Patalkot is a lovely landscape located at a depth of 3000-3200 feet in a valley. Because of the great depth at which it is located this place is christened as 'Patalkot' ('Patal means very deep, in Sanskrit). Patalkot is spread over an area of 79 Sq.Km. It is a treasure of forest and herbal wealth. There are 12 villages and 13 hamlets in this valley, with a total population of 2012.Because of the inaccessibility of this area, the tribals of this region were totally cut off from the civilized world.

Most of the people belong to 'Bharia' and 'Gond' tribes. Patalkot valley of Chhindwara district is situated on the Satpura plateau in the southern central part of the Madhya Pradesh.

Major population of Bharia community reside in Patalkot valley where life supporting facilities are lacking. The people here depend on plant resources for their livelihood including the native therapy for health care. This treatment is based on plants.

Patalkot is endowed with rich plant resources due to the topography, rainfall and climate. All these factors have resulted in to the diversity of vegetation types.

Most of the people in Patalkot depend on plant resources for their livelihood because of the weak economy. Bhumkas (Local healers) and few older people acquire such knowledge which is verbalized and is limited only to their knowledge may be erased in near future. Considering these facts, it has been aimed to document folk–lore medicine used for the treatment of skin diseases.

Collection of information

Data collection was preceded by extensive preliminary studies, so as to be familiar with all parts of the project area and design the field work around a viable timetable. We defined a sampling site as a village. A minimum of two villages were sampled for each ethnic group in the area of study. The plant specimens were shown to the villagers to collect data on skin diseases. The author also discussed with the local healers and the experienced adults about the uses of plants for the treatment of diseases. In most cases, the author has observed himself, the villagers applying drug plants for the diseases.

Altogether 24 informants were interviewed, including 22 local healers. These informants were between the age of 40-65 years. Repeated queries were made in different times with the same informants and cross-checked at different places with other informants. The data were considered valid, if at least five informants had similar reply about the medicinal properties of the plants.

Show-and-tell methods

This was a method used for comparative ethnobotany study to obtain comparative information on plant names and uses.
A standard herbarium that could be examined by villagers as the centre piece of the study was collected from a wide range of habitats in the area. The herbarium contained various plant specimens, chosen to test a number of hypotheses concerning plant use in Patalkot. It enabled us to show all the important structures of plants, such as leaves, flowers and fruits.

Furthermore, by using an empirical approach where the same specimens were shown in each village, we obtained replicate data sets and built up an overall picture of the names and uses of each species and could easily spot in consistent results.

Walk-in-the valley method

Before the comparative study was carried out, information on plant names and uses was collected by walking around the village and nearby area with our traditional experts and guides. This exercise was known as the "walk in the valley". This is a standard ethno-botany method used to obtain information through the study of living plants. This approach helped establish the credentials of our informants, identify any useful plants of the area not included in the comparative study, and improved the quality of the comparative data, by obtaining some names in advance that assisted identification of the herbarium specimens.

Listing of Plants

The plants are enumerated in alphabetical order of botanical name, family name (in parentheses), local name and finally, usage of the plant parts. All plants were collected and identified by the author with the help of books, photographs and comparing identified herbarium. Specimens have been deposited in Department of Botany, Danielson College for future use.

1. Abrus precatories L. (Leguminosae)

The juice of root, mixed with the half the amount of the juice of Allium sativum is applied on ringworm spots.

2. Achyranthes aspera L. (Amaranthaceae)

The juice of root is applied to treat ringworm.

3. Ageratum conizoides L. (Compositae )
'Gaee ghas'

The juice of plant is applied on boils and pimples (Manandhar, 1989).

4. Allium sativum L. ( Amaryllidaceae)

The cloves, mixed with some salt are pounded and the paste is applied to treat ringworm. After the application of the medicine for 2-3 times, a layer is formed which is removed and the treatment is continued for about 2 weeks.

5. Alternanthera sessilis (L.) DC. (Amaranthaceae)

The juice of plant, mixed in equal amount with the plant juice of Eclipta Prostata (L.) L. is applied to treat ringworm.

6. Amaranthus spinosus L. (Amranthaceae)

The juice of root, mixed with double the amount of root juice of paris polyphylla Sm. Is applied in case of itching.

7. Argemone mexicana L. (Papaveraceae)
‘Pili Kateri’

The juice of seeds is applied in case of itching.

8. Asclepias curassavica L. (Asclepiadaceae)

The juice of root mixed with the latex of Ficus religiosa L. is warmed and applied to treat ringworm.

9. Azadirachta indica A. Juss. (Meliaceae)

The juice of bark is applied in case of itching.

10. Bauhinia variegata Eight & Arn. (Leguminosae)

Leaves are crushed and applied over the infected skin.

11. Carica papaya L. (Caricaceae)

The latex, mixed with the paste of Eclipta prostrata (L.) L. is applied is case of ringworm. The paste of seed is also applied to treat the same disease.

12. Euphorbia hirta Boiss (Euthorbiaceae)

The latex is applied to treat boils.

13. Evolvulus alsinoides (L.) L. (Convolvulaceae)

The juice of plant is applied to treat scabies (Manandhar, 1985).

14. Jatropha curcas L. (Euphorbiaceae)

Either the latex or the seed oil is applied to treat boils and pimples.

15. Launaea acaulis (Willd.) Hook. f. (Compositae)

The juice of plant is applied in the case of boils, pimples and other skin diseases.

16. Leucas cephalotus (Roth) Spreng. (Labiatae)
‘Kantha jhad’

The paste of root is applied on pimples. The juice of plant, mixed in the equal amount with the plant juice of Aloe vera is applied to treat ringworm.

17. Mallotus philippensis (Lam.) Muell. Arg. (Euphorbiaceae)

The paste of unripe fruit is mixed with half the amount of plant juice of Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers. and is applied to treat ringworm.

18. Mirabilis jalapa L. (Nyctaginaceae)
‘Subah ka fool’

The paste ol leaf, mixed in equal amount of leaf-paste of Eclipta prostrata (L.) L. is applied to treat boils and pimples.

19. Phyllanthus amarus Schumacher & Thonn. (Euphorbiaceae)
‘Bhui amala’

The juice of leaf is applied to treat pimples.

20. Sida acuta Brum. F. (Malvaceae)

The paste of root, mixed in equal amount with the plant paste of Tridax procumbens L. is applied for itching.

21. Vernonia cineria (L.) less. (Compositae)
‘Neela Phool’

The juice of plant, mixed with the root juice of Alternanthera sessilis (L.) DC is applied for scabies.

22. Zizyphus jujuba Lam (Rhamnaceae)

The paste of stone is applied to treat ringworm.

It is a historical fact that man has utilized the plants around him as therapeutic aids to health. This knowledge was acquired by him on trial and error basis. It is doubtless to say that there is further knowledge to be gained. The medical experience acquired by native healers and priests long ago is lately finding to be of interest and importance. The examination on herbal medicines used by tribal and native people may provide a good opportunity for discovering new drugs for the scientists. The implication of advance technology may determine with high degree of certainty about the efficacy of native medicine.

For most of the developing countries, the herbal medicine is the main system of treatment. It is cheap, affordable, having different new chemical constituents from the ethnobotanical information of plants. These findings have proved to be useful for the diseases, like- cancer, aids, etc. Now, it is time to link rural technology with modern one for the human welfare.


Thanks are due to rural people for their co-operation and help during the field work.

Author's Bio: 

Dr Deepak Acharya is Director- Abhumka Herbal Private Limited. For more information, please visit and