Ethnomedicinal plants used for treating epilepsy by indigenous communities of sub-Himalayan region of Uttarakhand, India

J Ethnopharmacol. 2013 Oct 28;150(1):353-70. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2013.08.052. Epub 2013 Sep 9.


Ethnopharmacological relevance: Although many plants are claimed to possess anticonvulsant/antiepileptic (AC/AE) properties, but there is very little information available about plants used by various ethnic communities in different parts of India to treat epilepsy, one of the most common disorders of central nervous system (CNS); this communication provides significant ethnomedicinal information on the plants used by indigenous communities: Bhoxa, Tharu and nomadic Gujjars of sub-Himalayan region, Uttarakhand, India to treat epilepsy, so that it could be used as a baseline data for studying chemical constituents and biological activities of these promising plants.

Aims of the study: To record herbal preparations used by the presently studied communities for treating epilepsy and discuss AC/AE properties of the recorded plants.

Research strategy and methods: Ninety one traditional healers (29 Bhoxa, 35 Tharu and 27 nomadic Gujjars) in sub-Himalayan region of Uttarakhand, India were interviewed to collect information on herbal preparations used by them for treating epilepsy. For each recorded species the use value (UV) and fidelity level (FL) was calculated.

Results: A total of 24 plants belonging to 24 genera and 22 families were used by the presently studied communities in 26 formulations to treat epilepsy. According to FL and UV values, most preferred species for the treatment of epilepsy by Bhoxa community are Ricinus communis L. and Datura stramonium L.; by nomadic Gujjar community are Martynia annua L., Bacopa monnieri (L.) Wettst. and Ricinus communis L.; and by Tharu community are Allium sativum L., Asparagus racemosus Willd. and Achyranthes aspera L. Eight plants viz., Allium sativum L., Boerhavia diffusa L., Cassia fistula L., Clerodendrum viscosum Vent., Datura stramonium L., Inula cappa DC., Oroxylum indicum (L.) Kurz and Pavetta indica L. recorded in the present survey have been reported for the first time in treatment of epilepsy by these indigenous communities in India. Five out of these eight newly reported plants viz., Cassia fistula L., Clerodendrum viscosum Vent., Inula cappa DC., Oroxylum indicum (L.) Kurz and Pavetta indica L. have not been pharmacologically evaluated yet for their possible AC/AE properties.

Conclusions: Detailed research on the listed plants and their derivatives may be undertaken to provide new alternative treatments and therapeutic uses for epilepsy or other diseases of CNS. We hope that this article will stimulate further investigations into natural products for new AC/AE agents from the recorded ethnomedicinal plants.

Keywords: AC/AE; Anticonvulsant; Antiepileptic; Bhoxa; CNS; FL; Gr; H; MES; NA; Nomadic Gujjar; PILO; PTZ; S; STR; Tharu; Tr; Treatment; UV; anticonvulsant/antiepileptic; central nervous system; fidelity level; grass; herb; information not available; maximal electro-shock; pentylenetetrazole; pilocarpine; shrub; strychnine; tree; use value..

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anticonvulsants / therapeutic use*
  • Epilepsy / drug therapy*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • India
  • Medicine, Traditional
  • Phytotherapy
  • Plant Preparations / therapeutic use*
  • Plants, Medicinal*
  • Population Groups
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Anticonvulsants
  • Plant Preparations