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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2022  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 253-259

Documentation and validation of the potential ethno-medicinal practices from Almora forest range, Uttarakhand, India

1 Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences, Ministry of Ayush, Govt. of India, New Delhi 110058, India
2 Regional Ayurveda Research Institute, Ranikhet, Uttarakhand, India
3 Central Ayurveda Research Institute, Patiala, Punjab, India
4 Central Ayurveda Research Institute, Kolkata, West Bengal, India

Date of Submission08-Jun-2022
Date of Acceptance29-Aug-2022
Date of Web Publication21-Nov-2022

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Amit Kumar Rai
Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences, Ministry of Ayush, Govt. of India, 61-65, Institutional Area, Opposite D-Block, Janak Puri, New Delhi 110058
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jdras.jdras_87_22

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BACKGROUND: Majority of the people in developing countries depend upon traditional medicine (TM) for their healthcare. Many local traditional healers in the Uttarakhand region are providing treatment for various ailments by using medicinal plants successfully. Present study aimed to collect and document the folklore claims practiced in the region of Almora forest range for treatment of various ailments for further validation, which will help in search of new treatment modalities for different disease conditions. METHODS: Medico-Ethno Botanical Survey (MEBS) was conducted in the region of Almora forest range of Almora forest division which is located between 29030’.08”N to 29058’.48” N latitude and 79004’.18”E to 790 47’30”E longitude at the southern edge of Kumaun hills in Uttarakhand during the month of July, 2018. The survey team met the traditional healers and interviewed them for documentation of Ethno-medicinal practices (EMPs). A structured standard questionnaire/format was used for systematic documentation of each claim. RESULTS: During the survey, potent ethno-medicinal practices based on 15 medicinal plant species were recorded which are being used for different common disease conditions by the local traditional healers. CONCLUSION: Inhabitants in remote and far-flung areas are still relying upon the medicinal plants for the management of various common ailments. But these EMPs have been declining in the recent period due to several factors. Hence, there is a critical need to document this traditional knowledge for widespread utilization to explore new treatment modalities for various disease conditions.

Keywords: Ethno-medicinal practices, folklore practices, medicinal plants, medico-ethno botanical survey, Uttarakhand

How to cite this article:
Rawat M S, Rai AK, Arya D, Kumar S, Mahajon B, Rath C, Tripathi AK, Mangal AK, Srikanth N. Documentation and validation of the potential ethno-medicinal practices from Almora forest range, Uttarakhand, India. J Drug Res Ayurvedic Sci 2022;7:253-9

How to cite this URL:
Rawat M S, Rai AK, Arya D, Kumar S, Mahajon B, Rath C, Tripathi AK, Mangal AK, Srikanth N. Documentation and validation of the potential ethno-medicinal practices from Almora forest range, Uttarakhand, India. J Drug Res Ayurvedic Sci [serial online] 2022 [cited 2022 Dec 7];7:253-9. Available from: http://www.jdrasccras.com/text.asp?2022/7/4/253/361580

  Introduction Top

Almora forest division is located between 29030’.08”N to 29058’.48” N latitude and 79004’.18”E to 790 47’30”E longitude which is on the southern edge of Kumaun hills in Uttarakhand state of India in the Himalayan range [Figure 1]a. It is surrounded by Kedarnath forest division on Northern side, Bageshwar forest division on North-eastern side, Binsar wildlife park and Jageshwar range of Civil Soyam on eastern side, Nainital on Southern side, Ramnagar and Kalagarh tiger reserve forest division on south-western side, Kalagarh tiger reserve forest division and Garhwal forest division on western side and Garhwal forest division on North-western side.[1] It covers an area of 61082.0345 hectares reserve forest out of total 61201.640 hectares forest area with elevation ranges from 463 m to 2769 m.[2] It has an average rainfall of 960.6 mm. The temperature of the region ranges between 280C to -50C.[3] Almora forest division comprises of six forest range viz. Almora, Someshwar, Ranikhet, Jaurasi, Mohan and Dwarahaat forest range. The study area is dominated by Pine forests, followed by Oak and Rhododendron forests.
Figure 1: (a) Geographical location of Almora forest division. (b) Area surveyed in Almora forest range. Source: Almora forest division office, Almora

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Approximately 80% of the people in developing countries depend upon traditional medicine for their healthcare.[4] These people depend on local forests for their day to day needs and bound to use the local medicinal plants for their health care needs due to non-availability of proper hospital/medical facilities in remote areas as well as lack of proper transportation facilities. There is vast knowledge on the use of medicinal plants among the inhabitants and tribes residing in remote places of Uttarakhand.[5],[6],[7] This traditional knowledge about medicinal plants is depleting due to socio-economic changes, migration of local villagers, non-transfer of this valuable traditional knowledge to next generation and death of experienced folk healers. Keeping this view, the present Medico-Ethno Botanical Survey (MEBS) has been carried out to document and validate the potential Ethno-medicinal practices (EMPs) prevalent in the region of Almora forest range and its adjoining areas.

  Materials and Methods Top

The present Medico-Ethno Botanical Survey (MEBS) was conducted in the region of Almora forest range of Almora forest division and its adjoining areas in the month of July, 2018. The areas covered were Almora, Shimtola, Gananath, Takula, Kangarchhina, Chittai, Badechhina, Dhaulachhina, Deenapani, Maat, Latwal, Doba, Shitlakhet, Shyahidevi, Kathpudia, Kosi of Almora District, Uttarakhand [Figure 1b].

Field survey and data collection

A list of local traditional healers in the study area was prepared by discussions with Divisional forest officer, Almora and Range Officer of Almora forest range, village head, villagers and patients visiting the healers and indigenous people. Apart from discussion with them, a snowball sampling procedure was also adopted to document the knowledge. An open ended interview method was followed and semi-structured questionnaire used to collect the data during the survey. The data was analyzed for Informant Consensus Factor (ICF) and Validation score (criteria).[8],[9] High ICF of an ailment category was recorded when one or few species were used for that ailment by a large proportion of local people; whereas a low ICF value indicated the healers use the species randomly to treat the reported ailments.[9] All interviews were conducted after informed consent from the informants. The plant specimens collected during the field survey were identified with the help of regional floras and Taxonomists. Voucher specimens and Herbaria of collected species were preserved in Regional Ayurveda Research Institute (RARI), Ranikhet. Detailed information about the medicinal plants used by the folk healers including local name, parts used, method of preparation, dosage, duration, vehicle, preventive measures etc. were recorded [Table 1].
Table 1: Details of EMPs documented during the survey

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  Results Top

In the present study, potent EMPs based on 16 species of medicinal plants were recorded which are being frequently used for different common ailments [Figure 2]. Details of medicinal plants with botanical name, Sanskrit name, local name, part(s) of medicinal plants used, dosage, method of administration, and folklore uses are arranged in the tabulated form [Table 1]. Among the 16 EMPs recorded, six of them were for gastro-intestinal disorders, three for cuts, wounds and trauma, two for dental disorders, one each for jaundice, diabetes mellitus, leucorrhea, childhood pneumonitis, urticaria, baldness/ hairfall, headache, conjunctivitis, and halitosis [Table 2]. Most of the claims include oral administration of the prescribed drugs. In most of the cases, the folk healer prefers to collect fresh raw drug for administration. Root of the medicinal plants were used in 11 folklore claims, leaves in case of 2 claims, fronds, bark and fruits/seeds in one case each [Table 3]. The folk healers used the medicinal plants in the dosage forms of Swarasa (expressed juice), Kalka (paste), Kwatha (decoction), Hima (cold water infusion), and lepa (topical application) [Table 4]. Most of the folk healers diagnose the patients on the basis of symptoms and pulse examination, where as in case of Jaundice and Diabetes mellitus, blood investigations were also preferred before administration and stopping the treatment.
Figure 2: Images of the medicinal plants used in the documented EMPs

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Table 2: Distribution of different disease conditions documented during the study

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Table 3: Distribution of part used of medicinal plants for therapeutic preparation

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Table 4: Distribution of dosage form used by the folk healers

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  Discussion Top

During this study, a total 20 EMPs being practiced by the local traditional health practitioners of the survey areas for different common ailments were documented. These EMPs involved a total of 15 medicinal plant species (including 13 families). More than one EMP involving Thalictrum foliolosum DC. was documented. Out of 15 plant species, the description of eight medicinal plant species has been available in different texts of Ayurveda.

The EMPs documented during the study were scientifically validated from Ayurveda classical texts, Dravyaguna Vigyana compilations, Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia of India, database of medicinal plants, and other available concerned published literature.[9],[10],[11],[12],[13],[14],[15],[16],[17],[18],[19],[20],[21],[22],[23],[24],[25],[26],[27],[28] After validation of collected folk claims from these texts and published literature, therapeutic use of the 11 plants species viz. Cissampelos pareira L. (Vibandha), Amaranthus viridis L. (Shweta Pradara), Thalictrum foliolosum DC. (two documented EMPs- Kaphavataja Jvara and Chardi), Myrica esculenta Buch.-Ham. ex D. Don. (Krimiroga), Rubia cordifolia L. (Vrana and Khalitya), Ageratina adenophora (Spreng.) R.M. King and H. Rob. (Vrana), Nerium oleander L. (Shirahshula and Abhisyanda), Rubus ellipticus Sm. (Shoola), Sonchus oleraceus (L.) L. (Adhmana), Potentilla fulgens Wall Ex. Sims. (Krimidanta and Putyasyata) and Spilanthes acmella (L.) L. (Krimidanta) were found to be similar in these texts and published literature (Supplementary file). The medicinal uses described by the traditional healers for Osbeckia stellata Buch.-Ham. ex Ker Gawl., Asplenium dalhousiae Hook., Parthenocissus semicordata (Wall.) Planch., and Berberis asiatica Roxb.ex DC. along with Asparagus curillus Buch.-Ham. ex Roxb. are not found in the classical Ayurvedic texts as well as other published literature on medicinal plants. The dosage, method of use and EMPs related to these plants has not been disclosed in this article due to intellectual property rights (IPR) issues. Further studies to validate the therapeutic efficacy of these plant species needs to be required for their widespread use in managing disease conditions for which they have been utilized by the traditional healers.

Unfortunately, the medicinal plants are depleting in their natural habitat due to habitat loss, conflagration, deforestation, over-exploitation, and overgrowth/abundance of notorious weeds.[29],[30],[31] Due to these reasons, it is difficult for the traditional healers to procure the medicinal plants for their practice. So, there is an urgent need for conservation and cultivation of medicinal plants especially which are utilized for the management of various disease conditions.

  Conclusion Top

The ethno-medicinal practices prevalent in the remote rural areas across the country has been declining in the recent times due to socio-economic changes, migration of local inhabitants, death of experienced traditional healers and insufficient availability of the medicinal plants utilized in these practices. Documentation of these EMPs is essential for wider dissemination of this knowledge to explore new treatment modalities for various disease conditions. Further, it is also imperative to adopt conservation and cultivation measures to have the medicinal plants readily available for the therapeutic purposes.


Authors are thankful to Prof. Vaidya Kartar Singh Dhiman, former Director General, CCRAS, Ministry of Ayush, Govt. of India for his valuable guidance and support. Authors are also thankful to Divisional forest officer, Almora and Range Officer of Almora forest range for their co-operation and support in the survey study. We are also thankful to all the traditional healers and informants for sharing their traditional knowledge.

Financial support and sponsorship

The study was financially supported by Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences, Ministry of Ayush, Government of India.

Conflicts of interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.

  Supplementary file Top

Details of validation of the EMPs documented during the survey

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  References Top

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  [Figure 1], [Figure 2]

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4], [Table 5]


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