Medicinal Plants


Project: Conservation and Documentation of Medicinal Plants

Motivation: The practice of administering plant-parts and their extracts as medicine has always been an integral part of Indian culture. However, there typically exist local physicians in villages and tribal colonies, called the ‘Nati Vaidyas’ who have practiced herbal medicine over generations. Although they are much less popular, they possess a surprising breadth of knowledge on medicinal plants and the specific ailments that they cure. A good many of these plants grow in the wild and have never been cultivated. Extensive deforestation has made several specimens rare and hard-to-find. Conserving them ensures their availability for scientific investigation and serves to propagate this ancient art, thereby enriching indigenous knowledge in medicine.

 Specific Aims:

  1. 1.Work with Nati Vaidyas to document, collect and conserve medicinal plant species.

  2. 2.Gather indigenous knowledge about medicinal plants from local people and create a record for the procedure to administer the extracts/parts of the plants.

  3. 3.Document the conditions necessary for the plants to thrive.

  4. 4.Identify their scientific names and make them available for groups interested in researching their chemistry.

A Brief Description of the Project: The presence of a very experienced ‘Nati Vaidya’, Sri Mallappa served to jump-start this project. He had been practicing this since his adolescence and had inherited his knowledge from his father through word-of-mouth. Sri Mallappa’s help was taken first to identify medicinal plants in and around Anuganalu and later within the Ramadeverahalla forest located about 30 Kilometers from BCRT. The result of this effort was a collection of about 120 different plant species with purported medicinal properties. Documentation of the target illness and administering procedure is also complete.

The sheer number of the plants and their uses inspired BCRT to bring together about 8 Nati Vaidyas from nearby villages, Soppinahalli, Sanenahalli, Nanjedevarakavalu and Sakleshpura and form a committee that was responsible for the activities of this medicinal-plants nursery. Sri Mallappa’s two sons too are members of this committee. In addition to being a source of these plants, BCRT, therefore, also serves a forum for exchange of ideas and information among these local physicians. It is however important to indicate that BCRT neither prescribes medicine nor does it manufacture for commercial purposes. It merely acts as a vital link in conserving the plants and thereby sustaining this art.

Figures: Sri Mallappa passing on his knowledge to Dr. Malali Gowda (above). Visitors being given a tour of the nursery for medicinal plants (right).

To know more about "Nati Vaidyas" and medicinal plants (2001-2005),Click here

To know more about "Nati Vaidyas" and medicinal plants (2006), Click Here