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Published in Issue No. 122, page 46 to 46 - (2836) characters

Rice as a medicinal plant in Chhattisgarh, India

G.K. Das  P. Oudhia  India has a wealth of medicinal plants, most of which have been traditionally used in Ayurveda, Unani systems of medicines and by tribal healers for generations. In ancient Indian literature it is clearly mentioned that every plant on this earth is useful for human beings, animals and for other plants (Oudhia 1999). In Ayurveda the medicinal values of rice have been described: rice is considered to be acrid, oleaginous, tonic, aphrodisiac, fattening, diuretic and useful in biliousness (Caius 1986). In Chattisgarh rice is widely cultivated and the region is known as "the rice bowl of India". As no information on medicinal values and uses of traditional rice varieties in Chattisgarh was available, a survey was conducted during 1999-2000 by the Department of Agronomy, Indira Gandhi Agricultural Univesity, Raipur, India.


The survey was conducted in selected districts: Raipur, Bilaspur, Durg, Rajnanadgaon, Bastar and Sarguja. From each selected district, two blocks and from each selected block, a random sample of four villages was taken. The data were collected with the help of personal interviews on a well-prepared interview schedule. The respondants selected were (1) those having traditional knowledge about medicinal rice, and (2) those over 60 years of age. Anyone not meeting these criteria was rejected and finally 100 respondants were interviewed.


More than 50 traditional rice varieties that possess medicinal properties were identified in the survey. Most of these varieties are under cultivation in very restricted areas. Inhabitants of Chhatisgarh use these medicinal rice varieties for the ailments of human beings and cattle (Table 1). In Chattisgarh, generally rice is used in diets for the sick. During the survey it was noted that rice is invariably ordered as the safest and best food in all dysenteric complaints especially with curd. Rice water is recommended as an excellent demulcent, refrigerant drink in febrile and inflammation diseases and also in dysuria. It was also noted that inhabitants of Chhattisgarh region have named varieties on the basis of their medicinal properties. For example, medicinal rice variety "Laicha" was so named because of its unique property to prevent "Laicha" disease (skin infection). During the survey it was observed that the younger generation is less aware about these medicinal rice varieties than the older generations, so there is a strong need for documentation of this valuable information about the medicinal values of traditional rice varieties in the region.



References

Caius, J.F. 1986. The medicinal and poisonous plants of India
(Reprint). Pbl. Scientific Publishers, Jodhpur, India.

Oudhia, P. 1999. Medicinal weeds in rice fields of Chattisgarh
(India). International Rice Research Notes 24(1):40.

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