Indian state Chhattisgarh is rich in biodiversity. Forests are full of medicinal herbs and these herbs are still an important part of traditional healing systems. In the state over 6,000 Traditional Healers are practicing this knowledge. Majority of this knowledge is in undocumented form. They adopt traditional diagnosis methods and besides herbs use medicinal insects, mites, spiders, mushroom and soil both internally as well as externally in treatment of common as well as complicated diseases. Most of the Healers don't earn from this knowledge. They grow crops and depend on forest for livelihood.
In general after the start of monsoon rains natives avoid to enter in dense forest. But for collection of specific herbs many times they have no alternative except to enter into forest. During such visits they always keep specific herbs with them and utilize it in case of emergency. Through Ethnobotanical surveys information on over 1000 herbs has been collected so far. The Healers of different regions use different herbs.
In order to remain free for malarial fever during this visit before start they take decoction of medicinal herb Bhui Neem (Andrographis paniculata). It is known as King of bitters. It grows as rainy season herb in forest. As preventive decoction of green leaves and as treatment of malarial fever whole herb decoction is used. This herb is also used in combination with Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum), Dauna (Artemisia sp.), Adusa (Adhatoda vasica) etc. in form of herbal tea.
It is common belief among the natives that regular use of medicinal herb Gumma (Leucas aspera) as potherb throughout rainy season protects from venomous snakes and other creatures round the year. This is the reason it is consumed preferably by the rice farmers and Healers. They claim that its regular use develops specific smell inside body that keeps the snakes at bay. The ancient literatures related to different systems of medicine in India specially Ayurveda are full of information regarding its therapeutic values. This herb is used in case of snake bite also but the Healers keep the method of use secret. In general Gumma grows as weed in field bunds and wasteland.
Many Healers prepare special food Kheer by cooking seeds of medicinal herb Chirchita (Achyranthes aspera) with different medicinal rice grains and consume it before starting for the visit. Its use suppresses appetite up to one week or more without resulting in any weakness. In Plains of Chhattisgarh the Healers use the Achyranthes seeds with another Traditional Food Sattu prepared by using flour of Gram, Wheat and Barley in different proportions. Achyranthes plant parts are also used in treatment of scorpion sting alone and in combination with other herbs. They simply smear leaf juice in hand and allow scorpions to walk on hands. In presence of leaf juice scorpions avoid to sting. Through this demonstration they show its effect as repellent. Many times its root pieces are tied in lower legs for the same purpose.
In case of injury as styptic many herbs are used. They have rich traditional knowledge regarding use of herbs easily available in surroundings. They use fresh leaves of Doobi (Cynodon dactylon) to the leaves of Ekdandi (Tridax procumbens). Tridax is used most commonly. Its use stops bleeding and helps in wound healing. Internally it is in use as medicine to heal all types of wounds.
Due to continuous exposure in rains when any one gets high fever the Healers collect Red Ants (Oecophylla smaragdina) from forest trees and in form of fine paste give it to the patient. After relief patient is advised to take bath with the decoction of these ants. In Southern part of the state, in case of high fever many times these ants are released on naked body of patient and allowed to bite. Due to the bites the temperature goes down. The modern researchers much impressed by this traditional healing practice, are conducting research to understand its mode of action. After end of fever for weakness patient is advised to take Red Velvet Mite (Trombidium grandissimum) based combinations. This mite appears on river soil for only one week just after first monsoon rains and disappears for rest of the year.
There is need for documentation of this traditional knowledge and for validation need for systematic trials so that it can be used for the world community. This knowledge is in practice on human beings since time immemorial. The natives living in forest areas are surviving in harsh conditions only with the help of this knowledge. It clearly shows the importance and practical utility of this knowledge.