A STUDY OF ETHNOMEDICINAL PLANT DIVERSITY OF SACRED NATURAL SITES OF PANCHKOSHI PILGRIMAGE OF VARANASI, UTTAR PRADESH INDIAHTML Full Text
A STUDY OF ETHNOMEDICINAL PLANT DIVERSITY OF SACRED NATURAL SITES OF PANCHKOSHI PILGRIMAGE OF VARANASI, UTTAR PRADESH INDIA
Sanoj Kumar Patel, Anil Sharma, Amit Kumar Tiwari and Gopal S. Singh *
Institute of Environment & Sustainable Development, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi - 221005, Uttar Pradesh, India.
ABSTRACT: Introduction: Medicinal plants have always played a major role in primary health care system since time immemorial. Sacred natural sites is the prime place to encompass large medicinal plant with wide range of natural resources. It potentially conserves plant biodiversity with inclusion of sacred places and sacred water bodies. Apart from social and religious importance it, regulate air and water quality of environment. The purpose of this study was to document the floristic diversity and traditional approaches towards the ethnomedicinal plants of Sacred Natural Sites of Panchkoshi Pilgrimage of Varanasi district, Uttar Pradesh India. Methods: An ethnobotanical survey was conducted from May 2016 to April 2018. The information collected through open-ended and semi-structured questionnaire and data were analyzed through Informant consensus factor (ICF). Results: During the field study, 66 medicinal plant species belonging to 62 genera and 36 families used to heal different illnesses were recorded. Fabaceae has the dominant family with 8 plant species and Apocynaceae and Moraceae with 5 plant species followed by Malvaceae, Poaceae, Solanaceae, and Lamiaceae. With regard to life form, trees (46.97%) were the primary source of medicinal plants and leaves (32.22%) were the regularly utilized plant part. Moreover, the mode of preparation of plant remedies was decoction (25.77%). The highest ICF value was recorded for muskulo-skeletal problem (0.96). Conclusions: This study helps in prioritizing to create awareness among the locals regarding the needs for conservation of plants and related indigenous knowledge. It would also expand and contribute green cover of expanding urbanized district of Varanasi.
Ethnomedicinal plants, Varanasi, Sacred Natural Site, Indigenous knowledge
INTRODUCTION: The worship of nature is a very ancient culture of Indian society. The conservation of nature and its resources is the key objective of this cultural philosophy in rural as well as urban region 1. The indigenous community essentially associated with the various component of the natural environment and develop their nature-based traditional knowledge system for the treatment of various ailments across the globe 2.
The local community also think themselves, as the link of these living and non-living feature of the environment in these mythical association 1. These kinds of beliefs and practices empower the sacred sites and shrines to survive hundreds of years in several descendants of community, which deposited a large diversity of local biodiversity 3, 4, 5.
The highly reputed international organization such as Man and Biosphere (MAB), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and World Heritage Convention (WHC) are previously illustrate the potential significance of sacred site and shrine in conservation and sustainable utilization of biodiversity. A sacred natural site is less disturb or virgin spots of natural forest, which are conserved by the local community through religious and cultural beliefs since the pre-Vedic period 6. This spiritual faith has been protected the landscape towards the forces of anthropogenic activity over a long period of time at the global scale 7. The sacred site is the natural laboratory of the ecosystem services, and religion is a strong tool for convincing people towards conservation of nature and continuous use of their future demands 8. Besides these services, it also renders many cultural services such as spiritual, aesthetic, intrinsic and educational that provided the last shelter for threatening species 9.
Sacred sites/shrines have large harbor of medicinally important plant species 10, 11. The herbal medicine provided the therapeutic requirement for>80% people of the world, which mostly cover the remote areas of developing countries 12. These biodiversity-rich landscapes are found in every village, whereas some important sites are shared by many villages as their own deity 13. The sacred places generally related to the temple shrine which deliver cultural importance.
Sacred sites are well acknowledged for its social facilities such as places for public meeting as well as recreational and aesthetic services 14. The importance of sacred places and shrine in the conservation of vegetation diversity are stated 15, 16. Conservation of biodiversity through shrine and temple spaces in the urban and suburban region is also reported 17, 18. Due to the conservation practices, the unique assemblage of the sacred and medicinal plant is found. Most of the study on medicinal plant of sacred sites in India is reported from Himalayan and south India region19, 9 while, few study were reported from central and eastern India 20, 11.
The present study was done on the ancient pilgrimage route of ‘Panchkoshi Yatra’ of the holy city of Varanasi in the State of Uttar Pradesh, India. It is one of the purest pilgrims of the Hindu religion. The main objective of this study to explore and document the ethno-medicinal importance of plant biodiversity of these sacred places.
FIG. 1: GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION OF STUDY AREA
Study Area: The “Panchkoshi Yatra” is an ancient pilgrimage path of Varanasi district, which is a combination of two Hindi word Panch (natural number five) and Koshi refer to krosh denoted the unite of distance determine equal to 2.2 miles (3.54 km). This pilgrimage covers a distance of 25 krosh (55.2 miles or 88.5 km). Pilgrimage passes five-night halt where they are staying during the journey namely Kardameshwar, Bhimchandi, Rameshwar, Shivpur, and Kapildhara with 44 dharmasalas (rest houses for pilgrims).
This five-night halt considered sacred and contained high depository of medicinal and sacred plant diversity. The path of this journey marks the outer boundary of the territorial zone of Varanasi and pronounced as Kashi mandala. The pilgrimage comprises two landscape, 75.5 km distance as road and 13 km distance as Ganga riverfront ghats. The path is passed from 108 sacred shrine and 84 Varanasi heritage Ganga river ghats. Its origin is considered previously the 16th century has delicate to Lord Shiva Table 1.
TABLE 1: LOCATION AND DEVOTED DEITY OF SNS/PLACES OF PANCHKOSHI PILGRIMAGE OF VARANASI
|1||Kardameshwar Kund (KM)||Kandawa||Kardmeshwar Mahadev||0.96||25º16'5.79"N;
|2||Bhimchandi Kund (BC)||Bhimchandi||Bhimchandi Devi||1.92||25º15'6.52"N;
|3||Rameshwar Dham (RD)||Rameshavar||Lord Shiva||0.80||25º23'15.67"N;
|4||Panchopandwa Dham (PD)||Shivpur||Lord Shiva||0.64||25º21'22.46"N;
|5||Kapildhara Kund (KD)||Kapildhara||Kapilmuni||0.32||25º20'25.24"N;
FIG. 2: (A) RITUAL PERFORMED AT KARDAMESHWAR KUND, (B) CONSERVATION OF SACRED TREE THROUGH WORSHIP, (C) AND (D) DEPOSITION OF HERB DATURA METEL AND LANTANA CAMARA ON SACRED NATURAL SITES
MATERIALS AND METHODS: A systematic and extensive survey for plant collection was performed for the inquiry of complete plant diversity which comprises herb, shrub, grass, and tree species of five sacred places of pilgrimage, including four seasons, from May 2016 to April 2018. On-field meetings and semi-structured questionnaires were used to collect required information 8. Historical background and local management of sacred sites were discussed with the local people at the study site 21. Information about the pilgrimage was asked by headmen of village, priests and knowledgeable persons of the village.
Related information of Panchkoshi Yatra was gathered by informants through formal and informal discussions and site observation. This information has been collected from 5 sacred places of Panchkoshi route of Varanasi district. The list of plants was prepared using the International Plant Names Index (http://www.ipni.org) and the plant list (http://www.theplantlist.org). The voucher specimens were placed in the laboratory herbarium of IESD, BHU.
Data Analysis: The data pertaining to ethnobotanical perspectives were classified into 9 broad categories of diseases which include gastrointestinal, skin problem, generalized, urogenital, muskulo-skeletal, lung, circulatory, animal and other diseases.
Informant Consensus Factor (ICF): This is used to test the homogeneity of knowledge about the ethnomedicinal plants 22.
The ICF was calculated as:
ICF = Nur-Nt/Nur
Nur = Number of use-reports for a particular use category; Nt = Number of taxa used for a particular use category by all informants.
ICF values are less if there is no information available about the particular plant and approach one when known information exists in the community or informants 23.
Medicinal Plant Diversity and their Ethnobotanical Uses: The five sacred natural sites cover a total of 4.64 ha of area with an average of 0.928 ha per sacred place. These places are excellent microhabitat of multilayer vegetation of herbs, shrubs, and trees. In the inventory of ethnomedicinal healing of plants in various ailments, 66 plant species under 62 genera and 36 families were reported. Fabaceae was the dominant family with 8 plant species and Apocynaceae and Moraceae dominated by 5 plant species each followed by Malvaceae, Poaceae, Solanaceae and Lamiaceae by 3 plant species. Out of the 66 plant species, 46.97% was the tree and the remaining 28.79% herbs and 12.12% species shrub followed by 4 species of grass and climber. In total use n = 66, 69.97% were wild, 22.72% cultivated and 7.58% were found as both wild and cultivated Table 2.
The plant species were used for treating various ailments such as digestive problems, stomach aches, colds and coughs, fever/headache, cuts and wounds, skin diseases, rheumatism, liver disorders, etc. The frequency of plant species to cure a particular disease was also estimated and a maximum of 31 plants were used to cure gastrointestinal problems (Diarrhea, dysentery, liver problems, intestinal-worms), 21 for skin related problems, 15 for lung problem (Cough and cold, asthma, tuberculosis), 13 for generalized diseases (fever/headache) 8 for urogenital problems, 7 for animal diseases (dog bite, scorpion/snake bite) 6 for other diseases, 5 for muskulo-skeletal problem (Rheumatism, bone fracture) and 4 for circulatory problems (blood purifiers) Table 2.
TABLE 2: ETHNOBOTANICAL VALUE OF MEDICINAL PLANTS WITH THEIR USE REPORTS OF SACRED SITES
Common name (V. specimen)
|Local name||Family||Habit /
|Medicinal virtue and use reports||Parts /
|Acacia nilotica L. Wild. (SKP001)||Babul||Fabaceae||T/W||Gum, Cough & cold (8, LN) Dysentery, (6, GI)||Stem/Chewing, Flowers/Infusion, Leaves/ Juice & Bark/Decoction|
|Achyranthes aspera L.
|Latjeera||Amaranthaceae||H/W||Tooth & Gum problem (10, GN)||Stem/chewed|
|Aegle marmelos L.
|Bel||Rutaceae||T/W||Dysentery, cholera, indigestion, constipation (25, GI) intermittent fever (21, GN)||Root/decoction, Leaves/juice, Fruit/ juice|
|Ageratum conyzoides L. (SKP004)||Ajgandha||Asteraceae||H/W||Ring-worm (7, SK) Snake bite (6, Anm)||Leaves/Paste|
|Aloe barbadensis Mill.
|Ghritkumari||Asphodelaceae||H/W||Skin problem (19, SK)||Leaves/Paste|
|Alstonia scholaris R. Br. (SKP006)||Saptparni||Apocynaceae||T/W||Diarrhea, stomach-ache (21, GI)||Bark/Powder|
|Albizia lebbeck L. Benth. Willd. (SKP007)||Siris||Fabaceae||T/W||Asthma (18, LN) impotency (5, UR)||Bark/decoction & powder|
|Annona squamosa L.
|Sharifa||Annonaceae||T/C||Diarrhea, dysentery, purgative (37, GI)||Seed/Decoction
|Anthocephalus cadamba (Roxb.) (SKP009)||Kadamb||Rubiaceae||T/W||Constipation, diarrhea, (10, GI) urogenital, (5, UR) skin diseases (3, SK)||Bark/decoction, Fruit/juice|
|Allium sativum L.
|Lahsun||Liliaceae||H/C||Lung congestion, bronchitis, cough, high blood pressure (10, LN) apatite loss (6, GI)||Bulb/orally Oil/massage|
|Artocarpus lakoocha (Roxb.) (SKP011)||Barhar||Moraceae||T/W||Liver problem, (10, GI) Skin problem, (4, SK)||Fruit pulp/orally, Bark/paste,|
|Azadirachta indica A. Juss. (SKP012)||Neem||Meliaceae||T/W||Intestinal worms, (30, GI) high fever, (10, GN) wound healing, skin problem, (6, SK)||Bark /decoction flower/decoction, paste|
|Asparagus racemosus Willd. (SKP013)
|Satavari||Asparagaceae||Cl/W||Impotency, gynecological disorder (10, UR) tuberculosis (6, LN) epilepsy (4, OT)||Whole plant/ juice|
|Semal||Malvaceae||T/W||Diarrhea & Dysentery, (10, GI) impotency (20, UR)||Bark/Decoction,
|Bambusa bambos Druce. (SKP015)||Bans||Poaceae||G/W||Piles, constipation (15, GI) placenta release,
Ethno-veterinary (11, Anm)
|Root/decoction, Leaves/feeds to cattle orally|
|Bauhinia variegate L. (SKP016)||Kachnar||Fabaceae||T/W||Dyspepsia (18, GI)||Root/decoction|
|Butea monosperma (Lam.) TAUB. (SKP017)||Palash||Fabaceae||T/W||Intestinal worms (11, GI) skin disease (6, SK) night blindness (5, OT)||Bark/infusion, Flower/paste|
|Cannabis sativa L. (SKP018)||Bhang||Cannabaceae||H/W||Diarrhea (6, GI) ethnoveterinary use (4, Anm)||Leaves/decoction
|Calotropis procera (Willd.) Ex W. Ait. (SKP019)||Madar||Asclepiadaceae||S/W||Swelling, pain (14, GN)||Leaves/poultice, Flower/powder|
|Capsicum annuum L. (SKP020)||Mirch||Solanaceae||H/C||Joint pain (12, GN) skin disease (8, SK) dog bite (4, Anm)||Fruit/powder|
|Citrus limon (L.) Burm. F. (SKP021)
|Nimbu||Rutaceae||T/C||Diarrhea, dysentery, jaundice, flatulence, vomiting (28, GI)||Fruit/juice|
|Cassia fistula L.
|Amaltas||Fabaceae||T/W||Scorpion bite, (17, Anm)||Seed/Paste|
|Cassia tora L.
|Chakvad||Fabaceae||H/W||Night-blindness (8, OT)||Leaves/Infusion|
|Catharanthus roseus (L.) G.DON (SKP024)||Sadabahar||Apocynaceae||H/C||Dressing on abscess, (16, SK)||Leaves/paste & Decoction|
|Curcuma longa L.
|Haldi||Zingiberaceae||H/C||Skin disease (18, SK) bone fracture, rheumatic pain, (10, MS) flatulence (4, GI) cold (6, LN) intermittent fever (2, GN) ethno-veterinary (4, Anm)||Rhizome/decoction, paste, powder, infusion|
|Cynodon dactylon (L.) PERS. (SKP026)||Duba||Poaceae||G/W||Bleeding, anemia (16, GN)||Leaves/juice, Whole plant/infusion|
|Cyperus rotundus L. (SKP027)||Mutha||Cyperaceae||G/W||Diarrhea, dysentery (14, GI)||Whole plant/juice Root/powder|
|Dalbergia sissoo Roxb. (SKP028)||Shisham||Fabaceae||T/W||Toothache, Gum healings (47, GN)||Leaves/paste Stem/chewed|
|Datura metel L.
|Dhatura||Solanaceae||H/W||Piles, diarrhea and dysentery, (8, GI) ethnoveterinary use (6, Anm)||Leaves/decoction, Root/paste|
|Evolvulus alsinoides L. (SKP030)||Shankhpushpi||Convolvulaceae||H/W||Skin problem (7, SK) reproductive disease (9, UR)||Leaves/juice|
|Ficus bengalensis L.
|Bargad||Moraceae||T/W||Pains, ulcers, skin burn, (8, SK) rheumatic pain (9, MS)||Root/decoction, Bark/decoction|
|Ficus infectoria Roxb. (SKP032)||Pakar||Moraceae||T/W||Diarrhea, dysentery, (18, GI) nervous disorder (10, OT)||Leaves/decoction|
|Ficus racemosa L.
|Gular||Moraceae||T/W||Bronchitis, (32, LN) Urinary trouble (16, UR)||Leaves/juice, Fruit/Orally|
|Ficus religiosa L.
|Peepal||Moraceae||T/W||Gonorrhea, (45, UR) constipation, asthma (15, LN)||Leaves/infusion, Bark/infusion|
|Hibiscus rosasinensis L. (SKP035)||Gurhal||Malvaceae||S/C||Liver disorder, (6,GI) high blood pressure, (8, LN)||Flower/decoction, paste|
|Hordeum vulgare L. (SKP036)||Jau||Poaceae||G/C||Cough, asthma (6, LN) urinary (7, UR)||Seed/decoction|
|Hyptis suaveolens Poit. (SKP037)||Bantulsi||Lamiaceae||H/W||Foot decaying (49, SK)||Leaves/paste|
|Ipomoea batatus L. Lam. (SKP038)||Shakarkand||Convolvulaceae||Cl/C||Skin (6, SK) gastro-intestinal (2, GI) fever (2, GN)||Leaves/paste|
|Lantana camara L. var. aculeate (SKP039)||Phoolwari||Verbenaceae||S/W||Ring-worm, (25, SK) Stomach-ache (12, GI)||Leaves/Paste, Root/Powder|
|Lawsonia inermis L.
|Mehandi||Lythraceae||S/(W/C)||Skin disease, burning sensation, hair fall (15, SK) diarrhea, dysentery (9, GI)||Leaves/paste|
|Madhuca indica GMEL. (SKP041)||Mahua||Sapotaceae||T/W||Throat massage, (12, LN) Pyaria (10, GN)||Fruit/Oil, Twig/Brushing|
|Melia azedarach L.
|Bakain||Meliaceae||T/W||Dysentery (14, GI)||Leaves/juice|
|Mangifera indica L.
|Aam||Anacardiaceae||T/W||Constipation, (22, GI) urinary problem (26, UR)||Leaves /juice ripped fruits/orally|
|Moringa oleifera Lam. (SKP044)||Sahjan||Moringaceae||T/C||Constipation, liver & Spleen disorder, (20, GI)||Fruits/Orally Bark/Paste|
|Musa paradisiaca L.
|Kela||Musaceae||T/C||Diarrhea, (16,GI) anemia (14, GN)||Fruits/decoction|
|Nerium indicum Mill. (SKP046)||Kaner||Apocynaceae||S/W||Inflammation, skin irritation, (32, SK) cough, bronchitis (25, LN)||Flowers/paste|
|Nyctanthes arbor-tristis L. (SKP047)||Harshingar||Oleaceae||T/W||Fever and pains (17, GN)||Leaves/decoction|
|Ocimum tenuiflorum L. (SKP048)||Tulsi||Lamiaceae||H/(W/C)||Cold, cough, (16, LN) skin diseases (8, SK)||Leaf/juice|
|Phyllanthus embilica L. (SKP049)||Aonla||Euphorbiaceae||T/W||Liver tonic, diarrhea, dysentery, anti-oxidant (24, GI)||Fruits/powder, oil, jam, pickles|
|Piper betle L.
|Pan||Piperaceae||Cl/C||Appetite loss, stomach pain (12, GI)||Leaves/juice|
|Polyalthia longifolia (Sonn.) Thwaites (SKP051)||Ashok||Annonaceae||T/W||Inflammation, fever, (6, GN) skin disease, (6, SK)||Bark/ powder|
|Prosopis cineraria L. Druce (Shami) (SKP052)||Shami||Fabaceae||T/W||Rheumatism (42, MS)||Leaves/infusion|
|Ricinus communis L.
|Arand||Euphorbiaceae||S/W||Bone dislocation, (8, MS) Otalgia (4, OT)||Leaves/soaked in mustard oil, Leaves/juice as an eardrop|
|Sesamum indicum L. (Til) (SPK054)||Til||Pedaliaceae||H/C||Diarrhea, dysentery (8, GI) cough (5, LN) reduce cholesterol, immune enhancer (11, CI)||Seeds/ powder, oil|
|Sida acuta Burm.
|Bariyari||Malvaceae||H/W||Muskular pain (53, MS)||Root/Decoction|
|Solanum nigrum L.
|Makoy||Solanaceae||H/W||Skin problem (30, SK)||Leaves/Decoction|
|Syzygium cumini L. Skeels (SKP057)||Jamun||Myrtaceae||T/W||Stomach problem (20, GI)||Bark/Powder|
|Tabernaemontana divaricata L. Roem. & Schult. (SKP058)||Tengari||Apocynaceae||S/(W/C)||Piles (23, GI)||Shoot/chewed|
|Tagetes erecta L.
|Genda||Asteraceae||H/(W/C)||Eye diseases (20, OT)||Leaves/juice|
(Roxb.) Wight & Arn. (SPK060)
|Arjun||Combretaceae||T/W||Cardiac tonic (13, CI)||Bark/decoction|
|Tectona grandis L.F. (SKP061)||Sagaun||Lamiaceae||T/W||Skin diseases (41, SK)||Bark/Paste|
|Thevetia peruviana (Pers.) Merr. (SKP062)||PiliKaner||Apocynaceae||S/W||Heart stimulant (10, CI)||Milky Latex|
|Tinospora cordifolia (Willd.) Hook F. and Th. (SKP063)||Giloy||Menispermaceae||Cl/W||Healing wounds (33, SK)||Stem/Paste|
|Trapa bispinosa Roxb. (SPK064)||Singhara||Trapaceae||H/C||Diarrhea (9, GI) skin disease, inflammation (7, SK)||Fruits/powder|
|Ziziphus mauritiana Lam. (SKP065)||Ber||Rhamnaceae||T/(W/C)||Diarrhea and dysentery (8, GI) blood purifier (7, CI)||Root/decoction,
Fruit/blood purifier orally
|Zingiber officinale ROSC. (SKP066)||Adarak||Zingiberaceae||H/C||Cough & Cold (18, LN)||Rhizome/roasted orally|
Habit-T= Tree, H= Herb, S= Shrub, Cl= Climber, G= Grass; Habitat-W= Wild, C= Cultivated, W/C= Wild/Cultivated; Disease-SK= Skin problem, GI= Gastrointestinal problem, LN= Lung problems, MS= Muskulo-skeletal disorder, GN= Generalized diseases, Anm= Animal diseases, UR= Urogenital problems, CI= Circulatory problem, OU= other use
Plant Parts Use and Preparations: Leaves were the most frequently used plant parts (32.22%) followed by bark (16.66%), fruits (15.55%), root (11.12%), flower (6.66%), stem (5.55%), seed (4.44%), whole plant and rhizome (2.22% each) and bulb, twig and latex (1.12% each) respectively Fig. 3a.
The common preparation methods were grouped into 10 categories. The plant remedies were prepared by decoction (25.77%) followed by paste (19.58%), juice (16.49%), powder (12.37%), infusion (8.24%), oral (7.21%), chewing and oil (4.13% each) and poultice and brushing (1.04% each) respectively Fig. 3b.
FIG. 3: (A) MODES OF PREPARATION (B) VARIOUS PLANT PARTS USED
Informant Consensus of Factor (ICF) Level for Therapeutic Purposes: Medicinal plants showing high ICF values were supposed to be potent in treating a particular disease. In the study area, gastro-intestinal, skin problems, lung problems, generalized diseases, urogenital and muskulo-skeletal problems were very common. The maximum number of use reports were 456 and 31 plants for gastro-intestinal, 348 use reports with 21 plants for skin problems, 195 use reports with 15 plants for lung problems, 181 use reports with 13 plants were reported for generalized diseases. While 138 and 122 use reports with 8 and 5 plants for urogenital and muskulo-skeletal problems respectively were reported in Table 3.
TABLE 3: INFORMANT CONSENSUS FACTOR FOR DISEASE CATEGORIES
|Number of use reports (Nur)||% of use reports||Number of taxa (Nt)||% of taxa||Informant consensus factor (ICF)|
|Skin problems (SK)||348||21.96||21||31.81||0.94|
|Gastrointestinal problems (GI)||456||28.78||31||46.96||0.93|
|Lung problems (LN)||195||12.31||15||22.72||0.92|
|Muskulo-skeletal disorder (MS)||122||7.70||5||7.57||0.96|
|Generalized diseases (GN)||181||11.42||13||19.69||0.93|
|Animal diseases (Anm)||52||3.28||7||10.60||0.88|
|Urogenital problems (UR)||138||8.71||8||12.12||0.94|
|Other use (OU)||51||3.21||6||9.09||0.90|
|Circulatory problems (CI)||41||2.58||4||6.06||0.92|
DISCUSSION: Indian civilization had nurtured with a piece of rich traditional knowledge and ethnomedicinal plant wealth that surfaced harboring one of the key producers of the medicinal resources of the world. Despite the expansion of medical services most of the marginal community of peri-urban and rural region are still depends on the medicinal plant for treatment of several health problems 8. Like several regions of India, the local communities of Varanasi district nurtured rich socio-cultural diversities with unique native plant knowledge.
Medicinal Plant Diversity, Life Forms, Parts used and Preparation: The maximum number of plant species was reported to grow in the wild form. The local people of the study area collect wild medicinal plants from their surrounding environment to make medicinal preparation for curative purposes. The similar result was reported by Güneş et al., 24 in Chinglai valley and Jan et al. 25
It was observed that trees as the dominant life forms among the reported medicinal plants. It is supported by our results 26. It is because of the rich tree diversity in the study area and their abundant use in medicinal virtues.
Leaves were used for treating several diseases solely or in combined with other plant parts. This result is also reported by other scholars 27, 28, 29, 30, 31. Leaves are easily available and frequently includes in most of the preparations compared to fruits, roots, flowers and relatively easy to grind compared to other plant parts 32.
The decoction is the common method of preparation that imitates similar outcomes in other studies 33, 34, 35, 36.
Informant Consensus Factor (ICF): The ICF of ethnomedicinal knowledge ranged from 0.96 to 0.88 with an average ICF value of 0.92. Medicinal plants showing high ICF value was muskulo-skeletal problem indicated peoples were familiar with bone-setting properties of plants (ICF of 0.96). It is also supported by Upadhya 37. Plants used to treat the skin and urogenital problems showed the ICF of 0.94 each, indicating skin problem is very common in the study area and people are also familiar with the treatment of the urogenital problem by using some medicinal plants such as Asparagus recemosus and Bombaxceiba. This report is also supported by Rahman and Gulshana38 and Jain 39. The prevalence of gastrointestinal and generalized problem (ICF 0.93 each) in the study area may be due to the low availability of hygienic food and drinking water. This report is also supported by Amjad 40 and Dey and De 41. Plants used to treat the lung and circulatory problem (ICF of 0.92 each) indicated the people of the study area are quite knowledgeable about treating cold and cough problems and blood purification 42.
Similar to the sacred groove of remote areas, SNS of urban and peri-urban also conserve by religious and cultural motivation and attitude of local community. This sagacity of beliefs in regional divinities, promotes sustainable natural resource utilization as well as strengthens local culture with close linkage of environment. In due course of rapid urbanization and unplanned development of Varanasi city disturb the sacredness of these places 43, 44. The most area of Varanasi is prone to invasion of invasive species due to large construction in peri-urban region 45. It leads threat to native vegetation system with combination of air, water, and solid waste pollution. Modernization of society also receding the attitude of younger generation towards these places. Whereas government and local institutions develop these sacred places by cementation of most open land towards nature conservation. This cementation harms the growth of old plantation and destroys the germination of new seedlings. Analyzing the healing importance of medicinal plant and anthropogenic intimidation. There is need for future research to assess the threats and conservation of these cultural heritage of Varanasi city. Because it represents most of the medicinal plant diversity as well as green cover of the city.
CONCLUSION: Varanasi is known for the colorful culture, religion pilgrimage places, and devotees. This inventory reveals that sacred natural site of the urban and peri-urban areas has great depositories of medicinally important plant species. Majority of species of these places used in primary healthcare treatment of local and rural populations. Sacred sites have rich biodiversity with tradition and culture which is not seen anywhere in this most urbanized district. It also provided the natural in-situ conservation model to conserve the medicinal plant diversity. The investigation of medicinal properties of plant creates a new vista to explore the medicinal knowledge of local people for drug discovery. Conservation of plant species of sacred natural sites in need of hour not only for the medicinal healthcare of local community but also for various ecosystem services.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: The authors are grateful to the Director and Head of Institute of Environment and Sustainable Development, BHU Varanasi, for providing all necessary facilities; and to all people who kindly shared their knowledge.
CONFLICTS OF INTEREST: The authors declare that they have no conflict of interests
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How to cite this article:
Patel SK, Sharma A, Tiwari AK and Singh GS: A study of ethnomedicinal plant diversity of sacred natural sites of Panchkoshi pilgrimage of Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh India. Int J Pharm Sci & Res 2020; 11(2): 710-20. doi: 10.13040/IJPSR.0975-8232.11(2).710-20.
All © 2013 are reserved by the International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research. This Journal licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
S. K. Patel, A. Sharma, A. K. Tiwari and G. S. Singh *
Institute of Environment & Sustainable Development, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India.
30 April 2019
03 September 2019
13 November 2019
01 February 2020