Indigenous knowledge of Tribal Medicinal Practices in Pachmarhi ; Madhya Pradesh : an Anthropo-Pharmaceutical Approach

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Dr. Somnath Chakraverty*

Former Seniormost Faculty & Professor; Department of Anthropology; B.E.C. C.U Kolkata.Project Director, The Asiatic Society.


*Address of correspondence:





The indigenous collective knowledge on community health and ethno-medicinal practices had evolved and refined through trial and error method spontaneously experienced for generations as also shared within a community. The uncertainty in curing diseases has traditionally integrated the essential elements of science with supernatural beliefs, interpretations and performances.


In this multidisciplinary model of approach, the traditional health practices and ethno-medicinal system accessible in a particular locality, rather within a distinct topo-cultural area is explored for understanding varied facts of common ethno-medicinal practices. The study includes the system of transmission of the indigenous knowledge in synchronic and diachronic dimensions, on potential resources and its process of mobilization.


Pachmarhi is topographically almost isolated, virgin forestland within Mahadeo hill ranges. The indigenous tribal communities inhabiting there include Korku, Gonds and Baiga etc. Some common natural resources of tribal medicines are selected species of plants, minerals and honey. Some essential forest resources and ingredients for ethno-medicines are selected for laboratory – based pharmacological analyses. The chemical compositions, material content of components and toxicological properties of selected materials are identified that are further compared with local traditional knowledge-base. The potentialities of such elements are discussed for medicinal implications and for further use in therapeutic benefits.


Several other ethical issues on –  patents ensuring the benefit of tribal groups are also attempted as a collaborative approach in the ever-expanding field of Applied Anthropology. It is also recommended that the scholars from the field of physical or biological anthropology are competent to become engaged in clinical trials of such herbal medicines. For experimental application of medicine on human volunteers, study on behaviour and habits of individuals and corresponding psycho-somatic observations are essential. The anthropological background of field workers will definitely be more beneficial for identifying a suitable drug delivery system and other achievements to develop a more competent, ideal therapeutic measure without causing any toxicity and minimum side effect to the patients.


Keywords: Indigenous Knowledge, Anthropo-Pharmaceutical Approach, Herbal Medicine, Tribal Medicine

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