Pages 178 - 181
Ancient Science of Life, Vol No. I No.3 January 1982, Pages 178 - 181
AN ETHNOBOTANICAL STUDY OF MADHYA PRADESH 1: PLANTS USED
AGAINST VARIOUS DISORDERS AMONG TRIBAL WOMEN
T R SAHU
Department of Botany, University of Saugar, Saugar – 470 003, M. P. India.
ABSTRACT: The ethnobotanical survey was made during last two years in the tribal population
of Madhya Pradesh. Valuable information about the medicinal use of certain wild species
against various diseases amongst tribal women are obtained by personal interviews. Some
species are being used by them against various veneral diseases. Different plant parts of few
species are also used by them for antifertility purposes. Some of these interesting medicinal
properties of plants are given in the present communication.
The history of medicine dates back perhaps
to the origin of the human race. ‘Rigveda’
seems to be the earliest record of plants used
as medicine for curing various diseases.
Later on in Indian systems of medicine,
‘Susruta Samhita’ and ‘Caraka Samhita’
appeared as the most important work. A
large portion of this country is covered with
forests which yield a good number of
medicinal plants. These plants are being
used extensively in Ayurvedic system of
medication since many centuries.
The development of biochemistry,
bacteriology, immunology and discovery of
synthetic drugs and antibiotics outdated the
general use of ayurvedic medicines. The
pharmaceutical industries getting state
patronage helped in the popularization of the
modern medicines. Today, however, the
pendulum is swinging back towards the
safer ayurveda, due to the unsolved
problems of modern medicines, drug
toxicity, drug resistance and heavy cost of
treatment of allopathic medicines. The good
health of our forefathers has much to
commend Ayurveda. Without recourse to
sophisticated, synthetic and often hazardous
drugs of modern medicine, they enjoyed
positive good health and long life.
In Madhya Pradesh the role of medicinal
plants becomes very vital and significant
because of two important reasons. The first
and most important one is that the flora of
this state is highly rich in medicinal plants
due to good climatic conditions. Secondly it
is the most undeveloped state where many
tribal communities like Gonds, Gujars, Kols,
Lodhi etc. are inhabited in remote places and
depend upon wild resources from forest
plants present around them. In India
importance of ethnobotany has already been
emphasized by several workers (Chopras et
al., 1958; Ahuja, 1965; Shah and Joshi 1971
and Jain et al., 1973) however, except the
Pages 178 - 181
work of Jain (1962, 1963) as yet there
appears to be no record of such studies in
Madhya Pradesh. Present paper gives an
account of medicinal uses of plants so far
Method of Study
The ethnobotanical survey was carried out
during 1979 and 1980. Frequent field trips
were made and the major portion of the
tribal population of the state was explored.
Interested and valuable information’s about
the medicinal uses of certain wild species
were obtained and recorded by personal
interviews with the tribals. Main emphasis
was given to those plants which were used
by tribal women for curing various venereal
diseases. The specimens collected at the
time of field visit were identified and
preserved in the herbarium of the Botany
department, University of Saugar, Sagar.
The species are arranged in alphabetical
order with details of family and local name.
During the survey period it has been
observed that although tribals of this state
are still in primitive stage of economic life
and depend upon wild resources around
them for their needs, they possess fairly
good knowledge about the medicinal uses of
plants. Due to the constant association with
the forest environment and in the absence of
any other medical facilities available to them
in their localities, they have evolved curious
knowledge by the method of tribal and error
and have developed their own way of
diagnosis and treatment for ailments. It has
been observed that tribal women are mainly
suffering from venereal diseases like
gonorrhea, syphilis etc. For curing these
they have used various wild plant species.
A few species are used by them during
various disorders in menstruation period,
and also for causing abortion and smooth
delivery. Some of these interesting
medicinal properties of wild plants recorded
during survey period given below.
Abrus precatorius Linn. (Papillionaceae) ‘
Gunch’ or ‘Ratti’:
Roots and seeds of this plant when made
into paste with milk and given daily for
three days induce abortion. Seeds are used
by the tribal people for antifertility in
women. Seeds are soaked in rice water and
left overnight. The decanted rice water is
given on the third day of menstruation early
morning. As many seeds are soaked as the
number of years for which contraception is
Abutilon indicum G. Don (Malvaceae)
Leaf – decoction is given in gonorrhea,
Root paste with cold water is given to stop
bleeding after abortion. It is prescribed for
three days from the time of abortion. It is
also given for early delivery.
Albizzia lebbeck Benth. (Mimosaceae)
Bark and seeds are given in genorrhoea.
Leaves, after removing their epidermal
tissue are given in gonorrhea and menstrual
suppression. A chemical ‘Barbelon’ is used
for making tablets in Europe and America
Pages 178 - 181
Argemone Mexicana Linn. (Papaveraceae)
Leaf juice is given in gonorrhea and also in
dropsy, jaundice and skin diseases.
Dried stem and roots of the plants in small
doses regulate menstruation.
Bauhinia variegate Linn. (Caesalpiniaceae)
Decoction of bark is given in syphilis,
serofula, ulcers, leprosy and other skin
Boerhaavia diffusa Linn. (Nyctaginaceae)
Roots are used in diseases like gonorrhea,
dropsy and also in diseases of heart and
Cannabis sativa Linn. (Cannabinaceae)
Dried leaves and flowers are given in
Carcia papaya Linn. (Caricaceae) ‘Papita’ :
Pulp of fruits is used for easy abortion. Its
aquous extract reduces the reproductive
Cuminum cynimum Linn. (Apiaceae)
Fruits are commonly prescribed in diarrhea,
dyspepsia and hoarseness of voice in
women. A poultice of fruits is a resolvent of
swelling of breast.
Curclago orchioides Gaertn. (Liliaceae)
Paste of roots with mustard seed is
administered to nursing women to increase
lactation after delivery.
Daucas carota Linn. (Apiaceae) ‘ Gazari’:
Leaf extract is given for abortion and
Euphorbia hirta Linn. (Euphorbiaceae) :
A Juice of leaves with milk is given in
Ficus religiosa Linn. (Moraceae) ‘ Peepal’ :
Bark decoction is given in gonorrhea.
Foeniculum vulgare Mill. (Apiaceae) ‘
Leaves are useful in various diseases and
also promote female’s regularity of monthly
(Rutaceae) ‘Rasgundi’ :
The root paste with water is applied
externally 2 – 3 times daily to women in
post delivery pains.
Whole plant is pasted and applied on the
breast for lactation in women after delivery.
Grewia asiatica Linn (Tiliaceae) ‘Phalsa’ :
Leaf decoction is used for checking
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Hygrophila auriculata (Schum.) Heine
Seeds are useful in venereal diseases.
Memordica dioica Roxb. (Cucurbitaceae)
Root paste is applied to swollen breast after
Michelia champaca Linn. (Magnoliaceae)
Bark is employed as an abortifacient for two
to three months old pregnancy. Root mixed
with black peppers
menstruation for 3 days.
Dried seeds are considered useful in
complaints of difficult
The juice of the leaves is given as a uterine
tonic, and it is also useful in checking
(Euphorbiaceae) ‘ Jaramala’ :
Juice of the plant is given in gonorrhea and
other genitourinary diseases.
Phoenix acaulis Roxb. Ex. Buch. Ham.
(Palmaceae) ‘Khajur’ :
Roosted rhizome is given to women after
delivery for stomach disorders.
is given after
Plumbago indica Linn. (Plumbaginaceae) :
Root is made into paste along with the root
of Michelia champaca and given once, daily
morning for three days to induce abortion of
three to four or even up to six months old
Sida cordifolia Linn (Malavaceae) ‘Mamos’
The powder of root bark with milk and sugar
is given in various diseases of women such
Solanum xanthocarpum Schard & Wendl
(Solanaceae) ‘Bhatkatiya’ :
All parts of the plant are prescribed in
gonorrhea and pain in chest.
(Caesalpiniaceae) ‘Anjan Lokhariya’ :
A decoction of dried plant is given in
diseases like gonorrhea.
(Cucurbitaceae) ‘Parwal’ :
Fruit powder is used as a remedy for
Withania somnifera Dunal (Solanaceae) ‘
Root is very efficacious for toning up
ulcerus of women who habitually miscarry.
It is also used for easy abortion. The berries
and seeds are given in chest complaints.
Woodfordia fruticosa (Linn. ) Kurtz.
(Lythraceae) ‘Dhia’ :
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per dose is given with honey for 3 – 4 days
Ahuja, B. S. Medicinal Plants of Saharanpur, Gurukula Kangri Press, Hardwar. 1965.
Chopra, R. N., Chopra, I. C., Handa, K. L., & L. D. Kapur. Indigenous drugs of India. U. N.
Dhur & Sons Pvt. Ltd., Calcutta. 1958.
Jain, S. K., Studies in Indian Ethnobotany Plants used in medicine by the tribals of Madhya
Pradesh. Bull. Reg. Res. Lab. Jammu, 1, 1962, 26 – 129.
Jain, S. K., Studies in Indian Ethnobotancy Less known uses of fifty common plants from the
tribal areas of Madhya Pradesh. Bull. Bot. surv. India, 1963, 5, 223 – 226.
Jain, S. K., Banerjee, D. K. and Pal D. C., Medicinal plants among certain Adibasis in India.
Bull. Bot. Surv. India, 13, 1973, 221 – 223.
Shah, N. C. and Joshi, M. C., : The ethnobotanical study of the Kumaon region of India. Econ.
Bot., (1971) 25, 414 – 422.
of 5 – 6 flowers in nausea and aversion, to food during