Traditional Herbal Medicines of Assam
Traditional medicine include all kinds of folk medicine, unconventional medicine and indeed any kind of therapeutic method that had been handed down by the tradition of a community or ethnic group. It is customary to find all kinds of practices grouped under the common heading ‘traditional medicines’- mainly because they do not emanate from the biomedical paradigm. The medical traditions in the traditional system are diverse in their historical background, theoretical logic and practices, their contemporary social realities and their dynamics. The traditional health care system of 80% population of the developing world is still dependent on their surrounding vegetation/ forests and pastures. They rely on medicinal plants because of their effectiveness, lack of modern healthcare alternatives and cultural preferences.
Northeast India, which is known for its rich bioresources and ethnocultural diversity, is also a source of various medicinal plants to various ethnic communities. It has a valuable heritage of herbal remedies. Its rural people and tribals living in remote/forest areas still depend to a great extent on the indigenous systems of medicine and cultivation. A wide range of plants with ethnomedicinal value against some very important diseases have been reported but much larger numbers of folk medicines have remained endemic to certain tribal pockets in North East India.Various works have been undertaken to document different types of medicinal plants used by various ethnic groups in all over India
. The beliefs, practices and treatment of various diseases by different communities inhabiting in this part of India help us to understand the human nature relationship from its long past. Each and every community has developed their individual device to cure various illnesses and in this context they take the help of different kind of plants available in their surrounding environment. Though understanding the vast experiences of different health care system by documenting the different plant species has been carried out at different intervals but most of the works were concentrated among the tribal communities inhabiting different geographical regions.
who also have developed such ethnomedical practices in conjunction with the age old interaction with the nature. The present study is thus an attempt to document different plant varieties used by the people of Assam in different kinds of health treatment. Standard anthropological methods have been applied to document the same. Information was gathered using a semistructured questionnaire on type of ailments cured by the traditional use of medicinal plants and plant parts. The data were cross checked with respondents from different age classes as there is not a single medicine man available in the present investigated area. Identification of the plants was done with the help of standard literature.
The different plants which have been documented along with their mode of use in different health treatment by the the people is being depicted. Among these plants the compositae family is mostly used by the villagers. These plant species are generally used by most of the villagers as there is not a single traditional healer left out in the villages and they don’t have any formalized or therapeutic institution. The women are found to be more familiar with the use of various medicinal plants. It is apparent that the community is rich in ethnomedicinal knowledge and the knowledge is being transmitted from generation to generation.
It has been found that some individuals have become specialized to prepare the medicines from this plants owing to prolong practical experience. As the economy of the village is not well enough, so they prefer herbal treatment in comparison to allopathic treatment. Their medicinal use is preventive in nature and most of these plants are said to improve immunity to the diseases and capacity to convalesce. Apart from this, the phytotherapy is used to treat various types of diseases, ailments, injuries and pains. It has been found that the people apply their traditional knowledge of different medicinal plants to cure as simple as cold and fever to as complicated as cancer. It is interesting to note that the roots and leaves of Catharanthus roseus are used as anti carcinogenic medicine. Other major ailments which are traded by the medicinal plants include leprosy, jaundice, dropsy, pneumonia, asthma, elephantiasis, piles, hysteria, malaria, bronchitis, pharyngitis and rheumatism. The highest numbers of plants are found to be used against snakebite. Several parts of a plant such as roots, leaves, flowers, seeds, tubers, stems are used as medicine. The different parts of plants used by this community according to their preference are being presented in the figure number 1. Among the different parts of the documented plants they utilise the leaves mostly (43%), followed by roots (28%), some times the whole plant (17%), seeds (4%), flowers (4%), stems (2%), tubers (1%) and fruits (1%).
Out of 62 plants given below, parts of 8 (13%) plants are found to be used in snakebite, 7 (11.3%) are in asthma, 6 (9.6%) in jaundice, 5 (8.0%) each in dropsy and gynecological problems, 3 (4.8%) each in piles, elephantiasis, bronchitis, rheumatism, 2 (3.2%) in leprosy, one (1.6%) each in cancer, pneumonia, paralysis, hysteria, pharyngitis and the rest for curing different other ailments like ulcer, skin disease, fever etc.
TRADITIONAL PHYTOTHERAPY AMONG THE PEOPLE OF ASSAM
1 Ageratum conyzoides Linn.
The juice is used in cut or injuries.
It has healing properties.
2 Alternanthera sessilis R. Br.
Juice used for growth of hair and stomach trouble. Given to mother to increase the flow of milk after birth.
3 Amaranthus spinosus Linn.
Used as antidote against snakebite, given to cow to increase the flow of milk, root is good
for menorrhagia, gonorrhea.
4 Amaranthus viridis
Stem is used as antidote against snakebite. Leaves good against scorpion sting.
5 Argemone maxicana
Used in leprosy, scabies, and syphilis, in gonorrhea. Seed smoke in toothache and carriage.Oil is used as purgative and illuminating. Seed latex is used in dropsy, jaundice, cuta-neous affections, healing of ulcers, herpes, skin diseases. Also used as antidote against snakebite.
6 Argyreia speciosa Sweet.
Paste of the leaves, latex is used in small boil to suppress. Tuber is contraceptive. Also used in skin diseases.
7 Artemisia vulgaris
Juice as blood purifier.Used against worm troubles, asthmatics trouble, brain disorder and nervous affections.
8 Asparagus racemosus Willd
Roots are used as demulcents; diuretic, prepared medicated oil is good for rheumatic pain,
nervous disorder. Also useful in dyspepsia, diarrhea and dysentery.
9 Bonnaya reptans Spreng
Roasted leaves in banana leaves are used for cold bite and cut injuries.
10 Bryophyllum pinnatum Kuntz.
Leaves are useful in wounds, bruises, boils, jaundice, snakebite, dysentery, urinary trouble and quick healing of wounds.
11 Calotropis gigantean (L) R.Br.
Heated leaves are in sprain and pain. Flowers are considered as digestive remedy for cough, asthma, and cold. Root bark is used in dysentery; cough, skin disease, cutaneous affection, and elephantiasis. Juice as purgative and good for tooth ace.
12 Cannabis sativa Linn.
Dried flower used medicinally as sedative, analgesic, nacrotic.
13 Capsella larsa-pastoris Medic.
Seed oil is used as anti-scorbutic in dropsy. Used as astringent in diarrhea, and as diuretic in dropsy.
14 Cardiospermum halicacabum Linn.
The whole plant is made paste with water and rubbed to relief pain, stiff-neck, rheumatism,fever, piles. Leaves mixing with castor oil applied to lumbago,nervous disorder.
15 Cassia occidentalis linn.
Roots/ leaves/ flowers
Leaves, roots flowers are good remedy for hysteria. Externally used in coetaneous disease. Roots are diuretic. Leaves are used as a remedy for dyspepsia, nervous disorder, itches, ringworm and skin diseases.
16 Cassia tora Linn.
Leaves paste is used against ring worm and eczema. Decoction of leaves and flowers is externally used for bronchitis and asthma. Roots antidote against snakebite.
17 Catharanthus roseus
The parts of plant are used as anti-carcinogenic agent.
Whole plant The whole plant has medicinal properties, used in dysentery, liver trouble, nerve disorder, and stomach problem and induces appetite, taken with milk to improve memory, good for skin disease and a blood purifier, given to women after childbirth.
19 Clerodendron infortunatum Gaertn.
Leaves can be used against malarial fever. Roots are used externally against tumors
and skin disease.
20 Clitoria ternatea
Juice of leaves mixed with salt applied around ears in earache and swelling of adjacent gland
to relive pain. Juice antidote against snake poison.
21 Coffea bengalensis
Young shoots and leaves used as medicine for cattle eye boil.
22 Colocasia esculanta (L)
Leaves used for blood coagulation in small injuries, roots used in pharyngitis.
23 Commelina bengalensis Linn
Roots Juice is applied in eye-lid sore. Roots are useful in fever, bilious
affection and snakebite, leprosy.
24 Datura stramonium
Smoke of leaves is used medicinally for asthma. A seed causes sleepiness. Poisonous and
necrotic. Roots is good for toothache.
25 Drymaria cordata willd.
Juice of the plant is laxative and anti febrile. The plant has cooling property.
26 Eclipta alba
It is believed that the herb taken internally and applied externally blackens hair. Fresh leaves are
used in elephantiasis, affection of liver and dropsy. A type of hair tonic is produced from it. Juice is also used for jaundice and fever.
27 Eclipta postrata (L) Bhangra
Same as E. alba
28 Erechthites valerianaefolia DC.
Juice of the leaves is used to cut wounds for quick healing.
29 Erygnium foetidum
An aromatic herb used as a condiments in soups, meat etc.
30 Eupatorium odoretum Linn.
Leaves and flower tops are used medicinally as emetic, cathartic, in cut wounds.
31 Euphorbia hirta
The entire plant is considered as sedative, haemostatic, sop orphic, used medicinally in asthma, chronic bronchitis. The milky juice is useful in destroying warts.
32 Euphorbia thymifolia Linn.
Same as E. hirta
33 Gymnopetalum Cucurbitaceae
Roots made into paste and rubbed on body in body pain.
34 Hedyotis lineate
Root juice is used against pneumonia.
35 Heliotropium indicum
The juice of the plant is used in ulcers, wounds and local inflammation. Leaves paste is used against insect bite and boils.
36 Hydrocotyle rotundifolia Roxb.
The whole plant has medicinal properties, used in dysentery, liver trouble, nerve disorder, and
stomach problem and induces appetite, taken with milk to improve memory, good for skin
disease and a blood purifier,given to women after childbirth.
37 Impatiens roylei
Leaf and fruit paste is used on head as a remedy in high fever.
38 Ipomea aquatica
Leaves juice is used in jaundice, also used in urinary trouble and nervous hindrance.
39 Ipomea quamoclit
Pounded leaves are used in piles.
40 Justicia japonica
Leaves are used in ophthalmia.
41 Jussiaea suffruticosa
Used in dysentery and fever.
42 Leucas aspera
Used against rabies, leaves juice with garlic are good in Stomach,liver, spleen etc.
43 Melastroma malabathricum Linn.
Leaf powder is used in wound portion to prevent mark in skin;wood tar is used in for blackening teeth.
44 Mikania micrantha Linn.
Juice is useful in insect bite and scorpion sting.
45 Mimosa pudica Linn.
Leaf juice with milk is used as a good remedy for piles.
46 Mirabilis jalapa Linn.
Roots are used in dropsy.
47 Nasturtium indicum DC.
Seed juice is used in Kidney trouble.
48 Ocimum canum Sims
Leaves made into paste applied to the fingers to relieve from fever. Seed are used as remedy for dysentery. Leaves used in skin disease.
49 Ocimum gratissimum Linn.
Plant juice is used as insect repellent. Seed used in headache. Leaves are used in for gonorrhea,
rheumatism and paralysis.
50 Oldenlandia corymbosa Linn.
Juice applied in burning sensation of palms, juice is good for liver trouble, urinary disorder in children, jaundice, fever and bilious infection.
51 Oxalis corniculata Linn.
Juice is used in stomach problem, used in intoxication of wine, used in dysentery.
52 Paederia fotida
Plant is very good in stomach, kidney and liver problems.Decoction of leaves increase
53 Peperomia pelludica H.BandK
Plant paste is used on head to reduce temperature.
54 Phylanthus niruri Linn.
Whole plant is used in jaundice. Young leaves are good for dysentery. Root juice is used in
urino-genital troubles and gonorrhea.
55 Pouzolzia indica Gaud.
Used against snakebite, convalescence of children, syphilis, gonorrhea.
56 Ricinnus communis Linn.
Roots are used in urinary trouble; juice with lime is used to suppress newly formed boils.
57 Siegesbekia orientalis Linn.
Used in healing gangrenous ulcers and skin disease. Useful against worms.
Roots are used to cure toothache, Asthma and in cough.
59 Solanum nigrum Linn.
Roots juice is used against asthma and whooping cough.
60 S. xanthocarpum
Roots are used in asthma and in chest pain. Leaves juice with black peeper used in rheumatic pain.
Roots are diuretic, good in rheumatic pain.
62 Xanthium strumarium Linn.
Used against long standing malarial fever, urinary trouble,
useful remedy for diebetic
64. phlogacanthus thyrsiflorus
65. Adhatoda zeylanica
66 Clerodendrum infortunatum
67. Enhydra fluctuans
68. Diplazium esculentum
to enhance sexual power..
69. clerodendrum colebrookianum
to control high blood pressure
There are several methods by which the people prepare the medicines. Sometimes the different parts of the plant and sometimes the whole plant is being crushed and the juice is used as medicine and sometimes the decoction, smoke, powder or seed oil is used as medicine. The herbal treatment is said to be very much effective by them and the sustainable extraction of the medicinal plants from the wildlife is an indicative of their dependence on wild plants from their age old interaction.
$$$$$$$$$ Another news $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
The world's first xeno-transplant surgeon, India's Dhaniram Baruah, claims to have developed two "miracle" compounds from edible medicinal plants widely available in his native state, Assam to treat cardiac diseases. (The Independent )
"Bypass surgeries and pace-makers will now be a thing of the past." Baruah assures. He grabbed news headlines in January 1997 when he transplanted the heart, lungs and kidneys of a pig on a 32-year old Assamese male Purno Saikia - the only surgeon in the world to have ever done so.
Saikia was already suffering from end-stage organ failures, but he survived for a week after the transplant. After Saikia's death, Baruah was put in prison for forty days because the xeno-transplant was deemed as illegal. Later, he was let off, when found to be well within Indian law while attempting the xeno-transplant.
Prior to this daring experiment, Baruah had worked as a cardiac surgeon in some of UK's - and Sweden's - best hospitals and performed more than five thousand bypass surgeries. "My fellow surgeons may never accept but I know that bypass surgeries provide only temporary respite, they cannot cure anyone permanently.
But the two organic compounds I have now developed from edible medicinal plants are highly effective in completely curing cardiac diseases," Dhaniram Baruah claimed. He said deaths attributed to coronary artery blockages actually happen because of too much accumulation of intra-cellular calcium. This goes untreated, because there's no way to measure the calcium levels in cells, he says. The Indian surgeon says the two compounds developed by him - Baruah Alfa DH and Baruah Beta DH - from a fast growing creeper and a slow growing tree widely available in Northeast India brings down the level of intra-cellular calcium drastically and helps tackle the problem at the very roots.
Baruah says he has treated - and cured - 302 chronic cardiac patients in Assam and some neighbouring states by administering them these compounds. Some of those he cured in the last three years include high profile local journalists, lawyers, politicians and businessmen. Assamese journalist Gaurishankar Kalita, 45, suffered a heart attack six years ago that forced him out of work. "But now Dr Baruah has brought back new life in me and I am working eight to ten hours a day." says Kalita on phone from his workplace in Guwahati, Assam's capital. Agrees 72-year old editor Radhika Mohan Bhagwati : "It is Baruah's magic that has restored me to normal health after I suffered a heart attack. Now I can move around and work without trouble." Businessman Pradeep Dutta also says he has been "fully cured" by Baruah's magic compound.
The parents of eleven year old Shilpa Jyoti Kashyap, who suffered from a congential heart disease since birth, also make a similar claim - their girl has been totally cured by Baruah's "miracle compound." Baruah says he was inspired to hunt for a viable organic compound to cure heart diseases in the 252 medicinal plants available in Sonapur (near Assam's capital Guwahati, where his huge research facility is located on a 1000-acre plot) because none of the local tribes in the area - the Lalungs, the Kacharis and the Mikirs - have any history of cardiac disease.
After repeated trials and elimination, he settled on two plants after he found them safe for use on humans. "I picked on this creeper and the tree because they are versatile, they can treat and quickly cure kidneys, heart, liver and pancreas. It is a holistic treatment of the entire system, the entire arterial tree." Dhaniram Baruah said. But the compounds are not easy to extract from the plants.
"The compounds in the plants keep shifting from bark to leaves to seeds to stem depending on the season and they are easily degradable, so they have to be instantly harvested at the right time, generally on a full moon day, otherwise the compound does not remain active though it can be isolated. "
Baruah is not seeking to patent his discovery. "If I register my patent, I have to disclose all scientific information to the authorities. And it will all be immediately leaked out to major pharmaceutical companies and they will make a mess of it because this is not one wonder drug but an alternative form of treatment." says Baruah. So, how to get recognition for discovering what he claims to be the wonder compound? "I don't need kudos so long as people come here and get cured." replied Baruah, in a throwback to ancient Indian scientific tradition, which shunned recognition and kept most discoveries a secret.
Bypass surgery is a multi-million dollar industry and Baruah says his fellow surgeons have a "vested interest" in opposing his discovery. "I challenge them to send me the worst cardiac patients and I will turn them round after three to four days with these compounds." Baruah has declared. Local correspondents in Assam say hundreds are rushing to Baruah's research facility at Sonapur as news of the "miracle cures" spread.
Its variety, sometimes turbulent and all the more valuable for having been tested by adversity."