Note: This article is for informational purposes only. This is not an attempt to suggest any kind of cure and medication. This information in this article is based on the experience and traditional medicinal knowledge of Adivasis and tribals. Please consult your doctor before consuming these medicines.
Translated from Kokborok by Manisha and Bibhuti Debbarma
Traditional medicine has been a go-to for remedies and cure for common diseases in ailments in tribal communities for generations. In Tripura, too, elders possess precious knowledge about plants and herbs and their use in common illnesses. From fever to cold and from cuts and wounds to indigestion, there are medicines for almost everything. Here are a few plants and herbs that are used regularly in Tripura’s tribal villages:
This plant is found in jungles and is very rare. Leaves of these herbs are boiled and eaten with salt and onion. This is helpful for reducing water retention in the body.
The flowers and leaves of this plant are used as herbal medicine. The flower of this plant is used for curing coughs and colds among newborn babies. The paste of the flower juice is mixed with the mothers’ milk and fed to the babies. These plants are generally available in the fields and paddy fields after the paddy is cut.
The juice of the leaves of this plant is consumed with normal water in the morning on an empty stomach. This helps to cure any gastric problems one may have. These types of plants are very easy to grow and can also grow from leaves. We plant them in our kitchen garden and in earthen tubs as a decorative plant.
The leaves of this plant when boiled with water for some time turn reddish in colour. Once the water has cooled down, it is filtered, and half a glass is consumed every morning on an empty stomach. This is helpful for women to stay healthy during pregnancy. The filtered, boiled juice can be stored for 4- 5 days inside a refrigerator.
This plant is good for high sugar and diabetes patients. It is available in the jungles and can also be planted near houses. We make berma curry soup with the leaves and soft stem and eat it with rice. We can also eat it boiled with salt and onion pieces.
The leaves of this plant are very good for curing high blood pressure. It’s a kind of vegetable, and its leaves are cooked with oil and consumed with rice. We can also boil it in water and drink its juice.
Sam berma is a great medicine to cure food poisoning and diarrhea. It is consumed as a vegetable item after cooking with the rice.
The leaves of this plant are great for Diabetes patients and for digestion. We eat these leaves by frying them with oils. The leaves are always cooked during festivals and are served with traditional rice cakes.
Whenever someone gets a cut and is bleeding, we apply a paste made from this plant and apply it to the injury and tie it up with a clean cloth. This plant also helps the scars fade. Its juice is only used for applying to the body externally.
This plant is called ‘Dalok busu gwnang’ in Kokborok. When suffering from a urinary tract infection, we use the roots of spiny amaranth or pigweed by soaking it in water and drinking that water on the empty stomach. Spiny amaranth can be found in our villages near our homes and is also grown near vegetable farms.. People are sceptical to eat this vegetable due to its spines, but it is very beneficial.
This plant grows in the jungles, near our homes, near agricultural land or farms and near the rivers. The leaves of Siam weed are crushed into a paste and tied with a piece of cloth to wounds. This is known to stop bleeding and accelerate clotting.
This plant is cooked and eaten quite often as it’s tasty and also has many health benefits. This plant is known to help with constipation and liver problems. It is also known to promote good eyesight. The leaves are also crushed into a paste and applied on a wound and then tied with a cloth. This helps prevent itching and helps the wound heal faster.
Basil is known for its beneficial properties and is grown commonly around homes in Tripura. These leaves are mostly consumed when one gas digestive and stomach problems like gas and bloating. The leaves are cooked and eaten as a bharta.
Note: The information about the above plants and medicines was provided by Pushko Debbarma, Roma Debbarma, Piyabala Debbarma, Jayant Debbarma, Parvati Debbarma and Bishu Laxmi Debbarma from Tripura.
This article is created as a part of the Adivasi Awaaz project, with the support of Misereor and Prayog Samaj Sevi Sanstha.
This article was first published in Youth Ki Awaaz