SURVEY AND CULTIVATION OF MEDICINAL PLANTS PROGRAMME
The Council has a programme for extensive surveys of medicinal plants in different parts of the country, primarily with a view to collect and identify medicinal plants and record basic data on ethno-pharmacological uses of plants from the tribal and other rural folks of the study area. The broad objectives of the programme are:
- To survey, collect and identify medicinal plants in different forest zones of the country;
- To study distribution, availability, ethno-pharmacological uses and threats of medicinal plants;
- To carry out experimental and field-scale cultivation of medicinal plants;
- To maintain a herbarium of medicinal plants and raw drugs for demonstration purposes;
- To maintain a demonstrable herb garden;
- To document folk knowledge on medicinal uses of plants;
- To collect samples of genuine drugs from the forests for pharmacopoeial standardization; and
- To develop nurseries of medicinal plants for demonstration purpose with a view to popularize them among masses.
This programme is carried out at the following research centres:
- Central Research Institute of Unani Medicine, Hyderabad
- Regional Research Institute of Unani Medicine, Chennai
- Regional Research Institute of Unani Medicine, Srinagar
- Regional Research Institute of Unani Medicine, Bhadrak
- Regional Research Institute of Unani Medicine, Aligarh
Under this programme, the Council undertook ethno-pharmacological surveys in different forest divisions/areas during the period under report. These include Megamalai Wildlife Division and Kallakurichi Forest Division, Tamil Nadu; Hyderabad and Medak Forest Divisions, Telangana; and Bandipora, Jhelum, Sindh Valley, Leh and Kargil Forest Divisions, Jammu & Kashmir. As a result of the survey tours conducted, 1,888 botanical specimens were collected and 708 plant species identified.
The plant specimens collected from the study areas, including previous collection, were mounted on herbarium sheets. During the reporting period, 2,349 such herbarium sheets were prepared and information pertaining to plant’s botanical name, family, local name, Unani name (wherever available), date of collection, brief morphological features and medicinal / other uses were recorded on each herbarium sheet. Besides, 678 new index cards were compiled and 1,091 index cards updated.
The survey team members collected 806 saplings of important medicinal species for plantation in the nurseries attached to the institutes.
The survey teams also collected 184.95 kg of raw drugs and sent them to the pharmacy section of CRIUM, Hyderabad for preparation of Unani formulations and to Pharmacopoeial Laboratory of Indian Medicine, Ghaziabad for developing standard repository.
Digitization of Herbarium Specimens
This activity was included in the programme for the first time during 2015–2016. Under this activity, 309 herbarium sheets were digitized by the Council’s research centres at Hyderabad and Chennai.
The surveyors enquired from the local communities about traditional uses of plants after obtaining oral informed consent. The information was systematized taxonomically, and efforts were made to develop a database for comparative analysis of the information recorded. As a result, 106 folk medicinal claims were recorded from the tribal inhabitants and other rural folks of the study areas. The Council publishes the information in the form of books providing details comprising botanical name and family, synonym, local name, Unani name, habit and habitat, wild or cultivated, medicinal efficacy claimed and name of the tribe, locality, collection number, part(s) used, mode of application, and biodynamic notes.
Experimental and Field-Scale Cultivation of Medicinal Plants
Under this activity, the Council took up cultivation of some important medicinal plants used in Unani medicines. These include Atrilāl (Ammi majus L.), Afsantīn (Artimisia absinthium L.), Bābchī (Psoralea corylifolia L.), Gulnār Fārsī (Punica granatum L. abortive var.), Gurmārbūti (Gymnema sylvestre (Retz.) R Br. ex Schult), Khatmī (Althaea officinalis L.), Khulanjān (Alpinia galanga Willd.), Unṣul (Urgenia indica Kunth.), Suddāb (Ruta graveolens L.), Nagdon (Artemisia nilagirica (Clarke) Pamp), Dirmānā Turkī (Artemisia maritima L.), Jadwār (Delphimium denudatum Wall.ex Hook.f. & Thoms), Asgandh (Withania somnifera (L). Dunal), etc. As a result of the field-scale cultivation, 190 kg of raw drugs were obtained and supplied to the pharmacy section of CRIUM, Hyderabad for preparation of Unani formulations.
Herbal Garden and Nursery of Medicinal Plants
With a view to popularize medicinal plants among the masses, the Council maintained about 160 common species in its Ibn al-Bayṭar Herbal Garden at CRIUM, Hyderabad and nurseries developed at Aligarh, Bhadrak, Chennai, Hyderabad and Srinagar. Some of the important and interesting species grown under this activity include: Āmla (Phyllanthus emblica L.), Anār (Punica granatum L.), Ashok (Saraca asoca (Roxb.) de Willd.), Atrilāl (Ammi majus L.), Afsantīn (Artemisia absinthium L.), Arūsā (Adhatoda zeylanica Medic.), Aspaghol (Plantago ovata Forsk.), Aṣl al-Sūs (Glycyrrhiza glabra L.), Asrol (Rauvolfia serpentina (L.) Benth. ex Kurz.), Bijāsar (Pterocarpus marsupium Roxb.), Belgirī (Aegle marmelos (L.) Correa.), Bābchī (Psoralea corylifolia L.), Banafshā (Viola odorata L.), Bhāngrā (Eclipta alba (L.) Hassk.), Brinjāsif (Achillea millefolium L.), Fūfal (Areca catechu (L.f) Willd, Ghīkawār (Aloe vera (L.) Burm.f.), Gulnār Fārsī (Punica granatum L. abortive var.), Gurmārbūtī (Gymnema sylvestre (Retz.) R. Br.ex Schult), Ḥinā (Lawsonia inermis L.), Irsā (Iris ensata Thunb), Jadwār (Delphinium denudatum Wall. ex Hook.f. & Thoms.), Keorā (Pandanus tectorious Soland. ex Parkinson.), Kājū (Anacardium occidentale L.), Khulanjān (Alpinia galanga Willd.), Konch (Mucuna pruriens L.), Mako (Solanum nigrum L.), Marorphalī (Helicteres isora L.), Muqil (Commiphora mukul (Hook ex Stocks) Engl.), Pālas (Butea monosperma (Lam.) Taub.), Qinnāb (Cannabis sativa L.), Qurṭūm (Carthamus tinctorius L.), Rasan (Inula racemosa C.B. Clarke), Sadābahār (Vinca rosea L.), Ṣandal Surkh (Pterocarpus santalinus Lf.), Satāwar (Asparagus racemosus Willd.), Suddāb (Ruta graveolens L.), Raiḥān (Ocimum sanctum L.), Turbud (Ipomoea turpethum R. Br.), Waj (Acorus calamus L.), etc.