The treatment of jaundice with medicinal plants in indigenous communities of the Sub-Himalayan region of Uttarakhand, India

J Ethnopharmacol. 2012 Aug 30;143(1):262-91. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2012.06.034. Epub 2012 Jul 1.


Ethnopharmacological relevance: Inspite of tremendous advances made in allopathic medical practices, herbs still play an important role in the management of various liver diseases. A large number of plants and formulations have been claimed to have hepatoprotective activity. Jaundice is a symptom, indicative of the malfunctioning of the liver. This paper provides ethnomedicinal information on the plants used to treat jaundice by three important indigenous communities, i.e., nomadic Gujjars, Tharu and Bhoxa of Sub-Himalayan region, Uttarakhand, India.

Aims of the study: To record herbal preparations used by the studied indigenous communities in treatment of jaundice and discuss hepatoprotective properties of the recorded plants.

Research strategy and methods: The traditional knowledge of the studied indigenous communities on herbal preparations used for treating jaundice was collected through structured questionnaire and personal interviews. The interviews were conducted with 91 traditional healers (29 Bhoxa, 35 Tharu and 27 nomadic Gujjars) in Sub-Himalayan region of Uttarakhand, India. More than 250 research papers reporting ethnomedicinal information on the hepatoprotective plants used by various communities from different parts of India were extensively reviewed.

Results: A total of 40 medicinal plants belonging to 31 families and 38 genera were recorded to be used by the studied communities in 45 formulations as a remedy of jaundice. Bhoxa, nomadic Gujjars and Tharu communities used 15, 23 and 9 plants, respectively. To our knowledge eight plants reported in the present survey viz., Amaranthus spinosus L., Cissampelos pareira L., Ehretia laevis Roxb., Holarrhena pubescens Wall., Ocimum americanum L., Physalis divaricata D. Don, Solanum incanum L. and Trichosanthes cucumerina L. have not been reported earlier as remedy of jaundice in India. Literature review revealed that a total of 214 (belonging to 181 genus and 78 families), 19 (belonging to 18 genus and 12 families) and 14 (belonging to 14 genus and 11 families) plant species are used as internal, external and magico-religious remedies for jaundice, respectively by various communities in different parts of India. Most widely used hepatoprotective plant species for treatment of jaundice in India is Boerhavia diffusa L. followed by Tinospora cordifolia (Willd.) Miers, Saccharum officinarum L., Phyllanthus amarus Schumach. & Thonn., Ricinus communis L., Andrographis paniculata (Burm. f.) Nees., Oroxylum indicum (L.) Kurz, Lawsonia inermis L. and Eclipta prostrata (L.) L.

Conclusions: The plants recorded in the present survey have also been discussed in relation to pharmacological studies and hepatoprotective phytoconstituents present in them. Most of the recorded plants have shown hepatoprotective effects on experimental animals in earlier studies but more studies are needed to assess hepatoprotective properties of some recorded medicinal plants viz., Averrhoa carambola L., Ehretia laevis Roxb., Holarrhena pubescens Wall., Mangifera indica L., Ocimum americanum L., Oroxylum indicum (L.) Kurz, Physalis divaricata D. Don, Solanum incanum L., Sphaeranthus senegalensis DC. and Tribulus terrestris L.. The plants enumerated in this study with high number of citations and wider distributions have given some useful leads for further biomedical research. Nevertheless more phytochemical, pharmaceutical and clinical studies are needed to evaluate hepatoprotective properties, efficacy and safety of all the claimed medicinal plants.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • India
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Jaundice / drug therapy*
  • Liver Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Liver Diseases / pathology
  • Magnoliopsida*
  • Male
  • Medicine, Traditional*
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Plant Preparations / therapeutic use*
  • Plants, Medicinal


  • Plant Preparations