Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics

, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 573–600

Endorsement of Ethnomedicinal Knowledge Towards Conservation in the Context of Changing Socio-Economic and Cultural Values of Traditional Communities Around Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary in Uttarakhand, India

Authors

    • G. B. Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development
  • R. K. Maikhuri
    • G. B. Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development
  • N. S. Bisht
    • Department of BotanyHNB Garhwal Central University
Articles

DOI: 10.1007/s10806-012-9428-5

Cite this article as:
Phondani, P.C., Maikhuri, R.K. & Bisht, N.S. J Agric Environ Ethics (2013) 26: 573. doi:10.1007/s10806-012-9428-5

Abstract

The study of the interrelationship between ethnomedicinal knowledge and socio-cultural values needs to be studied mainly for the simple reason that culture is not only the ethical imperative for development, it is also the condition of its sustainability; for their exists a symbiotic relationship between habitats and cultures. The traditional communities around Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary of Uttarakhand state in India have a rich local health care tradition, which has been in practice for the past hundreds of years. The present study documents the Ethnomedicinal uses of 54 medicinal and aromatic plants (MAPs) along with their botanical and vernacular names, family, habit, habitat, threat status, collection season, purpose of collection, quantity, conservation practices, market potential and part(s) used in traditional health care system. The documented species belonging to 38 families have been used to cure more than 47 different kinds of ailments. These MAPs collected from the wild in a particular season and used as per the method prescribed by traditional herbal healers (Vaidyas) that provide effective results. Perception of local people during field trips based on socio-demographic characters showed them to prefer herbal system of treatments and they understood the status of traditional health care systems in the region. The study reveals that approximately 70 % population of the study area depend on herbal systems of treatments and preferred to visit Vaidyas for curing a variety of ailments because the traditional system of medicine is one of the most important prevailing systems in the region where modern health care facilities are rare or in very poor conditions. The organic cultivation practices of selected MAPs were demonstrated to rural inhabitants through capacity building training program and participatory action research framework approaches for sustainability and enhancement of livelihood security. A series of workshops and village level meetings on traditional health care systems were organized and forming/registered a strong association of Vaidyas for making their traditional system of health care more practical and effective. The study emphasizes the potentials of the ethnomedicinal research, conservation practices, socio-cultural and religious ethics for promoting traditional plants based treatments and also the need to document the indigenous knowledge for scientific validation before its industrial application.

Keywords

Medicinal plantsTraditional communitiesEthnomedicinal knowledgeConservation practicesSocio-economic and cultural valuesBinsar Wildlife Sanctuary

Introduction

Himalaya is well known treasure of medicinal and aromatic plant diversity, since it has a long antiquity as many plant species of this area have medicinal values and are being used by local people for maintaining their health (Hill 1952). According to recent estimates by the World Health Organization, more than 3.5 billion people in the developing world still rely on plants as components of their primary health care, particularly those inhabited in rural sectors (WHO 2002). The uses of plants as medicine still present a very important phenomenon in the traditional medicine which is imbedded in the culture of people of developing countries (Kloucek et al. 2005; Duraipandiyan et al. 2006). Medicinal and aromatic plants are gaining popularity all across the globe as a source of basic raw material for pharmaceutical, perfumery, and cosmetic industries (Diallo et al. 1999; Azaizeh et al. 2003). Reports indicated that over 85 % of the herbal medicines used for traditional health care system are derived from plants (Prasad and Bhattacharya 2003; Farnsworth 1988) and ensure the livelihoods of millions of people especially in the rural areas. Uttarakhand is one of the hilly states in the Indian Himalayan region. Because of its unique geography and diverse climatic conditions, it harbors the highest number of plant species known for medicinal properties among all the Indian Himalayan states (Kala et al. 2004; Phondani et al. 2010a). The inhabitants of Uttarakhand are still dependent on the traditional system of treatments for curing a variety of ailments due to isolation being inhabited in remote and far flung areas and relatively poor access to modern medical facilities (Maikhuri et al. 1998; Kala 2002; Kala 2005; Phondani 2010). There has been a recent dramatic surge of interest of what appears to be the result of an emerging new strategy for socio-economic development, cultural/religious values, health improvement and conservation of valuable plant species (Rana and Samant 2011; Negi and Maikhuri 2012; Kandari et al. 2012). Evidence offered in support to this characterization include culturally expressed conservation ethics, animistic, religious beliefs conceptualizing species in general as social beings, and relatively higher biodiversity richness found within the sacred forests (Duming 1992).

During the recent past an increasing number of nations, including China, Mexico, Nigeria and Thailand have decided to integrate traditional medicine into their primary health care systems. In these systems, ethnomedicinal research always played a vital role in documenting the traditional health care practices adopted in various parts by diverse ethnic’s groups/communities of the country (Phondani 2010). However, recently the large number of medicinal plants recedes in the wake of rapid socio-economic and cultural changes (Phondani et al. 2011a). Vedas are the root source and basis of Indian culture and civilization, which are the oldest scriptures in the library of human beings and that provided environmental, biological, cultural, spiritual, religious and aesthetic values for human societies (Nabhan 1989; Zimmerer 1991). Plants are mentioned in the ancient Indian Sanskrit literature like Rigveda (ca 1500–400 B.C.), Atharvaveda (1500 B.C.), Upanishads (1000–600 B.C.), Mahabharata and Purans (700–400 B.C.). These include the use of plants in medicine, food, fuel, worship and for tools of agriculture (Phondani 2010). The traditional health care systems including Ayurveda were transmitted from generation to generation by “Gurukula” mode of instruction. After the “Vedic era” the works of “Charak” and “Sushruta” namely “Charak Samhita” and “Sushruta Samhita” deal with 700 drugs of daily and specific uses (Mukherjee et al. 2006). The Indian Materia Medica includes about 2,000 drugs of natural origin, almost all of which are derived from different traditional systems and folklore practices (Narayana et al. 1998; Phondani 2011c). The present era has been witnessing a fascinating rejuvenation of the traditional systems of medicine (Task Force Report of Planning Commission 2000). In traditional therapies of certain indigenous communities, herb extracts are administered along with chants, dance and spiritual ceremonies for warding off evil spirits and also for revitalizing sick persons with their environment.

Recently ethnomedicinal studies have offered immense scope and opportunities for the development of new drugs and sources of nutraceuticals/pharmaceuticals (Sharma and Mujumdar 2003). The traditional systems of treatment can provide self-reliance in primary health care and can even contribute to the frontiers of medical knowledge. The conversion of socio-cultural traditions and indigenous knowledge into livelihood means and economic opportunities has also the advantage of preserving the rapidly eroding cultural/traditional knowledge and practices that are increasingly under threat due to globalization and homogenization of people practices and knowledge (Phondani et al. 2011a). Although very diminutive research has been done to prove or disprove the sustainability of traditional health care systems, this trope of indigenous knowledge and sustainability is used as both an argument for the preservation of traditional culture and as a need to reform backwards or non-scientific practices (Sienna 2002). Therefore, protection of their indigenous knowledge, public awareness, empowerment of local medical practices and education are also important for successful implementation of such activities (Phondani et al. 2011a). The present study focused on three objectives, which attempt: (1) to document the ethnomedicinal information about the plants being used for medicinal purposes and indigenous knowledge related to traditional health care system (2) to describe the perception of local people toward their health care system (3) to describe efforts to train local farmers to cultivate medicinal and aromatic plants.

Study Area and Socio-Economic Profile

The present study was carried out in 14 villages located in Pauri district around Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary of Uttarakhand state in India. The study area covers an altitudinal range of 1,400–2,700 masl and is located at the latitudes 30° 00.993′ to 30° 03.764′ N and longitudes 79° 09.724′ to 79° 12.040′ E. Climatically the year consists of three distinct seasons, i.e. monsoon (July–September), winter (October–March) and summer (April-June). The mean annual rainfall in the study area was recorded as 1,652 mm and temperature remained cool and pleasant all around the year. Mean minimum monthly temperature ranged between 6.4 and 15.0 °C whereas; mean maximum monthly temperature ranged between 13.20 and 27.0 °C. All the study villages are situated within 1–7 km away from the road head where the primary health care centers are rare or in very poor conditions. The foremost economic activities are collection of non-timber forest products, agriculture, animal husbandry and tourism. The local people of these areas depend on traditional systems of medicine for curing a variety of ailments they suffer from, and the region is famous for its rich biodiversity, socio-cultural tradition, and religious beliefs.

Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs)

The Mountain region of Uttarakhand is a storehouse of non timber forest products (NTFPs) particularly in medicinal and aromatic plants and play a vital role in the rural economy. The local people collected NTFPs from wild in a particular season/time for different purposes such as socio-cultural and religious ethics; home remedies, value addition and marketing for enhancement of livelihood security. Sustainability of harvesting non-timber forest products (NTFPs) is challenged by many factors, from both social and ecological perspectives. It is now being realized that many interlinked dimensions viz., ecological, biological, socio-cultural and economic must be considered in order to achieve sustainable use of NTFPs. The potential of non-timber forest products to the socio-economic scenario and livelihood needs of forest dependent populations along with the sustainable forest management has been the subject of much discussion during the past one decade particularly in the Himalayan region. Though initiatives taken by us through meetings/training programs/exposer visits, the local people became aware for conservation and sustainable utilization of natural MAPs resources in which their traditional system of health care depended.

Agriculture

The main occupation of the local people in the region is agriculture. The agricultural land use patterns vary from region to region. The principal crops of the region are rice, wheat, millets, pulses, mustard, pea, potato, tomato etc. After initiatives taken by us through awareness programs many farmers are started organic farming of cash crops, i.e., medicinal and aromatic plants, floriculture, off season vegetables and horticulture plants for augmenting their livelihoods. This part of the Himalayas also has high diversity of crops and their wild relatives. In addition to agriculture, 16 % households are involved in business, 35 % in government and semi-government services and the rest work as daily wage laborers (Phondani 2010).

Animal Husbandry

Animal husbandry is the backbone of the rural sector of the Uttarakhand state and through development in this sector rural poverty can also be tackled. Livestock comprises of cows, bullocks, buffalos, sheep, goat, horses, and mules. In these remote areas, where modern medical quantitative and qualitative infrastructure is very poor, the local have evolved indigenous veterinary health care practices to maintain their livestock population. The farmers utilize a wide range of biological resources and livestock being the integral component of the crop husbandry and hence a major source of livelihood for most of the hill communities.

Tourism

The Uttarakhand state is also known as Devbhumi (land of the Gods) has attracted tourists and pilgrims from the world over since time immemorial. The aesthetic appeal of the land and the socio-cultural heritage of the state present it with immense potentialities for tourism development. The Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary contains rich cultural traditions, natural beauty and the cool as well as invigorating climate. Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary has a high faunal and floral diversity, which is rare, and makes it an ideal location for ecotourism comprising trekking trails, nature walks and bird watching etc. The number of tourists visiting this region is elevated and offers a very good avenue for tourism development. The holy temple of Binsar Mahadev (Lord Shiva) is the famous tourist place and one of the options for enhancing the local economy of the poor rural communities. It also plays a vital role for biodiversity conservation in the region because the local people dedicated the forest to a deity and decided the Binsar forest as a Dev-Ban (forest of God) and thoroughly prohibited the harvesting/collecting of expensive resources from the forest without using rituals based on local cultural/religious ethics.

Methodology

A Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) approach was adopted for the field study (Sahoo et al. 2010; Phondani et al. 2011b). The information related to ethnomedicinal knowledge along with the botanical name, vernacular name, family, habit, status in their natural habitat, collection season/time, purposes of collection, quantity, conservation practices, market potential, and part(s) used in traditional health care system was collected using questionnaires, interviews and group discussions in the fields. A total of 40 % local people of each village and 100 persons of each categories, i.e., men, women, different age groups, literate, illiterate, healing experience of all villagers were interviewed and information was generated on the identity and occurrence of medicinal plants, harvesting in a particular season/time around the year and their mode of preparation for home remedies (Phondani et al. 2010a). The perception towards collection of medicinal plants from the wild in a particular season/time based on seasonal as well as cultural aspects of the local ethics (Phondani 2010) and knowledge of medicinal plants were analyzed within the different age groups, i.e., children (≤17) young (18–30), elder (31–60) and old (≥61) (Kala 2005; Phondani 2010; Phondani 2011). The dependence of local people on herbal and allopathic system of medicine were assessed on the basis of their literacy rate, gender, experience, nature of ailments and socio-demographic characters (Phondani et al. 2010b). Four basic approaches were adopted to study the traditional health care system practiced by the traditional communities in the region (Phondani et al. 2010a):

(1) Interview based approach: Involving questions relating to the use of plants for different purposes (i.e., medicine, food, fuel, fodder, etc.). The recording of names of plants, visits to forest sites and alpine pastures were made with the help of an informant for identification of the specific plants, particularly in the peak season of the growth of the plant so as to help in identification. (2) Inventory based approach: Involved collection of plant specimens and subsequent interviewing of the informants for names and uses. Randomly selected households were interviewed with a view to understand their dependence on a herbal and allopathic system of treatments for curing ailments. The respondents were categorized in different class families, i.e., rich, medium and poor based on their different income sources. (3) Cultivation and conservation approach: The selection of farmers was based on the consideration that the study should explicitly address the option for domestication of MAPs by poor rural people who are interested in the organic farming of MAPs for the purposes of home remedies and livelihood improvement as against the traditional farming. In this context, cultivation practice seems to have been replaced by collection from the wild (Wiersum et al. 2006). During initial stage of the field survey none of the farmers directly involved in cultivation of medicinal and aromatic plants, however, collection was done from the wild when required for the different purposes. After our intervention in the region, a total of 50 farmers were promoted/trained for organic cultivation of selected MAPs (Swertia chirayitaAconitum heterophyllum, Picrorhiza kurroa, Asparagus racemosus, Centella asiatica, Ocimum basilicum, Valeriana jatamansi, Cinnamomum tamala, Hedychium spicatum, Sapindus mukorossi etc.) based on the perception of local farmers and traders on a prioritized basis and developed MAPs nurseries through a participatory approach in the study area for capacity building, demonstration and dissemination, germplasm conservation and distribution to the farmers for commercial cultivation. Regular training was imparted to the interested farmers on organic farming, harvesting technology, value addition, and marketing of these selected MAP species. (4) Approach involved organizing workshops/meetings: Different stakeholders such as local people, farmers, shepherds, traditional herbal healers, ayurvedacharya, medical doctors, scientists, forest officers and school teachers were consulted very frequently during the study so as to discuss different uses of MAPs, particular periods of collection from the wild, cultural/religious ethics, cultivation and conservation practices, market potential and fate of traditional health care systems. Questionnaires developed for this and information was collected from traditional herbal healers to understand the frequency of use of medicinal plants. Information related to composition of prepared medicines (materials/item mixed, use of one or more species together/substitute and their preparation) for curing a variety of ailments for a particular period of time was obtained from traditional herbal healers in the studied traditional communities. Data were collected from selected valleys relating to ethnomedicinal practices, quantification of plant products consumed for curing particular disease/ailments. Cross-checking of collected information was done during field visits. The plant species collected were maintained as specimens, and identified with the help of literature (Maikhuri et al. 1998; Narayana et al. 1998; Sienna 2002; Kala 2005; Phondani 2010; Dhyani et al. 2010; Kandari et al. 2012), regional floras (Gaur 1999; Naithani 1985) and taxonomical experts. Identified specimens were brought to the G.B. Pant Institute (Garhwal Unit) herbarium for scientific identification where they were subsequently submitted.

Results and Discussion

Indigenous Knowledge of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (MAPs)

This study analyzes the assumptions that the traditional communities of the study area possess immense knowledge of traditional plant based treatments and used 54 medicinal plant species belonging 38 families for curing 47 different kinds of ailments. The medicinal plants, used in traditional health care system are categorized into underground parts (27.7 %), leaves (24.1 %), fruits (12.9 %), seeds (9.2 %), bark (9.3 %), flower (5.6 %) and whole plant (11.2 %) as per their parts used. Majority of the medicinal plants belong to herbaceous community (51.8 %) followed by trees (25.9 %), shrubs (11.2 %), climber (9.2 %) and creeper (1.8 %) collected from village surroundings, forests and alpine meadows. These medicinal plant species collected from wild in a particular season/time for curing a variety of ailments and used as per the methods prescribed by traditional Vaidyas that provide effective results (Table 1). Thorough observations were made to enumerate the purpose of collection, quantity, socio-cultural and religious ethics, local market price, and part used by the villagers. It was noticed that huge amount of MAPs are harvested from wild by the unskilled labors for various purposes and even for economic benefits through illegal marketing. The local communities of the region used special cultural/religious ethics at the collection time of these MAPs for effective results, sustainable utilization and conservation in their natural habitat (Table 2). The study revealed that in the remote areas where majority of the cultural and religious ethics are followed, the local people and traditional herbal healers collect or harvest huge amount of medicinal plant species at the time of blackmoon of waning fortnight (Onsh) of the monsoon season (62 %) as compared to other season as well as cultural aspects in all around the year (Table 3). The study revealed that in the remote areas where the majority of the old generation were either illiterate or less educated but they have enormous knowledge of curing ailments as compared to the young generation (Table 4). As per the survey conducted in the villages regarding percentage of people preferring to visit Vaidyas for curing a variety of ailments, revealed that the percentage of children, young and elder categories of people is very less as compared to old people. While the percentage of male population visiting Vaidyas for curing ailments was found to be very less across all the villages as compared to female population. The dependence of young generation in herbal system of treatments is very less the young mass is not interested in traditional health care system because they know traditional health care system is not a lucrative business for unemployed youths. It also indicates the evidence of the future status of this system of health care (Table 5).
Table 1

Medicinal plants used by traditional communities following socio-cultural and religious values for curing various ailments through traditional health care system

Family

Name of medicinal plants

Vernacular name

Habit

Threat status

Parts used

Collection period

Used to cure

Seasonal aspect

Cultural and religious aspect

Acanthaceae

Adhatoda vasicaNees.

Vashika

Shrub

Endemic

Leaves

Spring season

Suklapaksha****/Tuesday/Before flowering

Fever, Bronchitis

Amaranthaceae

Achyranthes aspera L.

Latjira

Climber

Secure

Whole plant

Monsoon season

Suklapaksha****/Before sun rises/Saturday

Ring worm, Asthma

Apiaceae

Angelica glaucaEdgew.

Choru

Herb

Endangered

Rhizome

Autumn season

Onsh***/Ekadashi**

Fever, Gastric

Centella asiatica L. Urban.

Brahmi

Herb

Endangered

Leaves

Monsoon season

Suklapaksha****/Before sun rises/Saturday

Leucorrhoea, Epilepsy, Mental

Coriandrum sativum L.

Dhaniya

Herb

Cultivated

Seeds

Winter season/When the seed is mature

Suklapaksha****/Suryabar (Sunday)

Stomach disorder

Daucus carota L.

Gajar

Herb

Cultivated

Root, Seeds

Winter season

Suklapaksha****/Before sun rises

Anemia, Abortifacient

Araceae

Acorus calamus L.

Buch

Herb

Endangered

Whole plant

Autumn season

Onsh***/Ekadashi**

Cough, Dyspepsia

Asteraceae

Eupatorium adenophorumSprengel.

Bashya

Shrub

Common

Leaves

Monsoon season

Suklapaksha****/Before sun rises

Cuts

Berberidaceae

Berberis aristataDC.

Chatru

Shrub

Vulnerable

Root

Winter season

Suklapaksha****/Tuesday

Eye disease

Boraginaceae

Arnebia benthamiWall. ex G.Don Jhon.

Balchari

Herb

Near endemic

Rhizome

Autumn season

Onsh***/Ekadashi**

Hair disease

Brassicaceae

Brassica compestrisL.

Sarsoo

Herb

Cultivated

Leaves, Seeds

Spring season

Suklapaksha****/Before sun rises

Anemia, Skin disease

Raphanus sativaL. Hook.f. & Anderson

Muli

Herb

Cultivated

Root

Winter season

Ekadashi**

Jaundice

Cannabaceae

Cannabis sativa L.

Bhang

Herb

Common

Leaves

Monsoon season

Suklapaksha****/Saturday/Before flowering

Piles

Cucurbitaceae

Carica papya L.

Papeeta

Tree

Common

Fruit

Monsoon season

Onsh***/Ekadashi**

Skin disease, Wormosis

Cucumis sativus L.

Kakree

Climber

Cultivated

Seeds

Monsoon season

Onsh***

Urinary disorder

Momordica charantia L.

Karela

Climber

Cultivated

Fruit, Seed

Monsoon season

Onsh***/Ekadashi**

Rheumatic, Stomachache

Ericaceae

Lyonia ovalifoliaWallich Drude.

Anyar

Tree

Vulnerable

Buds

Spring season

Suklapaksha****/Before sun rises

Itching

Rhododendron anthopogonD. Don

Awon

Tree

Vulnerable

Leaves

Spring season

Ekadashi**

Ring worm

Fabaceae

Macrotyloma uniflorumLam. Verdc.

Gaheth

Herb

Cultivated

Seeds

Winter season

Onsh***/Ekadashi**

Kidney stone

Vigna mungo L. Hepper

Kali dal

Climber

Cultivated

Seeds

Winter season

Onsh***/Ekadashi**

Bone fracture

Fagaceae

Quercus leucotrichophoraA. Camus

Banj

Tree

Vulnerable

Seeds

Autumn season

Onsh***/Ekadashi**

Snake bite

Gentianaceae

Swertia chirayitaRoxb. Ex Fleming Karsten

Cherata

Herb

Endangered

Whole plant

Monsoon season

Onsh***

Fever, Diabetes

Hippocastanaceae

Aesculus indicaColeber. Ex Cambess. Hook.

Pangar

Tree

Vulnerable

Root, Bark

Spring season/at the time of leaf fall

Suklapaksha****/Suryabar (Sunday)

Rheumatic pain

Juglandaceae

Juglans regia L.

Akhrot

Tree

Vulnerable

Embryo

Monsoon season

Onsh***/Ekadashi**

Pregnancy

Lamiaceae

Mentha arvensis L.

Podina

Herb

Cultivated

Leaves

Summer season

Onsh***/Ekadashi**/Before sun rises

Stomach disorder

Ocimum sanactum L.

Tulsi

Herb

Cultivated

Leaves

Autumn season

Suklapaksha****/Monday/Before sun rises

Bronchitis, Constipation

Liliaceae

Allium sativum L.

Lahsun

Herb

Cultivated

Bulb

Autumn season

Suklapaksha****/Suryabar (Sunday)

Stomach disease

Aloe vera L.

Ghirt kumari

Herb

Vulnerable

Leaves

Spring season

Onsh***/Ekadashi**/Before sun rises

Diabetes, Skin disease

Asparagus racemosusWilld.

Jhirna

Shrub

Endangered

Rhizome

Autumn season

Onsh***/Ekadashi**

Epilepsy

Linaceae

Reinwardtia indicaDumortier

Phiunli

Herb

Rare

Petals

Spring season/When the flower is mature

Suklapaksha****/Before sun rises

Tounghwash

Menispermaceae

Tinospora sinensisLour. Merrill

Gilai

Climber

Rare

Whole plant

Autumn season

Onsh***/Ekadashi**

Fever, Leprosy, Urinary

Moraceae

Ficus semicardataBuch.Ham. ex J.E. Smith

Khina

Tree

Vulnerable

Fruit

Spring season

Suklapaksha****/Early in the morning/before sun rises

Provide strength, Baldness

Musaceae

Musa paradisca L.

Kela

Tree

Common

Spandex

Winter season

Onsh***/Ekadashi**

Cough, Cold

Myricaceae

Myrica esculentaBuch. Ham. Ex D. Don

Kafal

Tree

Vulnerable

Fruit

Spring/summer season

Suklapaksha****/Before sun rises

Cardiac disorder

Pedaliaceae

Sesamum orientale L.

Til

Herb

Cultivated

Seeds, Leaves

Spring season

Onsh***/Ekadashi**/Before sun rises

Aphrodisiac, Body pain

Phyllanthaceae

Phyllanthus emblica L.

Anowla

Tree

Common

Fruit

Spring/summer season

Suklapaksha****/Suryabar (Sunday)

Blood purifier, Throat ache

Pinaceae

Cedrus deodaraRoxb. Ex D. Don G. Don

Devdar

Tree

Near threatened

Bark

Spring season/at the time of leaf fall

Bashant Panchami*/Before sun rises/Tuesday

Rheumatism, Back pain

Pinus wallichianaA. B. Jackson

Kail

Tree

Vulnerable

Resin

Spring season

Onsh***/Ekadashi**/Before sun rises

Arthritis

Piperaceae

Piper nigrum L.

Kali mirch

Herb

Near threatened

Fruit

Winter season

Suklapaksha****/Before sun rises

Common cold

Poaceae

Cynodon dectylon L.

Dub ghass

Creeper

Common

Whole plant

Monsoon season

Suklapaksha****/Saturday

Vomiting, Dysentery, Powerful

Polygonaceae

Rumex hastatusD. Don

Almoru

Herb

Common

Leaves

Spring season

Bashant Panchami*/Before sun rises

Wounds, Bleeding

Ranunculaceae

Aconitum heterophyllumWall. ex Royle

Atis

Herb

Critically endangered

Rhizome

Autumn season

Onsh***/Ekadashi**

Fever, Stomach ache

Thalictrum javanicumBlume

Peeli jari

Herb

Common

Root

Monsoon season

Krishna Janmastmi*****/Before sun rises

Diabetes, Jaundice

Rosaceae

Prunus persica L. Batsch

Aaru

Tree

Common

Leaves

Monsoon season

Krishna Janmastmi*****/Before sun rises

Wormosis

Rosa indica L.

Gulab

Shrub

Common

Flower

Spring season

Onsh***/Saturday

Eye disease

Rutaceae

Citrus aurantifoliaChristmann Swingle

Kagji nimbu

Tree

Common

Fruit

Winter season

Suklapaksha****/Morning

Common cold

Zanthoxylum armatumDC.

Timru

Shrub

Vulnerable

Bark

Spring season

Bashant Panchami*/Tuesday/Morning

Toothache

Saxifragaceae

Bergenia ciliateHaworth Sternb.

       

Silphori

Herb

Endangered

Rhizome

Autumn season

Onsh***/Ekadashi**

Kidney stone, Piles, Paralysis

 

Scrophulaceae

Picrorhiza kurroaRoyle ex Benth.

Kutaki

Herb

Critically endangered

Rhizome

Autumn season

Onsh***/Ekadashi**

Typhoid fever, Jaundice

Verbascum thapsus L.

Akulbeer

Herb

Rare

Whole plant

Monsoon season

Krishna Janmastmi*****

Bronchitis, Asthma

Solanaceae

Capsicum annuum L.

Mirch

Herb

Cultivated

Fruit

Monsoon season

Onsh***/Ekadashi**

Rabies, Snake bite

Taxaceae

Taxus baccata L.

Thuner

Tree

Endangered

Bark

Spring season/at the time of leaf fall

Bashant Panchami*/Before sun rises

Anti- cancer, Bone fracture

Valerianaceae

Valeriana jatamansiWallich

Tagar

Herb

Endangered

Root

Autumn season

Dashara******

Urinary disorder, Joint pain

Zingiberaceae

Curcuma domesticaValeton

Haldi

Herb

Cultivated

Rhizome

Autumn season

Onsh***/Ekadashi**

Blood purifier, Eye disease

 

Hedychium spicatumBuch. Hum. Ex J. E. Smith

Van-Haldi

Herb

Vulnerable

Rhizome

Autumn season

Onsh***/Ekadashi**

Asthma, Energetic

Symbol represented—* Bashant Panchami is celebrated as an advent of the spring season, ** Ekadashi is the eleventh day in the fortnights of the waxine and waning moon, *** Onsh is the blackmoon of waning fortnight, **** Suklapaksha is the day of waxine moon, ***** Krishna Janmastmi is the birth day of lord Krishna which falls every year on the last day of the fortnight of the waning moon, ****** Deshara is Hindu festival dedicated to the gods of power

Table 2

Socio-cultural/religious ethics and market potential of medicinal plants collected from wild by the local communities on prioritized basis in a particular season/time for different purposes

Name of medicinal plants

Part used

Habitat

Regulating socio-cultural/religious ethics by local communities during collection time

Purpose of collection

Quantity collected from wild/Kg/dry/yr

Local market price (Rs/Kg)

Ocimum basilicum

Whole plant

Montane forests

During collection time the priest (Pujari) puts some ash marks on forehead with special magico-religious ceremony for placate the deity and performing some special ritual. It is believed to be sacred herb of the region and offered to God during all kinds of religious festivals.

Home remedies, herbal tea, perfume, festivals, sale

200

160

Asparagus racemosus

Rhizomes

Sub-montane to montane forests

Collected rhizomes first offered to Binsar Mahadev (Lord Shiva) at the time of waxine moon for better results and sustainable conservation in their natural habitat.

Home remedies, sale

80

200

Valeriana jatamansi

Rhizomes

Montane forests

Rhizomes are offered to Lord Shiva. It is used for spiritual bathing of the local communities at the time of wedding ceremony.

Home remedies, perfume, festivals, sale

200

150

Hedychium spicatum

Rhizomes

Sub-alpine forests

Mystic-priest puts some powder (obtained from rhizome) marks on forehead and begins to special chants-dance and offered to local God during all kinds of spiritual celebration.

Home remedies, festivals, sale

300

80

Cinnamomum tamala

Leaves

Sub-montane to montane forests

During collection time bark and leaves offered to local God with special magico-religious ceremony. Dry leaves are used for preparation of various traditional recipes.

Home remedies, herbal tea, spices, perfume, sale

250

70

Swertia chirayita

Whole plant

Sub-alpine forests

Mystic-priest (Pujari) put down the mature flower to Binsar Mahadev Mandir (Lord Shiva temple) in the form of special wish.

Home remedies, festivals, sale

150

100

Aconitum heterophyllum

Rhizomes

Sub-alpine to alpine forests

Rhizomes and leaves offered to Lord Shiva by the head of local herbal healers (Vaidyas).

Home remedies, sale

70

300

Picrorhiza kurroa

Rhizomes

Sub-alpine to alpine forests

Rhizomes and leaves offered to Lord Shiva by the old people between the communities.

Home remedies, sale

100

150

Centella asiatica

Leaves

Montane forests

Leaves offered to local God by the traditional communities.

Home remedies, sale

100

50

Sapindus mukorossi

Fruits

Sub-montane to montane forests

Mature fruits offered to Nag and Narsingha Devta (Lord Shiva) by the Mystic-priest (Pujari).

Home remedies, herbal soap, festivals, sale

500

60

Table 3

Percentage of medicinal plants collected/harvested from wild in a particular season/time around the year by traditional communities in the study area

Percentage of medicinal plants collected from wild based on different seasonal/cultural aspects

Cultural aspects

Seasonal aspects

Summer season (April–June) (%)

Monsoon season (July–September) (%)

Winter season (October–March) (%)

Bashant Panchami

60

Ekadashi

20

50

30

Onsh

8

62

30

Suklapaksha

30

40

30

Krishna Janmastmi

40

Deshara

40

60

Table 4

Perception of local people (100 people in each category) based on socio-demographic characters in response to their preference towards herbal system of treatments

Characteristics

Responses (%)

Gender

 Male

45.3

 Female

54.7

Education

 Literate

46.9

 Illiterate

53.1

Age

 ≤20

18.5

 21–50

30.1

 ≥51

51.4

Healing experience

 ≤20

22.0

 21–50

35.6

 ≥51

42.4

Table 5

Perceptions of local people based on gender in different age group’s preferred herbal system of treatments for curing a variety of ailments

Villages

Gender

Children (≤17) (%)

Young (18–30) (%)

Elder (31–60) (%)

Old (≥61) (%)

Chaunda

Male

27 ± 5.7

40 ± 3.0

53 ± 1.5

55 ± 2.6

Female

33 ± 7.1

42 ± 6.0

61 ± 1.4

64 ± 6.0

Daida

Male

25 ± 3.7

41 ± 3.9

51 ± 2.7

59 ± 3.5

Female

32 ± 5.0

44 ± 4.4

58 ± 2.9

66 ± 6.0

Jaiti

Male

22 ± 8.4

33 ± 5.1

40 ± 7.5

44 ± 2.5

Female

29 ± 2.5

41 ± 1.6

46 ± 1.5

50 ± 2.2

Kandae

Male

23 ± 6.3

38 ± 5.7

45 ± 1.9

52 ± 6.2

Female

30 ± 3.9

46 ± 3.7

58 ± 2.2

61 ± 2.4

Kimwadi

Male

30 ± 5.5

35 ± 6.0

50 ± 1.4

60 ± 9.0

Female

37 ± 1.8

45 ± 6.0

63 ± 1.7

68 ± 6.6

Magrown

Male

20 ± 3.8

31 ± 7.3

42 ± 2.4

48 ± 3.3

Female

26 ± 7.3

36 ± 4.6

51 ± 2.1

57 ± 5.6

Mansari

Male

21 ± 7.8

39 ± 3.3

50 ± 4.5

55 ± 1.6

Female

27 ± 3.7

45 ± 5.0

58 ± 3.1

62 ± 5.3

Massou

Male

20 ± 5.4

32 ± 3.1

54 ± 1.1

59 ± 2.8

Female

25 ± 2.3

38 ± 6.5

59 ± 2.3

66 ± 7.5

Pokhri

Male

24 ± 5.8

36 ± 3.8

40 ± 2.6

47 ± 5.5

Female

29 ± 6.4

42 ± 1.9

47 ± 2.5

54 ± 1.6

Riksal

Male

19 ± 2.5

30 ± 3.5

43 ± 5.2

50 ± 2.7

Female

22 ± 1.8

36 ± 4.6

50 ± 1.6

54 ± 4.9

Sundergoan

Male

19 ± 8.7

38 ± 8.0

52 ± 9.5

58 ± 8.2

Female

25 ± 7.1

45 ± 4.4

59 ± 1.7

64 ± 4.7

Syousal

Male

25 ± 9.6

33 ± 9.0

43 ± 4.5

49 ± 6.4

Female

31 ± 5.5

42 ± 2.7

50 ± 2.5

56 ± 3.8

Than

Male

21 ± 2.7

30 ± 7.0

50 ± 1.9

53 ± 2.9

Female

27 ± 3.5

39 ± 6.0

58 ± 1.1

61 ± 3.7

Tolnlyon

Male

26 ± 1.9

32 ± 5.1

51 ± 1.8

54 ± 7.6

Female

33 ± 9.2

43 ± 5.8

61 ± 0.9

61 ± 5.4

The dependency of local people on herbal and allopathic system of medicine was also studied. It was observed that poor families still depend more on herbal systems of treatment and preferred to visit Vaidyas for curing ailments as compared to rich and medium class families. However, for some particular diseases/ailments viz., tuberculosis, cancer, kidney stone etc., poor people visit an allopathic treatment in serious cases as they know that herbal system of treatment is time taking. While for particular diseases like fever, common cold, stomach ache, leucorrhoea, jaundice etc., rich families also depend on herbal system either due to remoteness or easy access to Vaidyas. It means the comparison of the villages is an evidence of dependency on an herbal and allopathic system of treatments and the need to promote the tradition and their values (Fig. 1). The knowledge of medicinal plants among different age groups, i.e., children (≤17) young (18–30), elder (31–60) and old (≥61) it was observed that old people (52 %) have good knowledge of medicinal plant based traditional health care system followed by elders (29 %), younger’s (16 %) whereas children have very little (3 %) knowledge. We have also assessed the indigenous knowledge of medicinal plants in different age groups and noticed that younger generation have very little knowledge as compared to the old generation because the younger generation is of the opinion that the traditional health care system is not a lucrative business in the region. Lack of interest of the younger generation, on one hand, and keeping the knowledge and information related to traditional health care system either confidential or confined only to old healers and usually the knowledge not being passed on to next generation on the other hand are the important factors leading to the gradual disappearance of the traditional knowledge (Fig. 2). People preferred to go to Vaidyas to diagnose their problem although they know some medicinal plants themselves. The methods of use of the plants vary according to the nature of the ailments. In some cases most of the plant species are not used alone but are mixed with other herbs in specific amounts. The medicines are mostly consumed in a powdered form, as the local people believe this form is considered to be more effective than any other forms like pills, tablets, etc. In the majority of the cases, a decoction of leaves, stem, fruits, and root/tuber is given to drink or rubbed on the body part to cure disease. Most of the decoctions were made just by crushing the plant parts with the help of mortar and pestle, but some were made by boiling plant parts with water, decanting of the liquid, and given to drink after cooling. Paste of some plant parts was plastered to set dislocated or fractured bones or muscular pain. Some of the ailments like headache, cuts, wounds, burns, boils and skin disease were treated through external applications.
https://static-content.springer.com/image/art%3A10.1007%2Fs10806-012-9428-5/MediaObjects/10806_2012_9428_Fig1_HTML.gif
Fig. 1

Dependency of local people on herbal and allopathic system of treatments

https://static-content.springer.com/image/art%3A10.1007%2Fs10806-012-9428-5/MediaObjects/10806_2012_9428_Fig2_HTML.gif
Fig. 2

Age wise percentage of indigenous knowledge of medicinal plants used by Vaidyas in traditional health care system

Traditional knowledge of Himalayan medicine is a good illustration of poor rural communities, fighting even incurable diseases through the traditional methods. The indigenous knowledge of medicinal plants and therapies of various local communities has been transmitted orally for centuries is now becoming extinct, due to changes in traditional culture and introduction of modern technologies (Gangwar et al. 2010). Indigenous knowledge of MAPs provides useful inputs for scientific research, being the key to identify compound or alkaloid in a plant with a pharmacological value that is ultimately destined for the international markets. Farmers need to be encouraged to grow species that have economic potential and rare to ensure sustainability in their natural habitat (Maikhuri et al. 2003; Kala 2007) and rejuvenation of traditional healthcare system in the region.

Cultivation, Conservation and Management of MAPs

Perception analysis was done for knowing the interest of farmers towards selection of MAPs on prioritized basis for cultivation. More than 40 % local farmers and some of the traders were consulted for this. Traders largely preferred the species that are easy for collection and transportation to where there is high market demand. However, farmers preferred those species which are favorable for climatic conditions and easy to cultivate with multipurpose uses. Traders showed maximum preference for Aconitum heterophyllum (75 %) while farmers’ maximum preference was Picrorhiza kurroa (79 %) for cultivation as compared to other medicinal plants in the region (Fig. 3). Participatory action research framework approach is an innovative method to promote farmers’ participation for sustainable utilization, cultivation and conservation of MAPs in their natural habitat. It is based on the realization that traditional communities and experts have different knowledge and skills that may be complementary and by working together the two groups may achieve better results than by working alone (Hoffmann et al. 2007). Participatory technology development in the context of the MAPs cultivation, conservation, and sustainable utilization refers to the selection of development and management practices for locally adapted species by farmers (Maikhuri et al. 2009; Negi et al. 2011). Local people combine their indigenous knowledge with the scientific knowledge of extension workers and research specialists with the goal of establishing balanced, multifunctional mountain landscapes that can provide local people livelihoods and environmental services downstream through MAPs (Fig. 4).
https://static-content.springer.com/image/art%3A10.1007%2Fs10806-012-9428-5/MediaObjects/10806_2012_9428_Fig3_HTML.gif
Fig. 3

Perception of local farmers and traders towards selection of medicinal and aromatic plants for organic farming in the study area

https://static-content.springer.com/image/art%3A10.1007%2Fs10806-012-9428-5/MediaObjects/10806_2012_9428_Fig4_HTML.gif
Fig. 4

Participatory approaches and action research framework for harnessing the potential of medicinal and aromatic plants in the region

Conservation of threatened medicinal and aromatic plant species requires sincere and serious attempt by stakeholders. Developing measures for cultivation to encompass activities in totality within a given time frame need identification and attention. The role of progressive farmers is very crucial in developing demonstrative organic cultivation trials and an effective long term conservation strategy, therefore, may draw upon the interest of community people and their active sharing in the program. In prospective of biodiversity conservation, domestication and organic farming through appropriate technology intervention of MAPs resources is a viable option for resource management and livelihood enhancement (Maikhuri et al. 2005; Negi et al. 2010). Domestication of such species will not only improve the economic condition of the local farmers but also help in the conservation of MAPs in their natural habitat (Phondani et al. 2011b). Therefore, organic cultivation of these species in barren and marginal lands, as per the desire of local farmers/Vaidyas will be a step forward for utilization of such species for the benefit of the poor rural communities. In the case of quality planting material, these species need to be propagated under nursery conditions using quality seeds, which will fulfill supply of seedlings to the desired farmers. Such attitudes of the farmers need to be promoted and harnessed for adoption of cultivation of these species for sustainable utilization. Marketing remains a major area of concern in the MAPs sector. Unemployment in Uttarakhand is currently an acute problem, and it is not possible for the government and public sector to provide jobs for all educated youths (Negi et al. 2011). There are presently thousands of unemployed and severely under-employed persons in the state. In this context, if educated, uneducated, and unemployed youths of this region can engage fully in the cultivation, value addition, packaging and marketing of MAPs, threat of unemployment can certainly be minimized (Maikhuri et al. 2003).

Traditional Health Care System in the Region

For millennia, human societies have been depending on plants and plant products for various remedies. In certain areas, these folk medical prescriptions are endemic and have survived through ages from one generation to the next orally. Generally, these systems of medicine depend on old people’s experiences. Indigenous systems of medicine are specially conditioned by the cultural heritage and myths. All mythological texts celebrate the Himalayan region of Uttarakhand as the land of Gods (Dev Bhumi). The Himalayan people believe that unhappiness of such local Gods is the cause of all ailments/diseases (Phondani et al. 2011a). In their medical system they use magico-religious therapies and natural therapies against ailments/diseases (Tiwari 2003; Phondani et al. 2011a). Mostly the magico-religious physicians are called Pujari (Priest), who are the mystic-priest of a village. The rural people use some native medicine but if a person does not recover from an affliction, his/her relatives approach the mystic-priest. The Pujari tells them whether the patient is under the spell of an evil spirit or has incurred the anger of the local god, or whether he/she is suffering from some sort of illness. It is generally believed that the spirit will leave the patient after performing “Puja” (some special ritual) and providing the articles demanded. Finally the Pujari puts some ash marks on patient’s forehead, which is locally called as Bhabhuti. If the Pujari says the patient is under the anger of the local God or deity, he/she recommends a magico-religious ceremony known as “Jagar” to placate the God. A crude drum (Nagara) and a metallic plate (Thali) are played, the Jagaria chants hymns, and the Dangaria (who acts as a mousier for appearance of God) begins to dance. When the dance and the music reach their climax, the patient’s household god speaks through the medium of the Dangaria about the cause of his anger and suggests solution accordingly. Everyone has to fulfill the demands of the God because failure to do so may result in serious consequences not only to the patient but also to his family. One may witness such a magico-religious ceremony in the remote villages of the Uttarakhand, even among the educated classes and all have faith on this system because large numbers of the patients are cured by it. These medical systems are psycho-somatic in nature and need to be properly researched further.

Endorsement of Traditional Health Care System

For ages, the local people have been in contact with the wild and their habitat and have sound knowledge and understanding about the various aspects of these ecosystems. It is only when there is a pressure exerted by externalities that these resources face degradation (Phondani 2010). The local people have the tradition embedded in their socio-cultural and religious fabric. These traditions are often the hallmarks of a conservation philosophy and an unquestioned respect for the nature. Traditionally, the Vaidyas have well-known the magnitude hidden in the medicinal plants (Phondani et al. 2011a). Through their legacy, they know the curative and preventive uses of these medicinal plants. As such, they have a vast knowledge base of information that can boost research and development initiatives for promoting the medicinal plants sectors. It is seen that the local traditional practices are closely guarded by their patrons and the wisdom may die away along with the death of its possessor unless the traditions are passed on (Sharma and Mujumdar 2003). Thus, there is a need for a concerted effort to document the local traditions and also to incorporate these in the management of medicinal and aromatic plants.

Categorization of Traditional Vaidyas Based on Their Healing Expertise

The inhabitants are still dependent on the traditional Vaidyas (local herbal healers) for treating disease due to isolation and relatively poor access to modern medical facilities in remote and far flung rural areas. Usually, there are two routes to become a Vaidyas; one may be trained through academy and another by traditional Vaidyas. The traditional Vaidyas are those who received therapeutic knowledge either by means of family traditions or by being trained by another Vaidyas. Being a family tradition, the herbal knowledge of traditional Vaidyas was primarily restricted to a few elders within the family. In Uttarakhand there are different categories of Vaidyas such as common Vaidyas (Physician), Pashu Vaidyas (Veterinary specialist), Nadi Vaidyas (Pulse specialist), Vish Vaidyas (Expert of poisonous diseases), Haddi Vaidyas (Bone specialist) and Pujari Vaidyas (Mystic-priest) based on their expertise in healing a particular group and nature of diseases (Phondani et al. 2011a). Although cultural precepts dictated that Vaidyas do not charge directly for services, payments were negotiated in culturally, economically as well as various other social means appropriate in the form of cereals, pulses, vegetables etc. Formerly, taking fees for any kind of treatment was highly discouraged (Kala 2005; Phondani et al. 2011a). The low cost of herbal medicine prepared by traditional Vaidyas and its unlikely income is one of the reasons that younger people are discouraged from carrying forward the Vaidyas profession. On the other hand, the cost of modern medicine is higher than the cost of indigenous herbal medicine so there is a public demand for services (Samal et al. 2004).

Formation of Vaidyas Association in Uttarakhand

There are diverse beliefs and practices among various traditional practitioners, but the aim of all is to cure ailments and maintain health (Nautiyal et al. 2000). Geographical factors have not only contributed to regional variations in such traditional therapeutic practices, but also have prevented close contacts among the various traditional healers in different parts of the country. Over the centuries, this isolation has shaped their unique art, culture and traditions of therapy. However, during recent past due to changing socio-economic and cultural scenarios, development infrastructure of modern health care centre’s and lack of interest of the younger generation in traditional practices of curing disease is gradually declining from the Himalayan region (Kala et al. 2005; Kala 2005). In view of this, a series of regional workshops and village level meetings were organized in various locations over a period of three years. A proposal from every participant comes to form an association of the Vaidyas so as to maintain their system of health care alive and revitalize it by fostering educational and professional alliances between local Vaidyas and Ayurvedic system of medicines exist in the region. The name of the formed Vaidyas association called Paramparik Gramin Chikitsak Sava (PGCS) and registered in 2009 under the registration act 21, 1,860 from government registration office Gopeshwar by a group of Vaidyas in Uttarakhand. This association also plays an active role to share the traditional knowledge and to submit the grievances of traditional medical practitioners directly to the state government, central government and international agencies, and to conserve natural medicinal plants resources on which Vaidyas system depend for curing a variety of ailments (Phondani et al. 2011a).

Research and Development Issues

The capacity building and outreach program in the area of traditional health care system, MAPs cultivation, conservation, sustainable utilization, and marketing have made a significant impact in the entire Himalayan region. It has stimulated financial institutions of the state and central government, which provided support through their various departments for training and extension of technical know-how/advice to the farmers/rural communities and has improved substantially during recent past. A few scientific institutions, district level departments, and NGO’s have incorporated this enterprise based on MAPs products locally in their action plans for wider dissemination and adoption. But due to the absence of adequate dialogue between government line agencies, researchers, and farmers including their participation in determining research priorities, has been continuing research and development institutions in the region. While governments have an important role in promoting support services, but it cannot be sustained by the government alone and for that mountain farmers, as well as the private sectors in coordination with village institutions need to play an important role. Besides, the appropriateness of policies applied for mountain people has long been questioned, as in most cases; these policies are forced upon them without their willingness (Maikhuri et al. 2009). Generally, these policies fail to take into consideration the unique features of mountains. Therefore, specific policies need to be formulated to support the implementation of the traditional health care system, MAPs cultivation, conservation, sustainable utilization and marketing that considers the needs of the people inhabited in different bioresources potential areas. Part of the solution required includes increased efficiency, effectiveness, sustainability, political determination, and commitment of the various government line agencies in pursuing the thrust in rural development and natural resource management policies in the mountain context.

Conclusion and Future Research

The traditional culture and indigenous knowledge of rural communities have faced a series of challenges in the recent past. The traditional beliefs and indigenous knowledge of the people are now being questioned by the young generations who are supposed to keep the culture and tradition alive. The causes of these problems are many and are related to ecological, economic, social, cultural, and political factors. It is seen that the traditional herbal healers are closely guarded by their patrons and the wisdom may die away along with the death of its possessor unless the traditions are passed on. Thus, there is a need for a concerted effort to promote and document the local traditions and conservation/management of medicinal plants used for a variety of purposes that assumes greater significance not just to store it, but also to keep it alive and make it available for future use because of rapid socio-economic and cultural changes that are taking place across the rural set-up of the entire Himalayan region. Finally it is concluded that the livelihood security of the Himalayan people can be improved through organic farming of medicinal and aromatic plants. In this context, participatory approach could be one method where various stakeholders come together and learn about different aspects of medicinal and aromatic plants cultivation, conservation, sustainable harvesting, processing, and marketing. Particularly, farmers get benefited through this approach as they undertake medicinal and aromatic plants cultivation as one of the alternative option for income generation. It is hoped that the scientific information and contribution of these species and their monetary benefit could improve the economic conditions of the local people and simultaneously reduce the pressure on natural habitat. The information may be helpful to the policy planners and developmental agencies working in the field of MAPs sector. Besides, raising awareness and capacity building on indigenous uses, cultivation technology, and value addition for marketing of MAPs of poor rural communities can be involved to undertake commercial cultivation. Based on the results described in the present study, the major recommendations/future researches are suggested as follows:
  • Encourage traditional herbal healers (Vaidyas) to share knowledge and train young generation, use educational materials and other information to promote their profession (practices, knowledge and identity).

  • Provide legal recognition of traditional health care system and develop appropriate training course and mechanism of training on traditional health care practices that do not affect the integrity of their knowledge and practices.

  • Develop guidelines/protocols for documentation of indigenous knowledge by developing a datasheet related to all aspects of medicinal plants use, habitat and other relevant aspects specifying participatory approach involving local community and experts.

  • Develop and incorporate traditional health care systems related curriculum in school and university level so as to create awareness and interest among the masses.

  • Integration of conservation, development, and harvesting of medicinal plants through local communities in public and private lands providing social benefits.

  • Registration and certification of traditional herbal healers, collectors, growers, and other stakeholders involved in traditional health care system to be done properly.

  • Develop laws and rules to secure community based documentation, ownership and value addition of IPRs/IKS and ensure equitable benefits sharing among the stakeholders.

  • Support research and development actions to evaluate and standardize traditional herbal medicine in order to promote their safe, effective, and affordable use.

  • Farmers need to be encouraged by providing incentives, training, and awareness on the latest developments and policies related to the medicinal plants and traditional health care system.

  • Renew the available herbal formulations by standardizing their efficacy, and to establish a Social Capital Trust for herbal practitioners in order to promote the tradition.

  • Strengthening traditional techniques of medicinal and aromatic plants cultivation through promoting cost-effective and appropriate technology that is polyhouse, nethouse, polypit, mulching, and organic farming.

  • Medicinal and aromatic plants and their organic cultivation on restored lands could be encouraged under a management action plan to increase people’s participation and improve the local economy.

  • In the Mountain region of Uttarakhand indigenous knowledge, traditional farming, socio-cultural rituals and conservation practices has enormous potential to facilitate MAPs conservation need to be promoted while formulating the policy implementation.

  • In the formulation of policy as such, the main stakeholders were never involved or even consulted about the policy formulation and planning process. Women as the dominant farmers have traditionally been the managers of germplasm and its value added products. Household women have the necessary skill, indigenous knowledge, and sharpness to utilize this opportunities, the only necessity is to evolve a community based institutional mechanism to utilize these wisdoms in policy making.

  • Create awareness related to documentation, conservation, and management through trainings, workshops, publications, school curricula, and improve understanding of communities for good quality and sustainably collected products, NGOs and Governments need to provide information to the communities/traditional Vaidyas on the future prospects of traditional health care system (THCS).

Acknowledgments

The authors are thankful to the Director, G.B. Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development for providing all kinds of institutional facilities. We are grateful to all local people, traditional herbal healers, medical doctors and experts of the study area for their immense co-operation and active participation. The authors would like to thank the anonymous reviewers of an earlier version of this paper for their helpful comments. National Medicinal Plants Board (NMPB), Government of India are also acknowledged for financial assistance.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012