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Uses of Medicinal Plants: Literature Review

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People all over the world use different medicinal plants for curing various diseases and to find a solution to various ailments. India being the home to rich flora and fauna holds the panacea to many illnesses. The branch of ethno botany becomes very relevant here as it gives clear definition as to how the use of ethnic botanic medicinal plant becomes a cure to illnesses and it studies how the people belonging to various tribes and how during the past people used medicinal plants to restore themselves to health. T & A G (2012) through their study imparts a considerable amount of effort in identifying the details regarding the herbals which are used by the tribals in Mananthavady taluk of Wayanad district in Kerala. Kurichia, Kuruma, Kattunaika, Adiyan and Paniya groups are the major tribes residing in the area and the study focus on the medicinal plants which are used by them. Local flora and field keys were utilized to avail information regarding the different species of herbal plants. The researchers were able to gather facts regarding the species to which the plants belong to, the names which are attributed to them locally, the particular element of the plant which is taken for the purpose of healing, the infection or disease condition for which it is used etc. The study was able to congregate data regarding 295 plants which are medicinal in nature. They belong to families counted up to 93 and being used by the tribes residing in Mananthavady. The tribes use these plants to find a solution for problems like skin diseases, poisoning, snake bite, ulcers etc, of which skin diseases are the most common form of disease being prevalent in that area. Through this study it is being brought to the attention that many of the medicinal plants which were previously being used on a wide scale are now endangered or on the verge of extinction. This study has been able to gather priceless data regarding the medicinal plants used by the tribes in Mananthavady taluk of Wayanad district. This study provides ample information about the storehouse of medicines in the forests of Mananthavady taluk and also will serve as a handbook for preserving the ethnic treasure.

Ajesh & Kumuthakalavalli (2012) in their study focuses on the use of medicinal plants by the women belonging to a tribe called Urali, in the district of Idukki in Kerala. Uralis are of the the major tribes still prevalent in the district who once took pride in their culture and ethnicity. With time, fell their magnanimous kingdom and they had to adopt a life inside the forest depending entirely on agriculture and hunting. They are still untouched by modernisation since they depend on medicinal plants to cure their ailments. This study is aimed at exploring the species of plants which are used by the women of that tribe to cure gynaecological disorders. In order to find out the resources which are accessible a preliminary inspection was conducted in the area. Intensive field study was another mode of obtaining information. Questionnaires and ethno botanical survey to collect data on medicinal plants for gynaecological disorders were carried out. The questionnaires drew in information regarding the plants in a descriptive way. The information collected were again checked by midwives and other specialists in the field. The present study had 32 respondents between the age group of 55-82 years. The study was able to explore that the Uralis use 29 species of plants appertaining to 22 families which include Fabaceae four species, Solanaecea three species, Malvacea and Liliaceae contributing two species and the remaining 18 families contributing one species each. It was found out that the Uralis use these medicinal plants to treat various gynaecological problems like dysmennorheah, abortion, inorder to cease laction, to cleanse the uterus after the process of giving birth etc. Since the Uralis are inhabited in a very part, there is limited access to health care. They depend on indigenous medicine and home remedies to prevent and cure diseases. Times have changed and the present generation have affinity towards modernisation, therefore indigenous health care is being forgotten. This study becomes very relevant because it is very essential to preserve a record of the ways the Urali tribes utilized nature to cure their illnesses.

Devi Prasad, Shyma, & Raghavendra (2014) conducted a study in three taluks of Wayanad district in Kerala namely Mananthavady, Batheri and Wythiri. The aim of the study was to recognize and to collect data regarding the use of plants which are therapeutic in nature for reproductive disorders by the tribal people in the area. The methodology uses was ethno botanical survey in the the area where the study was conducted. Plants belonging to 35 species had been recognized to be used for reproductive disorders. Fabacea, Annonaceae and Moraceae were the most used species. Roots were the major parts of the plants which were utilized to cure diseases, and then bark to a large extent was used too along with other parts of plants. It is very essential to record the data regarding the indigenous medicines used to cure reproductive disorders since the present generation has been inclined to Aloepathy and the future generation will have no idea that the herbal treasure even existed.

The North eastern states of India contribute a lot to the biodiversity of the country. Meghalaya being one among the seven sister states claim to be abode of 18% of the medicinal plants in the country. Khasi and Gharo, which are the major tribes in the state, have a large collection of indigenous medicinal plants. Since it is a tribal inhabited area, the use of medicinal plants for ailments are more and the people possess vast knowledge about the use of medicinal plants. M, CL, & Marak, through their study makes an effort to document the utilization of indigenous plants by the Gharo tribes residing in North Gharo Hills, Meghalaya. A survey was carried out using questionnaires in the hamlets of North Gharo Hills. Data collected were on names of plants the way they are addressed locally, their use, parts of plants used etc. It was done through conducting interviews. Except those who were under 18 years all the people were able to participate. Traditional healers and those who were elder were given special attention. A total of 66 plants which are medicinal in nature belonging to 61 species and families of 40 were documented. The study was able to come to a conclusion that all parts of the plants could be utilized for the purpose of therapeutic cure. Stomach problem is the major trouble for which these medicinal plants are used. Also for dizziness and headache medicines are used. For diabetes and epilepsy not many medicinal plants are used. It was found out that the young generation staying there have limited or no awareness about the medicinal plants since they solely depend on allopathic medicine. This study was able to establish that to a large extent trees are widely used for medicinal purposes when compared to shrubs and herbs.

Mushtaq, Rahmatullah, Arshad, khan, & Zafar (2009) conducted a study to learn about the traditional medicine practiced by various ethnic groups so as to control and prevent diabetes mellitus. The data was collected through conducting field visits to the area. The information was mainly gathered from elderly people who have profound knowledge about the use of medicinal plants for the purpose of treating diabetes.The study has been able to gather information regarding 37 species of plants which belong to 33 genera. Also plants belonging to 23 Angiospermic families had been found out. The plants mainly used ti control diabetes mellitus were found out to be from those belonging to Fabaceae Poaceae and Liliaceae.


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