Immerse In The Wealth Of Medicinal Herbs From The Jungles Of Madhya Pradesh


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Healing Herbs Madhya Pradesh

By Outlook Traveller


Madhya Pradesh's rich forests contain a wealth of medicinal herbs that heal and strengthen the human system

Nature is endlessly bountiful, and humanity simply cannot count the ways. From the water we drink to the food we eat... everything comes from Mother Earth. The planet provides us with everything one would need for a rich and fulfilling life. Including the means to restore health. For millennia, civilizations across the globe relied on nature-based healing. From Sumerians to the Greeks, from Chinese herbal traditions to the hallowed, ancient systems of India, the magic of herbs has always nurtured well-being.

Healing Herbs, Madhya Pradesh

The land of Bharat has produced wonderful systems such as Ayurveda and Siddha - and Madhya Pradesh is particularly blessed in its fertile generosity. Among Indian states, the state has the highest forest cover by area: 95,000 sq km which is about 31% of its total area. It has as many as 11 agro-climatic zones within its borders, explaining the astounding range of soil and climatic conditions. Which also makes it home to a wide array of tropical medicinal herbs.

The Forest that Gives

Foraging is a way of life with forest dwellers. It is fascinating to see the gatherers in action as they set out to pick medicinal supplies. Leaves, shoots, seeds, fruit, bark, root... the medicine could lie in anything. But essential is the knowledge of what to take and what not to take. The fruit may be full of vitamins and antioxidants but the leaf could be toxic! Some shoots are at their best tender, some bark is to be collected old. Deep familiarity with the forests and its many gifts is learned over years, by observing elders and listening to their lore. A generational knowledge handed down through centuries.

Healing Herbs, Madhya Pradesh

The Mahua tree has pride of place among the tribal communities of Central India. Every part of this 'Tree of Life' is used in various ways. As food, alcoholic drink, medicine, animal fodder and even fuel.

Healing Herbs, Madhya Pradesh

Then there is Neem. Used socially and culturally in a myriad ways, this beautiful tree, with its bitter leaves, thrives on sunlight and is considered the solution to several ills. So also the tart fruit of amla or gooseberry. Cold? Amla. Digestive aid? Amla. Inflammation? Yes, amla.

Healing Herbs, Madhya Pradesh

The system of Ayurveda has a range of concoctions for various conditions, but at the forefront is a particular combination called Triphala. A mixture of three fruits - the afore-mentioned Amalaki as well as Bibhitaki and Haritaki - this is a Rasayanic or rejuvenative formula consisting of equal parts of the three myrobalans taken without seed. So fabled and wide-ranging are the benefits of Triphala that it is said: No mother? Do not worry, as long as you have Triphala.

Another product that is ubiquitous in the forests of Madhya Pradesh is the Tendu tree. The leaves are big business, as they are used to roll beedis but its fruit, the Persimmon, is a star in its own right. It is believed to be anti-inflammatory and an aid in the control of diabetes; its bark and roots are used in herbal medicine too.

Each plant and shrub has a story in these parts. Luckily, they are being heard.

The Information

The extraction of medicine from plant sources is an old art but is now being addressed with superior technology and quality control. The Minor Forest Produce Processing And Research Centre (MFP-PARC) in Bhopal undertakes to deliver a range of products benefitting local communities as well as markets.

In various places, rich floral diversity is also enshrined in sacred groves, which have been devotedly preserved by forest-dwelling communities. Alirajpur, in southwest Madhya Pradesh, is particularly famous for sheltering rare, endangered and threatened species of plants. About 144 plants belonging to 57 families and 134 genera have been identified here. 

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