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Traditional medicines of Gonds and Bharias - 11 - Medicine for General Health


Medicinal plants have been mentioned in various ancient literatures. In India, traditional knowledge is a key and common practice in house holds for curing several health related disorders.

In Central India, there is deep valley known as Patalkot. Tribals living in Patalkot have been performing their traditional knowledge since time immemorial. They have vast knowledge of herbs and their uses. Bhumka (Local healers) use herb decoction or power to treat hundreds of health related problems. Current article series deals with formulation made and prescribed by the local healers. It is just an attempt to document the indigenous knowledge. Readers should consult their family doctor before using these formulations.

The current article focuses on a formulation used to remain healthy and vital. If taken in a proper proportion, it may surely be a boon for everyone.

Combination of Herbs: Withania somnifera, Asparagus racemosus, Glycyrrhiza glabra, Tribulus terrestris, Emblica officinalis, Terminalia arjuna and Centella asiatica.

Drug preparation: Powder of Withania somnifera Roots (2 tbsp), Asparagus racemosus Root (1 tbsp), Glycyrrhiza glabra Roots (1 tbsp), Tribulus terrestris Fruits (1 tbsp), Emblica officinalis Fruits (11/2 tbsp), Terminalia arjuna Bark (11/2 tbsp), and Centella asiatica Leaves (1 tbsp).

Dosage: 1 teaspoon twice daily after meals.

Plant Profiles:

1. Withania somnifera Dunal

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 (root), Aswagandhi; Kannada- Viremaddlinagadde, Pannaeru, Aswagandhi, Kiremallinagida; Punjabi- Asgand, Isgand; Rajasthani- Chirpotan

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. 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).

3. Glycyrrhiza glabra L.

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

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 (WOA, 1997).

4. 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).

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

Sanskrit-Adiphala, Dhatri, Amalaka; Hindi- Amla, Amlika, Aonla; Bengali-Akla, Amlaki; Gujarati- 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).

6. Terminali arjuna (Roxb.) Wight & Arn.= T. cuneata Roth

Hindi- Arjuna; Bengali- Arjhan; Marathi- Sanmadat, Sadaru, Vellamarda, Gujarati- Sadado; Telugu- Yerramaddi; Tamil- Vellamatta; Kannada- Maddi; Oriya- Arjuno, Sahajo; Assamiya- Orjun; Punjabi- Arjan.

A large, evergreen tree, with a spreading crown and drooping branches, common in most parts of India and also planted in many parts for shade and ornament. Stems rarely long or straight, generally always buttressed and often fluted; bark very thick, grey or pinkish green, smooth, exfoliating in large, thin, irregular sheets; leaves sub-opposite, oblong or elliptic, coriaceous, usually 10-15 cm. long, occasionally 25 cm., cordate, shortly acute or obtuse at thc apex; flowers in panicled spikes; fruits 2.5-5.0 cm. long, nearly glabrous, ovoid or ovoid-oblong, with 5-7 hard, winged angles (WOA, 1997).

7. Centella asiatica (Linn.) Urban syn. Hydrocotyle asiatica Linn. (Centella, Indian Pennywort)

Bengali- Thankuni, Tholkuri; Gujarati- Moti brahmi; Hindi- Brahma-manduki, Khulakhudi, Mandookaparni; Kannada- Brahmisoppu, Vandelaga-illikiwigidda; Malayalam- Kodangal, Muyalchevi; Marathi- Karinga, Karivana; Oriya- Thalkudi; Sanskrit- Mandukaparni, Mutthil; Tamil- Vallarai; Telugu- Brahmi, Saraswataku; Assam- Manimuni; Bihar- Chokiora; Meghalaya- Bat-maina; Tripura- Thankuni, Thunimankuni

A prostrate, faintly aromatic, stoloniferous perennial herb, up to 2 m long, commonly found as a weed in crop fields and other waste places throughout India up to an altitude of 600 m. Stem glabrous, pink and striated,rooting at the nodes; leaves fleshy, orbicular-reniform, crenate-dentate, base cordate and often lobed, long-petioled, smooth on the upper surface and sparsely hairy on the lower; flowers red, pink or white, in fascicled umbels; fruits oblong, dull brown, laterally compressed, pericarp hard and thickened, woody, white (WOA, 1997).

References:

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 dracharya.tripod.com or contact via email on deep_acharya@rediffmail.com

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 garimasancheti@rediffmail.com

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 ansh24@gmail.com.

Dr Sanjay Pawar: He is a botanist in Chhindwara, Madhya Pradesh. Contact him on drpawar@rediffmail.com

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