Herbs in South India play a key role in people’s health. To understand herbs is to have a profound insight into the balanced ways of local culture. There are many traditional health systems used in India. They include Ayurveda, Sowa-Rigpa, Unani, Homeopathy, Yoga and Siddha, Tamil Nadu’s traditional primary health care. Siddha uses hundreds of indigenous plant species. Since 1993, Pitchandikulam Forest has been part of the national Medicinal Plant Conservation Network in 1993, co-ordinated by the Foundation for Revitalisation of Local Health Traditions.
Pitchandikulam is dedicated to preserving and disseminating the wealth of traditional knowledge that exists in our region. For nearly 30 years, Pitchandikulam Forest has been actively involved in protecting indigenous herbal knowledge, creating a living library in the form of indigenous herbal gardens, ethnomedicinal forest and medicinal plant sanctuaries. We document, research, preserve and disseminate knowledge about local plant-based medicinal systems.
Our five main areas of work:
- Ethnomedicinal plant conservationand education
- Rural developmentand training for women
- Health treatment campsin villages around the bio-region
- Herbal health workshopsin Auroville
- Online Virtual Herbariumof local plants and their properties
This ethnomedicinal knowledge tends to passed on through women, so this forms a core part of our sustainable development work with women’s self-help groups. The tradition is supported by setting up herbal databases and publishing educational materials. The women then provide health services through herbal dispensaries, kitchen herbal gardens and herbal health camps, creating affordable community health-care and income.
In our Ethnomedicinal Forest:
- Seed collections from local sanctuaries, remnant forests and sacred groves collected in collaboration with traditional healers
- Rare, Endangered or Threatened (RET) species from the Tropical Dry Evergreen Forest and other floristic zones of South India
- Over fifty species of living hedges that form a protective, productive boundary and provide a fauna habitat and corridor
- Stone signage show the different elements of the ecosystem and explain the medicinal uses of individual species and groups of plants for poisonous bites, bone fractures, headaches and other ailments
- Open seated areas that provide space for medicinal herbal preparation workshops and other group activities, meetings and classes
- Nursery with 180 TDEF species, with species that haven’t been propagated outside their natural forest environment before. Many germination methods have been explored to develop a series of standards to help others to successfully cultivate these plants elsewhere.
Our ethnomedicinal team experts
Parvathi Nagarajan is an expert in the identification and application of medicinal herbs according to the Siddha system of traditional medicine, and her family has been in involved in traditional herbal healing for at least five generations, and possibly many more. She has an MA in Sociology and an MA in Human Rights.
Dr. Bérengère Bérieau is our specialist in Ayurveda and seasonal health and well-being.
For more information about Parvathi’s story and background, please see her interview on our blog.
Click here for coming workshops