This study showed the first had information on 57 interesting medicinal herbal plants used by tribal people, Vaidyas, Siddha and Ayurveda for diabetes mellitus. Present enumeration of antidiabetic herbal flora of Tamil Nadu includes information regarding previous findings. This informations were gathered at the time of field study from various local inhabitants, viz., vaidyas. Medicinal plant seller, healers, priests, hakims and local elderly people. Furthermore, informations regarding antidiabetic nature of plants were confirmed by previous findings reported in various national and international journals.
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All systems of traditional Indian medicine have their roots in folk medicine and household remedies. Whereas some of those earliest remedies were subjected to certain refinements, revisions and improvements through practices by trained medicine men. The people are using various recipes traditionally from generation to generation. Some of them might be found in recorded form and some of them are not. Those which are not found in recorded form and the knowledge about those has come through generations verbally in the main subject of ethnobotany (Dhiman and Khanna, 2001) Today there is an increasing desire to unravel the centuries old secrets of traditional medicines. In India, ethnobotanical studies with a good scientific base have appeared in last 1-2 decades (Yadav and Patil, 2001; Maikhuri et al., 1998; Chopra et al., 1956; Jain, 1963, 1965, 1991; Paul and Mudgal, 1985; Bhargava, 1983; Jain and Borthakur, 1980; Kirtikar and Basu, 1975; Juyal and Uniyal, 1966; Gupta, 1964). This knowledge came down through folklore (Jain, 1980).
Diabetics, rise in blood sugar beyond the normal level has become a very common problem in our society. It is a challenge to developing countries like India (Srinivastava, 1998). Diabetes is a very serious disease, left unchecked. It can bring serious consequences including death. Fortunately, it is a disease that can be managed. Unfortunately most of the people who have diabetes do not know. The tribal people, priests and hakims can easy to identify who have diabetes simply watching the urine. The tribal people call diabetes a sugar disease (Sakarai Veyathi). Since antiquity, diabetes has been treated with herbal plant medicines. Recent scientific investigations have confirmed the efficacy of many of these herbal medicines. The plant medicines that help control blood sugar levels in people with diabetes mellitus. There has been no effective treatment available for the treatment of diabetics in the last few decades. But now traditional treatments are available. The seeds of Trigonella foenum graceum have shown antidiabetic and hypocholesterolaemic activity in animal and humans (Al Haberi and Raman, 1998). Hypoglycaemic activity has also been reported in Cassia fistula and in bitter gourd (Bhakta et al., 1997).
MATERIALS AND METHODS
A survey of the antidiabetic plants was conducted through periodical field visits throughout Tamil Nadu. Information obtained through formal interviews with all age groups of tribes was recorded. Repeated enquiries were made with a number of informants to ascertain the authenticity of the information. Data were collected on the names of plants and the parts used and documented with their families.
The study involved field work and interviews. Data were obtained from native informants who were hakims, priests, tribal people and common people who have knowledge of the therapeutic value of antidiabetic plants (Table 1). The intensive interviews were according to the methods of Jain (1987). The plants thus collected were identified by Matthew (1991, 1988 and 1982), Nair and Henry (1983), Henry et al. (1989 and 1987), Variers (1996). The antidiabetic plants according to their Botanical with English, vernacular name and part of the plant used for diabetes (Table 1).
|Table 1:||List of antidiabetic plants with botanical, English and vernacular name|
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
Herbal medicine has always played a key role in the health system of our people. Gymnema sylvestre. R. Br, is a famous antidiabetic plant exported in large quantities. (Karuppusamy et al., 1998). Antidiabetic medicinal plants documented through ethnobotanical studies may serve as a guide to carry out further research for the treatment of diabetes, a disease which requires special attention.
The medicinal plants have been used by humans from the pre-historical times. Studies have pointed out that many drugs that are used in commerce have come from folk-use and use of plants by indigenous cultures (Anonymous, 1994). About 50 drugs have been discovered from ethnobotanical leads by translating folk knowledge into new pharmaceuticals (Cox, 1994).
Diabetes mellitus is a disease of disordered metabolism of carbohydrate, protein and fat which is caused by the complete or relative insufficiency of insulin secretion and/or insulin action (Balkau et al., 2000). The disease constitutes a major health problem in the developing countries because of expensive and inadequate treatments (Djrolo et al., 1998) coupled with the side effect associated with these drugs, hence search for a new drug with low cost, more potentials and without adverse effects is being pursued in several laboratories around the world (Kumar et al., 2006).
Inspite of the presence of known antidiabetic medicine in the pharmaceutical market, remedies from medicinal plants are used with success to treat this disease (Bhattaram et al., 2002). Many traditional plant treatments for diabetes are used throughout the world and there is an increasing demand by patients to use the natural products with antidiabetic activity (Swanston Flatt et al., 1990).
In the present study, many antidiabetic medicinal plants belonging to 33 families were recorded in this study along with their botanical name, family, English name, vernacular name and useful parts. The objective of this study is to motivate the agriculturists/farmers to come forward for the utilization, cultivation and preservation of traditional herbs.
We are grateful to Sebastin, field man for field visit and plant collection. The authors thank to the management, St. Josephs College, Tiruchirappalli, South India for providing necessary facilities.
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