The Medicinal Marvel: Unlocking the Medicinal Value of Madhya Pradesh's Forests

The Medicinal Marvel: Unlocking the Medicinal Value of Madhya Pradesh's Forests

Madhya Pradesh (MP), a central state of India, boasts an extensive and diverse forest cover that constitutes an ecological treasure trove. This rich ecosystem is home to a wealth of medicinal plants and herbs. Importantly, the medicinal properties of these plants and herbs have been well-identified and practiced for the treatment of various diseases by tribal people residing in the dense forest villages of MP. Beyond their immense cultural and traditional value, these forests also make substantial contributions to modern medicine, pharmaceuticals and ayurveda.

Commonly recognized medicinal herbs, such as Tulsi, Aloe Vera, Ashwagandha, Giloy, and Brahmi, coexist with endangered herbs that are rarely found, all within the forests of MP. As such, MP is home to over 4,000 plant species, out of which approximately 300 possess disease diagnostic properties. Furthermore, to underscore the vital role of tribal communities in traditional healing practices, they have a long history of utilizing these medicinal plants. Their knowledge has been passed down through the generations, preserving the rich cultural heritage of the region, exemplified by the Satpuda and Vindhya forests.

These herbs serve as essential ingredients in Ayurvedic formulations, providing natural and holistic healthcare solutions. The abundant collection of medicinal plants and herbs holds not only cultural and ecological importance but also significant economic potential. Particularly in rural areas, the cultivation and collection of medicinal plants offer livelihood opportunities to many villagers.

Herbal Industry in MP

MP’s forests make a significant contribution to the pharmaceutical and Ayurvedic medicine industry. For instance, herbs like Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Giloy (Tinospora cordifolia), and Triphala, a combination of three fruits (Amla, Haritaki, and Bibhitaki), are essential components of Ayurvedic formulations and dietary supplements. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a heightened global demand for herbal and alternative medicines to boost immunity, there is substantial potential for exporting medicinal plants and products. Consequently, the forest-based herbal market is experiencing remarkable growth, and MP’s Forest resources can play a pivotal role in meeting this increasing demand.

MP’s forests can serve as engines of economic growth, offering employment opportunities and supporting herbal-based industries. A recent study has revealed that 102 woody plant species with medicinal properties are used by the tribal communities residing in the Satpura Hills in the Barwani district. Additionally, major tribes like the Gond, Bharia, and Korku in Chhindwara, Betul, Hosangabad, and Seoni districts use 91 medicinal plants for the treatment of various diseases.

Some of the significant medicinal plants include Bael (Aegle marmelos), Neem (Azadirachta indica) , Annatto (Bixa orellana), Palash (Butea monosperma),  Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus), Satyanashi (Argemone mexicana) Chironji (Buchanania lanzan), Aloe Vera (Aloe barbadensis), Sweet Flag (Acorus calamus), Sickle Senna (Cassia tora ), Golden Eye-Grass (Curculigo orchioides), Turmeric (Curcuma longa), False Black Pepper (Embelia ribes), Mango (Mangifera indica), and Golden Shower Tree (Cassia fistula). These plants are used in various forms, such as whole plants or plant parts like leaves, stems, barks, roots, flowers, fruits, seeds, and wood, for the treatment of various illnesses.

Conservation of forest herbals

The necessity of conserving forests for their medicinal properties and ensuring their sustainable use is a matter of utmost importance. Forest has invaluable resources, providing not only natural remedies but also economic benefits. Therefore, conservation of forest is not just a matter of ecological preservation but a commitment to holistic healthcare and economic prosperity.

MP has recognized the significance of conserving its forest resources and promoting their sustainable management. MP forest department has identified specific areas for conserving and propagating endangered or rare medicinal plant species. In the recent reports, there is documentation on thrust areas where the state government, central government, forest research institutions and NGOs are collaboratively working in studying the medicinal plants and herbs found in forest of MP. These thrust areas aim to protect the biodiversity of medicinal plants.

Local communities, particularly tribal people, are culturally trained for protection and conservation medicinal plant resources within the forests. Their importance in the context of medicinal value is undeniable. Their rich biodiversity and traditional knowledge have been contributing to natural, sustainable healthcare solutions. Several initiatives have to be taken to empower local communities and ensure their economic growth to improve their standard of living.

“MP forests are not just lush green landscapes but also living pharmacies, holding the secrets to health and wellness!

Proposing Herbal Garden at SAGE University Bhopal

School of Agriculture, SAGE University, Bhopal wishes to establish an herbal garden which will hold tremendous potential benefits for not only students of Agriculture but pharmacy and nursing as well. This living educational institute will offer practical knowledge about herbs, plant life and demonstrate medicinal properties along with nomenclature. Moreover, the herbal garden may provide a platform for research and experimentation in some extent, fostering scientific investigation on traditional herbal practices of MP state. The herbal garden can fulfil objectives of herbal biodiversity conservation to nurture a sense of herbal collection, identification and application.

Dr. Kamlesh Golhani 
Assistant Professor Agrotechnology
School of Agriculture, SAGE University, Bhopal 

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