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Research Article

Ethno-medicinal Plants used to Cure Different Diseases by Rural Folks and Tribes of North Eastern Tarai Districts of Uttar Pradesh, India

D. Mishra, R. K. Singh and R. K. Srivastava
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The present study was undertaken to collect information from local folks, tribes and traditional healers on medicinal plants and their uses and the types of diseases treated in tarai regions mainly districts viz., Bahraich and Shrawasti of Uttar Pradesh during August 2007 to March 2010. The indigenous knowledge was gathered through interactions and questioners with tribal rural and traditional healers. The study provides information on 68 plant species belonging to 41 families, Apocynaceae and moraceae contributed maximum species. The various ethno medicinal plants parts used. against the diseases like bronchitis, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, gastro intestinal disorder, gynaecological disorder, jaundice, neurological diseases, ophthalmic infection, piles, skeletal diseases, skin diseases and snakebite were bark, flowers, rhizomes, roots, leaves, seeds, gum and sometimes whole plants. Inspite of the modernization process, the rural folk and the tribal of the districts still hold on their traditional faith and depend on indigenous plants for their various needs, especially medicines. Since, there is insensitivity among the youngers for this wealth of knowledge, this will be dwindling soon.

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D. Mishra, R. K. Singh and R. K. Srivastava, 2012. Ethno-medicinal Plants used to Cure Different Diseases by Rural Folks and Tribes of North Eastern Tarai Districts of Uttar Pradesh, India. Research Journal of Medicinal Plants, 6: 286-299.

DOI: 10.3923/rjmp.2012.286.299

Received: August 03, 2011; Accepted: November 30, 2011; Published: January 12, 2012


Allopathic drugs have brought a revolution throughout the world but the plant based medicines have its own unique status. Nearly 80% of the world population depends upon traditional system of health care (WHO, 1993; Ishtiaq et al., 2006b; Hamayun et al., 2006; Kumar and Chandrashekar, 2011). It is well known that this system offers minimal side effects and relatively low cost as compared to other systems of medicine. This is the reason that patients in developing countries such as Bangladesh (90%), Myanmar (85%), India (80%), Nepal (75%), Srilanka (65%) and Indonesia (60%) have strong conviction in this system (Malik et al., 2011). It is estimated that more than half of the drug under clinical use at present owe their origin to plants. India is called as botanical garden of the world (Joseph and Jini, 2011) and represented by over 17000 species of flowering plants distributed in 9 phyto-geographical regions of which more than 43% are reported to be of medicinal importance (Pushpangadan, 1995; Pattanaik et al., 2006). India is one of the leading countries in Asia in terms of the wealth of traditional knowledge systems related to herbal medicine and employs a large number of plant species includes Ayurveda (2000 species), Siddha (1121 species), Unani (751 species) and Tibetan (337 species) (Kumar et al., 2011). Inspite of the modernization process, the rural folk and the tribal of the state still hold on their traditional faith and depend on indigenous plants for their various needs, especially medicines. Plants accumulate a diverse array of natural products which are thought to be involved in their interactions with the environment. These chemicals function in interactions with microbes, animals and even other plants, as well as protecting the plant from ultraviolet radiation and oxidants. Some compounds may attract beneficial insects or microbes, whereas others kill or repel predators. The medicinal value of plants has assumed a more important dimension in the past few decades owing largely to the discovery that extracts from plants contain not only minerals and primary metabolites but also a diverse array of secondary metabolites with antioxidant potential (Akinmoladun et al., 2007; Ashawat et al., 2007; Chanda et al., 2011). These secondary metabolites, however, are likely to be essential for the successful competition or reproduction of a given plant species in its natural environment. Secondary compounds are often involved in key interactions between plants and their abiotic and biotic environments that influence those (Facchini et al., 2000). Throughout history secondary metabolites of plants have been utilized by humanity. There are approximately 4 major classes of secondary compounds that are significant to humans. The classes are the alkaloids, phenylpropanoids, flavonoids and the terpenoids (Edwards and Gatehouse, 1999). These secondary metabolites are used in preparation of medicines. Plant which are used for extraction of these secondary metabolites, are known as medicinal plants.

Human communities have developed knowledge and practices by trial and errors experimentations (Siddique et al., 2004) and by intuitive methods etc., leading to unique creation known as Traditional Knowledge (TK). The indigenous traditional knowledge of medicinal plants of various ethnic communities, where it has been transmitted orally for centuries is fast disappearing from the face of the earth due to the advent of modern technology and transformation of traditional culture. Indian traditional medicine is based on different systems such as Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani used by various communities (Gadgil, 1996). In recent times, many important medicinal plants are being depleted very swiftly due to unscientific exploitation, natural calamities road construction, uprooting, cutting and overgrazing ignorantly or determinately which may lead towards complete extinction of some of these species (Ishtiaq et al., 2006a; Kumar et al., 2011; Prakash et al., 2011) and the growing biopiracy and misappropriation of Traditional Knowledge, held by the various communities especially of the developing world, have raised concerns for a new system of legal protection of TK. Hence, there is an urgent need to document the ethno biological information presently existing among the diverse communities before the traditional knowledge is completely lost (Rao, 1996). In present scenario there is a vast area of research in phyto-medicine which increases the global tendency for reinforcement and documentation of traditional system of medicine. The present study is therefore, undertaken to interact with local folks, tribes and traditional healers to share their knowledge on medicinal plants and their uses and the types of diseases treated, to world through documentation.


North eastern tarai regions mainly Bahraich and Shrawasti districts of Uttar Pradesh is located between 28° 15’ N latitude and 81° 11' E longitude with a total area of 6702 sq. kms. towards the Northern region of the state Uttar Pradesh. The study involves intensive explorations and critical study of specimens for 3 years. Regular field trips were made in such a way so as to cover all the areas of the district as regular intervals in different seasons from August 2007 to March 2010. First-hand information was gathered through interactions with tribal and rural people including members of forest protection committees. Also interactions were made by local traditional healers to tap the information of medicinal plants commonly used by these traditional healers by questionnaire. Medicinal properties of plants were learned through informal interviews. A number of group discussions were also conducted during the period of investigation. To ascertain the uses of these medicinal plants the earlier published scientific literature sources referred to are: Sharma et al. (1985), Jain (1991), Kirtikar and Basu (1991), Ambasta et al. (1992) and Chopra et al. (1996). In the following enumeration, plant names have been arranged alphabetically in disease wise. The correct botanical name is followed by family, local name, parts use with their medicinal uses. An effort was made to crosscheck the folklore claims. This study involves checking and rechecking of a particular folklore claim by the different dwellers of the same area in different pockets. This has cleared many doubts regarding the use and identity of plant specimens. The details have been provided in Table 1 with correct botanical identification followed by family, vernacular names, parts used and mode of administration in respect to different diseases.


The study provides information on 68 plant species belonging to 41 families (Table 1). Apocynaceae and moraceae contributed maximum species (Fig. 1). Of the plants species described, 4 species are monocotyledons, 64 are dicotyledons, 19 species are herbs, 18 are shrubs, 26 are trees and 5 are climbers (Fig. 4). The most important medicinal species were: Acacia nilotica, Aegle marmelos, Lawsonia inermis, Mangifera indica, Mimosa pudica, Saraca indica, Terminalia chebula. The plant parts used for medical preparation were bark, flowers, rhizomes, roots, leaves, seeds, gum and whole plants. In some cases the whole plant including roots was utilized. The most frequently utilized plant parts (Fig. 3) were leaves (52) followed by root (24), whole plant (22), bark (20), fruit (17), seeds (11) and rhizome (5), flower (3), stem (2) and latex (2). The paper presents a brief account of the uses of various ethno medicinal plants parts against the diseases like bronchitis, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, gastro intestinal disorder, gynaecological disorder, jaundice , neurological diseases, ophthalmic infection, piles, skeletal diseases, skin diseases and snakebite by the people of Bahraich and Shrawasti district and highlights the need for further investigation on biochemical and pharmaceutical aspects. The largest number of 19 plant species were used to treat skin diseases (blood purification, scabies, leprosy and itching), 18 plant species were used for gastrointestinal ailments (constipation, diarrhoea, dysentery, gastric and stomach-ache), each 15 plant species were used for jaundice and piles, 14 plant species were used for diabetes, 13 plant species were used for skeletal diseases (pain on limbs, gout, rheumatism and arthritis), 10 plants species each were used for respiratory tract infection(bronchitis and asthma) and gynaecological disorders (gonorrhoea, leucorrhoea and menstrual problems), 7 plant species each were treated for, neurological diseases, ophthalmological ailments and snakebite and 3 plant species were used for cardiovascular diseases (Fig. 2). Such is the enormous potential hidden in these plants gifted by Nature (Ahmad et al., 2003; Sahu et al., 2010). Most of the interviews were familiar with the species dealing with common ailments like cough, cold, fever and skin diseases. Although our ancient sages through hit and trial method developed herbal medicines, the reported uses of plant species do not certify efficacy (Tarafdar, 1986). The present preliminary report on ethno-medicinal uses of some plants species need to pharmacologically screened, chemically analysed and tested for bioactive activities (Chandler et al., 1979; Fairbairn, 1980).

Fig. 1: Families of ethno-medicinally important plants

Pharmacological screening of plant extracts provides insight to both their therapeutic and toxic properties and helps in eliminating the medicinal plants or practices that may be harmful. Modern allopathic medicine, even as of to date, is dependent upon medicinal plants for discovery of newer and better drugs (Cotton, 1996; Rahmatullah et al., 2010). Some information recorded in the study particularly for Aristolochia indica L., Ficus racemosa L., Hygrophila auriculata K. Schum and Syzygium cerasoides (Roxb.) Raizada were found to be either not known or little known, whereas Asparagus racemosus Willd, Holarrhena pubescens (Buch.-Ham,) Wall ex.G-Don. and Rauvolfia serpentina (L.) Kurz were found to be used very common by other tribes indicating the authenticity of their usefulness (Saxena et al., 1988; Sarkar et al., 1999).

Fig. 2: Ethno-medicinally use of plants

Fig. 3: Plants parts used for ethno-medicinal purpose

Fig. 4: Habit of ethno-medicinally important plants

Table 1: Important ethno-medicinal plants of district bahraich and shrawasti district

The study area is rich in medicinal plant resources. An attempt was made to collect information on the traditional medicinal knowledge present with the local folks and tribes. However, more in depth information may be explored from the tribes residing in the remote forest areas of the districts.


The study indicated that, the study area is rich in plants having ethno-medicinal properties that may cures wide spectrum of human ailments and. It is evident from the interviews conducted during study; knowledge of medicinal plants is limited to traditional healers, elders and tribes who are living in rural areas. Due to lack of interest among the new generation as well as their charms toward cities for lucrative jobs, there is possibility of losing this wealth of traditional knowledge in future. Thus there is need to preserves this wealth through proper documentation. This study also highlights the need for further investigation on biochemical and pharmaceutical aspects of these traditional system of medicine.


We express our sincere gratitude to the rural folk, healers and the tribal to share their knowledge and we also are thankful to Mr. Shaktinath Singh, progressive farmer from Village-Begampur, Bahraich for his coordination during identification of plants with their local name and their local uses.

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