Traditional medicines of Gonds and Bharias - 13 - Herbal medicine for Obesity

The current series of article deals with a few important practices performed by these tribals. In each of the article, we would discuss one common traditional practice, which is being performed by Gonds and Bharias of Central India.

Traditional medicine system has been prevailing in India since time immemorial. Tribals of Central India mainly Gonds and Bharia have been using their traditional knowledge generation after generation to cure their disorders. The current series of article would deal with few important practices performed by these tribals. In each of the article, we would discuss one common traditional practice, which is being performed by Gonds and Bharias of Central India. This popular article is on curing obesity. 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.

Combination of herbs viz., Terminalia chebula, Terminalia bellirica, Emblica officinalis, Crataeva nurvala, Tribulus terrestris and Zingiber officinale.

Drug Preparation: Terminalia chebula fruits (1 1/2 tbsp), Terminalia bellirica fruits (1 1/2 tbsp), Emblica officinalis fruits (1 tbsp), Crataeva nurvala bark (2 1/2 tbsp), Tribulus terrestris fruits (2 1/2 tbsp), Zingiber officinale roots (1 tbsp).

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

Plant Profiles:

1. Terminalia chebula Retz.; C. B. Clarke (Fl. Br. Ind.) in part (Chebulic Myrobalan)

Hindi- Harra; Bengali- Haritaki; Marathi- Hirda; Gujarati- Hardo; Telugu- Karakkai; Tamil-Kadukkai; Oriya- Haridra; Punjabi- Har, Harar; Assamia- Silikha

A tree 15-24 m. in height and 1.5-2.4 m. in girth, with a cylindrical bole of 4-9 m., a rounded crown and spreading branches, found throughout the greater parts of India. Bark dark-brown, often longitudinally cracked, exfoliating in woody scales; leaves ovate or elliptic with a pair of large glands at the top of the petiole; flowers yellowish white, in terminal spikes; drupes ellipsoidal, obovoid or ovoid, yellow to orange-brown, sometimes tinged with red or black and hard when ripe, 3-5 cm. long, become 5-ribbed on drying; seeds hard, pale yellow (WOA. 1997).

2. Terminalia bellirica Roxb. (Belleric Myrobalan)

Hindi-Bahera; Bengali- Bhairah; Marathi- Beheda; Telugu- Tani; Tamil- Tani; Malayalam- Thani; Oriya- Bhara, Trade- Belliric Myrobalan, Bahera.

A handsome tree, with characteristic bark, attaining a height up to 40 m. and a girth of 1.8-3.0 m., found in deciduous forests throughout the greater part of India, but not in the arid regions. Stems straight, frequently buttressed when large; leaves broadly elliptic, clustered towards the ends of branches; flowers in solitary, simple, axillary spikes; fruits globular, 1.3-2.0 cm. in diam., obscurely 5-angled (WOA, 1997).

3. 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).

4. Crataeva nurvala Buch.- Ham. syn. C. religiosa Hook. f. & Thoms.

Sanskrit- Varuna, Asmarighna; Hindi- Barna, Bilasi; Bengali- Barun; Marathi- Vayavarna, Haravarna; Tamil- Maralingam.

A moderate sized deciduous tree, upto 5 m high. Leaves 3-foliate; leaflets 3-6 x 1-3 cm, ovate-lanceolate, acute to acuminate, narrowed to base; petioles upto 6 cm long. Flowers greenish-white, in few-flowered, terminal and lateral corymbs. Stamens numerous, white, turning purplish. Stigma knob-shaped. Berries upto 4 cm in diam., subglobose or ovate-oblong, smooth, yellow or red (WOA. 1997).

5. Tribulus terrestris Linn. (Land-caltrops, Puncture-vine)

Sanskrit- Gokshura, Ikshugancdha; Hindi- Gokhru; Bengali & Oriya- Gakhura, Gokshra; Marathi- Lahangokhru, Sarala, Sharatte; Gujarati- Betagokhru, Mithagokhru, Nahanagokhru; Telugu- Chinnipalleru, Chirupalleru, Pallerukayalu (fruits); Tamil & Malayalam- Nerunji, Nerinjeekai (fruits); Kannada- Sanna neggilu; Ladakh- Rasha, Kokulla; Punjabi- Lotak, Bakhra; Rajasthani- Gokhatri, Gokhru-bara, Kanti, Gokhrusdesi

A variable, prostrate annual, up to 90 cm. in length, commonly found throughout India, up to an altitude of c 5,400 m. Roots slender, cylindrical, somewhat fibrous, 10-15 cm. long, light brown and faintly aromatic; leaves paripinnate: leaflets 5-8 pairs, subequal, oblong to linear-oblong; flowers leaf-opposed, solitary, pale-yellow to yellow; fruits globose, consisting of 5-12 woody cocci, each with 2 pairs of hard, sharp, divaricate spines, one pair longer than the other; seeds several in each coccus with transverse partitions between them (WOA. 1997).

6. Zingiber officinaleRosc. (Ginger)

Sanskrit- Ardraka; Hindi- Adrak, Ada; Bengali- Ada; Marathi- Ale; Telugu-Allamu, Sonthi; Tamil- Allam,Inji; Kannada- Hasisunti; Malayalam- Andrakam, Inchi

A herbaceous, rhizomatous perennial, reaching up to 90 cm. in height under cultivation. Rhizomes are aromatic, thick-lobed, pale yellowish, differing in shape and size in the different cultivated types. The herb develops several lateral shoots in clumps which begin to dry when the plant matures. Leaves narrow, distichous, sub-sessile, linear-lanceolate, 17.0 cm. x 1.8 cm., dark green, evenly narrowed to form a slender tip, flowers in spikes, greenish yellow with a small dark purple or purplish black tip (WOA. 1997).


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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