Assessment of Climate Change Impacts and its Implications on Medicinal Plants-Based Traditional Healthcare System in Central Himalaya, India

Abstract

Medicinal plant-based healthcare system practiced by the traditional herbal healers (Vaidyas) plays a significant role in curing ailments. Phenology of many medicinal plants is altered due to changes in climatic variability. Studies towards possible effects of climate change on medicinal plants are particularly significant in the traditional healthcare system. The present study emphasizes that persistence of climatic variability will change the habitat and population of medicinal plants in the Himalayan region. There are indications that climate change is causing noticeable effects on life cycle and distribution of valuable medicinal plant resources. The perception of Vaidyas about medicinal plants has been documented to understand the impact of climate change on phenophases of medicinal plants and their effect on the traditional healthcare. The study reported 15 high-value medicinal plants which are used by the local people for curing various ailments. These medicinal plants are collected by Vaidyas from wild in appropriate time for their effective results following traditional, religious, and spiritual values. However, due to changes in the phenophases of these species, Vaidyas have also slightly changed the collection period which is against their tradition. The traditional healers have identified some other plant species as substitute of those plants which were used earlier for curing the same ailments so as to cope with the changes of phenophases of medicinal plants on health care systems. The present study is an attempt to generate unique information on the impacts of climate change on phenophases of medicinal plants and their effect on existing traditional healthcare system.

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Acknowledgements

The authors are thankful to Dr. P.P. Dhyani, Director, G.B. Pant National Institute of Himalayan Environment and Sustainable Development, Kosi-Katarmal Almora for providing facilities. We are grateful to all the traditional herbal healers, local people and experts for sharing their experience and active participation in this study. The authors would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their valuable remarks/suggestions. The authors also thankful to the National Medicinal Plants Board (NMPB) Delhi, Government of India and National Mission Program of Herbal Research and Development Institute (HRDI-SMPB) Government of Uttarakhand for financial support.

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Maikhuri, R.K., Phondani, P.C., Dhyani, D. et al. Assessment of Climate Change Impacts and its Implications on Medicinal Plants-Based Traditional Healthcare System in Central Himalaya, India. Iran J Sci Technol Trans Sci 42, 1827–1835 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40995-017-0354-2

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Keywords

  • Phenology of medicinal plants
  • Climate change
  • Indigenous knowledge
  • Traditional healthcare system
  • Central Himalaya