|Home | About | Journals | Submit | Contact Us | Français|
The present investigation deals with the ethnomedicinal plants of Kumaragiri Hills of Salem district, Tamilnadu. The indigenous knowledge of the village dwellers, the herbal medicine practitioners and other traditional healers and the native plants used for medicinal value were collected through questionnaire and personal interviewed during field trips. The study revealed some unknown medical uses of medicinal plants. The scientific name, family, vernacular name (Tamil), part used and traditional practice of 80 species, 65 genera and families are discussed here for the treatment of various ailments. The dicotyledons are represented by 73 species of 58 genera and 37 families while monocotyledons are represented by 7 species of 7 genera and 4 families. 91.25% dicotyledons and :8.75% monocotyledons were encountered.
Indian subcontinent is blessed with most varied and diverse soil and climate conditions suitable for the growth of veritable plant species. The indigenous people are well acquainted with the properties and uses of plants of their surroundings. People depend on the forest resources for various purposes like for wood, timber, non-timber forest products, medicines, food etc. (Pushpangadan, 1995). Plants have been used as medicines for thousands of years and are used today in their natural as well as processed from many medicinal plants which have been forgotten by modern man as a result of his dependence on the quick results of allopathic medicines and are being rediscovered because of growing awareness of unwanted side effects and others aspects of the later (Dwarakan and Alagesaboopathi, 1999). Plants have always been the source of medicines and have many uses to mankind. According to some earlier workers (Chopra et al., 1956; Jain, 1965; Kritikar and Basu, 1999; Nadkarni, 2001) plants have been used in traditional medicine for several thousand years (Abu-Rabia, 2005).
The knowledge of medicinal plants has been accumulated in the course of many centuries based on different medicinal systems such as Ayurveda, Unani and Siddha. In India, it is reported that traditional healers use 2500 plant species and 100 species of plants serve as regular sources of medicine (Pei, 2001). India is one of the twelve-megabiodivesity centers with 2 hot-spots of biodiversity in the Northeastern Region and Western Ghats. There are about 400 families in the world of the flowering plants; at least 315 are represented in India (Sharma, 2003).
Salem is one of the most important districts of Tamilnadu. It lies between 11°14′46″ and 12°53′30″ North latitude and between 77°32′52″ – 78°53′05″ East longitude. The district is mountainous in character. Enumerated below are some important Hills. They are Shevaroy Hills, Kolli Hills, Kalvarayan, Kanjamalai Hills, Suriyamalai, Kumaragiri Hills, Bodamalai and Palamalai. The district is well known for its unique assemblage of vegetation wealth.
In the present study, 80 medicinal plant species were surveyed to assess their therapeutic significance in managing various diseases. Ethnomedicinal exploration was conducted in the different localities of the Kumaragiri Hills and numbers of valuable data on the uses of indigenous medicinal plants were recorded.
Periodic field trips for ethnobotanical exploration were undertaken during November 2007 to April 2008 in Kumaragiri Hills of Salem district. During the surveys personal interviewed were conducted with the village dwellers, the herbal medicine practioners and other traditional healers. Each of the plant material was assigned field book number and documented as to family, scientific name, vernacular name (Tamil), part used and medicinal uses, plant parts that were identified as having use in ethnobotany were collected and compressed. Plant species collected were identified with the help of flora books (Hooker, 1884; Gamble, 1936; Henry et. al., 1987; Matthew, 1983). Voucher spcimens are deposited in the herbarium of Botany Department, Government Arts College (Autonomous) Salem.
During present observation and interaction with the village dwellers, the herbal medicine practioners and other traditional healers of Kumaragiri Hills. 80 angiospermic plants were enumerated with their medicinal importance. Out of 80 plant species studied, 7 is monocot and 73 is dicot. All the 80 species have medicinal uses. 10 species are used for snake bite. Several species are used for jaundice, asthma, gonorrhoea, dyspepsia, diarrhoea and rheumatism. Species such as Chloris barbata, Coccinia indica, Ficus glomerata, Gymnema sylvestre Cyanodon dactylon and Syzygium cumini are used to treat diabetes. Plants like Butea frondosa, Carica papaya and Vetiveria zizanioides are used to manage blood pressure. Pyresis is treated effectively with Andrographis echioides, Andrographis paniculata and Sida acuta. The local people utilize Abutilon indicum, Achyranthes aspera and Santalum album as anti-diuretic agents.
People also make use of Argemone mexicana, Calatropis gigantea, Euphorbia antiquorum, Gloriosa superba, Melia azedarach, and Ocimum sanctum to treat leprosy. For treating skin diseases, Azadirachta indica, Cissus quadrangularis, Solanum nigrum and Vernonia cinerea are excellent remedies. Due to more demand of ethnomedicinal plants and more profit, local villagers have been motivated for conservation and cultivation of these plant species.
The plant species are arranged in alphabetical order. Each plant is followed by its family, vernacular name (Tamil). The medicinal uses are described with details such as the part(s) used singly, combination with other ingredients or mixed with other plants, methods of preparation and mode of administration. The following is the list of 80 plants studied.
The people of Kumaragiri Hills, Tamilnadu has been using numerous herbs of therapeutic purpose since time immemorial. Villagers chiefly depend on the herbs for all diseases. They are aware of the plant remedies for common ailments like diarrhoea, jaundice, rheumatism, dyspepsia, asthma, diabetes, dysentery, leprosy, antipyretic, gonorrhoea and skin diseases. They are also very familiar with the antidotes for snake bites and scorpion sting. Pharmacological and clinical traits will help in the confirmation of the efficacy of the report herbs. The use of the reported plant species were collected from the regional people, who use them as tradition. Therefore, it is not advisable to use them without consulting an experienced Siddha medicine practioner. For the benefit of the community the recorded plant species should be taken care of and also steps be taken for conservation as well as cultivation of these plant species.
The author is greteful to Prof. R. Periyasamy, Principal and Prof. C. S. Suriyanarayanan, Head, Department of Botany, Government Arts College (Autonomous), Salem -7, for providing necessary facilities and constant encouragement to carry out this study.