increasing urbanization of the area posing a threat to this medicinal flora. Therefore, scientific cultivation, conservation and sustainable utilization of plants by involving villagers would be highly beneficial in the conservation of these rare and endangered medicinally important species for the inheritance of this traditional knowledge to the coming generations.
Authors are thankful to Mr. Mohan G. Vairale, SOS in Botany, Jiwaji University, Gwalior (M.P.), Dr. Abhishek Dubey and Dr. Amit Gupta (BHMS students, Sophia Homoeopathic Medical College, Gwalior) and local villagers for providing useful information during this study.
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