Medicinal Plants Used by the Nicobarese Inhabiting Little Nicobar Island of the Andaman and Nicobar Archipelago, India.

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

Indexed on: 03 Jul '15Published on: 03 Jul '15Published in: Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (New York, N.Y.)


This study is an attempt to document the medicinal plants used by the tribal community of Little Nicobar Island. Despite modern healthcare facilities, tribals often consume medicinal herbs, with traditional knowledge practitioners (TKPs) serving as local medical experts.The aim is to conduct an ethnomedicinal survey among the Nicobarese, whose medicinal practices are yet to be documented.Field research was conducted in all five villages of Little Nicobar Island, situated in the southernmost part of the Andaman and Nicobar Archipelago, during 2012-2013. Seven TKPs were interviewed using a questionnaire-guided ethnomedicinal survey protocol. The data obtained were analyzed using the informant consensus factor (ICF) and use value. Voucher specimens of all the cited plant species were deposited at the Regional Medical Research Centre (Indian Council of Medical Research), Port Blair.Uses of 34 medicinal plant species, belonging to 23 families encompassing 32 genera, were recorded during the survey. These 34 species are employed to treat a total of 16 ailments. The highest ICF (1.00) was obtained for respiratory diseases. The Euphorbiaceae family exhibited the highest number of citations, and plants with the highest use values were Glochidion calocarpum Kurz, Senna occidentalis (L.) Link, Ocimum tenuiflorum L., and Passiflora suberosa L. Of the medicinal plants reported, the most common growth form was herbs. Remedies were generally prepared using water. The medicinal plant preparations were administered topically or orally.Traditional knowledge of herbal medicines is handed down orally through generations. These plants attained a significant role under the healthcare of the Nicobarese residing in Little Nicobar Island. Efforts to ensure their documentation are necessary in order to prevent its loss, either because of natural calamities or lack of interest among younger generations in carrying out their tradition.