SURVEY AND CULTIVATION OF MEDICINAL PLANTS PROGRAMME
The Council has undertaken 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 herbal 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 nursery of medicinal plants for demonstration purpose with a view to popularize them among masses.
This programme is carried out at the following research centers:
• 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 Haridwar and Chakrata Forest Divisions, Uttarakhand; Bhadrak, Balasore and Boudh Forest Divisions, Odisha; Kallakurichi Forest Division and Kalakadu Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve (KMTR), Tamil Nadu; Hyderabad and Medak Forest Divisions, Telangana; Guntur Forest Division, Andhra Pradesh; and Bandipora Forest Division, Jammu & Kashmir. As a result of the surveys conducted, 3,140 botanical
specimens were collected by the surveyors; and 895 plant species were identified.
Plant specimens collected from the study areas, including previous collection, were mounted on herbarium sheets. During the reporting period, 2,042 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, medicinal / other uses of plant were recorded on each herbarium sheet. Besides, 564 new index cards were compiled and 455 index cards were updated. The survey team members during the field studies collected 690 saplings of important medicinal species for plantation in the nurseries attached to the institutes.
The survey teams also collected 200 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, 273 herbarium sheets were digitized by the Council’s research centres at Aligarh and Chennai.
The surveyors enquired from the local communities about traditional uses of plants after obtaining oral informed consent. This information was systematized taxonomically, and efforts were made to develop a database for comparative analysis of the information recorded so far. As a result, 606 folk medicinal claims were recorded from the tribal inhabitants and other rural folks of the study areas. The Council publishes this 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 Atrilal (Ammi majus L.), Afsantin (Artimisia absinthium L.), Babchi (Psoralea corylifolia L.), Gulnar Farsi (Punica granatum Linn. abortive var.), Gurmarbuti (Gymnema sylvestre (Retz.) R Br. ex Schult), Khatmi (Althaea officinalis L.), Khulanjan (Alpinia galanga Willd.), Unsul (Urgenia indica Kunth.), Sudab (Ruta graveolens Linn.), Nagdon (Artemisia nilagirica (Clarke) Pamp), Dirmana Turki (Artemisia maritima L.), Jadwar (Delphimium denudatum Wall.ex Hook.f. & Thoms), Asgandh (Withania somnifera (L). Dunal), etc. As a result of the field-scale cultivation, 295 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-Baytar 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: Amla (Phyllanthus emblica L.), Anar (Punica granatum L.), Ashok (Saraca asoca (Roxb.) Wilde.), Atrilal (Ammi majus L.), Afsantin (Artemisia absinthium L.), Arusa (Adhatoda vasica Nees.), Aspaghol (Plantago ovata Forsk.), Asal al-Sus (Glycyrrhiza glabra L.), Asrol (Rauvolfia serpentina (L.) Benth. ex Kurz.), Bijasar (Pterocarpus marsupium Roxb.), Belgiri (Aegle marmelos (L.) Correa.), Babchi (Psoralea corylifolia L.), Banafsha (Viola odorata L.), Bhangra (Eclipta alba (L.) Hassk.), Brinjasif (Achillea millefolium L.), Fufal (Areca catechu L.), Gheekwar (Aloe vera (L.) Burm.f.), Gulnar Farsi (Punica granatum L. abortive var.), Gurmarbuti (Gymnema sylvestre R. Br.), Hina (Lawsonia inermis L.), Irsa (Iris ensata Thunb), Jadwar (Delphinium denudatum Wall. ex Hook.f. & Thoms.), Keora (Pandanus tectorious Soland. ex Parkinson.), Kaju (Anacardium occidentale L.), Khulanjan (Alpinia galanga Willd.), Konch (Mucuna pruriens L.), Mako (Solanum nigrum L.), Marorphali (Helicteres isora L.), Muqil (Commiphora mukul (Hook ex Stocks) Engl.), Palas (Butea monosperma (Lam.) Taub.), Qinnab (Cannabis sativa L.), Qurtum (Carthamus tinctorius L.), Rasan (Inula racemosa C.B. Clarke), Sadabahar (Vinca rosea L.), Sandal Surkh (Pterocarpus santalinus Lf.), Satawar (Asparagus racemosus Willd.), Sudab (Ruta graveolens L.), Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum L.), Turbud (Operculina turpethum (L.) S. Manso), Waj (Acorus calamus L.), etc.