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The art of herbal healing is deeply rooted in Indian culture and folklore. Even today in most rural areas, people depend on the local traditional healing system for their primary healthcare. For tribals, the ambient vegetation is the main source of drugs for their ailments. Their expertise is vast and they have cure for all ailments, including deadly diseases. But it is very difficult to extract information from them because some tribes strongly believe that the efficacy of the drug would be lost if details were divulged.

The traditional healers of Rajasthan possess an impressive knowledge of the medicinal virtues of the plants that grow in their surroundings. A few important medicinal plants of the tribals, along with their family, plant parts used, and mode of administration for the effective treatment of various ailments, are given as follows.

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Fig. 3.1 Relative concentration of different tribes in Southern Rajasthan

Abrus precatorius Linn. (Fabaceae) (Fig. 3.2)

Fig. 3.2 Abrus precatorius Linn

Ethnomedicinal uses: fresh leaves are chewed to cure mouth blisters. Seed powder is used as an antifertility drug by both males and females. A high dose of seed powder is considered fatal.

Ethnoveterinary medicinal uses: the powder of two to three seeds is given to animals with bread two to four times a day for the disposal of the placenta following the birth of a baby.

Achyranthes aspera Linn. (Amaranthaceae)

Ethnomedicinal uses: decoction of two to three teaspoon of leaf powder is taken for stomachache and to ease constipation. The powder of roasted seeds is taken to cure whooping cough. Seeds are boiled in milk and taken for 3 d as a tonic to cure sexual debility and hydrophobia. The ash of the dry plant is mixed with honey and taken orally for cough, asthma, urinary complaints and stomachache. Root powder is boiled with mustard oil and used for massage by the tribals in rheumatic pain. Infusion of the whole plant is taken in liver and renal complaints. Root extract is taken orally as an antidote to scorpion bite.

Ethnoveterinary medicinal uses: a half cup of root extract is given to animals to increase milk production. It acts as a lactogogue. Root extract is also given to sick animals as a tonic. Seed powder is given to animals to treat dysentery.

Ampelocissus latifolia (Roxb.) Planch (Vitaceae)

Ethnomedicinal uses: a half-cup decoction of the tuber is taken orally for the treatment of fractured bone. The paste of the tuber is applied on abscesses for early cure.

A fresh tuber is crushed, boiled in the seed oil of Ricinus communis and applied externally for the treatment of gout. The extract of the tuber is considered by trib-als to be a blood purifier and diuretic. One gram of dried-tuber powder is mixed with 50 g curd and taken orally twice a day for 10 d to cure chronic dysentery. The dried tuber of Ampelocissus latifolia, leaves of Abutilon indicum, flowers of Butea monosperma, stem bark of Moringa oleifera and Acacia catechu are mixed in equal amounts and made into a fine powder and 5 to 10 g of this powder is taken orally with water twice a day for 3 d to cure leucorrhoea.

Ethnoveterinary medicinal uses: an extract of tuber is given to animals for the treatment of fractured bone. This extract is also given to animals to alleviate flatulence.

Argemone mexicana Linn. (Papaveraceae)

Ethnomedicinal uses: the yellowish latex of this plant is applied externally to treat various skin diseases, especially ringworm. Latex is also rubbed on body parts affected by rheumatism and poured into the eyes to cure conjunctivitis. One fourth teaspoon of powdered seeds and roots with two drops of mustard oil is used as toothpaste by those suffering from pyorrhoea. The root paste of Argemone mexicana is applied locally twice a day for 10 d to cure piles.

Arisaema tortuosum (Wall.) Schott (Araceae) (Fig. 3.3)

Fig. 3.3 Arisaema tortuosum (Wall.) Schott

Ethnomedicinal uses: an extract of the tuber is used by tribals as an antidote to poisonous snake bite and also as a blood purifier. The powder of the tuber is divided into three equal doses, and each dose is taken orally once a day for 3 d to cure liver complaints and stomachache.

Ethnoveterinary medicinal uses: the fresh tuber is crushed and given to domestic animals along with green fodder for the treatment of fractured bone. A decoction of the tuber is given to animals orally in gastric disorders.

Aristolochia bracteolata Lam. (Aristolochiaceae) (Fig. 3.4)

Fig. 3.4 Aristolochia bracteolata Lam

Ethnomedicinal uses: an infusion of the leaves is taken orally by tribals as antidote to snake bite. Rural women take the decoction of plant orally for menstrual problems. A paste of the seeds is applied to soften stiff hair.

Asparagus racemosus Willd. (Liliaceae) (Fig. 3.5)

Fig. 3.5 Asparagus racemosus Willd

Ethnomedicinal uses: the tuber powder is frequently taken orally with milk as an appetizer. An extract of the tuber is mixed with honey and taken orally to cure dyspepsia. Rural people of the Shekhawati region (north-east Rajasthan) take the tuber powder orally to cure dysentery, acidity, tuberculosis, seminal weakness, leu-corrhoea, burning micturition, anorexia and peptic ulcer. In winter tubers are boiled in mustard oil till they are completely charred. This oil is consumed by patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, either by preparing sweet pudding or as a cooked vegetable. It is very effective in reducing joint pain.

Asphodelus tenuifolius Cav. (Liliaceae)

Ethnomedicinal uses: a decoction of the leaves is taken orally by the rural people of the Shekhawati region to treat toxeamia and to remove kidney stone. A paste of the leaves is applied externally to treat swelling on any part of the body.

Balanites aegyptiaca (Linn.) Delile (Balanitaceae)

Ethnomedicinal uses: an herbal bath of root and leaf extracts is taken by tribals as an antiseptic. A decoction of leaf powder is used for washing hair to get rid of lice. The powdered seed kernel is mixed with jaggery and taken orally to get relief from sciatica pain.

Ethnoveterinary medicinal uses: a paste of the bark is given orally to animals as an antidote to snake bite.

Bombax ceiba Linn. (Bombacaceae) (Fig. 3.6)

Ethnomedicinal uses: young root tips are dried in shade and cooked as a vegetable for patients suffering from impotency. This vegetable is considered to be as good as the leaves of Adansonia digitata to increase the amount of sperm in semen. A half-cup extract of bark and flowers is taken for 3 d to treat sexual diseases such as hydrocele, leucorrhoea and gonorrhoea and to treat an irregular menstrual cycle.

Buchanania lanzan Spreng. (Anacardiaceae)

Ethnomedicinal uses: a decoction of the roots of Buchanania lanzan and Gardenia turgida is used to treat phthisis. An infusion of the whole plant is taken orally in dysuria. A bark paste is applied locally to treat snake bite.

Caesalpinia bonduc (Linn.) Roxb. (Caesalpiniaceae) (Fig. 3.7)

Ethnomedicinal uses: a powder of the roasted leaves of Caesalpinia bonduc and Azadirachta indica is given three times a day for 4 d to treat malarial fever. A half

Fig. 3.6 Bombax ceiba Linn

Fig. 3.7 Caesalpinia bonduc (Linn.) Roxb

teaspoon of seed powder is mixed in boiled egg and eaten for 1 week to cure piles and ulcer. The crushed seeds are given orally to children to remove worms from the intestine.

Cassia tora Linn. (Caesalpiniaceae)

Ethnomedicinal uses: An extract of fresh leaves is taken orally to reduce obesity. Tea prepared from the seeds is taken to cure asthma and bronchitis, whereas a seed paste is applied locally as an anthelmintic. A seed powder is mixed with curd and applied externally on abscesses, cuts, wounds, boils and leprosy. Seed powder, curd and cow urine are mixed together and a paste is prepared which is massaged over the entire body to get relax from itching. A one-fourth-cup extract of the leaves is given three times a day for 3 d to treat jaundice.

Ethnoveterinary medicinal uses: boiled seeds are given to domestic animals to treat hypogalactia.

Calligonum polygonoides Linn. (Polygonaceae) (Fig. 3.8)

Ethnomedicinal uses: an extract of the plant is taken in cases of typhoid, whereas a decoction of the plant is gargled to cure sore gums.

Ethnoveterinary medicinal uses: an extract of the plant is given to animals to treat colic, whereas a decoction of the whole plant is given to treat dysuria.

Citrullus colocynthis (Linn.) Schard. (Cucurbitaceae) (Fig. 3.9)

Ethnomedicinal uses: the fruit of this plant is stuffed along with seeds of Trachysper-mum ammi and common salt and the whole thing is put in sunlight till it is dried and then powdered. One teaspoon of this powder is taken orally to treat constipation and stomachache. After removing the pulp of the fruit, goat's milk is poured into the hollow fruit and kept for 12 h. This milk is then given to patients suffering from kidney stones. Two to three drops of a root decoction is poured into the ear to cure earache.

Ethnoveterinary medicinal uses: roasted fruits and a decoction of roots is given to domestic animals to cure constipation, digestive disorders and gastritis.

Clitoria ternatea Linn. (Fabaceae) (Fig. 3.10)

Ethnomedicinal uses: tribals of southern Rajasthan crush the seeds with water, warm them slightly and apply them on the penis to treat syphilis. One fourth of the seed, i.e. a very small quantity of seed, is crushed in water and given orally to children to treat colic. An extract of the root is also taken orally by tribal women to treat uterine diseases.

Fig. 3.8 Calligonum polygonoides Linn

Fig. 3.9 Citrullus colocynthis (Linn.) Schard

Fig. 3.10 Clitoria ternatea Linn

Costus speciosus (Koen.) Sm. (Costaceae) (Fig. 3.11)

Fig. 3.11 Costus speciosus (Koen.) Sm

Ethnomedicinal uses: one teaspoon of root powder is taken twice a day for 3 to 4 d to treat rheumatism, asthma and sexual dysfunction; two teaspoon of root powder are taken early in the morning as an antinematodal. A decoction of root powder is given to children twice a day for 2 d to treat diarrhoea, dysentery and stomachache. Two to three drops of root extract is poured into the ear to treat earache. A rhizome is used to treat dropsy and oedema.

Ethnoveterinary medicinal uses: a rhizome is given orally to domestic animals to treat rheumatism.

Curculigo orchioides Gaertn. (Hypoxidaceae) (Fig. 3.12)

Fig. 3.12 Curculigo orchioides Gaertn

Ethnomedicinal uses: 100 g of powder of dried tuber is mixed in "Khowa" (concentrated milk) prepared from 5 L of buffalo milk and eaten early in the morning by tribals for 7 d as an eye tonic and also to treat fatigue. One teaspoon of root powder is taken orally by tribal women for 7 to 10 d to treat leucorrhoea and menorrhagia. A powder of the tuber is given orally to children to treat rickets. A tuber extract is applied locally to treat gonorrhoea and syphilis. A decoction of the tuber is given to children as a tonic and also to treat filariasis.

Curcuma amada Roxb. (Zingiberaceae) (Fig. 3.13)

Fig. 3.13 Curcuma amada Roxb

Ethnomedicinal uses: a poultice of fresh crushed tuber or paste of dried tuber is tied locally for treatment of fractured bone, wounds, sores and abscesses, whereas an extract of the tuber is taken orally to treat abdominal pain and constipation. A half teaspoon of rhizome powder is taken with milk to treat internal injuries, to purify the blood and also to treat cough and cold. The tuber powder of this plant is mixed with an equal quantity of seed powder of Trachypermum ammi and 1 teaspoon of this powder is taken orally along with water once a day for 3 d to treat rickets. The tribals put the leaves in new leather shoes to protect the feet from shoe bite.

Ethnoveterinary medicinal uses: an extract of the tubers is given to animals orally to treat flatulence.

Eulophia ochreata Lindl. (Orchidaceae) (Fig. 3.14)

Eulophia ochreata Lindl. (Orchidaceae) (Fig. 3.14)

Fig. 3.14 Eulophia ochreata Lindl

Ethnomedicinal uses: one teaspoon of powder of the bulbs is taken orally twice a day for 1 month to cure leukaemia. An equal amount of powder of Eulophia ochreata bulbs and the tuber of Chlorophytum borivilianum are mixed together, and 1 teaspoon of this mixture is taken orally with milk for 1 month to boost the body's immune system and to treat rheumatism. The bulbs of E. ochreata (100 g), the stem bark of Sterculia urens (100 g) and the tubers of C. borivilianum (50 g) are mixed and powdered. A half teaspoon of this powder is taken orally with milk twice a day for 15 to 30 d to treat anaemia and general fatigue.

Hemidesmus indicus (Linn.) R.Br. (Periplocaceae)

Ethnomedicinal uses: a root infusion is used to treat menstrual complaints and to provide relief from hypertension. A one-fourth-cup extract of the root is taken once a day orally to treat dysentery; a decoction of the whole plant is taken orally once a day for 3 d to treat rheumatism.

Leea macrophylla Roxb. ex. Hornem. (Leeaceae) (Fig. 3.15)

Fig. 3.15 Leea macrophylla Roxb. ex. Hornem

Ethnomedicinal uses: a root powder is taken once a day for 7d to treat sexual dysfunction by men, and a decoction of the root is taken for the treatment of fractured bone. The leaves are cooked and eaten as a medicated vegetable. A poultice of the leaves is tied over a wounded body part as a coagulant and an antiseptic. Bark powder is taken orally to treat cancer. A paste of the flowers is thoroughly mixed with the warm seed oil of Ricinus communis and applied over body parts to treat muscular pain. One teaspoon of leaf powder is taken along with honey twice a day for 15 to 30 d to treat blood cancer.

Ethnoveterinary medicinal uses: a decoction of the tuber (one cubic inch) is given to animals to treat food poisoning.

Leptadenia reticulata (Retz.) Wt. & Arn. (Asclepiadaceae)

Ethnomedicinal uses: a paste of the leaves and roots is taken orally with water by the tribals of southern Rajasthan to cure gangrene.

Pedalium murex Linn. (Pedaliaceae) (Fig. 3.16)

Ethnomedicinal uses: about eight to ten fresh leaves are rotated in half a litre of water, and half a cup of this water is taken once a day for 7 d to treat gonorrhoea. A fruit powder strained in cloth is taken orally with milk to treat sexual dysfunction, while a powder of the seeds is mixed in sweets and eaten to cure rheumatism and

Leea macrophylla Roxb. ex. Hornem. (Leeaceae) (Fig. 3.15)

Fig. 3.15 Leea macrophylla Roxb. ex. Hornem

Fig. 3.16 Pedalium murex Linn

lumbago. A decoction of the fruits is taken to treat dysuria and other urinary complaints and also to stop the discharge of semen with urine. A powder of the whole plant of Withania somnífera is mixed with the powder of dry fruits of Pedalium murex and taken orally as a health tonic.

Ethnoveterinary medicinal uses: the plant is dipped in water for a certain amount of time, and this water is given to animals suffering from dysentery and diarrhoea.

Plumbago zeylanica Linn. (Plumbaginaceae) (Fig. 3.17)

Fig. 3.17 Plumbago zeylanica Linn

Ethnomedicinal uses: a half teaspoon of leaf and fruit extract is given to children to treat skin allergies. The root paste mixed with milk and vinegar is applied locally to treat leucoderma and other skin diseases like eczema, warts, carbuncles, etc. The roots are used as a toothbrush to treat toothache. One-fourth teaspoon of root powder is taken orally three times a day for 3 d to treat stomachache and abdominal pain. A paste is prepared by mixing the dried root powder of Plumbago zeylanica (150 g) with curd (100 g). This paste is stored in a copper container and applied locally to treat eczema.

Pueraria tuberosa (Roxb. ex. Willd.) DC. (Fabaceae) (Fig. 3.18)

Pueraria tuberosa (Roxb. ex. Willd.) DC. (Fabaceae) (Fig. 3.18)

Fig. 3.18 Pueraria tuberosa (Roxb. ex. Willd.) DC

Ethnomedicinal uses: the powder of the roots of Plumbago zeylanica and Pueraria tuberosa and the whole plant of Centella asiatica is mixed in equal amounts, and a half teaspoon of this mixture is taken orally with milk daily up to 1 month to increase memory. A half teaspoon of tuber powder is taken by tribal women as a daily contraceptive, and 2 teaspoon are taken early in the morning for 3 d as an abortifacient. Pills made from the powder of the tuber are taken orally by tribal men as a tonic to treat general fatigue. The pills are also taken to treat obesity.

Rhus mysurensis G. Don (Anacardiaceae)

Ethnomedicinal uses: the ripe fruits are edible and tasty due to their acrid taste. The fruits are eaten by tribal women to increase lactation. The fruits are also consumed to improve digestion.

Sauromatum venosum (Ait.) Kunth (Araceae) (Fig. 3.19)

Sauromatum venosum (Ait.) Kunth (Araceae) (Fig. 3.19)

Fig. 3.19 Sauromatum venosum (Ait.) Kunth

Ethnomedicinal uses: the stem and leaves are cooked as vegetable and considered highly nutritious by the tribals. A paste prepared from the tuber and stem is applied locally on burns and inflammation, and an extract of the tuber is taken orally to treat throat swelling and breathing difficulties. A paste of the tuber is applied locally to treat snake bite and scorpion bite, while an extract of the tuber is given orally to treat dog bite. The root powder of Sauromatum venosum (10 g) and Corallocarpus epigaeus (10 g) and the alum powder (20 g) are mixed in 50 g of curd and kept in a copper container for 1 h. This paste is applied locally once a day for a week to treat ringworm.

Tecomella undulata (Sm.) Seem. (Bignoniaceae)

Ethnomedicinal uses: oil extracted from the bark is used to treat syphilis. Oil is also applied externally to treat eczema and skin eruptions. The root powder is taken with milk to treat leucorrhoea.

Tinospora cordifolia (Willd.) Miers (Menispermaceae) (Fig. 3.20)

Tinospora cordifolia (Willd.) Miers (Menispermaceae) (Fig. 3.20)

Fig. 3.20 Tinospora cordifolia (Willd.) Miers

Ethnomedicinal uses: to treat piles, the swollen portion of the rectum is first washed with a leaf extract of Neem (Azadirachta indica) and then smeared with a bark paste of Tinospora cordifolia. Stem pieces are eaten raw to treat rheumatism and diabetes. A decoction of the whole plant is taken orally three times a day for 3 d to treat hepatic diseases, pneumonia, diarrhoea and periodic fever. A decoction is also taken to prevent dehydration and to increase appetite. A decoction of fresh leaves is taken orally and considered very effective in treating leucor-rhoea. A powder of the whole plant of Enicostemma axillare (50 g) and stem powder of Tinospora cordifolia (50 g) are mixed with jaggery (100 g), and a bolus of 1 g each is made. One bolus is taken three times a day for 3 d to treat malarial fever.

Ethnoveterinary medicinal uses: an extract of the whole plant is given to bulls to increase sexual power.

Trichosanthes bracteata (Lam.) Voigt (Cucurbitaceae)

Ethnomedicinal uses: one teaspoon of mature seed powder is taken orally by tribal women once a day to develop sterility. The juice of fresh plants along with mustard oil is poured into the ear to treat earache. A paste of the root of Trichosanthes bracteata is applied locally for 4 to 5 d to treat piles. During this remedy a gum extract of Sterculia urens is also taken orally once a day for 4 to 5 d. A paste prepared by mixing the dried root powder of Trichosanthes bracteata (5 g), seeds of Azadirachta indica (5g), a kernel of Corallocarpus epigaeus (1 kernel) and 5 g alum powder with curd (150 g) is applied locally once a day for 7 d to treat ringworm.

Ethnoveterinary medicinal uses: a root extract is given to animals to treat flatulence.

Trichosanthes cucumerina Linn. (Cucurbitaceae) (Fig. 3.21)

Trichosanthes cucumerina Linn. (Cucurbitaceae) (Fig. 3.21)

Fig. 3.21 Trichosanthes cucumerina Linn

Ethnomedicinal uses: crushed seeds are mixed with milk and taken on an empty stomach to treat diabetes. A decoction of the roots and inflorescence is taken to treat bronchitis and heart diseases. One teaspoon of the tuber powder is taken orally by tribals once a day for 3 d to treat colic. An extract of 1 g leaf powder is taken orally as an antidote to snake bite.

Ethnoveterinary medicinal uses: a fruit extract is given to cattle to treat urinary ailments.

Xanthium strumarium Linn. (Asteraceae)

Ethnomedicinal uses: the leaf juice is poured in the ear poured in earache and to stop pus formation. The oil obtained from the fruits is applied locally to treat eczema and scabies, while a leaf paste is applied to treat leucoderma. The seed powder is mixed with lemon juice and water and given orally to treat dysuria. The seed oil is used for massage in the treatment of joint pains and is also applied on the forehead to relieve headache pain. An infusion of the root is applied to ulcers and boils for fast healing. The tender roots of Xanthium strumarium (10 g) are chewed twice a day to treat toothache.

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