Traditional medicines of Gonds and Bharias (7): Herbal medicine for diabetes

Tribals of Patalkot in Chhindwara district of Madhya Pradesh (India) are herbal experts. They still perform traditional herbal practices for curing ailments among them. Gond and Bharias are main inhabitants in the forests of Patalkot valley.

This series of article deals with the herbal treatments given by the Bhagats (Local Healers) of Patalkot.

In each of the articles, we discuss one common traditional practice, which is been performed by tribals of central India. The current article is on herbal medicine for curing Diabetes. Tribals collect herbs and prepare medicine by their own. The aim of the current article is to document their knowledge and share it with the modern world. It is advised to take proper guidance by your family doctor before applying this formulation for self use.

Combination of herbs viz., Gymnema sylvestre, Tinospora cordifolia, Azadirachta indica, Emblica officinalis, Curcuma longa and Aegle marmelos.

Drug Preparation: Gymnema sylvestre leaves (3 tbsp), Tinospora cordifolia stems (1 1/2 tbsp), Azadirachta indica leaves (1 tbsp), Emblica officinalis fruits (2 tbsp), Curcuma longa roots (1 tbsp) and Aegle marmelos leaves (1 1/2 tbsp).

Dosage: About 2 teaspoon powder should be given to the patient, twice a day with water.

Plant Profiles:

1. Gymnema sylvestre (Retz.) Schultes in Roem. & Schult (Suger destroyer, Periploca of the the woods).

Hindi - Gur -mar, merasingi; Bengali - Mera -singi; Marathi - Kavali, kalikardori, vakundi; Gujarati - Dhuleti, mardashingi; Telugu - Podapatri; Tamil - Adigam, cherukurinja; Kannada - Sannager -asehambu; Malyalam - Cakkarakkolli, Madhunashini.

Extensive, much -branched, twining shrubs. Leaves 3 -6 x 2 -3 cm, ovate or elliptic -oblong, apiculate, rounded at base, sub -coriaceous. Flowers minute, greenish -yellow, spirally arranged in lateral pedunculate or nearly sessile cymes. Corolla lobes imbricate. Follicles solitary, upto 8 x 0.7 cm, terete, lanceolate, straight or slightly curved, glabrous. Seeds ovate -oblong, glabrous, winged, brown. Flowering: August -March; Fruiting: Winter (WOA. 1997).

2. Tinospora cordifolia (Willd.) Miers ex Hook. f. & Thoms. (Gulancha, Tinospora)

Sanskrit - Amrita, Guluchi, Jwarari; Hindi - Amrita, Giloe, Gulancha, Gulbel, Guloh, Gurcha, Jiwantika; Bengali - Golancha; Marathi & Gujarati - Gulvel; Telugu - Tippateege; Tamil - Amudem chindil; Kannada - Amrutoballi, Madhuparne, Uganiballi; Malayalam - Amrytu, Chittamritam; Oriya - Culochi.

A large, glabrous, deciduous climbing shrub found throughout tropical India, ascending to an altitude of 300m. Stems rather succulent with long filiform fleshy aerial roots from the branches. Bark grey -brown or creamy white, warty; leaves membranous, cordate with a broad sinus; flowers small, yellow or greenish yellow, appearing when the plant is leafless, in axillary and terminal racemes or racemose panicles; male flowers clustered and females usually solitary; drupes ovoid, glossy, succulent, red, pea -sized; seeds curved (WOA. 1997).

Azadirachta indica A. Juss. syn. Melia azadirachta Linn. (Indian Lilac, Margosa Tree, Neem Tree)

Bengali - Nim; Gujarati - Limbado; Hindi - Nim, Nimb; Kannada - Bevinamara; Malayalam - Veppa; Marathi - Limba; Oriya - Nimba; Sanskrit - Arishta, Nimba; Tamil - Vembu, Veppam; Telugu - Veepachettu, Yapachettu; Urdu - Nim

A large, evergreen tree, 12 -18 m in height and 1.8 -2.4 m in girth, with a straight bole and long, spreading branches forming a broad crown, commonly found throughout the greater part of India, and often cultivated. Bark grey or dark grey, rough, reddish brown inside, with numerous oblique furrows and scattered tubercles; leaves imparipinnate, alternate, 20 -38 cm long: leaflets 8 -19, alternate or opposite, ovate -lanceolate, oblique or sub -falcate, falcate -lanceolate, glossy, bluntly serrate; flowers white or pale -yellow, small, scented, numerous, in long, slender, very lax, axillary panicles; drupes green, turning yellow on ripening, aromatic, oblong, or ovoid -oblong, smooth, 1.3 -1.8 cm long, with a single exalbuminous seed (WOA. 1997).

4. Emblica officinalis Gaertn. syn. Phyllanthus emblica Linn. (Emblic Myrobalan, Indian Goosberry)

Sanskrit -Adiphala, Dhatri, Amalaka; Hindi - Amla, Amlika, Aonla; Bengali -Akla, Amlaki; Gujarat - Amali, Ambala; Telugu - Amalakamu, Usirikai; Tamil - Nelli; Kannada -Amalaka, Nelli; Malayalam - Nelli.

A small or medium -sized deciduous tree with smooth, greenish grey, exfoliating bark. Leaves feathery with small narrowly oblong, pinnately arranged leaflets. Fruits depressed globose, 1/2 -1 inch in diam., fleshy and obscurely 6 -lobed, containing 6 trigonous seeds. The tree is common in the mixed deciduous forests of India ascending to 4,500 ft. on the hills. It is often cultivated in gardens and homeyards. A type bearing comparatively larger fruits than the wild plant is known in cultivation (WOA. 1997).

5. Aegle marmelos (Linn.) Correa ex Roxb. (Bael Tree, Bengal Quince)

Bengali, Hindi & Marathi - Bael, Bel; Gujarati - Bili; Kannada - Bela, Bilva; Malayalam - Koovalam, Vilvam; Oriya -Belo; Sanskrit - Bilva, Sriphal; Tamil - Bilva, Vilvam; Telugu - Bilavamu, Maredu; Urdu - Bel; Assam - Bael, Bel

A moderate -sized, slender, aromatic tree, 6.0 -7.5 m in height and 90 -120 cm in girth, with a somewhat fluted bole of 3.0 -4.5 m, growing wild throughout the deciduous forests of India, ascending to an altitude of c 1,200 m in the western Himalayas and also occurring in Andaman Islands. It is extensively planted near Hindu temples for its leaves and wood which are valued in indigenous medicine. Branches armed with straight, sharp, axillary, 2.5 cm long spines; bark soft, corky, light grey, exfoliating in irregular flakes; leaves attenuate, trifoliolate, occasionally digitately five -foliolate, leaflets ovate or ovate -lanceolate, crenate, acuminate, lateral sessile, terminal long -petioled; flowers large, greenish white, sweet -scented, in short axillary panicles; fruits globose, grey or yellowish, rind woody; seeds numerous, oblong, compressed, embedded in sacs covered with thick orange -coloured sweet pulp (WOA. 1997).

6. Curcuma longa Linn. (Turmeric)

Sanskrit - Haridra; Hindi, Bengali, Marathi & Gujarati - Haldi, halada; Tamil -Manjal; Telugu - Pasupu, Kannada - Arishina.

A perennial herb, 2 -3 ft. high with a short stem and tuffted leaves; the rhizomes, which are short and thick, constitute the turmeric of commerce. Turmeric is used both as a colouring material and as a condiment. The characteristic yellow matter, distributed throughout the plant, is especially concentrated in the rhizomes.


WOA. 1997. Wealth of Asia (AHEAD).

About the Authors:

Dr Deepak Acharya: He is the Director of a herbal formulation company in Ahmedabad, India. He has been documenting ethnobotanical knowledge of tribals of Central and Western India. He has written 30 research papers in National and International journals of repute. He writes popular articles for web and magazines. Meet him on his homepage or contact via email on

Ms Garima Sancheti: She is a research scholar, working in the field of Radiation and Cancer Biology from Department of Zoology (University of Rajasthan, India). She has to her credit various research papers in scientific journals as well as articles on web. Contact her on

Dr Anshu Shrivastava: He is a Botanist and PhD from BSI - Jodhpur, currently working as Research Associate in SRISTI - Ahmedabad. He can be contacted on

Dr Sanjay Pawar: He is a botanist in Chhindwara, Madhya Pradesh. Contacted him on

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