Ethnomedicinal knowledge among Karens of Andaman & Nicobar Islands, India.

Research paper by M Punnam MP Chander, C C Kartick, P P Vijayachari

Indexed on: 06 Jan '15Published on: 06 Jan '15Published in: Journal of Ethnopharmacology


This study documents the use of medicinal plants by Karens of Middle Andaman, of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. In spite of the availability of modern medicines, Karens preferred herbal remedies provided by the Traditional Knowledge Practitioners (TKPs), who served as their healers. Hence, the aim of this study was to collect information from TKPs and determine the significance of plants utilized for medicinal purposes. The informant consensus factor (ICF) in relation to medicinal plants used was also estimated and analysed.Field research was conducted in three villages of Middle Andaman, inhabited by Karens, during October 2010 - February 2013. TKPs were interviewed with a questionnaire-guided ethno-medical survey protocol. The data obtained were analysed using the informant consensus factor (ICF) and use value (UV). Voucher specimens of all the cited plants were deposited at Regional Medical Research Centre (ICMR), Port Blair.Use of 78 medicinal plant species belonging to 71 genera encompassing 48 families was recorded during the survey. These plants were used to treat 38 different ailments, and divided into ten categories of use. The highest ICF value (0.79) was observed for infections and infestations. The Zingiberaceae and Fabaceae families exhibited the highest number of species, and the plants with the highest use values were Typha angustifolia L., Millingtonia hortensis L. f. and Piper betle L. The most common growth form observed were herbs (42%). Among the several plant parts used, leaves were mostly preferred for preparation of medicines. Water was the main excipient used for mixing the herbs.This study documents the use of medicinal plants by Karens of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Phytochemical and pharmacological aspects of these plants need to be studied, to confirm their efficacy and safety, and determine their potential use in modern medicine.