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Research Article

Ethnoveterinary Medicinal Practices of the Villagers of Usilampatti Taluk of Madurai District, India

S. Eswaran, P. Boomibalagan and S. Rathinavel
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This study is aimed to document the medicinally important plants used in the treatment of cattle diseases by the villagers living in Usilampatti Taluk, Madurai district, Tamil Nadu, India. Interviews and detailed personal discussions were conducted with the traditional healers and local people to identify the plants and their medicinal information for 12 months (from September 2010 to August 2011). The medicinal important plants were botanically identified and voucher specimens were maintained in our Department herbarium. The investigations recorded 73 plant species belonging to 39 families were reported to have ethno-veterinary medicinal values. Leaves are the mostly used part to prepare medicine. Generally fresh parts are used for preparation of remedies and used for oral administration. Attention should be made on scientific validation and proper exploitation and utilization of these medicinally important plants in animal health care.

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  How to cite this article:

S. Eswaran, P. Boomibalagan and S. Rathinavel, 2013. Ethnoveterinary Medicinal Practices of the Villagers of Usilampatti Taluk of Madurai District, India. International Journal of Botany, 9: 37-43.

DOI: 10.3923/ijb.2013.37.43

Received: March 30, 2013; Accepted: May 10, 2013; Published: June 27, 2013


In recent time, there has been marked shift towards herbal cures because of the pronounced cumulative and irreversible reaction of modern drugs (Pande et al., 2007). The people are utilizing or practicing many ancient traditional methods of healing for their domestic animals. Large quantities of these plants are also used in the preparation of drugs. Therefore, due to over population, urbanization and continuous exploitation of the herbal reserves, the natural resources and their related traditional knowledge are depleting day-by-day. Very little of this traditional knowledge has been documented in developing countries (Khan, 2009; Sanyasi Rao et al., 2008) and ethnoveterinary knowledge generally ignored in mainstream veterinary medicine. But in remote rural areas, increasing attention has been paid to ethnoveterinary knowledge and local veterinary practices due to lack of veterinary health care centers. Moreover the supply of veterinary health services and dedications is constrained by scarcity, erratic supply and prohibitive cost. In some rural areas, although an extensive network of veterinary hospitals exists, a poor communication and infrastructure and a shortage of manpower drives livestock owners to treat animals themselves. The villagers prone to consult a local healer for immediate treatment of livestock or slaughter the animal if the cost of treatment becomes more expensive than value of the animal. Thus, ethnoveterinary medicine is mostly preferred by villagers as this system of approach dealing with the folk beliefs, knowledge, skills, methods and practices pertaining to the health care of animal by tradition (Tiwari and Pande, 2010). There is an urgent need that they should be documented before this traditional knowledge is lost. The present work was carried out to enumerate the plants used to treat the veterinary diseases in rural areas of Usilampatti Taluk, Madurai district, Tamil Nadu, India. The study focuses pathogenic diseases, digestive disorders and reproductive problems associated with livestock might be overcome by folklore medicines derived from one or combination of several plants.


Description of the study area: The entire area of Madurai district lies between 9° 39' -10° 30' N latitude and 77° 00' E-78° 30' E longitude. The district is spread over an area of about 6500 sq. km and is bounded on the North and Northeast by Pudukkottai district, on South by Virudhunagar district, on the Southwest by Theni district and on the West by Dindigul district and East by Sivagangai district. The district receives an annual rainfall in about 600-850 mm. The maximum and minimum temperature varies between 18° and 40°C. The study area of Usilampatti Taluk is 37 Km away from Madurai district. This taluk comprises not less than 30 villages and the rural people rely upon agriculture and livestock for their livelihood.

Methodology: The field survey was conducted in different localities of Usilampatti Taluk Madurai for 12 months from September 2010 to August 2011. The ethnobotanical data were collected according to the methodology suggested earlier (Thirumalai, et al., 2010). The data were recorded using structured questionnaire interviews and discussions with households and local healers. A total of more than 27 local healers and 195 households were interviewed. The questionnaire items included each respondent,s age, school education and medicinal plants used for a particular disease . The data of ethnoveterinary medicinal plants, which were used by the healers and households, represent their vernacular name in Tamil, botanical name and followed by their family were recorded. All the specimens were botanically identified and authenticated with the help of Flora of Tamil Nadu Carnatic (Matthew, 1983) and An Excursion Flora of Central Tamil Nadu (Matthew, 1991). The voucher specimens were collected and maintained in the Herbarium of Department of Botany, Saraswathi Narayanan College, Madurai-625 022, India.


The present study revealed that 73 plant species belonging to 39 families were found in the different areas of Usilampatti Taluk of Madurai district. The listed plants possess medicinal values and were used mostly to cure 38 different livestock diseases and or ailments like diarrhoea, dermatitis, diuretic, pyrexia, mastitis, bone fracture, mouth diseases, indigestion, poisonous bites, etc. The medicinally important plants for veterinary diseases used by the villagers of the study area Usilampatti taluk ,Madurai district with their family name, local name and medicinal uses are given in the Table 1. The data evidence that eleven species of Asclepidaceae, ten species of Fabaceae, Piperaceae and Liliaceae, nine species of Euphorbiaceae, seven species of Meliaceae, and six species of Zingiberaceae were largely employed for preparation of herbal remedies for curing animal diseases. In the families of Solanaceae, Cucurbitaceae and Lamiaceae only five species used but in other families viz., Apiaceae (4 species) and Poaceae (3 species) less than five species were used for veterinary practices. Moreover the observations reveal that nine different species were used for enteritis, six different species for the treatment of abortion, bronchitis (asthma), and four different species for helminthes, coreal opacity, pyrexia, allergic reaction, mastitis and black quarter and three different species for sprine and swelling, diarrhea, hair falling, horn fracture and small pox. It has also been recorded that one or two species were used for treating problems like indigestion, vomiting, fever, cold, infertility, anorexia, foot and mouth diseases, tongue disease, and running nose.

In this study, the villagers who include both herbal healers and households of rural area of the Usilampatti Taluk of Madurai district used herbal therapies prepared from 73 plants to treat different veterinary illnesses. Among the plant parts used, leaf was the mostly used plant part (43.73%) to treat a particular animal disease followed by seed (15.16%), fruit (7.28%), bulb (6.43%), rhizome (4.03%) and tuber and bark (6.51%). The parts like flower and root were used at 4.87% but stem was the least used part (1.67%) in ethnoveterinary therapy. It has been recorded that latex and oil (10.32%) of some plants were used for curing bone fracture, warts, wounds and for external uses (9.7%). Generally, fresh parts of the plants were used for the preparation of medicine for livestock illness. The mode of treatment was varied with respect to nature of cattle disease. It was recorded that oral administration of herbal preparations (decoction, juice, some solid extracts etc.,) was found as mostly followed mode (76.19%) to treat the illness followed by raw feeding (14.11%). The plant extracts were prepared and also applied as paste externally to cure mastitis, wounds, foot and mouth diseases, swelling, horn and bone fracture etc. The percentage of the various parts of plant used and different mode of treatment is given in the Fig. 1 and 2. The study showed that a good number of medicinally valuable plants were used for the treatment of various veterinary diseases. Piper nigrum was used for the treatment of most of the diseases followed by Azadirachta indica, Allium cepa and Cuminum cyminum. In most of the preparations, the leaves of the plants were used for treating animal diseases and followed by seed, fruit, bulb etc. Most of the earlier ethnobotanical studies confirmed that leaves were the major portion of the plant used in the treatment of diseases (Tiwari and Pande, 2010). The data also revealed that the plants were mostly used in combination with other plants to treat particular disease effectively. It was noticed that oral administration was the mostly followed mode to cure the illness. The survey evidences that most of the plant extracts are very much useful in treating cattle diseases viz., mastitis, enteritis, dermatitis, bronchitis etc. Further, the traditional healers (Pasu vaidhyars) and villagers of the study area were found to adopt traditional health care practices to overcome the common ailments of their animals by them. It was recorded that the traditional medicines were found to be given either along with country sugar, fruit and or honey during oral administration, so as to feed the animals easily.

Table 1: Details of animal diseases and ethnoveterinary medicinal plants used in the traditional practices followed by the villagers of Usilampatti Taluk of Madurai district, Tamil Nadu, India
Image for - Ethnoveterinary Medicinal Practices of the Villagers of Usilampatti Taluk of Madurai District, India

Image for - Ethnoveterinary Medicinal Practices of the Villagers of Usilampatti Taluk of Madurai District, India
Fig. 1: Percent usage of the parts of the plant used to treat veterinary diseases by the people of Usilampatti Taluk, Madurai Dt

The usage of Piper nigrum and Allium cepa was very common for curing eye diseases, indigestion, constipation, wounds (Tiwari and Pande, 2010) insect problems (Saikia and Borthakur, 2010) and fever (Nag et al., 2007) was in traditional practice of animal care in Uttarkand, Assam and Rajasthan.

Image for - Ethnoveterinary Medicinal Practices of the Villagers of Usilampatti Taluk of Madurai District, India
Fig. 2: Percent adoption of the mode of treatment followed by the villagers of Usilampatti Taluk, Madurai District to cure veterinary diseases

Similarly, plant species of Zingiber officinalis, Curcuma domestica (Tiwari and Pande, 2010) Azadirachta indica, Datura metel (Sanyasi Rao et al., 2008) Calotropis procera (Kiruba et al., 2006) Withania somnifera, Corallacarpus epigaeus, Bambusa arundinacea (Ganesan et al., 2008) Sesamum indicum, Tridax procumbens and Wrightia tinctoria (Nag et al., 2007) were reported to have ethnoveterinary medicinal values in many places of India. Moreover, well recognized occupational ethnoveterinary healers who found across the remote villages disseminate these practices to the fellow members of their family and through them the villagers are benefited. It was also recorded that the traditional healers use observation of physical external abnormality of animal which can easily be observed by naked eyes ( like redness of skin and eyes, etc.), observations of physical internal abnormality (like state of feed and water intake, feces and defecation, rate and depth of breathing, etc.) observations of body temperature by introducing the fingers into the rectum; and observation of physical examinations such as skin palpation for formations under the skin or muscle. The medicines are administered to animals with the help of a special apparatus known as kottam (in Madurai region, Tamil Nadu). It is a simple mature hollow stem of bamboo (Dendrocalamus strictus) which is pointed at one end. Decoctions, plant extracts or other liquid medicines are administered to animals through it.

In conclusion, over exploitation of plant species in the name of medicine may lead some species ultimately to the disappearance in future. Therefore, attention should be made on proper exploitation and utilization of these plants. The findings of this study may become basic leads for chemical, pharmacological, clinical and biochemical investigations. These observations would serve as data base to formulate plant derived compounds in herbal veterinary drugs which could serve as better alternative to allopathic medicines that cause side effects in livestock. The study focuses the adoption of folk medicines for immediate action an animal care along with livestock related social realities. Moreover, it would be necessary to harness the benefits of organic products from dairy animals and for improving the livelihood of rural society. In general the study suggested further investigation on the valuable plants would be necessary to derive the fruits of them in animal health care practices with scientific approaches.


The authors are cordially grateful to the people inhabiting in different localities of Usilampatti Taluk of Madurai district for their kind support and co-operation during the field trips.


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