Ethnobotanical Leaflets 13: 388-98 , 2009.
Traditional Uses of Some Medicinal Plants by tribals of Gangaraju Madugula Mandal of Visakhapatnam District, Andhra Pradesh
J. Lenin Bapuji* and S. Venkat Ratnam
Department of Botany, Andhra University, Visakhapatnam,
Andhra Pradesh, India
*Corresponding author E-mail:
Issued 01 March 2009
During the years 2007-2008 several field trips were conducted to document the ethnomedicinal remedies for 47 diseases with 90 plant species of Angiosperms from three major tribes viz: Bagatas, Konda Doras and Valmikis who have been residing in Gangaraju Madugula Mandal of Visakhapatnam district. The plants were deposited as herbarium specimens in Andhra University, Visakhapatnam, India.
Key words : Traditional uses, medicinal plants,
Some tribes are adhering to traditional way of life, native culture and customs, the tribal have vast store of information and knowledge on potentially useful medicinal plants. The traditional knowledge system in India is fast eroding due to steady decline in human expertise capable of recognizing various medicinal plants. Much of this wealth of knowledge is totally becoming lost as traditional culture is gradually disappearing because it is mostly oral (Hamilton, 1995). Therefore, effort should be initiated for the documentation and computerization of useful medicinal plants and their traditional knowledge (Mehrotra & Mehrotra, 2005).
The value of medicinal plants to the mankind is very well proven. It is estimated that 70 to 80% of the world population rely chiefly on traditional health care system and largely on herbal medicines (Shanley and Luz, 2003). Only 15% of pharmaceutical drugs are consumed in developing countries (Toledo, 1995). The affluent people have little alternative to herbal medicine, and they depend on traditional health care system (Marshall, 1998).
From the ethnomedicinal point of view Visakhapatnam district in Andhra Pradesh remained unexplored and no comprehensive account particularly on folklore of this region is available. Banerjee (1977) published a note on ethnobotanical observations of Araku valley. Rao et al. (2000) collected about 110 plant species of medicinal interest used by the tribals of Paderu division. Rao et al. (2001) reported 160 medicinal plants that occur in the same region. There is urgent, immense need to inventories and record all ethnomedicinal information among the diverse ethnic communities before the traditional cultures are completely lost (Rama Rao and Henry, 1996). Ethnomedicinal activities on different aspects in Indian sub-continent has been put forth by Jain (1981). Therefore continuous efforts should be made to collect this information which will provide avenues for future generation. It is thus paramount importance that the native plant genetic wealth need to be maintained for posterity.
There is very little or no documentation of this ethnomedicinal knowledge was carried out pertaining to tribal of the Mandal. All the more, several wild medicinal plants are fast disappearing due to the destruction of forest by inhabitants, invasion of exotic flora and introduction of new crops. Hence, there is an urgent need for exploration and documentation of this traditional knowledge in order to ascertain the conservation value of the local ethnomedicinal plants of the forests. Therefore, the present study is an attempt to present some interesting ethnomedicinal observations recorded in Gangaraju Madugula Mandal, Visakhapatnam District of Andhra Pradesh, India.
Gangaraju Madugula with an area of 544 sq. km. (4.8% of the area of the district) is one of the mandals of the Visakhapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh. It lies between 180 011 N latitude and 820 301 E longitude (Fig. 1). According to 2001 census the total population in the mandal is 50685. Of these 47625 are scheduled tribes (% of ST is 93.96). From centuries the forests of G. Madugula mandal have been inhabited by a number of tribes who have been maintaining distinct ways of life, beliefs, traditions, cultures, customs and myths. Such tribes include Bagatas, Konda Doras and Valmikis.
Materials and Methods
Exploration and survey work among the tribes of G. Madugula Mandal were conducted in all the tribal inhabited areas along the margin of forests during 2007-2008. Efforts have been made to collect the medicinal plants which were in flowering and fruiting conditions and were identified with the help of local flora. During the course of survey, first hand information on the medicinal uses of the plants was gathered from local people and vaidyas. The uses of plants particularly for medicinal, were confirmed by many cross checking as possible in different localities.
Collection of information: The information on folk medicinal uses of plants was obtained through direct filed interviews with traditional healers. The data regarding names of plants, parts used and their method of preparation and mode of administration of various remedies were also noted down. When recording the names of plants, forest visit was made with the informant for identification of the specific plants. The inventory involved collection of plant specimens and then interviewing informants for vernacular names and uses.
Identification: The plant materials were identified with the help of standard local floras preliminary identification was done by examining fresh plants procured from the forest with the help of tribal. Few respondents were more informative and co-operative; they have shown fresh plants in the habitat, which was useful for the final identification. The identification of plant materials was confirmed at the herbarium in the Botany department of Andhra University.
Preservation: The collected materials were preserved in air tight containers and labeled individually. Various medicinal plant parts collected were broadly categorized as leaves, stem, bark, root, flower, fruit, seed, rhizome, bulb etc.,
In the present study 90 species of plants included in 86 genera and 43 families have been recorded which are being potentially exploited by the tribal groups in curing different human ailments as shown in Table 1 and Figure 2. Of the 43 families Fabaceae is found to be dominant ethnomedicinally with 11 species used in various ailments, followed by Asclepiadaceae (6), Euphorbiaceae and Rutaceae (5), Moraceae and Verbenaceae (4) respecetively.
Table 1. Some medicinal plants with their traditional uses
Note : T – Tree ; H – Herb; S – Shrub; C – Climber.
Among the 90 plant species that are recorded trees include 37, followed by shrubs 22, herbs 19 and climbers 12 as shown in the Figure 3 and Table 1. The traditional vydhyas administer medicine by way of oral decoction, poultice and plant parts as paste.
For the preparation of the traditional medicine, these tribal vydhyas used different parts of the plant species. Depending upon the plant part used leaf constitutes the highest percentage of utilization i.e., 32 % and gum the lowest 1%, while others being in between these two. Root is used in the quantum of 23% in curing ailments follower by Stem bark 17%, Fruit 9%, Seed 7%, latex 4%, root bark 3%, whole plant and flower 2% respectively (Figure 4).
Figure 2: Spectrum of the taxa of the ethnomedicinal plants
Figure 3: Graph showing habit wise analysis of medicinal plants
Figure. 4. Plant part-wise ethnomedicinal uses
In the present investigation 90 plant species used by the different tribal vydhyas of the G. Madugula mandal of Visakhapatnam district for different ailments and posterity have been identified. Forty seven different ailments/diseases are being treated by these plant species (Table 1). The tribal communities residing here have a wide range of remedies for asthma, body pains, bone fractures, cold, cough, cuts and wounds, dysentery, diarrhoea, eczema, gastric ulcers, night blindness, skin troubles, stomach ache, syphilis etc.,
From the enumeration it is clear that tribals of the G. Madugula mandal still depend, partially, on nature for their livelihood. No doubt civilization has touched almost all villages, but for economic backwardness they depend on forest for food, fuel, other requirements and an important one is the medicinal practices. These practices and knowledge treasures are transferred to these generations from their forefathers. Of the scheduled tribes in the study area, Bagatas, Konda Doras and Valmikis are found to possess reasonable sound ethnomedicinal knowledge than other tribal communities.
Pharmaceutical researchers acknowledge that screening plants on the basis of information derived from traditional knowledge saves billion dollars in time and resources (Hafeel and Shankar, 1999). However, the traditional knowledge has been eroding in these tribal societies of G. Madugula mandal. The crucial factors responsible for such erosion are the pressure of modernization and migration of youth from tribal area to semi urban or urban areas to take up job and employment. If such things are continue to happen in these communities then knowledge related to ethnobotany will vanish from the region. Similar factors were believed to be the reason for the loss of traditional ethnobotanical knowledge in Iban community in Sarawak, Malaysia (Jarvie and Perumal, 1994) and Raji tribal community of Central Himalaya, India (Negi et al., 2002).
The collection, identification and documentation of ethnomedicinal data on biological resources are inevitable steps for bioprospecting. These plants may serve as source of some important medicine against some major diseases. Therefore, these tribal claims should be further validated scientifically.
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