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Traditional medicines of Gonds and Bharias - 26 - Herbal medicine for Dental Diseases

Tribals in Central India have been using herbs for curing their ailments from time immemorial. Bhumkas of Patalkot treat patients with their herbal expertise.

India is one of the oldest civilizations having existed since at least 3,200 BC. In all of these years, plants have become forever entwined in Indian culture. That is, they have been depending on plants for more than 5,000 years!

In India, plants have been used to do everything from domesticating plants, to farming them, to making tools from plants in order to farm them; it would be virtually impossible to separate plants from Indian culture. We can learn a great deal about our own culture by studying the past and present relationships India has with plants.

Tribals in Central India have been using herbs for curing their ailments from time immemorial. Bhumkas of Patalkot treat patients with their herbal expertise. Authors have documented the healing methods and medicinal plants used by the Bhumkas. Dr Deepak Acharya and Dr Sanjay Pawar made extensive surveys in the valley and documented indigenous knowledge of tribals. Dr Acharya is now aiming for the validation of few very important potential practices. The team of the authors is actively involved for a mission called "Mission with a Vision".

This series of articles deals with herbal formulation applied by the Bhumkas. In this article we bring up a formulation to cure Dental Problems.

Combination of herbs viz., Azadirachta indica, Acacia nilotica subsp. indica, Acacia catechu, Achyranthes aspera, Ficus benghalensis, Quercus infectoria and Symplocos racemosa

Drug Preparation: Azadirachta indica leaves (11/2 tbsp), Acacia nilotica subsp. indica bark (11/2 tbsp), Acacia catechu bark (11/2 tbsp), Achyranthes aspera leaves (1 tbsp), Ficus benghalensis bark (11/2 tbsp), Quercus infectoria fruits (11/2 tbsp), Symplocos racemosa bark (11/2 tbsp).

Dosage: The powder is applied to the gums and teeth, 2-3 times a day. Additionally a gargle of the decoction (about one teaspoonful powder mixed in 100-150 ml water) is recommended. The decoction should be retailed in the mouth for some time.

Plant Profiles:

1. Azadirachta indica A. Juss. syn. Melia azadirachta Linn.

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).

2. Acacia nilotica Delile subsp. indica (Benth.) Brenan syn. A. Arabica Willd. var. indica Benth. (Babul, Black Babool, Indian Gum Arabic Tree).

Bengali- Babla, Babul; Gujarati- Babaria, Baval; Hindi- Babul, Kikar; Kannada- Gobbli, Jaali, Kari Jaali; Malayalam- Karivelan; Marathi- Babhul, Vedibabul; Oriya- Bambuda, Baubra; Tamil- Karu Velamaram, Karuvelei; Telugu- Nallatumma, Tumma. Bihar- Babulo, Boburo, Gabla; Madhya Pradesh- Babul, Baumra; Punjab & Uttar Pradesh- Babul, Kikar.

A moderate-sized, almost evergreen tree with a short trunk, a spreading crown and feathery foliage, found throughout the drier parts of India. The tree generally attains a height of c. 15 m and a girth of 1.2 m, though trees up to a height of 30 m with a girth of 3 m have also been recorded. Bark dark brown to almost black, longitudinally fissured or deeply cracked; leaves 2.5-5.0 cm long, bipinnate with spinescent stipules, pinnules narrowly oblong; flowers golden-yellow, fragrant, crowded in long-stalked globose heads, 1.5 cm in diam, forming axillary clusters of 2-5 heads; pods flat, 7.5-15.0 cm, contracted between the circular seeds (WOA. 1997).

3. Acacia catechu Willd. (Cutch Tree)

Bengali- Khayar; Gujarati- Kherio-baval; Hindi- Khair; Kannada- Kachu, Kaggali, Kanti; Malayalam- Khadiram; Marathi- Kaderi, Khair; Oriya- Khoiru; Sanskrit- Khadira; Tamil- Kadiram, Karngalli; Telugu- Kachu, Kadiramu, Sandra;.Assam--Khoria; Punjab- Khair.

A moderate-sized, deciduous tree with a light feathery crown, occurring throughout India in dry types of mixed forests on a variety of geological formations and soils. Ordinarily this is a small tree, up to 3 m in height, with a girth of over 0.9 m; rarely trees up to 15 m in height, with a girth of over 2 m, have been recorded. Bark dark greyish brown, exfoliating in long, narrow strips; leaves pinnate, with a pair of recurved prickles at the base of the rachis; flowers pale-yellow in cylindrical spikes; pods glabrous, flat, oblong (WOA. 1997).

4. Achyranthes aspera L. (Prickly-Chaff flower)

Bengali- Apang, Chirchiti; Gujarati- Aghedo, Anghedo; Hindi- Chirchira, Chirchitta, Latjira; Kannada- Utranigida, Uttaraanne; Malayalam- Kadaladi; Marathi- Aghada, Aghara; Oriya- Apamaranga, Apamargo; Sanskrit- Apamaraga; Tamil- Chirukadaladi, Naayurivi; Telugu- Apamargamu, Uttareeni; Assam- Chik-kai-rek, Non-phak-pe, Soh-byrthied; Bombay- Agarda, Aghedia, Kharmanjari; Himachal Pradesh- Puthkanda; Madhya Pradesh- Agya, Circita Korroci; Punjabi- Chichra, Kutri; Rajasthan- Andhi-jalo, Andi-jaro, Katio-bhuratio, Undo-kanto, Unta-ghada

An erect or procumbent, annual or perennial herb, 1-2 m in height, often with a woody base, commonly found as a weed of waysides and waste places throughout India, up to an altitude of 2,100 m, and in the South Andaman Islands. Stems angular, ribbed, simple or branched from the base, often tinged with reddish purple colour; leaves thick, ovate-elliptic or obovate-rounded, but variable in shape and size; flowers greenish white, numerous in axillary or terminal spikes up to 75 cm long; seeds sub-cylindric, truncate at the apex, rounded at the base, reddish brown (WOA. 1997).

5. Ficus benghalensis Linn. (The Banyan)

Sanskrit- Bahupada, Vata; Hindi- Bar, Bargad, Bor; Bengali- Bar, Bot; Gujarati- Vad, Vadlo, Vor; Marathi- Vada, Wad, War; Telugu- Marri, Peddamarri, Vati; Tamil- Al, Alam; Kannada- Ala, Alada Mara, Vata; Malayalam- Ala, Vatam

A very large tree, with spreading branches, attaining at times a height of 100 ft.; aerial roots many, some developing into accessory trunks and helping the lateral spread of the tree indefinitely; leaves 4-8 in. long, coriaceous, ovate to elliptic, with rounded or subcordate base; fruits sessile in pairs, 1/2-3/4 inch in diam., subglobose, puberulous, scarlet when ripe (WOA. 1997).

6. Quercus infectoria Olivier (Gall Oak, Dyers' Oak)

Hindi- Majuphal, Mazu, Muphal; Bengali- Maju-phal; Tamil- Machakai, Mashikai; Telugu- Machi Kaya; Kannada- Machikai; Malayalam- Majakani

A small tree or shrub, c. 2-5 m. high, native of Greece, Asia Minor, Syria and Iran. Leaves 4-6 cm. Iong, very rigid, often glabrescent with spinous teeth; acorns cylindrical (WOA. 1997).

7. Symplocos racemosa Roxb.

Sanskrit- Lodhra, Marjana, Tillaka; Hindi- Lodh; Bengali- Lodh; Marathi- Lodh, Lodhra; Gujarati- Lodar; Telugu- Lodduga, Erralodduga; Tamil- Velli-lethi; Kannada- Balalodduginamara, Pachettu; Malayalam- Pachotti; Oriya- Ludhu, Nidhu; Bombay- Lodhra, Lodh, Hura; Assam- Kavirang, Bhomroti

An evergreen tree or shrub, 6-8.5 m. tall, abundant in the plains and lower hills throughout North and East India, ascending in the Himalayas up to an elevation of 1,400 m.; southwards it extends up to Chota Nagpur. Leaves dark green above, orbicular, elliptic oblong, 12.5 cm.x5 cm., coriaceous, glabrous above; flowers white, turning yellow, fragrant, in axillary, simple or compound racemes; drupes purplish black, subcylindric, smooth, 1-3 seeded (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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