Traditional Medicines of Gonds and Bharias in 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.

Traditional Medicines of Gonds of Bharias (1):

Medicine for cough and cold

In each of the article, we would discuss one common traditional practice which is been performed by Gonds and Bharias of Central India. This popular article is on curing cough and cold. 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., Adhatoda zeylanica, Piper longum, Emblica officinalis, Terminalia chebula, Zingiber officinale. Glycyrrhiza glabra and Solanum xanthocarpus

Drug preparation: Adhatoda zeylanica leaves (2 tbsp), Piper longum fruit (1 tbsp), Emblica officinalis fruit (2 1/2 tbsp), Terminalia chebula fruit (1 tbsp) Zingiber officinale Rhizome (1 tbsp) Glycyrrhiza glabra root (1 1/2 tbsp) and Solanum xanthocarpum Fruit (1 tbsp)

Dosage: About 3 tbsp powder should be given twice a day with lukewarm water or milk.

Plant Profiles:

1. Adhatoda zeylanica Medic. syn. A. vasica Nees (Malabar nut, Vasaka)

Bengali- Basak; Gujarati-Aradusi; Hindi- Arusa, Bansa; Kannada- Adusoge, Kurchigida, Pavate; Malayalam- Adalodakam; Oriya- Arusa, Basung; Sanskrit-Shwetavasa, Vasa, Vasaka; Tamil.--Adhatodai, Pavettai; Telugu- Addasaramu, Garhwal- Bangra; Kashmiri- Bahekar, Baikar, Basuth, Bhenkar; Kumaun- Arus, Basinga; PunjabI-Bansa, Basuti, Bhekar, Vasaka.

An evergreen, gregarious, stiff, perennial shrub, 1.2-6.0 m in height, distributed throughout India, up to an altitude of 1,300 m. Leaves elliptic-lanceolate or ovate-lanceolate, entire, 5-30 cm long, hairy, light green above, dark below, leathery; flowers large, white with red-or yellow-barred throats, in spikes with large bracts; capsules clavate, longitudinally channelled, 1.9-2.2 cm x 0.8 cm; seeds globular (WOA. 1997).

2. Piper longum Linn. (Indian Long pepper)

Hindi- Pipal, Pipli, Piplamul; Bengali- Piplamor; Marathi- Pimpli; Gujarat- Pipli; Telugu- Pippuloo; Tamil- Tippali; Pippili, Sirumulam, Kandan Tippili; Malayalam-Tippali, Pippali, Aamgadhi

A slender aromatic climher with perennial woody roots occurring in the hotter parts of India, from Central Himalayas to Assam, Khasi and Mikir hills, lower hills of Bengal, and evergreen forests of western ghats from Konkan to Travancore: it has been recorded also from Car Nicobar Islands. Stems creeping; jointed; young shoots downy; leaves 5-9 cm. long, 3-5 cm. wide, ovate, cordate with broad rounded lobes at base, subacute, entire, glabrous; spikes cylindrical pedunculate, male larger and slender, female 1.3-2.5 cm. long and 4-5 mm. diam.; fruits ovoid, yellowish orange, sunk in fleshy spike (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. 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).

5. Zingiber officinale Rosc. (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).

6. Glycyrrhiza glabra L. (Licorice)

Sanskrit- Madhuka, Yashti-madhu; Hindi- Mulhatti, Jethi-madh; Bengali- Jashtimadhu, Jaishbomodhu; Marathi- Jeshta madha; Gujarati- Jethi madha; Telugu- Yashtimadhukam, Atimadhuramu; Tamil- Atimaduram; Kannada- Yashti madhuka, Atimadhura; Malayalam- Iratimadhuram

G. glabra, the principal source of the commercial drug, is a hardy herb or undershrub attaining a height up to 6 ft.; leaves multifoliolate, imparipinnate; flowers in axillary spikes, papilionaceous, lavender to violet in colour; pods compressed, containing reniform seeds. The underground part in some varieties consists of a rootstock with a number of long, branched stems; in others, the rootstock, which is stout, throws off a large number of perennial roots. The dried, peeled or unpeeled underground stems and roots constitute the drug, known in the trade as Liquorice (WOA. 1997).

7. Solanum surattense Burm. f. syn. S. xanthocarpum Schrad. & Wendl. (Yellow-Berried Nightshade)

Sanskrit- Kantakari, Nidigadhika; Hindi- Kateli, Katai, Ringani; Bengali- Kantakari; Marathi- Bhuiringani; Gujarati- Bhoyaringani; Telugu- Pinnamulaka, Nelamulaka, Vankuda; Tamil & Malayalam- Kandankattiri; Oriya- Bheji begun, Ankranti; Punjabi-Kandyali, Mahori, Warumba

A very spiny diffuse herb up to 1.2 m. tall, commonly found throughout India. Leaves ovate or elliptic, sinuate or sub-pinnatifid, spines 1 cm. long, straight; flowers blue in lateral cymes; berries globose 1.2-2 cm. in diam., glabrous yellow or whitish and green blotched; seeds glabrous (WOA. 1997).


WOA. 1997. Wealth of Asia (AHEAD).

About the Authors:

Dr Deepak Acharya - He is the Head of Pistiss Herbal Research Lab Pvt Ltd, Ahmedabad, India.

Dr Anshu Shrivastava- A Botanist, he is a PhD from Botanical Survey of India Jodhpur. He is now working with SRISTI ( as a Plant Taxonomist.

Dr Sanjay Pawar He is a Botanist from Chhindwara, currently involved in scouting and documentation of herbal wealth in the district.

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