A multivariate and quantitative assessment of medicinal plants used by the indigenous Malayali tribes in the Javadhu hills of Tiruvannamalai district, Tamil Nadu, India

Heliyon. 2023 Apr 18;9(5):e15607. doi: 10.1016/j.heliyon.2023.e15607. eCollection 2023 May.


The study of medicinal plants with their traditional uses and related pharmacological studies has received more attention during the past several decades around the world. The Malayali tribes of the Javadhu Hills in the Eastern Ghats rely heavily on a system of traditional medicine for healthcare. A qualitative ethnographic method with a semi-structured questionnaire was used to interview 52 people across 11 localities in the Javadhu Hills. In the data analysis, descriptive statistics such as Use reports (UR), frequency of citations (FC), relative frequency of citations (RFC), informant agreement ratio (IAR), fidelity level (FL), and informant consensus factor (FIC) were studied. In the current investigation, 146 species from 52 families and 108 genera were discovered to treat 79 diseases. Leguminosae and Apocynaceae were the dominant families (12 species each). The most frequently used life form was the herb and the plant part were the leaf. The majority were being harvested from natural resources. Most medicines were taken orally. The most frequently cited species are Moringa oleifera and Syzygium cumini. The illnesses were divided into 21 categories. The majority of the plants mentioned are utilised to increase human immunity and health. The principal ailment (general health) was revealed by two-way cluster analysis and PCA. The species Litsea decanensis, Phoebe paniculata, Commiphora caudata, etc., were new records for the Javadhu hills according to a comparison between the current study and previous local and regional research. Documenting novel ethnomedicinal species and their therapeutic applications will encourage more phytochemical and pharmacological research and may even result in the creation of new medications. Furthermore, the study's significant novelty is that principle component analysis and two-way cluster analysis clearly revealed that the species that are used to treat various diseases, as well as species that are closely associated with treating specific ailment categories, are distinct. Significantly, species recorded in this study rely on maintaining and improving general body health of humans.

Keywords: Ethnobotanical indices; Ethnobotany; Malayali tribe; Pheatmap; Principle component analysis.