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FolkMedicines of Tripura

North-East India consists of eight states, namely Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim, and represents approximately 8% of country’s total geographical area. It is a home to about 225 tribal communities Chatterjee et al., (2006), and represents one of the biodiversity hotspots of the world, with the richest plant diversity in India (Mao et al., 2009). Tripura, a small hilly state, is situated in the southern most part of north-east India. It is a land-locked state and its geographical limits touch International boundaries with Bangladesh and national boundaries with Assam and Mizoram. The total area of state comprises only 10491 km2 of 0.32% of India geographical area. Currently the state has 60.02% recorded forest area, of which 66.33% are forest reserves, 0.03% protected forests and 33.64% unclassified forests (FSI, 2011). Tripura is rich in its plant life and with 379 tree species, 320 shrubs, 581 herbs, 165 climbers, 16 climbing shrubs, 35 ferns, and 45 epiphytes registered so far (Kshirsagar and Upadhaya, 2009; Sharma et al., 2013).

The state of Tripura is inhabited by 19 tribes, namely Jamatia, Chakma, Halam, Kuki, Chaimal, Uchoi, Magh, Garo, Lushai, Bhutia, Lepcha, Bhil, Munda, Oraon, Mog, Santhal, Murasing, Reang and Tripuri. Most of these tribal communities live in and around dense forests, and have maintained their own culture, language, food habits, and socio religious traditions (Deb et al., 2013, Sharma et al. 2013). The tribes of Tripura have great knowledge of religion and culture (Sharma et al., 2014). Most of the tribal communities consider trees and bamboos as the symbols of Gods and Goddesses in their culture. Out of 19 tribal communities found in this state, Tripuri, Reang, Noatia, Jamatia, Halam, Kuki, Chaimal and Uchoi are known to have migrated to this state from outside in the historical period, and are regarded as the original settlers of Tripura (Das et al., 2009). Of 19 tribes, Tripuri is the largest tribal community. Ethnically the Tripuris are of Indo-Mongoloid origin and linguistically belong to the Tibeto-Burman family. They are mainly Hindus and use different plant parts in religious ceremonies to drive away the spirits or defeat any malicious forces that might affect the well being of the family.

The Debbarma, also known as “old Tripuris,” were the first to migrate to this territory. They have however experiences the largest transformation in all spheres of life, especially agricultural practices, socio-cultural life, economic life, educational and health consciousness, and are now treated as superior tribal community among the tribes of Tripura. The Tripuris have their own dialects, beliefs, customs, tradition and cultural heritage. They build their house of bamboo and wood in hill tracts and cultivate cereals, pulses, fruits, etc. in Jhum fields. They also collect various plants from nearby forest for food, fodder, fuel, furniture and handicraft and for the treatment of different ailments, and depend on local medical practitioners, popularly known as Ochoi (Majumdar and Datta, 2007).

The Ochoi possesses very rich knowledge about the diagnosis and treatment serious to minor diseases, and are generally specialists in the art of traditional folk medicine in their community. They also perform various magical rites and worships for the treatment of diseases (Majumdar and Datta, 2007). Their knowledge is passed on from generation to generation by oral tradition, and much of the traditional knowledge has been kept secret from outsider’s world. With the passage of time, the traditional knowledge is vanishing rapidly due to lack of documentation, and loss of interest in the younger generations (Majumdar and Datta, 2007).

Most of the tribal economies are engaged in subsistence agriculture and have developed great knowledge on the use of plants and plant production in curing various ailments. The population has a deep belief in their native folklore medicine for remedies. Among the communities in Tripura each community has their unique socio-cultural heritage, language, food habits (Majumdar and Datta, 2007). Various studies have presented initial documentations of medicinal plants and their utilization by indigenous tribes on the region (Majumdar et al., 2006; Singh et al., 1997; Majumdar and Datta, 2007; Das et al., 2009, Shil and Chowdhuri, 2009). The Tripuri tribes have however hardly been studies from an ethnobotanical point of view (Majumdar et al., 2006; Deb, 1968; Singh et al., 1997; Majumdar and Datta, 2007) and the presented study attempts to add to this knowledge. The study was undertaken in Mandwi and surroundings, in Tripura district of the Tripura tribal Areas Autonomous district, to document the ethnomedicinal document the flora and its traditional application by the Mandwi tribes.

Traditional uses of medicinal plants

SN.FamilyScientific nameCollection numberLife formParts usedUses
1AcanthaceaeAndrographis paniculata (Burm.f.) Wall. ex Nees.MD-TU-3HLeaves6-7 leaves of sirata are mixed with 6-7 leaves of samsota (Centella asiatica) with little salt and juice is made out of it and given to the person who suffers from Dog bite. Mostly ochai used to treat dog bite with some mantra and they used powder rice to apply on it. It is also used in dysentery and diarrhea.
2AcanthaceaePhlogacanthus thyrsiflorus NeesMD-TU-45SLeavesThe leaf juice is taken as syrup for cough, cold and bronchial asthma. The leaf is also boiled without any oil in curry.
3AmaranthaceaeAchyranthes aspera L.MD-TU-2HRoot2-3cm of the root is tied to the person in case of shivering or epilepsy.
4AnacardiaceaeMangifera indica L.MD-TU-36TBark, rootBark and root boiled with water is used for toothache.
5ApiaceaeCentella asiatica (L.) UrbanMD-TU-17HWhole plantThe whole plant is boiled to produce a dark juice as mouthwash before brushing teeth at night.
6ApocynaceaeAlstonia scholaris (L.) R.Br.MD-TU-7TLatex, shootThe latex is used in the preparation of piles medicine. According to local believe bhoidho, the shoots are used for increasing the milk of mother.
7ApocynaceaeHolarrhena antidysentria (L.) Wall. ex G.Don.MD-TU-31TLeavesBark is soaked overnight in a glass of water and taken in empty stomach in morning for 3-4 days for dysentery, diarrhea, and as anthelmintic.
8AraceaeHomalonema aromatic (Spreng.) SchottMD-TU-32HStemStem cooked and consumed as vegetable for cough.
9AsclepiadaceaeCalotropis gigantea (L.) R.Br. ex Schult.MD-TU-14SLeaves, latexDuring rheumatism the leaf is warm and massage is done. The latex is given to the person suffering from snake bite; it is considered bitter as long as poison is present in the body but the taste of latex turn sweet when the poison is no more.
10AsteraceaeAgeratum conyzoides L.MD-TU-5HLeavesLeaf paste is applied on cut and wounds.
11AsteraceaeEnydra fluctuans Lour.MD-TU-24HShootEaten as vegetable for stomach, problems and skin disease.
12AsteraceaeEupatorium odoratum L.MD-TU-25HLeavesLeaf juice is applied on fresh wounds to stop bleeding.
13AsteraceaeSpilanthes paniculata Wall. ex DC.MD-TU-53HRootJust root paste is sufficient to cure toothache, boil.
14AthyriaceaeDiplazium polypodioides BlumeMD-TU-22FLeavesFor piles; available March-September. Leaf paste is also taken for gastric, and stomach problems, sore throat, diabetes.
15CapparaceaeCrataeva nurvula Buch.-Ham.MD-TU-20TBarkBark paste and is used for high fever, headache and for cooling.
16CaryophyllaceaePolycarpon prostratum (Forrsk.) Asch. & Schweinf. ex Asch.MD-TU-47HWhole plantLeaf juice is ingested for diabetes. For sore throat the juice is mixed with little salt and taken until recovery. Also for gastric and stomach problems
17CrassulaceaeKalanchoe pinnata (Lam.) Pers.MD-TU-33HLeavesThe leaf paste is applied on wounds and burns, and leaf juice is taken during vomiting. The leaf extract is used in bloody dysentery.
18CucurbitaceaeCoccinia grandis (L.) VoigtMD-TU-18CLeavesThe leaf is consumed as dish against diabetes.
19CucurbitaceaeMomordica cacharantia L.MD-TU-38CLeaves and fruitsBitter guard leaf is mixed with uswngdwi (Spilanthes paniculata) root for hand pimples or foot pimples (‘Bishojonom’).
20EuphorbiaceaeRicinus communis L.MD-TU-50SLeavesPetiole burnt for 5 min. Leaf paste is used for swellings and rheumatism.
21FabaceaeAcacia concinna (Willd.) DCMD-TU-1TFruits, root, barkThe fruit is used as vegetable and medicine, boiled fish, for treating diabetes. Root decoction is used for toothache and body pain.
22FabaceaeCajanus cajan (L). Hutch.MD-TU-12SLeavesThe leaf is chew for toothache and leaf extract is taken for jaundice.
23FabaceaeCassia fistula L.MD-TU-14TFruitsFruit pulp used as laxative.
24FabaceaeCassia occidentalis L.MD-TU-16SLeavesLeaf paste useful in skin disease like ringworm and for piles.
25FabaceaeMimosa pudica L.MD-TU-37HLeaves, RootThe root juice is given to the person suffering from urinary disorders.
26FabaceaeParkia javanica (Lam.) Merr.MD-TU-44TFruits (mature)The fruit is cook with fish (‘gudok’) for gastric problems.
27LamiaceaeLeucas aspera (Willd.) Link.MD-TU-34HLeaves and flowerLeaf paste is directly consumed or the leaves are cooked and taken as vegetable for pain relive, gastric problem, joint pain with swelling.
28LamiaceaeOcimum basilicum L.MD-TU-42HLeaves, barkLeaves are crushed and half a cup of extract is given with boiled milk to treat rheumatism and to induce deep sleep. The leaf is used as a treatment for gastric and stomach problem.
29LamiaceaeOcimum sanctum L.MD-TU-43HLeavesThe leaf juice is taken during cough and cold.
30LamiaceaePremna sp.MD-TU-48HLeavesLeaf paste is prescribed for ant bite.
31LauraceaeLitsea glutinosa (Lour.) C.B. Rob.MD-TU-35TBark and leavesPaste of leaves or bark paste is applied for 3-4 days and covered with a banana leaf in case of bone fracture or muscle pain.
32MalvaceaeHibiscus rosa-sinensis L.MD-TU-30SRoot, leaves, budThe leaf juice used by women to treat infertility. Root is used for mouth wash and. Bud and root paste along with rice water is prescribed for irregular menstruation.
33MalvaceaeSterculi avillosa Roxb.MD-TU-54TFresh leaves, rootRoot is soaked in water whole night and taken on empty stomach for urinary disorders and kidney stones. The fresh leaves are soaked in a full glass of water overnight and taken on empty stomach for women suffering from menstruation pain.
34MeliaceaeAzadirachta indica A. Juss.MD-TU-9TLeavesFresh leaves are consumed during stomach problem, cough, cold, pimples, fever, small pox and chicken pox.
35MoraceaeStreblus asper Lour.MD-TU-55TLeavesIt is used in the preparation of stone medicine and also used for the treatment of dysentery by making leaf paste and same technique is used even for cow.
36MoringaceaeMoringa oleifera Lam.MD-TU-39TFruits and leavesThe fruit and leaf are locally consumed as vegetable. The leaf is considered to have a cooling effect on the body.
37MyrtaceaePsidium guajava L.MD-TU-49TLeavesTender shoots are taken directly either by chewing or paste for the treatment of diarrhea, dysentery, piles, and vomiting.
38OleaceaeNyctanthes arbor-tristis L.MD-TU-41TLeavesJuice of young leaves is mixed with honey and hot cow milk and given to children twice daily for 2 weeks in case of bronchitis, asthma and whooping cough. Leaves and young branches are used against stomach disorder
39PhyllanthaceaeAporosa octandra (Buch.-Ham. ex D. Don) VickeryMD-TU-8SLeavesLeaf paste is made along with rice, garlic, (Markamiastipulate) chuwanlai’s leaf, chindrama, and Artrocarpus heterophyllum leaf. They are applied in the form of plaster on affected area during serious bone injury and changed alternately after 1 day for about 6 to 7 days. Sometimes 5-6 leaves are tied upon the injured area.
40PhyllanthaceaePhyllanthus acidus (L.) SkeelsMD-TU-46TFruits and leavesLeaf paste is applied on skin in case of chicken pox. Leaves are also scattered on patients’ bed when suffering from chicken pox.
41PlantaginaceaeScoparia dulcis L.MD-TU-51HLeavesLeaf juice is extracted, filtered and taken for body pain
42PoaceaeBambusa sp.MD-TU-10GInternodeThe inner skin of the internodes is directly applied to fresh wounds wound and wrapped with cloth to stop bleeding.
43PoaceaeCynodon dactylon (L.) Pers.MD-TU-21HWhole plantLeaves are chewed before brushing teeth during serious toothache.
44PolypodiaceaeDrynaria quercifolia (L.) J. Sm.MD-TU-23FRhizomeRhizome paste is applied on swellings.
45RutaceaeAegle marmelos (L.) CorrêaMD-TU-4TFruits (both green and ripe) and leavesA thick juice is made of the fruit and taken on an empty stomach everyday for gastric problems. Leaf paste is used for high fever during malaria.
46RutaceaeMurraya paniculata (L.) Jack.MD-TU-40SRootHot water extract of leaves used for tooth wash during toothache. Root decoction along with 1-2 spoonful sugar and garlic juice is used as sexual stimulant.
47SalicaceaeFlacourtia jangomas (Lour.) Raeusch.MD-TU-29TThorn and seedsThorn is mixed with thaisumu seed and is used for sudden paint in ribs and bones.
48SolanaceaeSolanum indicum L.MD-TU-52HFruitsFruit is cook as dish and consumed for dysentery and diarrhea.
49XanthorrhoeaceaeAloe barbadensis Mill.MD-TU-6HLeavesIt is just applied on burn skin, pimples, burning sensation all over the body, cooling, dysentery (khenchu), sadashrapetc in local dialect.
50ZingiberaceaeCostus speciosus (J. Koenig) Sm.MD-TU-19HRhizomeRhizome juice used for cold, cough.
51ZingiberaceaeCurcuma zeodaria Roxb.MD-TU-13HRhizomeRhizome is smashed, juice is extracted and drunk a minimum of 3 days on empty stomach for urinary disorder.
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