Himalaya is the “treasure house” of natural wealth, particularly of medicinal herbs, which take a lion's share in the rich materia medica of Ayurveda.
Many famous herbal drugs of today would have gone in for wider usage decades ago, if folklore and tradition about them had been taken more seriously, since the properties of many of these plants were known in some form or the other to the primitive man. The study of the intrinsic relationship of the homosapien to plants, form the subject matter of Ethnobotany; if one goes through carefully the science of Ayurveda, in one perspective, one would find exactly a similar relationship between man and medicinal plants.
The urge and need to find out a broad based, inexpensive and alternate health care system and the intensive search for nutritional supplements have kindled an interest and promoted studies on traditional medicinal plants in several underdeveloped countries of the world. It is a well known fact that in all the programmes like Medico-botanical surveys, identification, cultivation of medicinal herbs, parmacognostic, Phytochemical, pharmacological, toxicological and chemical studies of herbs the mein thrust is the identification of a therapeutically effective drug. The efficiency of Indian medical plants particularly of those growing in temperate and alpine Himalayas is fairly well known. Ayurveda has included in its materia more than three thousand vegetable drugs and quite a large number of them are found in the Himalayas.”
It is essential also to compile the regional medicinal plant flora of areas where there is a severe threat to natural vegetation owing to human inhabitation. In that sense, knowledge of the flora of medicinal herbs in Garhwal regions is also equally important. Several Indian and European experts have conducted botanical surveys in this region and more intensive work was carried out by the B.S.I., F.R.I., Dehradun and N.B.R.I., Lucknow. But these surveys have not been particularly directed towards medicinal plants used in Ayurveda.
This book is an extremely useful addition giving a concise account of the plants of medicinal importance found in Garhwal region. The region includes five hill districts of Uttar Pradesh viz. Dehradun, Tehri Garhwal, Pauri Garhwal, Uttarkashi, Chamoli. Gangotri, Yamnotary, Badrinath, Kedarnath and other centres of pilgrimage situated in this region have always been the symbols of the culture and traditions of India. This area of several thousand sq. miles, has from the time immemorial, lent glory and dignity to the image of India.
During the appointment of Dr. M.R. Uniyal in the survey of Medicinal Plants Unit (Ministry of Health) at Hardwar (U.P) he has intensively and extensively surveyed the Shhivalik Hills and Garhwal Himalayas for about eight years from 1962 to 1969. Thereafter, at Regional Research Centre (Ay.), Joginder Nagar (Himachal Pradesh) he utilized his talents in 'exploration of medicinal Ilura of Himachal Pradesh covering Lahul-Spiti, Kinnaur, Kulu-Mandi, Kangra, Chamba, Mandi, Unna and Hamirpur etc. From the year 1974 to 1979 Dr. Uniyal while working as Incharge of the Regional Research Centre (Ay.), Jhansi has undertaken survey work in Bundelkhand area of Uttar Pradesh. Simultaneously he was deputed to undertake Ethno-medico- botanical exploration in the high altitudes areas of Leh-Ladakh and Sikkim Himalayas. Presently, Dr. Uniyal is actively associated in the establishment and development of a Unique Central Medicinal Plants Herbarium and Museum at Central Research Institute (Ay.), at New Delhi to cater the need of Ayurveda Scholars and Modem Scientist interested in drug indentification.
This work will be of a great help to Research students, teachers and pharmaceutists of both Ayurveda and allied medical sciences as well as others working on herbal flora. The book will be very useful for Forest Scientist and Agricultural-Botanists. Apart from its utility, this publication to the average reading seeking information of Ayurvedic plants, the publication will become as an authentic book of reference of abiding value on the medicinal herbs flora of Garhwal region. The present book highlights extensive survey of 570 plants covering 122 families out of which 170 are mentioned in Ayurvedic literature. One of the main features is the first Botanical identification of thirteen plants namely Astavargas, Mansitryas, Bhilotaka (Kumkum), Bhedagandha, Tilvaka, Adhhoguda, Hapusha, Tilaka, Kakadani, Kurubaka, Shivamallee, Jatukanda, Thooneyaka mentioned in Ayurvedic literature.
I congratulate Dr. M.R. Uniyal, for this valuable contribution entitled “Medicinal Floral of Garhwal Himalayas” - I wish him all success in his future endeavours.
It is an accomplished fact that the Himalaya is the “treasure-house” or the natural- wealth particularly of the medicinal herbs which are the basis of the Ayurvedic studies. Gandhamadan, Drounagiri, Sumeru-parvat etc. are some of the famous peaks of the Central- Himalaya which store some of the Medicinal herbs of value like Sanjeevani; Vishalakarni, Ajruha, Pad ma, SomLata, Astavarga etc. Besides the medicinal plants, Himalayan mountain is also an excellent source of several mineral elements and the only source of the 'musk' (“KASTOORI”) obtained from “musk-deers” found in this region. The present study of the Garhwal region of the Central Himalaya is, therefore, of considerable importance.
Caraka has also described the Himalayas as the best habitat for medicinal plant.
'Aushadhinamparabhumi Himvanshailsatama' (Ch.ch.IT)
The Himalayan herbs are useful for longivity and rejuvenation.
In the ' Samhita' period the Himalayan region was also considered to be most suitable place for organising seminars on Ayurveda for scholarly deliberations and adoptions of the best after due discussion. It will not be an exaggeration to say that Govt. of India has kept alive the tradition of Ayurveda.
The Indian System of medicine, i.e. the Ayurveda, was developed by ancient sages and saints. They generally resided in the interior of the forests surrounded by lust vegetation, for undisturbed meditation; and also to discover useful drug plants growing all around them. No wonder, they might have propagated many of them, as some are even today cultivated near temples, perhaps being very important from medicinal point of view. These ancient abodes of 'Rishis' had, in course of time, become important centres of pilgrimage. Therefore, it would be interesting and worthwhile to study these plants growing around such centres as the usefulness of them is recognised even today.
The efficacy of Indian medicinal plants particularly of those growing in temperate and alpine Himalayas is fairly well known. The Ayurveda has included in its materia medica more than three thousand of vegetable drugs and quite a large number of them occur in the Himalayas.
The several Indian and European workers have conducted botanical surveys in this region, however, more serious survey works have been conducted by the parties of !he Botanical survey of India, Northern Circle, Dehradun; National Botanical Research Institute, Lucknow and the Survey of Medicinal plants Unit at Gurukul Kangri, Hardwar (established during 1962 under I.S.M. Department, Govt. of India). The Central Council for Research in Indian Medicine and Homoeopathy, New Delhi (established during 1969) has been organised to promote scientific studies on the Indian Medicines (at present named as Central Council for Research in Ayurveda and Siddha). One of the aim of such studies under the Council is to carry out supplemented country wide intensive survey of the medicinal plants by the specific field-dates such as the local use sanskrit name and their distribution, identification etc. of the Medicinal herbs and experimental cultivation of the medicinal plants besides their Chemical and Clinical studies.
The present studies on the medicinal plants of Garhwal Himalayas which include the well-known valleys of Bhilangana, Bhagirathi, Yamuna, Alaknanda and the famous valley of the flowers besides Chakrata Tons Forest Division Mussoorie etc., have been carried out under the general scheme of Central Council for Research in Ayurveda and Siddha, New Delhi. In the text of the book 600 medicinal plants with their correct botanical name, Sanskrit/Vernacular names/local names together with the specific characters of the species for their easy identification and local distribution, local use etc. have been given, special care has been taken to collect authentic data pertaining to the traditional local names of the drug (their specific usage). The author, has also tried to clarify the botanical and Ayurvedic identity of some of the controversial drugs like Astavarga, Tilowak, Bhillotak, Muramani, Nirvashi, Bhutteshi, Sarpa satla etc. It is hoped that the book would be extremely useful to the Ayurvedic Vaidyas, Research Scholars, Botanists and students of various disciplines, engaged in this type of work.
I am deeply indebted to Dr. V.N. Pandey, Director, Central Council for Research in Ayurveda & Siddha (Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Govt. of India), New Delhi, who, inspite of his many engagements both National and International, wrote the Foreward of the book and provided necessary facilities. I am also grateful to Late Sh. A.C. Dey, Survey Officer, Erstwhile Survey of Medicinal Plants Unit, Gurukul Kangri, Hardwar for the encouragement and facilities provided during the survey from 1962 to 1969.
I am also thankful to Sh. B.K. Sharma, Joint Director, Shree Vaidyanath Ayurved Bhawan Pvt. Ltd., Jhansi, Nagpur who has given priority for financial assistance for the publication of this book.
1 wish to record my thanks to Dr. O.P. Gupta Asst. Director and Sh. Roop Kumar Issar, Research Officer (Pharmacognosy), Central Council for Research in Ayurveda & Siddha, New Delhi for constructive suggestions regarding Botanical identification of the plants. Thanks to Mrs. Promila Pant painly taken necessary corrections in this text. Thanks are also due to Forest Research Institute, Dehradun, Botanical Survey of India, Calcutta and National Botanical Research Institute, Lucknow for their help in the identification of some of the specimens.
I express my deep sense of gratitude to Dr. C. Dwarkanath and Or. P.N.V. Kurup, the Retired Advisor in Indigenous Medicine, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Govt. of India, New Delhi for encouragement and technical assistance.
Lastly I am thankful to the people of Garhwal regions particularly Tribal community who helped in collection of the information during the field work.
Geographic introduction of Uttarakhand Himalaya
Botanical History of Tehiri and garhwal Himalayas
Analysis of tile medicinal flora
Enumeration of the species
Definitions of medicinal terms
Index to a Ayurvedic and vernacular names
Index to botanical names
Charaka and susruta Classification of drugs
Photographs of Medicinal flora
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