Sunday, 23 August 2015

Quantitative traditional knowledge of medicinal plants used to treat livestock diseases from Kudavasal taluk of Thiruvarur district, Tamil Nadu, India

Open Access
Original Article

Quantitative traditional knowledge of medicinal plants used to treat livestock diseases from Kudavasal taluk of Thiruvarur district, Tamil Nadu, India

Open Access funded by Sociedade Brasileira de Farmacognosia
Under a Creative Commons license


Medicinal plants are treating and preventing various diseases. There is urgency in recording such data. This is first ethno botanical study in which statistical calculations about plants are done by ICF method in the study area. The aim of the present study is to identify plants collected for medicinal purposes by the traditional healers of Kudavasal taluk located in Thiruvarur district of Tamil Nadu, India and to document prepare and use the traditional names of these plants. Field study was carried out for a period of 1 year in (tk), located in Thiruvarur district of Tamil Nadu. The ethnoveterinary information's were collected through interviews among traditional healers. The collected data were analyzed through RFC, UV, CI, FI, RI and ICF. A total of 54 species of plants distributed in 51 genera belonging to 33 families were identified as commonly used ethno medicinal plants by traditional healers in Kudavasal (tk) for the treatment of 12 ailment categories based on the animal body systems treated. Leaves are the most frequently used plant parts and most of the medicines are prepared in the form of paste, administrated orally and inhalation. The most important species according to their use value are Oryza sativa (0.977). In these studies some of the plant species are first position in relative importance Datura metel (2.00) followed by Azadirachta indica (1.80). ICF values of the present study indicate that a urological ailment is the highest use report. In this study, documenting the medicinal plants and associated indigenous knowledge can be used for conservation and sustainable use of medicinal plants in the area and for validation of these plant preparations for veterinary treatment. The study has various socioeconomic dimensions associated with the local communities.

Graphical abstract


  • Medicinal plants;
  • Ethnoveterinary;
  • Livestock disease;
  • Quantitative study;
  • CI;
  • RFC;
  • RI


Knowledge can arise from scientific or traditional sources (Santos García-Alvarado et al., 2001). Particularly traditional knowledge has been described as a cumulative body of knowledge, practice and belief, evolving through adaptive processes and handed over through generations by cultural transmission (Berkes et al., 2003). Traditional medicine is used throughout the world as it is heavily dependent on locally available plant species and plant-based products and capitalizes on traditional wisdom-repository of knowledge (Awas and Demissew, 2009). The wide spread use of traditional medicine could be attributed to cultural acceptability, economic affordability and efficacy against certain type of diseases as compared to modern medicines. Thus, different local communities in countries across the world have indigenous experience in various medicinal plants where they use their perceptions and experiences to categorize plants and plant parts to be used when dealing with different ailments (Omoruyi et al., 2012).
The knowledge of medicinal plants has been accumulated in the course of many centuries based on different medicinal system such as Ayurveda, Unani and Siddha (Fabricant and Farnsworth, 2001). Especially knowledge of ethnobotanical is documented in various parts of the Indian sub-continent. Local inhabitants have used several plants and herbs as ethnoveterinary medicine in order to cure the ailments of livestock (Das and Tag, 2006 and Udhyan et al., 2005).
Livestock plays a vital role in (Indian) farmer's life. It gives manure, fuel, milk and meat, etc and also generates rural economy and rural employment. Farmers take care of their livestock using ethnoveterinary medicine. These medicines are cheaper than western drugs (Zschocke et al., 2000a, Masika et al., 2000, Tabuti et al., 2003, Yinegar et al., 2007, Masika and Afolayan, 2003 and Kone and Atindehou, 2008). Ethnoveterinary medicine was practised as early as 1800 BC King Hamurabi of Babylon formulated a law on veterinary fees and charged for treating cattle and donkeys (Schillhorn van Veen, 1996). But for more than a decade now ethnoveterinary medicine has experienced a revival and several reports published. The growing interest in traditional practices has been encouraged by the recognition of some efficacious ethnoveterinary medicinal products. These products are locally available and easily accessible compared with western drugs. In the face of these and other factors, this increases interest in the field of ethnoveterinary research and development (Zschocke et al., 2000b, Masika et al., 2000, Tabuti et al., 2003, Yinegar et al., 2007, Masika and Afolayan, 2003 and Kone and Atindehou, 2008). No ethnoveterinary survey has been carried out in Thiruvarur district. Therefore, an attempt has been made to describe the various diseases prevalent animals in district Thiruvarur and also to document the ethnoveterinary plants and practices used to treat them. We also determined the, frequency citation (FC) relative frequency citation (RFC), frequency index (FI), cultural important index (CI), relative importance (RI), informant consensus factor (ICF) of the ethnoveterinary diseases and use-value of the plant species.

Materials and methods

Selection of traditional healers

Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes are accountable for 14.35% and 66% of the population respectively. The average literacy of the town, Kudavasal was 82%, compared to the national average of 72.99% (Census, 2011a). The town had a total of 14,997 households. There were a total of 18,953 workers, comprising 672 cultivators, 960 main agricultural labourers, 318 in house hold industries, 15,596 other workers, 1407 marginal workers, 47 marginal cultivators, 261 marginal agricultural labourers, 52 marginal workers in household industries and 1047 other marginal workers (Censusinfo India, 2011). The population of the Kudavasal taluk according to the 2011 census, the taluk had a population of 205,625 with 102,597 males and 103,028 females. There were 1004 women for every 1000 men. The taluk had a literacy rate of 75.78. Child population in the age group below 6 was 9454 males and 9247 females ( The informants or traditional healers were selected based on their knowledge of medicinal plants in the study area (Appendix A). Totally 305 informants were selected out of them 201 men and 104 women between the ages of 30–83 to get the ethnoveterinary information's through direct interviews or oral conversations (Table 1).
Table 1. Demographic profile of the informants included in the survey (N = 305).
Demographic featuresNumber of peoplePercent (%)
 30 years2207.21%
 Above 812307.54%


 a. Able to read and write2407.86%
 b. Elementary School3812.45%
 c. Diploma5417.70%
 d. Degree7725.24%

Cattle herders
 a. Goat6320.65%
 b. Cow2207.21%
 c. Pig2608.52%

Investigation sites

Thiruvarur lies in the Kaveri River basin and the main occupation of the inhabitants of the town and surrounding regions is agriculture (Palanithurai and Ramesh, 2008). More than 70% of the workforce is involved in agriculture; 14% being cultivators and rest are agricultural labourers (MSME Development Institute, 2012). Paddy is cultivated in three seasons namely Kuruvai (June–August), Samba (August–January) and Thaladi (January–March) (Palanithurai and Ramesh, 2008). The daily wages of the agricultural labourers is more than the rates fixed by the Tamil Nadu government, but due to the decline in number of days of work, the income levels are lower (Palanithurai and Ramesh, 2008). As of 1998, the male labourers were employed 150 days a year, while the female labourers for 120 days (Palanithurai and Ramesh, 2008). A government report in 2006 put these numbers at 120 and 100 days respectively (Palanithurai and Ramesh, 2008). Due to the discontinuity in the working days, the labourers migrate to other states like Gujarat and Kerala. They also shift to other professions like construction industry in the urban centres and textile industry in the district (Palanithurai and Ramesh, 2008). The study area was investigated to get information from local traditional healers having practical knowledge of medicinal plants were interviewed in 13 villages of Adippulevur, Alathur, Iammampatti, Kadakakudi, Kiliyur, Koothanur, Manjakudi, Thiruvidacheri, Serukudi, Suraikayur, Vadavar, Vilagam and Vayalore, Kudavasal (taluk), Thiruvarur (dt), Tamil Nadu, India (Fig. 1). The field surveys were conducted between February 2014 and January 2015 in Kudavasal taluk of Thiruvarur district. A total of 365 field days was spent together for the data. Methods of selecting informants depended upon the distribution of local people having sound knowledge. They were requested to collect specimens of the plants they know or to show the plant species on site. These informants were traditional practitioners themselves or had tradition of healing in their families and had knowledge of the medicinal use of the plants. The wealth of medicinal plants knowledge among the people of this district is based on hundreds of years of beliefs and observations (Appendix B).
Investigation sites.
Fig. 1. 
Investigation sites.

Preservation of plant specimens