Medicinal Potential of Six Different Plant Species of Dehradun District, Uttarakhand

 

Rahul Vikram Singh*, Prabhakar Semwal and Taranjeet Kapoor

Department of Biotechnology, Graphic Era University, 566/6, Bell Road, Clement Town, Ehradun, Uttarakhand, India -248002

*Corresponding Author E-mail: rahul.negi121@gmail.com

 

ABSTRACT:

Medicinal plants play a fundamental role in traditional medicine. In India, the use of plants as medicines predates written human history.  Ethnobotany (the study of traditional people uses of plants) is recognized as an effective way to discover future medicines with low cost and low side effects. Our finding focuses documentation of some medicinal plants (Aegle marmelos L.(Beal), Saraca asoca, Syzygium cumini (Jamun), Ginkgo biloba, Camellia sinensis (Green tea) and Withania somnifera (Aswagandha) which have used in our traditional folk medicine and these species has some other medicinal property which is promising for researcher for the future. There are still various medicinal plant species that need to be examined for their medicinal potential. These approaches hold promise for treatment of several disease.

 

KEYWORDS: Traditional medicine, Ethnobotany, Aegle marmelos, Saraca asoca, Syzygium cumini, Ginkgo biloba

 


INTRODUCTION:

Nature has bestowed upon us a very rich botanical wealth and a large number of diverse types of plants grow wild in different parts of our country. In India, herbal medicines have been the basis of treatment and cure for various diseases physiological conditions in traditional methods practiced such as Ayurveda, Unani and Siddha.[1] Nature is the best combinatorial chemist and possibly has answers to all diseases of mankind. Failure of some synthetic drugs and its side effects have prompted many researches to go back to ancient healing methods which use herbal medicines to give relief. Many of the thousands of plant species growing throughout the world have a direct pharmacological action on the body. Herbal treatment is a natural form of healing or alternative therapy where herbs and plants are used in the form of extracts, pills, syrup or powder to cure ailments or diseases of human beings and in some cases animals too.

 

The use of herbs to treat disease is almost universal among non-industrialized societies, and is often more affordable than purchasing expensive modern pharmaceuticals.

 

The World health organization (WHO) estimates that 80 percent of the population of some Asian and African countries presently uses herbal medicine for some aspect of primary health care. Studies in the United States and Europe have shown that their use is less common in clinical settings, but has become increasingly more in recent years as scientific evidence about the effectiveness of herbal medicine has become more widely available.

 

Dehradun is a district in the state of Uttarakhand, situated between latitudes 29 ° 58' N and 31° 2' N and longitudes 77° 34' E and 78° 18' E.  The district contains RAJA JI NATIONAL PARK which is home to several elephants. The Doon valley has the Terai and Bhabar forests within it as well as the Shiwalik hills and Lesser Himalayan Range containing hill stations such as Mussoorie and Chakrata.  This district is divided into two major parts: the main city Dehradun surrounded by Shivalik and the Himalayas, and Jaunsar Bavar, which is in the foothills of Himalayas. In the north and northwest it borders on the district of Uttarakashi and in the east by Tehri and Pauri. In the west, it is bordered by Sirmaur district of Himanchal Pradesh and the Tons and Yamuna rivers.  To the south are Haridwar and Uttar Pradesh’s Saharanpur district.

 

Uttarakhand is the very rich in the forest diversity, it is also known as Aayus Pradesh (Herbal State). The climate of Dehradun is generally temperate, although it varies from tropical: from hot in summers to severely cold, depending upon the season and the altitude. The nearby hilly regions often get snowfall during winter. Although the temperature in Dehradun can reach below freezing during severe cold waves. Agriculture benefits from fertile alluvial soil, adequate drainage and plentiful rain.   Mountain areas are also used for agriculture. Dehradun is known internationally for its variety of Basmati rice and Leeches.

 

Aegle . Aegle marmelos (Linn.) / (Bael)Taxonomy

Kingdom

Plantae

Class

Mgnoliopsida

Order

Sapindales

Family

Rutaceae

Genus

Aegle

Species

Aegle marmelos 

Hindi Name

Bael

 

Figure- 1. Aegle marmelos

 

Bael, a sacred tree of India belongs to Rutaceae, family commonly known as bael/ bilva (Hindi) and golden apple (English).  Bael is a medium sized, armed, deciduous tree; it is found throughout India and is known from pre-historic time. Aegle marmelos have been used from time immemorial in traditional systems of medicine for relieving constipation, diarrhoea, dysentery, peptic ulcer and respiratory infections. [2] Several studies on different parts of Aegle marmelos showed that the plant possesses antidiarrhoeal,[3]  antidiabetic [4] anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, analgesic,[5] anticancer,[6] radioprotective,[7]   and antimicrobial activities [8,9]  It is a good source of vitamin C and proteins. [10] All parts of this tree, viz. root, leaf, trunk, fruit and seed are useful in several ailments. The root is an important ingredient of the 'Dasmula' (ten roots) recipe. [11]

 

Bilva tree is held sacred by Hindus and offered with prayers to deities Lord Shiva and Parvati and thus the tree is also known by the name Shivaduma (the tree of Shiva). Hindus also believe that goddess Lakshmi resides in Bael leaves. It is therefore widely cultivated and commonly found in the vicinity of temples.

 

Story behind the birth of bilva tree is.

Lakshmyaascha stana utpannam, Mahaadeva sadaa priyam.

Bilva vriksham prayachchhaami, eka bilvam Shivaarpanam..

Darshanam bilva vrikshasya, sparshanam paapanaashanam.

Aghorapaapasamhaaram, eka bilvam shivarpanam..”

(Born from the breasts of Goddess Lakshmi, the Bilva tree is ever dear to Mahadeva. So I ask this tree to offer a Bilva leaf to Lord Shiva.  To have darshan of the Bilva tree, and to touch it, frees one from sin.  The most terrible karma is destroyed when a Bilva leaf is offered to Lord Shiva. Adapted from Bilva Shtakam)

 

The fruit of A. marmelos possess high nutritional value. The fruit is used to make juice, jam, sirup, jelly, toffee and other products. The pulp is reported to contain water, sugars, protein, fiber, fat, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, Iron, minerals and vitamins (Vitamin A, Vitamin B1, Vitamin C and Riboflavin). The leaves and the shoot of the plant are used as green vegetable in Indonesia. [12, 13]  It shows antidiabetic activity, anti proliferative activity, cytoprotective effect, hepatoprotective effect, antifertility effect, insect controlling properties, analgesic activity, antiarthritis activity.[14] A study was done to evaluate the anti-fertility potential of Aegle marmelos. [15] Antimicrobial, antibacterial and anti parasitic. [16] Anti cancer, [17] anti malaria, [18]  hepatoproctective, [19]  and cardioprotective [20]  potentials.

 

2.     Saraca asoka /(Ashoka) Taxonomy

Kingdom

Plantae

Class

Mgnoliopsida

Order

Fabales

Family

Caesalpinaceae

Genus

Saraca

Species

Saraca asoca

Hindi Name

Ashoka

 

Figure-2. Saraca asoka

 

Ashoka is the most ancient tree of India, generally known as “Ashok briksh”, botanist known as Saraca asoca (Roxb.), De.wild.  It is a multipurpose tree species in agriculture and ethno pharmacology.  The tree is used as folk medicine for the treatment of various diseases. Saraca asoca is highly regarded as a universal panacea in the ayurvedic medicine. It is one of the universal plant having medicinal activities. This versatile plant is the source of various types of compounds. In the present scenario many plants are used to treat many diseases. But Ashoka is ancient and reliable source of medicine so Ashoka is used in many pharmacological activities like anti cancer, anti hemorrhagic, anti oxytoxic, anti – microbial activity and have extend the uses in ayurveda, unani and homeopathy. It has many uses like to treat skin infections, CNS function, genitor-urinary functions .As the global scenario is now changing towards the use of nontoxic plant product having a traditional medicine use, development of modern drug from Saraca asoca should be emphasized for the control of various diseases (Pradhan, 2009). But scientific information of these medicinal plants and side effects is however lacking.

 

Ashoka tree has been mentioned in some of the oldest Indian literature apart from Ayurveda. This tree can be found all over the Indian subcontinent. Across India, Ashoka tree is believed to be sacred and apart from Ramayana, Ashoka tree is mentioned in Buddhism and Jainism as well. Charaka Samhita which is believed to have been composed in 1000 BC describes about Ashoka tree and its medicinal benefits.  The stem bark is chiefly used in medicines and it has been reported to contain chemicals such as glycoside, flavanoids, tannins, saponins, alkanes, esters and primary alcohols. The alcoholic extracts present in the bark have showon on a significant action against a wide range of bacteria.

 

3.     Syzygium cumini L. /(Jamun) Taxonomy

Kingdom

Plantae

Class

Magnoliopsida

Order

Myrtales

Family

Myrtaceae

Genus

Syzgium

Species

Syzgium cumini

Hindi Name

Jamun

 

Figure-3. Syzygium cumini

 

Syzygium cumini L. also known as Jamun is an important member of this family widely distributed all over the Indian sub-continent. The fruits and seeds of S. cumini have been to treat diabetes mellitus for several centuries in folklore medicine of south Asia. The seeds are used as astringent and diuretic. They have Hypoglycaemic, anti inflammatory, antipyretic, psycho pharmacological, hypolipidaemic, antioxidant and anticancer activity. [22]

 

The seed is also used in various alternative healing systems like Ayurveda, Unani and Chinese medicines for digestive aliments. The leaves and bark are used for controlling blood pressure and gingivitis, its fruit also used for wine and vinegar preparation. It contains a high source of vitamin A and C. The leaves have served as fodder for livestock and as food for tassar silkworms in India. Jamun shoots used in Zanzibar and Pemba, for cleaning their teeth. Its essential oil is used for the preparation of soap and perfume.  The folkloric use of this species to treat infectious disease and investigate antimicrobial potential against Gram positive and Gram negative bacteria.[23]  Kannabiran kavitha 2011, reported its preliminary phytochemical screening, anthelmintic activity of methanoloic and water extract of S. cumini bark. [24] 

 

4.     Ginkgo biloba / (Ginkgo) Taxonomy

Kingdom

Plantae

Class

Ginkgoopsida

Order

Ginkgoales

Family

Ginkgoacece

Genus

Ginkgo

Species

Ginkgo biloba

Hindi Name

Ginkgo

 

 

Figure-4. Ginkgo biloba

 

Ginkgo biloba L. attracts considerable attention as an ornamental tree and as a source of numerous chemical substances with pharmacological properties termed ginkgolides. Since its sexual reproduction shows some difficulties such as dioecy of species and low germinability of its seeds, which are recalcitrant and not able to maintain germinability for a long time. [25]

 

Ginkgo biloba is one of the oldest living fossil tree species and its leaves are among the most extensively studied herbs in use today. In Europe and the United States, ginkgo supplements are among the best-selling herbal medications. It consistently ranks as a top medicine prescribed in France and Germany.  Ginkgo has been used in traditional medicine to treat blood disorders and enhance memory. Scientific studies throughout the years have found evidence that supports these claims. Although not all studies agree, Ginkgo may be helping treat dementia (including Alzheimer's disease) and intermittent claudication, or poor circulation in the legs. It also shows promise for enhancing memory in older adults. Laboratory studies have shown that ginkgo improves blood circulation by dilating blood vessels and reducing the stickiness of blood platelets.  It contains mainly Ginkgolides A, B and other secondary metabolites. 

 

Ginkgo biloba leaves have been used for the treatment of respiratory system disease for hundreds of years in China.  In recent, pharmacological action of EGb 761, standardizes extract of Ginkgo biloba leaves, were widely studied for cognitive deficits and memory enhancer. [26, 27, 28]  It improves cerebral circulation, it works by increasing blood flow throughout the body, so increase the efficiency of brain. [29]   Ginkgo biloba extract and its effect on synaptic plasticity, age related effects and induced enhancement of special learning and memory. [30]

 

5.     Camellia sinensis / (Green tea) Taxonomy:

Kingdom

Plantae

Class

Magnoliopsida

Order

Theales

Family    

Theaceae

Genus     

Camellia

Species

Camellia sinensis (L.)

Hindi Name

Green tea

 

Figure-5. Camellia sinensis

 

Tea (Camellia sinensis) is consumed worldwide and is second to water in its popularity as a beverage and has ascribed many health benefits such as reduction in cholesterol and protection against cardiovascular disease. [31] Most important active components present in green tea are alkaloid, flavonoids, steroids and terpinoids, which is responsible for its medicinal properties.  Green tea is generally safe, nontoxic and has no side effects after consumption. [32] It shows strong antioxidant properties due to phenolic compounds.  Green tea generally is used for different purposes like, edible, medicinal, dye essential oil, and perfumes. [33] 

 

It also contains a variety of enzymes, amino acids, carbohydrates, lipids, steroids, vitamins, caffeine etc.

 

About the history of green tea discovery, a book written by Lu Yu and is called the “Tea Classic” or Cha Jing”.  It was written between 600 to 900 AD, writer says how and where one could enjoy a fine cup of green tea.[34]  Last few decades green tea has been subjected to many scientific and medical studies to determine the extent of its long-purported health benefits, with some evidence suggesting that regular green tea drinkers may have a lower risk of developing heart disease and certain types of cancer. [35, 36] It improves concentration and idea production. It contains caffeine, theanine and theophylline which act as a C.N.S. stimulant and also reduce stress and anxiety condition. [37] 

Green tea has been shown to possess physiological and pharmacological effects. [38, 39]   It shows effectiveness in skin damages, oral health, helps combat obesity, good vision, prevent hair loss, antibacterial activity, effective in renal failures, protects against cardiovascular diseases, antiviral potentials, therapeutic potential against Parkinson’s and Alzheimer disease and anticarcinogenic activity  etc. [40] 

 

6.     Withania somnifera / (Aswagandha) Taxonomy

Kingdom

Plantae

Class

Dicotiledoneae

Order

Tubiflorae

Family    

Solanaceae

Genus     

Withania

Species

Withania somnifera

Hindi Name

Aswagandha

 

Figure-6. Withania somnifera

 

Withania somnifera is an important medicinal plant, a small, woody shrub 60–200 cm high, in the Solanaceae family, which is described under many common names such as Ginseng and Ashwagandha. It can be found growing in Africa, the Mediterranean, and India. The roots are the main portions of the plant used therapeutically. [41, 42]  Withanolides are the major active constituents of Withania somnifera that are isolated from its root and leaves. Recently, the plant was investigated to be effective against treatment of some bacterial infection and tested for serious antibacterial properties. [43, 44]

 

It has been reported that all of the major parts of Aswagandha such as the roots, fruits and leaves provide potential benefits for human health because of their high content of polyphenols and antioxidant activities. [46] Withania somnifera proved beneficiary in the prevention and treatment of many stress induced diseases like arteriosclerosis, premature ageing, arthritis, diabetes, hypertension and malignancy. [47, 48, 49]  The herb is also traditionally used to treat inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis. Nicotine is reported to be present in Withania somnifera root. The presence of nicotine may explain the reputed activity of Withania somnifera in Ayurvedic medicine, considering that nicotine has been associated with cognitive enhancement and protection against AD development. [50, 51]  There have been numerous studies regarding the cognitive enhancing activities of Withania somnifera.  Its regular use helps in increasing the sense of well being and enhances sexual performance.

 

Values of Medicinal Plants in folk Medicinal as well as Modern:

In ancient times, people used the gifts of nature found in their surrounding environments to treat their illnesses. Medicinal plants were of great significance, and the utilization of various plants in folk medicine has a very long history. As far back as 3000 BCE, herbs such as poppy, rhubarb, ginseng, etc., were well known. Hippocrates listed around 200 different medicinal herbs. In the first century, Dioscorides described about 400 medicinal plants, and the Avesta, the holy book of the Zoroastrians, included a thousand plants. In the eleventh century, Al-Beruni and Avicenna, two great scholars of Central Asia, made important contributions to the science of medicinal plants. Al-Beruni conceived a new area of science concerning medicinal herbs, now called pharmacognosy, and classified and described numerous plant species. In the year 1025, Avicenna gave the world The Canon of Medicine, where he described the herbs that were most widely researched and used in medical practice of the time. For the last few years, contributions of traditional medicine to modern medicine have begun to see the respect that should be shown to them. And even “products derived from traditional knowledge have benefited the pharmaceutical companies greatly and indigenous knowledge of plants has played a significant role. These companies are interested because of the cost of screening. Out of 10 000 molecules only one will emerge as a new drug” Therefore traditional medical data is very important for modern pharmaceutical companies. Because the discovery of a new drug, in addition to its research cost, also requires a fairly long-term research. Traditional knowledge facilitates this long and laborious process.

 

CONCLUSION:

Although scientific reports has been proved that these species have much more medicinal potential to cure the several diseases, but there is some region which is untouched like Alzheimer diseases, anticancer,  antiallergic etc. On the other-hand some of them species being endangered (Aswagandha, Ginkgo) due to habitat degradation and over exploration/anthropogenic activities, which seems to be a critical issue. There is a need to continue conservation of these medicinal plants. Documentation of the uses of these plant species may draw the attention of the researchers to conserve these plants. This article might be helpful for future references on the species grown in Dehradun District.

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:

The author’s thanks full to Graphic Era University Dehradun for technical support and lab facilities.

 

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Received on 07.07.2014          Accepted on 02.08.2014        

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Asian J. Res. Pharm. Sci. 4(3): July-Sept. 2014; Page 134-139