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Traditional medicines of Gonds and Bharias - 14 - Herbal medicine for Impotency

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 article, we would discuss one common traditional practice, which is been performed by tribals of central India. The current article is on herbal medicine for curing impotency. 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., Withania somnifera, Mucuna pruriens, Asparagus racemosus, Sida cordifolia, Tribulus terrestris, Glycyrrhiza glabra and Pueraria tuberosa.

Drug Preparation:Withania somnifera roots (1 tbsp), Mucuna pruriens seeds (2 tbsp), Asparagus racemosus roots (1 tbsp), Sida cordifolia seeds (1 tbsp), Tribulus terrestris fruits (2 tbsp), Glycyrrhiza glabra roots (1 tbsp), Pueraria tuberosa root tubers (2 tbsp).

Dosage: About 2 teaspoon powder should be given to the patient, twice daily (morning and at night before going to bed) with milk or honey.

Plant Profiles:

1. Withania somnifera Dunal (Ashwagandha)

Sanskrit- Ashwagandha, Turangi-gandha; Hindi- Punir, Asgandh; Bengali- Ashvaganda; Marathi- Askandha tilli; Gujarati- Ghodakun, Ghoda, Asoda, Asan; Telugu- Pulivendram, Panneru-gadda, Panneru; Tamil- Amukkura, Amkulang, Amukkuram-kilangu, Amulang-kalung, Aswagandhi; Kannada- Viremaddlinagadde, Pannaeru, Aswagandhi, Kiremallinagida, Punjabi- Asgand, Isgand; Trade--Aswagandha.

An erect, evergreen, tomentose shrub, 30-150 cm. high, found throughout the drier parts of India in waste places and on bunds; also cultivated to a limited extent for the medicinal roots. Roots stout fleshy, whitish brown; leaves simple ovate, glabrous, those in the floral region smaller and opposite; flowers inconspicuous, greenish or lurid-yellow, in axillary, umbellate cymes; berries small, globose, orange-red when mature, enclosed in the persistent calyx; seeds yellow, reniform (WOA, 1997).

2. Mucuna prurita Hook. syn. M. pruriens Baker (Common Cowitch, Cowhage)

Hindi- Kiwach, kaunch, goncha; Bengali- Alkushi, bichchoti; Marathi- Kavacha, kuhili, kanchkuri; Gujarat- Kivanch, kavatch; Telugu- Dulagondi, pilliadugu; Tamil- Poonaipidukkan, poonaikalei; Kannada- Nasukunni, hasagunigida; Malayalam-Naicorna; Oriya- Kaincho; Punjabi- Kawanch, gugli

A herbaceous twining annual found almost all over India and in Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Leaves trifoliolate: leaflets broadly ovate, elliptic. or rhomboid ovate,, unequal at base; flowers in axillary, pendulous racemes, purple; pods curved, 5-10 cm. x 1.5-1.8 cm., longitudinally ribbed, turgid, densely clothed with persistent pale brown or grey, irritant bristles; seeds black, 4-6 in a pod, ovoid (c. 12 mm. long), with funicular hilum (WOA, 1997).

3. Asparagus racemosus Willd.

Bengali- Shatamuli; Gujarati- Ekalkanto, Satavari; Hindi- Chatwal, Satawar, Satmuli, Shakakul; Kannada- Aheruballi, Ashadhi, Majjigegadde, Sipariberuballi; Malayalam- Chatavali, Satavari; Marathi- Asvel, Shatavari, Shatmuli; Oriya- Chhotaru, Mohajolo, Sotabori; Sanskrit- Satavari; Tamil- Ammaikodi, Inli-chedi, Kadumulla, Shimai-shadavari; Telugu- Pilli-gaddalu, Toalb-gaddalu; Madhya Pradesh- Narbodh, Satmooli; Rajasthan- Norkanto, Satawar

An extensively scandent, much-branched, spinous under-shrub, with tuberous, short rootstock bearing numerous fusiform, succulent tuberous roots 30-100 cm long and 1-2 cm thick, found growing wild in tropical and sub-tropical parts of India including the Andamans; and ascending in the Himalayas up to an altitude of 1,500 m. Stems woody, whitish grey or brown armed with strong, straight or recurved spines 5-13 mm long; cladodes more or less acicular, 2-6 nate, falcate, finely acuminate; leaves reduced to sub-erect or sub-recurved spines; flowers white, fragrant, small, profuse in simple or branched racemes up to 7 cm long; berries globose, scarlet, triobed, 4-6 mm in diam (WOA. 1997).

4. Sida cordifolia L. (Country- mallow).

Hindi- Kungyi; Bengali- Swetberela, Brela, Bala; Gujarati- Bala baldana, Mahabala, Khapat; Telugu- Tella antisa, Tellagorra, Chirwbenda, Suvarnamu; Tamil- Nila-tutti, Paniar-tuthi; Kannada- Hettuthi, Hettugigada, Kisangi, Chittuharalu; Malyalam- Kurunthotti, Vellurum, Kathuram; Oriya- Badianaula, Bisvokopari; Punjab- Kowar, Simak.

A small, downy, erect shrub, 1.5 m high, with long branches, sometimes rooting at the nodes. Bark light yellowish brown. Leaves cordate-oblong, ovate, or ovate-oblong, very downy on both surfaces. Flowers tawny-yellow or white. Fruit with a pair of awns on each carpel (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. 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. Pueraria tuberosa DC. (Indian Kudzu)

Hindi- Sural, bilaikand, bharda, tirra, bankumra; Bengali- Shimia batraji; Marathi-Ghorbel; Gujarati- Vidarikand, phagvelo, khakarvel; Telugu- Darigummadi; Kannada- Gumadigida. Punjabi-Siali.

A large perennial climber with very large tuberous roots, distributed nearly throughout India, except in very humid or very arid regions, and ascending up to l,200 m. Stems woody, up to 12 cm. in diam., leaves trifoliolate; flowers blue or purplish blue, in racemes 15-30 cm. long; pods flat, 5-7 cm. long; densely clothed with long, silky, bristly brown hairs; seeds 3-6 (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. Contact him on

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