Tag Archives: ayurveda

The Medicinal Plants of India’s Paddar Valley

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Ethno-botanical study of medicinal plants of Paddar Valley of Jammu and Kashmir, India

Gupta SK, Sharma OM, Raina NS, Sehgal S
Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med
2013 May 16;10(4):59-65
PubMed Central: PMC3794392
Jammu and Kashmir, India
Jammu and Kashmir, India (Source: Wikimedia Commons user Shivansh.ganjoo)

Researchers from the University of Agricultural Sciences & Technology of Jammu and the Department of Forests, Government of Jammu and Kashmir undertook an ethnobotanical survey of the Paddar valley, gathering specimens and traditional knowledge regarding prescription and preparation of medicine by using local herbs in various villages.

The authors describe the region and its ethnobotanical significance in their introduction:

“Western Himalayas are considered as a storehouse of herbal wealth supporting the vast network of traditional Indian System of Medicine. There is a wealth of information on the identity and distribution of different plant species of the region in the form of regional floras, reports of botanical expeditions, monographic accounts of families, genera and similar other publications. Ethno-botanical studies on medicinal plants are of paramount importance, particularly in the harsh climates like cold arid regions wherein modern system of medicine is not so developed. Such indigenous system of traditional knowledge conserves cultural and ecological diversity besides community healthcare and drug development. Ethno-botanical studies are also expected to provide new material for the ever-expanding pharmaceutical industry. Paddar Valley is the farthest corner of District Kishtwar, comprising 32 villages on south-eastern side touching its borders with Himachal Pradesh, Zanskar Valley of Ladakh and Marwah-Wadwan Valley. Paddar is known for blue diamond ‘Sapphire’ deposits and other forest products like kala zeera and guchhi. The area is drained by the Chenab river system which, flowing in from neighbouring Himachal Pradesh, enters the area through Paddar, the trans-Himalayan trekking trails leading to the Suru and Zanskar valleys of Ladakh pass amidst breathtaking mountain sceneries. …

“The region provides a wide variety of plants (herbs, shrubs and trees) owing to its diversified landscapes. Every year, thousands of people undertake Machail pilgrimage along Bhot nala, a tributary of River Chenab. The local inhabitants largely depended upon the local flora for food and medicine. The information on these plant species is utilised to understand the human-plant relationship, as well as a guide for drug development under the assumption that a plant which has been used by indigenous people over a long period of time may have an allopathic application. Due to the remoteness of the area and dearth of doctors, the ‘hakims’ resorted to different medicinal plants as a treatment to different diseases. The decline in their cultural peculiarities and their traditional knowledge about the local floras are spontaneous and fast due to better facilities of transportation, communication and education.”

Hyssopus officinalis
Hyssopus officinalis (Source: Wikimedia Commons user H. Zell)

The team identified a number of plants used to treat a variety of conditions. The medicinal species included Bunium persicum, Arnebia euchroma, Inula racemosa, Codonopsis rotundifolia, Onosoma hispidia, Rheum australe, Aquilegia fragrans, Aconitum heterophyllum, Ephedra gegardiana, Hyssopus officinalis, Morina longifolia, and Picrrorhiza kurroo. Local use of the plant species, their local names and parts used are detailed in a table.

Noting that many of these species are endangered, the authors recommend conservation, development, and sustainable marketing of these valuable resources:

“Over-exploitation of these species has not only degraded the local vegetation and the disappearing of natural beauty but also endangered certain species, and one has to travel miles to find them. The direct causes such as cutting of forests for commercial and subsistence purposes and indiscriminate grazing, as well as indirect causes such as insecure land tenure, poverty and population growth, were the most vital factors affecting the local flora. Harsh climatic and high altitude conditions and inaccessibility are the factors which force the people to depend on wild flora for healthcare. There is a negligible attitude towards the cultivation of these herbs. Some of these plants are only found to grow in the forest and grassy slopes and very few find place in the people’s home gardens. Therefore, there is a dire need for the protection of this wealth of nature before it disappears from this planet. Moreover, this type of study would be essential for regeneration, conservation and reforestation of this niche area. The altitudinal variation in vegetation was also observed in the zone. The present study disclosed that the growing season was too small starting from April up to September only. The bottlenecks in enhancing the livelihood of the people by using traditional knowledge included inaccessibility of the area, lack of processing and adequate storage after harvest, legal restrictions due to forest legislations, inadequate market and assured prices.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Medicinal Plants of the Pahan & Teli Communities of Bangladesh

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Survey and scientific evaluation of medicinal plants used by the Pahan and Teli tribal communities of Natore district, Bangladesh

Mohammed Rahmatullah, Zubaida Khatun, Abid Hasan, Waheda Parvin, Md Moniruzzaman, Asha Khatun, Mostafi Jumrut Mahal, Md Shaiful Alam Bhuiyan, Sadia Moin Mou, and Rownak Jahan
Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med
2012 Apr 2;9(3):366-73
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3746669
Natore District, Bangladesh
Natore District, Bangladesh (Source: Wikimedia Commons, Armanaziz adapted by Himalayan Explorer)

Researchers from the University of Development Alternative undertook a study to document traditional usage of medicinal plants by the Pahan and Teli indigenous communities of Natore district in western Bangladesh and to evaluate the medicinal uses against modern research-based pharmacological activity studies on the plants.

From the abstract:

“The Pahans and the Telis are two of the smallest indigenous communities in Bangladesh. The Pahans, numbering about 14,000 people are widely scattered in several northern districts of the country, while the Telis are such a small community that nothing has been reported on their numbers and lifestyle. Both tribes are on the verge of disappearance.”

Withania somnifera
Withania somnifera (Source: Wikimedia Commons User Wowbobwow12)

The team identified 13 plants used by Pahan tribal practitioners for treatment of 14 ailments, and 15 plants used by Teli practitioners for treatment of 17 different. One plant, Withania somnifera, was found to be in common use by Pahan and Teli practitioners alike. The authors recommend extensive scientific research of this plant, along with Moringa oleifera, Vitex negundo, Mucuna pruriens, Curculigo orchioides and Cocculus hirsutus.

The authors note that both Pahan and Teli traditional medicinal practices may have been influenced to some extent by Ayurvedic medicine.

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Medicinal Plants of the Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary

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Ecological status and traditional knowledge of medicinal plants in Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary of Garhwal Himalaya, India

Jahangeer A Bhat, Munesh Kumar, Rainer W Bussmann
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed
2013 Jan 2;9:1
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3560114
Kedarnath Wild Life Sanctuary entrance from Chopta
Kedarnath Wild Life Sanctuary entrance from Chopta (Source: Wikimedia Commons, Flikr user: Dirk Hartung)

Researchers at H.N.B. Garhwal University and Missouri Botanical Garden documented the traditional uses of medicinal plants, their ecological status and importance in Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary, the largest protected area of Garhwal Himalaya to serve as baseline information on medicinal plants and help strengthen the conservation of this important resource.

Podophyllum hexandrum
Podophyllum hexandrum (Source: Wikimedia Commons User: Pekaje)

The authors report 152 medicinally important plant species in the area, of which 18 species fall into the rare, endangered (critically endangered) and vulnerable status categories: Aconitium hetrophyllum, Picrorhiza kurrooa, Podophyllum hexandrum, Rosa sericea, Roscoea alpina, Salvia hians, Saussurea auriculata, Sorbus aucuparia, Sorbus cuspidata, Synotis alatus, Bistorta amplexicaulis, Coriaria nepalensis, Hypericum choisianum, Morina longifolia, Jurinea dolomiaea, Swertia chirayita, Polygonatum verticillatum and Zanthoxylum armatum.

From the Conclusions:

“Considering the ecological importance and population status of important ethnomedicinal species, we recommend the preparation of micro-plans for each important medicinal species, including data on best harvesting practice and quantity to be harvested. Most of this data is unknown for most medicinal plants. Propagation of plants using tissue culture techniques and conventional methods to allow for their transplantation into natural habitats and niche areas of the species will be an important step towards their conservation. Additional ecological studies, including population assessments using standard ecological methods are needed to effectively plan the conservation and management for threatened, rare and endangered species. The development of agro-production techniques for certain species of Garhwal Himalaya can help to meet the requirement of raw material for commercial use and reduce the pressure on the existing populations in natural habitats.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

A Primer on Ayurvedic Pharmaceutics

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Savrikar SS, Ravishankar B.
Bhaishajya Kalpanaa – the Ayurvedic pharmaceutics – an overview.
Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med. 2010 Apr 3;7(3):174-84. Review.
PubMed PMID: 21461144

The authors, from Gujarat Ayurved University, present an overview of Bhaishajya Kalpanaa, the sub-discipline of Ayurvedic medicine devoted to drug formulations. They cover the historical background, basic principles, methods of preparation, and major influences on the activity of the compounds.

Drawing from the Ayurvedic Formulary of India (current version available online via the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Govt. of India), the authors detail 21 drug formulations, 16 are mainly plant-based and the rest mineral- and metal-based.

Free full text is available via PubMed. Clinical trials related to Ayurvedic medicine can be found at ClinicalTrials.gov.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

A Review of Curcumin in Head and Neck Cancer

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Wilken R, Veena MS, Wang MB, Srivatsan ES.
Curcumin: A review of anti-cancer properties and therapeutic activity in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. Mol Cancer. 2011 Feb 7;10:12. Review.
PubMed PMID: 21299897.

The authors, from the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, present an overview of data on therapeutic activity of curcumin (diferuloylmethane, derived from Curcuma longa), commonly known as turmeric, in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, the sixth most common cancer worldwide.

From the abstract:

Curcumin has been used extensively in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries, as it is nontoxic and has a variety of therapeutic properties including anti-oxidant, analgesic, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic activity. More recently curcumin has been found to possess anti-cancer activities via its effect on a variety of biological pathways involved in mutagenesis, oncogene expression, cell cycle regulation, apoptosis, tumorigenesis and metastasis.

After an overview of head and neck cancer and the current therapeutic options, the authors describe curcumin in detail and the current preclinical and clinical data on its anti-cancer effects. the conclude that “curcumin is both nontoxic as well as diversified in its inhibitory effects on a multitude of pathways involved in carcinogenesis and tumor formation.”

Free full text is available via PubMed. A list of open clinical trials of curcumin in cancer can be found at ClinicalTrials.gov.

The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.