Ethnobotanical Leaflets 13: 1302-11, 2009.
Ethnobotanical Study of Medicinal Plants used by the Local People in Vellore District, Tamilnadu, India
T.Thirumalai1, E. Kelumalai1, B.Senthilkumar2, E David1*
1P.G. and Research Department of Zoology,Voorhees College,
Vellore - 632001(T.N.) India
2P.G. and Research Department of Zoology, C.Abdul Hakeem College,
Melvisharam,Vellore - 632 509 (T.N.) India
*Corresponding author: E mail: [email protected]
Issued October 01, 2009
An ethnobotanical survey was conducted in and around Vellore district to study the various medicinal plants used by the people for the treatment of their ailments such as fever, cold, cough, diabetes, jaundice, diarrhoea, rheumatism, snake bite, and headache. The study also covered the methods used in plant extraction, and the dose, duration and mode of application.
Plants have always played a major role in the treatment of human traumas and diseases worldwide (Principe et al., 1991).They have been used as sources of modern drugs, either by providing pure compounds, starting materials for partial synthesis of useful compounds or models for synthesis of new drugs (Hansel and Swian, 1972).According to the World Health Organization (WHO) as much as 80% of world’s population depends on traditional medicine for their primary health care needs (Azaizeh et al., 2003). 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).
Ethnopharmacological information is an important tool in drug discovery (Balandrin et al., 1993).The ethnobotanical survey can bring out many different clues for the development of drugs to treat human diseases. Safe, effective, and inexpensive indigenous remedies are gaining popularity equally among the people of both the urban and rural areas, especially in India and China (Katewa et al., 2004). Ethnobotany and ethnomedical studies are today recognized as the most viable method of identifying new medicinal plants or refocusing on those earlier reported for bioactive constituents. It is interesting to note that most of the drugs derived or originally isolated from higher plants were discovered in an ethnobotanical or ethnomedicinal context. Several studies have revealed that tribal population, not only depend on plant based resources for medicines, food, forage and fuel, but also play a vital role in natural resource management that forms the core aspect of conservation biology (Ignacimuthu et al., 2006). Today, many indigenous herbal remedies remain largely undocumented or recognized as potential forms of treatment and consequently continue to be used by only small groups of indigenous populations. The present work was carried out to explore the medical remedies of some medicinal plants used by the rural people of Vellore district in Tamilnadu for the treatment of human aliments.
Materials and Methods
The entire area of Vellore District lies between 12°15’ to13°15’ north latitudes and 78° 20’ to79° 50’ East latitudes in tamilnadu state.The district is spread over an area of about 6077 km2 and is bounded on the North and Northeast by Tiruvaluvar District, on the South and Southeast by Kanchipuram District,on the south by Thiruvannamalai district, on the Southwest by Krishnagiri District and on the northwest and north by Andhra Pradesh state. The district receives an annual rainfall is about 448.8 – 1544.6 mm. The minimum and maximum temperature varies between 26.3º and 38.2º.
Ethno botanical data were collected according to the methodology suggested by Jain (2001).The ethno botanical data were collected using questionnaire, interviews and discussions in their local tribal people. A totally more than 200 respondents were interviewed, these included males and females that depended on plant as sources of medicines either for self- medication or for treating others. The Flora of Presidency of Madras (Gamble, 1935 and an excursion flora of central Tamilnadu (Matthew, 1991) were used to as certain the nomenclature of the plant species used for identification and authentication of the plants. Folklore medicinal plant are arranged in alphabetical order in Table1 which represents their botanically names followed by the family, vernacular name.
Results and Discussion
In this paper, we focused mainly on plant species reported by the local people in and around the study area for their medicinal uses. Presented data are the general results of the ethnoboanical survey conducted from March 2008 to January 2009. In the present investigation 75 medicinal plants are used for the treatment of various diseases like asthma, piles, diabetes, snake bite, skin disease, ulcer, stomach pain, cough, headache, blood pressure anemia, tumor, rheumatism, eczema, wounds, dysentery, jaundice, antifertility, leprosy, laxative, astringent, urinary disorders, paralysis, diarrhoea and diuretic etc. Some of them are used as anthelmintic, fever and antiseptic also. Seventy-five plant species belonging to 37 families are reported. The utility lies through their roots, bark, latex, leaves, fruits and seeds. These are taken internally or applied externally in the form of infusion, decoction, paste or powder. Most of the plants used in medicines are either mixed with other ingredients or single. Medicinal plants studied are enumerated arranged alphabetically with their botanical name followed by families’ name, local name, parts used and ethnomedicinal uses. Some important medicinal plants needs immediate conservation and their cultivation should be encouraged through which their extinction can be prevented and local village people may also get low-cost cure their disease.
Table 1: Medicinal plants used by local people from Vellore district of Tamilnadu.
Enumeration of species with their uses:
Albizia lebbeck (L.) Benth
A leaf paste is applied to cure eczema.
Aegle marmelos Corr.ex .Roxb
A Leaf paste is applied topically to heal wounds. The dried and powdered leaves are used
Alstonia venenata (R.Br).
The milky latex is used to heal wounds and cuts.
Ammannia baccifera L.
A leaf paste is applied to relieve swelling
Anisomeles malabarica (L.) R. Br. ex Sims.
A paste of the leaves is applied to cure eczema.
Annona squamosa L
The young fruits are dried and made into a powder. A spoonful of this powder, mixed
with water, is taken internally to cure dysentery.
Argemone mexicana L.
The yellow latex is used to cure ulcers of the lips and pimples and for wound healing.
Andrographis paniculata (Burm.f.) Wallich ex Nees
A handful of leaves is taken and an extract is made, which, mixed with milk, is taken
internally to cure snakebites.
Abrus precatorius L.
A paste of the seeds is used to cure eczema.
Aloe vera, (Linn.)Burm.
Fresh juice is used as cathartic and for cooling. It is also used in treating fever eye
infections and ulcer.
Achyranthes aspera L.
The boiled leaves are consumed to relieve internal piles and the roots are used as a brush
to relieve pain and clean the teeth.
Acalypha indica L
A leaf paste, mixed with common salt, is used to cure eczema and chest pain.
Alternanthera sessilis L.
It is used as a treatment for headaches. It is also used to treat hepatitis and asthma.
Azadirachta indica (A.Juss).
Seed oil is used in skin diseases and in lice. Bark is useful in malarial fever. Tender twigs
are used as tooth brush. Leaf paste applied for mumps.
Acacia catechu (Linnf.)Willd (Khair)
The bark of the tree is used in chronic diarrhoea
Bambusa arundinacea, (Willd).
Young leaves and terminal bud of bamboo along with turmeric and the leaves. Aloe Vera
is ground and the paste is applied to the fractured bones for two weeks to join quickly.
Cassia auriculata L.
Dried and powdered flowers are used for cleaning the hair, reducing body heat and cures
Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers.
The juice of the whole plant is used to reduce body heat and to lower the blood pressure.
Catharanthus roseus G. Don.
Whole plant is powdered and mixed with cow's milk and taken orally to treat diabetes.
Cissus quadrangularis L.
A paste of the whole plant is taken for improving the digestion and inducing appetite.
Caesalpinia pulcherrima (L.) S. W.
A seed paste is applied to inflamed teeth to cure toothache.
Cardiospermum halicacabum L.
A leaf paste is applied for joint pain or leaves are prepared in the form of a soup and
consumed to cure rheumatic pains.
Centella asiatica L.
The dried plant is powdered and this powder, mixed with hot water, is taken for gas
troubles; the fried plants are used in the diet of children for improving their memory.
Cataranthus pusillus (Murr).
A leaf paste is applied externally for tumors
Caesalpinia bonducella, (Flem).
A decoction of the leaf is used as nutritional tonic.
Calotropisgigantea, (L.) R. Br.
Milky latex is applied on the wounds on legs of livestock.
Clitoria ternatea L.
Root powder is mixed with water and taken orally to treat indigestion, eye diseases and
Carica papaya L.
The milky latex of the plant is applied to teeth in order to relieve inflammatory pain.
Coccinia grandis (L.) J. Voigt
The leaf extract, mixed with milk, is used in cases of jaundice.
Datura metel L.
Few drops of leaf juice is poured into ear to treat earache.
Dioscorea oppostifolia L
Boiled root tubers are taken orally to reduce body heat.
Euphorbia hirta, L.
Leaf paste mixed with goat’s milk is consumed to stop diarrhea and dysentery.
Eclipta prostrata L.
A leaf extract is applied to the head to relieve dandruff and to blacken gray hair.
Eclipta alba L.
Plant is used for the treatment of hepatitis.
Eucalyptus tereticornis (Smith)
The vapours of boiled leaves are inhaled for coughs and a cold. The oil from the plant,
mixed with coconut oil, is applied to the chest to relieve a dry cough and chest pain.
Erythrina indica, (Lam).
The leaves and flowers, are used to cure epidemic skin diseases.
Ficus benghalensis L.
Stem latex is applied topically on heel cracks.
Ficus religiosa L.
Dried leaf powder is mixed with water and takes normally to get relief from body pain.
Gymnema sylvestre (Retz).
Leaves dried in shade and powdered is taken for Diabetes to reduces Blood sugar.
Gloriosa superba L.
The pasted tubers are used as an abortifacient. Leaves are used to destroy head lice.
Hemidesmus indicus, (R. Br).
The leaf, root extract is used for blood purification.
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis L.
Shade dried and powdered flowers are used for cleaning the hair and to prevent hair loss.
Ixora coccinea L.
Hundred grams of the dried flowers are boiled in coconut oil and the oil extract is applied
externally twice a day to treat eczema.
Jasminum angustifolium.(L). Wild
Leaves and flowers made into a paste and applied externally to remove the clot of Breast
Lawsonia inermis L.
A leaf paste is applied to cracks of the feet .it also has a cooling effect on the body.
Leonotis nepetaefolia (L.) R. Br.
A leaf paste is used for eczema.
Leucas aspera (Willd).
The vapours from the boiled leaves are inhaled to relieve coughing and colds.
Marsilea minuta L.
The dried and powdered leaves, mixed with hot water, are taken in cases of diabetes.
Mimosa pudica L .
Pinch of leaves paste is applied topically to cuts and wounds.
Mukia maderaspatana (L.) M. Roemer.
The leaf extract is taken internally to cure piles; it is applied to the hair of the head to
blacken gray hair.
Morinda tinctoria Roxb.
The leaf extract is used to cure dysentery.
Moringa oleifera .Lam.
The boiled leaves and flowers are eaten to increase fertility in men. A handful of bark
juice of the plant is used to cure stomach pain.
Musa paradisiaca L .
A plant extract is given for snake bite and also for burns.
Mangifera indica L .
Mixture of ¼ of the seed ground with cow’s milk is taken to arrest excess bleeding during
Murraya koenigii L . Sprengel
Juice of tender leaves is taken orally to arrest vomiting. Juice taken tender leaves, is taken
orally to arrest vomiting.
Momordica charantia L .
Local peoples uses for the fruit, seeds, vines and leaves include gastroenteritis, diabetes,
tumors and some viral infections.
Melia azedarach L .
The juice of the bark is taken internally in the early morning for three days in order to
relieve stomach pain; it is also employed as an anthelmintic.
Nerium oleander (Sol).
Juice prepared from the stem bark Is boiled with gingelly oil and two drops are poured
into ear to treat ear pain.
Opuntia dillenii (Haw).
Fruits edible used in whooping cough. Pulp also applied in ophthalmic and control
spasmodic cough and expectoration
Ocimum americanum, L .
Leaf juice is taken for stomach upset.
Prosopis cinearia L .
The plant flower is pounded, mixed with sugar and used during pregnancy as safeguard
against miscarriage. The bark is used as a remedy for rheumatism, in cough colds,
asthma. The bark is prescribed for scorpion sting.
Pongamia pinnata L .
The seed oil is used to cure rheumatic pains and swellings.
Phyllanthus amarus, Schum. & Thonn.
Leaf juice is administered to cure fever and jaundice.
Polycarpaea corymbosa L .
Roots leaves paste is applied externally.
Sesbania grandiflora (L.) Poiret
The leaves prepared in the form of a soup are taken as a vermifuge and also to cure peptic
Solanum trilobatum,L .
The leaf juice is used to treat cough and cold.
Solanum nigrum, L.
The leaf and fruit extract is used for deworming and treating fever.
Syzygium cumini L.
The dried and powdered seeds, mixed with hot water, are taken for reducing the Blood
Sida cordata, (Burmn. f.) Borssum
The leaf juice is effective in treating diarrhoea during pregnancy. The pounded leaves are
applied locally to relieve cuts and bruises.
Tamarindus indica L .
A paste of the seed coat is applied to a scorpion bite to relieve pain or the scratched seed
is placed in a warm condition on the area of a scorpion bite to relieve pain.
Thespesia populnea (L.)
Tender fruit mixed with castor oil and made in to a paste applied externally for skin
Vitex negundo L.
Inhale boiled leaves vapour to relieve headache.
Zingiber roseum( Rosc).
The juice of the rhizome, mixed with honey, is taken internally to improve digestion and
to relieve giddiness.
The authors are cordially grateful to the people inhabiting in different localities of Vellore District because of their kind support and co-operation during the field surveys.
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