Rajasthan has a large population of about 5, 64, 73, 122 crore. Around 80 percent live in villages which utilizes local medicine.
The people of Rajasthan can be broadly divided into ; those living into extreme wheather condition as in Western Rajasthan and others in milder climate.
Rajasthan has rich biodiversity consisting of a large number of plants, some of which are used for their medicinal value. Although flora of Rajasthan has been compiled by Bhandari (1978) and Sharma (1976) but detailed information about their medicinal properties are lacking.
A large number of medicinally important tree species are present on Aravalli hill range and other areas including less hopitable North–West Rajasthan. An attempt was made to characterize tree species of the region and detailed pharmacognostical studies on them are in progress.
Several tribes of Rajasthan used the traditional system of medicine.
The tribals who depend on forest (mostly their surrounding vegetation) wealth are the real custodians that safeguard the medicinal plants till now. Rapid deforestation caused by over–harvesting and exploitative trade of medicinal plants has significantly reduced the availability of the medicinal plants in arid and semi–arid region of Rajasthan (Srivastva, 1977 ; Singh , 1983 ; Sinha, 1994 ; Pandi et al., 1996 and Harsha et al., 2002).
Generally, wasteland plants are called as weeds and said to be unwanted and undesirable plant species. On the contrary as suggested by ‘Ayurveda’ has said, “No plant of this world is useless”.
Knowledge about the medicinal properties of these plants is confined to tribals only. Generally the folk people are well acquainted with the medicinal properties of their surrounding vegetation particularly for their well being (Schultes, 1962 ; Jain, 1965 ; Masih, 1997 ; Sanghi and Kumar, 2000 ; Shivani and Kumar, 2000 ; Mishra and Kuamr, 2001).
Rajasthan where 80 percent of its people live in the rural areas and cannot afford to the luxury of costly modern medicine. They depend on vegetation surrounding them and make perfect uses of them for their medicinal needs. (Upadhyay, 1997). The present investigations were undertaken for collection of important medicinal plants from different regions of Rajasthan.
Material and Methods–
Detailed survey has made in all districts in Rajasthan and the information regarding use of medicine has been documented. The plants were identified by using standard monographs and flora (Sharma, 1976 and Bhandari, 1990). Ethnomedicinal information about the plants was collected on the basis of frequent interviews with graziers, shepherds and experienced old village folk.
All the plant species are deposited in Herbarium, Department of Botany, University of Rajasthan, Jaipur.
Ethnomedicinal Observations –
The present investigation provides first hand information and enumeration of some species, described along with name of their families, local names and plant parts used. Family and local names of plant species are given in parenthesis.
1. Abrus precatorius Linn : (Local name–Chirmi, Family–Fabaceae). Decoction of root is given with almonds to increase vigour and vitality. Leaves are used for various skin diseases.
2. Acacia nilotica (L.) Delile : (Local name–Babul, Family–Fabaceae). Gum of the tree is highly nutritive and is useful for pregnant mothers. Raw fruits have medicinal values in women diseases, also used in tooth paste.
3. Argemone mexicana Linn : (Local name– Pili kateli / Satayanasi, Family–Papaveraceae) : Root is used for chronic skin diseases, eye and mouth wash. Leaves for gonorrhoea, dropsy, jaundice, scabies, other skin diseases. The yellow juice is used in eye infection. The juice rubbed on the body relieves rheumatic pain. The oil from the seed is used externally for skin diseases, joint pains.
4. Azadirachta indica A. Juss : (Local name–Neem, Family–Meliaceae). The stem bark is bitter tonic, used to cure chronic fever. Bark is also used for wound.
5. Calotropis procera (Ait.) R. Br. :(Local name–Akara. Family–Asclepiadaceae). Flowers of this plant are used in piles and asthmatic problems. Latex used in tooth–ache and ringworm, and also for removing face darkness. Roots is used for spleen complaints, elephantiasis, rheumatism, protracted labour (given with black pepper). Bark is used for diaphoretic, expectorant, emetic in dysentery hempologia. Leaves are used on sores, skin disease , inflammation and rheumatic joints.
6. Datura innoxia Mill. : (Local name–Dhatura, Family–Solanaceae). The dried leaves and twigs of the plant are smoked as an antispasmodic in asthma, whooping cough, bronchitis etc.
7. Tephrosia hamiltonii Drumm. : (Local name–Sarphanko, Family–Fabaceae) Plant is used as tonic, laxatic, diuretic and deobstruent. Root and seeds are insecticidal and pesticidal. Decoction of pods used as vermifuge and to stop vomiting.
8. Tridax procumbens Linn. : (Local name–Rukhari, Family–Asteraceae). Whole plant checks bleeding when applied on cut wounds. Leaf juice is insecticidal, pesticidal, checks heamorrhage, removes stones from urinary bladder, diarrhoea, dysentery.
9. Xanthium strumarium Linn : (Local name–Aadha–Shishi, Family–Asteraceae). Seeds are used for the disease Aadha–shishi, generally known as migrene pain.
10. Zizyphus nummularia (Brum.) Wt. : (Local name–Jhari–Bor, Family–Rhamnaceae). Leaves placed on to boils and scabies fruit are used for biliousness, astringent and cooling.
The following medicinal plants are distributed in various districts of Rajasthan:–
1. Calotropis procera : This plant mainly found in Kota, Baran and Udaipur district of Rajasthan (Plate–1 A)
2. Azadirachta indica : Cosmopolitan (Plate–1 B)
3. Chlorophytum tuberosum : This plant mainly found in Udaipur, Chittaurgarh, Banswara, Dungarpur, Baran district of Rajasthan (Plate–1 C)
4. Asparagus racemosus : Cosmopolitan (Plate–1D)
Table–1 Showing the distribution of medicinal plants in various districts of Rajasthan.
1. Aloe vera Jaisalmer, Barmer, Jodhpur, Nagaur, Jhunjhunu, Churu.
2. Chlorophytum Udaipur, Chittaurgarh, Banswara, Dungarpur, Baran.
3. Ocimum sanctum Cosmopolitan.
4. Madhuca longifolia Kota, Bundi, Jhalawar.
5. Azadirachta indica Cosmopolitan.
6. Tecomella undulata Udaipur, Sirohi, Pali
7. Calotropis procera Kota, Baran, Udaipur
8. Citrus maxima Jaipur, Sikar, Alwar, Ajmer, Bharatpur, Sawaimadhopur, Karauli, Dhaulpur, Tonk
9. Acacia catechu Cosmopolitan
10. Ricinus communis Udaipur, Bhilwara, Chittaurgarh, Jaipur, Kota, Baran,
11. Asparagus racemosus Cosmopolitan.