• P-ISSN 0974-6846 E-ISSN 0974-5645

Indian Journal of Science and Technology


Indian Journal of Science and Technology

Year: 2020, Volume: 13, Issue: 20, Pages: 2021-2029

Original Article

Ethnomedicinal uses of plants by Santal tribe of Alipurduar district, West Bengal, India

Received Date:09 May 2020, Accepted Date:22 May 2020, Published Date:18 June 2020


Objectives: To document the traditional knowledge on medicinal plants used by the Santal tribe residing at seven different villages in Alipurduar district of West Bengal, India to treat common human ailments. Methods: The field survey was conducted during July 2018 to January 2020 using guided fieldwalk method. Santal traditional medicinal practitioners (locally called Kabiraj) and local knowledgeable Santal men and women were interviewed with the help of pretested semi-structured questionnaries to record their knowledge on ethnomedicinal uses of local vegetation in their surroundings. The questionnaire covered aspects like local name, scientific name, family, used parts, ethnomedicinal uses, among others. Plants were collected mostly during the flowering stage and routine method of herbarium techniques was followed and the collected plants were identified using relevant sources. Findings: Altogether 73 medicinal plants of 45 families were recorded to be used to treat 38 types of diseases ranging from very common physical problems to complex diseases. Fabaceae represents the highest number (5 species) of medicinal plants. Herbs (39.73%) and trees (38.36%) represents the dominant life-forms and mostly the plants were collected from the natural habitat (56.16%). For the preparation of medicine, leaves were found to be most frequently used (47.50%) plant part than the others. In general, ethnomedicines were prepared from the fresh plant materials and were administered orally (66.25%) or topically (33.75%). Applications: Documentation of medicinal plants used by the Santals in the treatment of various diseases could further be utilised to develop new drugs and pharmaceutical products. However, to achieve sustainable development, conservation, cultivation and proper utilisation of medicinal plants should be monitored scientifically. Novelty: Utilization of medicinal plants by the Santal tribe has been documented for the first time from Alipurduar district and has enriched the existing database of medicinal plants.

Keywords: Ethnomedicine; medicinal plants; Santal; traditional knowledge; Alipurduar; West Bengal


  1. Faizi S, Nair PK. Adivasis: The World’s Largest Population of Indigenous People. Development. 2016;59(3-4):350–353. doi: 10.1057/s41301-017-0115-8
  2. Farnsworth NR, Akerele O, Bingel AS, Soejarto DD, Guo Z. Medicinal plants in therapy. Bulletin of the World Health Organization. 1985;63(6):965–981.
  3. WHO. Diet, nutrition and prevention of chronic diseases. WHO Technical Report Series, No. 916. Report of the Joint WHO/FAO Expert Consultation. Geneva, World Health Organisation (WHO)
  4. Tulsidas. 1631 Samvat. In: Ramcharitmanas. .
  5. Charak. Charak. Drdhbala. In: The Charak Samhita explained by K. Sastri and G.N. Chaturvedi (22). Varanasi. Chaukhamba Bharti Academy. 1996.
  6. Cox PA, Ballick MJ. The ethnobotanical approach to drug discovery. Scientific American. 1994;270(6):82–87.
  7. Fabricant DS, Farnsworth NR. The value of plants used in traditional medicine for drug discovery. Environmental Health Perspective. 2001;109(suppl 1). doi: 10.1289/ehp.01109s169
  8. Tiwari DN. Medicinal plants for health care. Yojana. 1999;44(6):8–17. Available from: http://yojana.gov.in/cms/(S(uawpx4eotnju5xnxtxhpg455))/pdf/Yojana/English/1999/2008-02-11%20(6).pdf . Date accessed: 01/04/2020
  9. Guha BS. Racial Elements in the Population. Bombay. Oxford University Press. 1944.
  10. Moniruzzaman, Bairagee JJ, Kamal Z, Shoma JF, Tonmoy AJ, Islam MT, et al. Ethnomedicinal practices among the Hembrom clan of the Santal tribe in Setabganj of Dinajpur District, Bangladesh. Journal of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Research. 2015;7(6):76–79.
  11. Arzu Y, Thiagarajan T. Medicinal Plants used by the Rastafarian Community in Belize. International Journal of Herbal Medicine. 2016;4(3):15–20.
  12. Khatun MR, Rahman AHMM. Ethnomedicinal uses of plants by Santal Tribal peoples at Nawabganj upazila of Dinajpur district, Bangladesh. Bangladesh Journal of Plant Taxonomy. 2019;26(1):117–126. doi: 10.3329/bjpt.v26i1.41926
  13. Uniyal SK, Singh K, Jamwal P, Lal B. Traditional use of medicinal plants among the tribal communities of Chhota Bhangal, Western Himalaya. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine. 2006;2(1):14. doi: 10.1186/1746-4269-2-14
  14. Jain SK, De JN. Observations of ethnobotany of Purulia, West Bengal. Nelumbo: The Bulletin of the Botanical Survey of India. 1966;8:237–251. Available from: https://doi.org/10.20324/nelumbo/v8/1966/76196
  15. Mukherjee A, Namhata D. Herbal veterinary medicine as practiced by the tribals of Bankura District. Journal of the Bengal Natural History Society (NS). 1988;7(1):69–71.
  16. Pal DC, Jain SK. Notes on Lodha medicine in Midnapur District, West Bengal, India. Economic Botany. 1989;43(4):464–470. doi: 10.1007/bf02935920
  17. Sur PR, Sen R, Halder AC, Bandyopadhyaya S. Ethnomedicine in the Ajodhya hills region of the Purulia district, West Bengal, India. Journal of Economic and Taxonomic Botany (Additional Series). 1992;10:333–337.
  18. Ghosh A. Herbal folk remedies of Bankura and Medinipur districts, W.B. Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge. 2003;2(4):393–396.
  19. Bandyopadhyaya S, Mukherjee SK. Traditional medicine used by the ethnic communities of Koch Bihar District (West Bengal - India) Journal of Tropical Medicinal Plants. 2006;7(2):303–312.
  20. Mondal S, Rahaman H, C. Medicinal plants used by the tribal people of Birbhum district of West Bengal and Dumka district of Jharkhand in India. Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge. 2012;11(4):674–679.
  21. Ghosh R, Sarkhel S. Ethnomedicinal Practices of the tribal Communities in Paschim Medinipur District West Bengal. Asian Journal of Experimental Biological Sciences. 2013;4(4):555–560.
  22. Tripathi S, Ray S, Mondal AK, Verma NK. Rare ethno medicinal plants of South West Bengal, India with their different medicinal uses: needs conservation. International Journal of Life Sciences Biotechnology and Pharma Research. 2013;2(2):114–122.
  23. Bandyopadhyaya S, Mitra S, Mukherjee SK. Traditional uses of some weeds of Asteraceae by the ethnic communities of Koch Bihar district, West Bengal. International Journal of Pharmacology Research. 2014;4(1):31–34.
  24. Datta T, Patra AK, Dastidar SG. Medicinal plants used by tribal population of Coochbehar district, West Bengal, India–an ethnobotanical survey. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine. 2014;4(1):S478–S482. doi: 10.12980/apjtb.4.2014c1122
  25. Bose D, Roy JG, Mahapatra (, Sarkar ), Sd, Datta T, et al. Medicinal plants used by tribals in Jalpaiguri district. Journal of Medicinal Plants Studies. 2015;3(3):15–21.
  26. Roy S. An ethnobotanical study on the medicinal plants used by Rajbanshis of Coochnehar district. Journal of Medicinal Plants Studies. 2015;3(5):46–49.
  27. Bandyopadhyay D. Herbal Folk Remidies and Ethnomedicine of Bankura District of West Bengal. American Journal of Ethnomedicine. 2017;4(2). doi: 10.21767/2348-9502.1000016
  28. Bandyopadhyaya S. Observation on the traditional herbal remedies of pain from Koch Bihar district West Bengal. World Journal of Pharmaceutical Research. 2017;6(16):1497–1509.
  29. Manna SS, Mishra SP. Ethnomedicinal survey of plants used by tribal in Lalgarh forest range, W.B., India. The Journal of Phytopharmacology. 2018;7(2):199–202.
  30. Mandal A, Saha P, Begum A, Saha A, Chakraborty B, Dutta S, et al. Ethnomedicinal Plants Used by the Ethnic People Living in Fringe Villages of Rasikbil of Cooch Behar District. Indian Journal of Science and Technology. 2020;13(16):1676–1685. Available from: https://doi.org/10.17485/IJST/v13i16.380
  31. Rahaman C, Karmakar S. Ethnomedicine of Santal tribe living around Susunia hill of Bankura district, West Bengal, India: The quantitative approach. Journal of Applied Pharmaceutical Science. 2015;5(2):127–136. doi: 10.7324/japs.2015.50219
  32. Basak S, Banerjee A, Manna CK. Studies of some ethnomedicinal plants used by the Santal tribal people of the district Bankura, W.B., India, in controlling fertility ethnomedicine of the Santal Tribal People. International Journal of Novel Research in Life Sciences. 2016;3(1):20–28.
  33. Basak S, Banerjee A, Manna CK. Role of some ethno medicines used by the Santal tribal people, of the district Bankura, W.B., India, for abortifacient purposes. Journal of Medicinal Plants Studies. 2016;4(2):125–129.
  34. Shukla G, Chakravarty S. Ethnobotanical Plant Use of Chilapatta Reserved Forest in West Bengal. The Indian Forester. 2012;138(12):1116–1124.
  35. Raj AJ, Biswakarma S, Pala NA, Shukla G, Vineeta, Kumar M, et al. Indigenous uses of ethnomedicinal plants among forest-dependent communities of Northern Bengal, India. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine. 2018;14(1). doi: 10.1186/s13002-018-0208-9
  36. Chaudhury S, Singh H, Rahaman CH. Ethnomedicinal uses of plants by the Lodhas tribal group of West Bengal, India. Journal of Traditional and Folk Practices. 2018;6:67–97. doi: 10.25173/jtfp.2018.6.1.91
  37. Sajem AL. Ethno_medico botany of a few tribal communities in north Cachar hills district of Assam. Department of Ecology and Environmental Science, Assam University thesis
  38. Jain SK, Rao RR. A Handbook of Field and Herbarium Methods. . New Delhi. Today and Tomorrow's Printers and Publishers. 1977.
  39. Prain D. Bengal Plants. Kolkata. Botanical Survey of India. 1963.
  40. Hooker JD. The Flora of British India. (Vol. 7, pp. 1872-1879) L. Reeve & Co.. 1989.
  41. Anonymous. Flora of West Bengal. Calcutta. Botanical Survey of India. 1997.
  42. Wink M. Evolution of secondary metabolites in legumes (Fabaceae) South African Journal of Botany. 2013;89:164–175. doi: 10.1016/j.sajb.2013.06.006
  43. Muñoz O, Montes M, T W, . Plantas Medicinales de Uso en Chile: Química y Farmacología. 2001.
  44. Rajendran SM, Chandrasekar K, Sundaresan V. Ethnomedicinal lore of Valaya tribals in Seithur hills of Virudhunagar district, Tamil Nadu, India. Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge. 2002;1(1):59–71.
  45. Mahishi P, Srinivasa BH, Shivanna MB. Medicinal plant wealth of local communities in some villages in Shimoga District of Karnataka, India. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 2005;98(3):307–312. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2005.01.035
  46. Ignacimuthu S, Ayyanar M, Sankarasivaraman K. Ethnobotanical investigations among tribes in Madurai district of Tamil Nadu (India) Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine. 2006;2. doi: https://doi.org/10.1186/1746-4269-2-25
  47. Jagtap SD, Deokule SS, Bhosle SV. Some unique ethnomedicinal uses of plants used by the Korku tribe of Amravati district of Maharashtra, India. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 2006;107(3):463–469. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2006.04.002
  48. Choudhury S, Sharma P, Choudhury MD, Sharma GD. Ethnomedicinal plants used by Chorei tribes of Southern Assam, North Eastern India. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Disease. 2012;2:S141–S147. doi: 10.1016/s2222-1808(12)60140-6
  49. Abebe D, Ayehu A. Medicinal plants and enigmatic health practice of North Ethiopia. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Berhanina Selam Printing Enterprise. 1993.


© 2020 Mandal, Adhikary, Chakraborty, Roy, Saha, Barman, Saha. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Published By Indian Society for Education and Environment (iSee)


Subscribe now for latest articles and news.