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Diversity of Ethnomedicinal Plants and Their Therapeutic Uses in Western Ghats Region of Kodagu District, Karnataka, India

Ashitha Ganesh B, Devi Prasad A.G
Applied Ecology and Environmental Sciences. 2021, 9(2), 209-224. DOI: 10.12691/aees-9-2-13
Received December 30, 2020; Revised January 24, 2021; Accepted February 03, 2021

Abstract

Kodagu district situated in Central Western Ghats embraces a rich biodiversity and is the treasure house of ethnobotanical wealth. The district has one of the highest densities of community managed sacred groves in the world with rich floral and faunal diversity. The tribal people of this region possess a plethora of traditional plant knowledge and health care practices. An ethnobotanical survey was made in the forests of Kodagu district in which a total of 205 ethnomedicinal plant species belonging to 72 families have been documented. Information about medicinal plants and their therapeutic uses was gathered by interaction with traditional medicinal practitioners. Of the total species documented herbs were predominately used (70 species) followed by shrubs (57 species), trees (51 species) and climbers (21 species). They are used to treat a wide range of diseases such as diabetes, jaundice, skin diseases, snake bite, dysentery, hyperacidity, abortifacient, anthelmintic, antiseptic, stomachic, piles, fever, cough and so on. The medicine’s formulation and mode of administration of these plants were recorded. The declining tribal population, impact of modernisation and pollution have threatened the indigenous knowledge even before the scientific validation of many therapeutic uses of these plants. This has necessitated protecting and conserving the medicinal plant diversity as well as traditional medicinal knowledge.

1. Introduction

Traditional medicine has been bonded to people since time immemorial. It is a well-established fact that medicinal plants play a vital role in the rural folk of India 1. It is recorded that, about 90% of the people in rural India take the help of local health practitioners for the treatment of various diseases 2. A good number of ethnomedicinal plants and their products have been exploited by ethnic people to treat various diseases and ailments. Indigenous medicines provide considerable economic benefits to these people 3. It is estimated that a total of 80% of the population in developing countries and 60% of the world population depend on the traditional medicines mostly plant drugs for their primary health care needs 4. Also, in India it is estimated that traditional healers use around 2500 plant species in the preparation of traditional medicine 5. According to WHO, over 21,000 plant species are being used for their medicinal properties 6. The tribal and indigenous communities of India were found to be using more than 10,000 species of wild plants for various purposes which include about 8,000 species for medicinal uses 6. Medicinal plant knowledge has been used throughout the world especially in the developing countries like India as a practice of using traditional herbal drugs available in the form of local plant species 7. The widespread use of traditional medicine could be attributed to the cultural acceptability, economic viability and efficacy against certain ailments/diseases compared to modern allopathic drugs 8. Documentation of ethnobotanical species for further scientific validation and subsequent processing for commercialization in India are also getting importance in recent decades. Western Ghats, the biodiversity hotspot 9 which is a medicinal plants emporium of India, harbours about 3500 plant species of therapeutic importance and many of them are being used till today 10. In Karnataka several reports on ethnomedicinal plants have been recorded from Shivamogga, North Canara, Chikamagalur, Hassan and Mysore districts. Very few literatures were available on herbal folk medicines of Kodagu district 11, 12, 13, 14, 15. Most of these studies have reported only ethnomedicinal practices specific to selected areas. However, updated information on their occurrence and therapeutic uses are lacking. To fill this lacuna the present investigations were undertaken in the Western Ghats region of Kodagu district and the findings are documented in the paper.

2. Study Area

Kodagu, also known by its anglicized name of Coorg is a small district of Karnataka State in southern India and it occupies about 4,100 Km2 of land on the eastern slopes of the Western Ghats. The district lies between North latitude 11°56’ to 12°56’ and east longitude 75°22’ to 76°11’. Thadiyandamol is the highest peak that reaches 1,750 meters above sea level and the lowest elevation is at 900 meters above sea level 16. Kodagu has temperate climate with an average temperature of 15°C. The temperature varies from 11°C in December to about 28°C in the month of April and May. The average rainfall for the district is 2,692 mm per annum and on an average, there are about 111 rainy days in a year. Kodagu district embraces evergreen forest to scrub forest 17. It is a habitat for more than ten different types of ethnic indigenous tribal groups commonly called ‘Girijanas’ (Yarvas, Jenukuruba, Bettakuruba, Maratha, Kaadukuruba etc…) 16.

3. Materials and Methods

Periodic field exploration was undertaken in different bioregions of Virajpet, Somwarpet and Madikeri taluks of Kodagu district. The survey was focused on identification, distribution and collection of medicinal plants in the Western Ghats region of Kodagu. The plant specimens were collected and identified using local flora, available field keys, authentic literatures and with the help of taxonomists at University of Mysore. Information on the ethnomedicinal plants was gathered by interaction and interviews with ethnic groups of tribal hamlets and local healers in the region. A standard questionnaire was prepared to collect the information pertinent to the therapeutic uses and pharmacological formulations by the tribes, local vaidyas, and traditional medicinal healers. Data on the plant species, vernacular/local names, parts used, therapeutic uses and mode of administration are compiled and detailed in Table 1.

4. Result and Discussion

The findings of the study area have shown the occurrence of 205 ethnomedicinal plant species distributed among 72 families. The dominant families of ethnomedicinal plants recorded include Fabaceae with 21 species, Lamiaceae with 11 plant species, Apocyanaceae and Asteraceae with 9 species each, and Acanthaceae with 8 species. Data on each species provides information about botanical name, vernacular name, habit, parts used, therapeutic uses and mode of administration [Table 1]. Of the total species documented, herbs were predominately used (70 species) followed by shrubs/undershrubs (57 species), trees (51 species), climbers (21 species), trailer (1), twiner (1), liana (2), grass (1), and straggler (1) [Figure 2]. In general, richness of herbaceous species than any other life forms are higher in any natural community which may lead to more use of herbs for medicinal purposes than the species of other habits 6. Leaves were the most frequently used plant part (86), followed by roots (42), bark (31), fruits (26), seeds (16), rhizome and sap (6), bulbs (3), and stem (2). For 26 species, whole plants were used for treating various ailments [Figure 3]. It was recorded that most of the practitioners administer oral mode of medicines. About 90 species were found to be given internally. External application of the plant extracts (64 species) on the affected parts is being followed in the treatment of wounds/cuts, skin diseases, inflammations and pains. About 51 species were used both internally and externally for treating ailments.

5. Conclusion

Present ethnomedicinal knowledge is nearly endangering because of changes in the lifestyle of ethnomedicinal practitioners. The younger generation are ignoring the importance of such ethnomedicinal plants and practices. Anthropogenic activities such as deforestation, commercial crop plantations, modernisation of lifestyle and unsustainable developmental activities have become the major culprits for threatening the traditional knowledge of the tribes. Additionally, climate change is also budding to alter the floristics of the area. The present paper details about 205 ethnomedicinal plants and their uses. The findings of the investigation add to the database of potential medicinal plants for their future bio-prospection.

Acknowledgements

The authors are grateful to the tribal healers of Kodagu district for sharing their valuable knowledge.

Conflict of Interests

There is no conflict of interest with respect to this research article.

References

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In article      View Article
 
[2]  Valsaraj, R., et al., Antimicrobial screening of selected medicinal plants from India. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 1997. 58(2): p. 75-83.
In article      View Article
 
[3]  Khare, C.P., Indian medicinal plants: an illustrated dictionary. 2008: Springer Science & Business Media.
In article      View Article  PubMed
 
[4]  Kala, C.P., P.P. Dhyani, and B.S. Sajwan, Developing the medicinal plants sector in northern India: challenges and opportunities. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine, 2006. 2(1): p. 32.
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[5]  Martin, G.J., Ethnobotany: a methods manual. Vol. 1. 2014: Springer.
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[7]  Katewa, S., B. Chaudhary, and A. Jain, Folk herbal medicines from tribal area of Rajasthan, India. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 2004. 92(1): p. 41-46.
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[12]  Parinitha, M., et al., Ethno-botanical wealth of Bhadra wild life sanctuary in Karnataka. 2004.
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[13]  Bhandary, M. and K. Chandrashekar, Herbal therapy for herpes in the ethno-medicine of Coastal Karnataka. 2011.
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[14]  Guruprasad, S., N. Ningaiah, and M. Gangadhar, Indigenous knowledge on medicinal plants among the Iruliga tribal population of Western Ghats areas, Karnataka, India. Journal of Anthropology, 2013. 9(1): p. 195-203.
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[15]  Kalyanasundaram, I., An Ethnobotanical study of the Kodavas and other tribes of Kodagu district, Karnataka. Nelumbo, 1995. 37(1-4): p. 100-116.
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[16]  Davidar, P., J.P. Puyravaud, and E.G. Leigh Jr, Changes in rain forest tree diversity, dominance and rarity across a seasonality gradient in the Western Ghats, India. Journal of Biogeography, 2005. 32(3): p. 493-501.
In article      View Article
 
[17]  Zorondo-Rodríguez, F., et al., What defines quality of life? The gap between public policies and locally defined indicators among residents of Kodagu, Karnataka (India). Social Indicators Research, 2014. 115(1): p. 441-456.
In article      View Article
 

Published with license by Science and Education Publishing, Copyright © 2021 Ashitha Ganesh B and Devi Prasad A.G

Creative CommonsThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Cite this article:

Normal Style
Ashitha Ganesh B, Devi Prasad A.G. Diversity of Ethnomedicinal Plants and Their Therapeutic Uses in Western Ghats Region of Kodagu District, Karnataka, India. Applied Ecology and Environmental Sciences. Vol. 9, No. 2, 2021, pp 209-224. http://pubs.sciepub.com/aees/9/2/13
MLA Style
B, Ashitha Ganesh, and Devi Prasad A.G. "Diversity of Ethnomedicinal Plants and Their Therapeutic Uses in Western Ghats Region of Kodagu District, Karnataka, India." Applied Ecology and Environmental Sciences 9.2 (2021): 209-224.
APA Style
B, A. G. , & A.G, D. P. (2021). Diversity of Ethnomedicinal Plants and Their Therapeutic Uses in Western Ghats Region of Kodagu District, Karnataka, India. Applied Ecology and Environmental Sciences, 9(2), 209-224.
Chicago Style
B, Ashitha Ganesh, and Devi Prasad A.G. "Diversity of Ethnomedicinal Plants and Their Therapeutic Uses in Western Ghats Region of Kodagu District, Karnataka, India." Applied Ecology and Environmental Sciences 9, no. 2 (2021): 209-224.
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        [1]  Grover, J., S. Yadav, and V. Vats, Medicinal plants of India with anti-diabetic potential. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 2002. 81(1): p. 81-100.
        In article      View Article
         
        [2]  Valsaraj, R., et al., Antimicrobial screening of selected medicinal plants from India. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 1997. 58(2): p. 75-83.
        In article      View Article
         
        [3]  Khare, C.P., Indian medicinal plants: an illustrated dictionary. 2008: Springer Science & Business Media.
        In article      View Article  PubMed
         
        [4]  Kala, C.P., P.P. Dhyani, and B.S. Sajwan, Developing the medicinal plants sector in northern India: challenges and opportunities. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine, 2006. 2(1): p. 32.
        In article      View Article  PubMed
         
        [5]  Martin, G.J., Ethnobotany: a methods manual. Vol. 1. 2014: Springer.
        In article      
         
        [6]  Secord, A., Botany on a plate: Pleasure and the power of pictures in promoting early nineteenth-century scientific knowledge. Isis, 2002. 93(1): p. 28-57.
        In article      View Article  PubMed
         
        [7]  Katewa, S., B. Chaudhary, and A. Jain, Folk herbal medicines from tribal area of Rajasthan, India. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 2004. 92(1): p. 41-46.
        In article      View Article  PubMed
         
        [8]  Ayyanar, M. and S. Ignacimuthu, Herbal medicines for wound healing among tribal people in Southern India: Ethnobotanical and Scientific evidences. International Journal of Applied Research in Natural Products, 2009. 2(3): p. 29-42.
        In article      
         
        [9]  Sharath, V.G. and Devi Prasad, A.G. 2019. Avifaunal Diversity in Western Ghats Regions of Shimoga andChikmagalur Districts, Karnataka, India. IOSR Journal of Environmental Science, Toxicology and Food Technology 13(3): 71-89.
        In article      
         
        [10]  Kalla, A.K. and P. Joshi, Tribal health and medicines. 2004: Concept Publishing Company.
        In article      
         
        [11]  Bhandary, M., K. Chandrashekar, and K. Kaveriappa, Medical ethnobotany of the siddis of Uttara Kannada district, Karnataka, India. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 1995. 47(3): p. 149-158.
        In article      View Article
         
        [12]  Parinitha, M., et al., Ethno-botanical wealth of Bhadra wild life sanctuary in Karnataka. 2004.
        In article      
         
        [13]  Bhandary, M. and K. Chandrashekar, Herbal therapy for herpes in the ethno-medicine of Coastal Karnataka. 2011.
        In article      
         
        [14]  Guruprasad, S., N. Ningaiah, and M. Gangadhar, Indigenous knowledge on medicinal plants among the Iruliga tribal population of Western Ghats areas, Karnataka, India. Journal of Anthropology, 2013. 9(1): p. 195-203.
        In article      
         
        [15]  Kalyanasundaram, I., An Ethnobotanical study of the Kodavas and other tribes of Kodagu district, Karnataka. Nelumbo, 1995. 37(1-4): p. 100-116.
        In article      
         
        [16]  Davidar, P., J.P. Puyravaud, and E.G. Leigh Jr, Changes in rain forest tree diversity, dominance and rarity across a seasonality gradient in the Western Ghats, India. Journal of Biogeography, 2005. 32(3): p. 493-501.
        In article      View Article
         
        [17]  Zorondo-Rodríguez, F., et al., What defines quality of life? The gap between public policies and locally defined indicators among residents of Kodagu, Karnataka (India). Social Indicators Research, 2014. 115(1): p. 441-456.
        In article      View Article