ETHNOVETERINARY MEDICINE AND PRACTICE
This article is a brief insight by Dr. Dibya Panda from Odisha, giving us a wonderful tour into the rare, yet promising Ethno-veterinary practices to which India is a hub. The need for unconventional practices against allopathy practice has led people to discover and rediscover nature’s gifts. So, let us take a look at the various age-old remedies around us which can be effectively used to treat the ailments of our animals.
Animal husbandry has been a part of rural communities since time immemorial. Farmers have always turned towards livestock as a means for survival when the harvest has not been good. Therefore, it is not astonishing that early humans found ways to keep their animals healthy and treat their ailments by using locally available herbs. These practices were either documented or passed down orally from generation to generation. The study of using these traditional medicinal practices for the treatment of animals has come to be known as ‘ethnoveterinary medicine’.
WHAT IS EVM?
Ethnoveterinary medicine (abbreviated as EVM) is defined as a holistic, interdisciplinary study of local knowledge and its associated skills, practices, beliefs, practitioners, and social structures pertaining to the healthcare and healthful husbandry of food, work, and other income-producing animals always with an eye to practical development applications within livestock production and livelihood systems with the ultimate goal of increasing human well being by increased benefits from stock-raising’ (McCorkle,1995).
The relation between human beings and healing plants is as old as domestication. Before the introduction of the “pioneers of the conventional medicine” that we know today, livestock keepers and stock raisers relied on these EVM practices for healthy animals. Among various scriptures, some of the notable literature on EVM are Ashvayurvedasidhhanta (Ayurveda of horses), Asvavaidyaka (medicine for horses), Hastyayurveda (Ayurveda for elephants), etc.
Indigenous communities all over the world, including the tribes of Central India and nomads of hills, are the keepers of this knowledge that has been passed through generations.
WHAT IS THE IMPORTANCE?
Traditional medicines are one of the most prevailing systems of treatment in places where the veterinary infrastructures are either poorly developed or there is a communication deficit. EVM practices include age-old remedies, surgical and manipulative techniques, husbandry strategies, and associated magic-religious practices. These are often cheap, considered safe as they have been used for a long time, and are based on the local resources.
Tribal communities are mostly based in and around the forest ecosystem. They are mostly landless and belong to the lowest of the economic strata. Consequently, they rely on the forest for the fulfillment of their daily needs. However, it is not sufficient so they raise domestic animals for milk, agriculture, and commercial purposes. As modern medicines are costly, often inaccessible, and come with calculated side-effects. The locals have turned to use traditional practices to treat and prevent common animal ailments. Until the shortcomings of modern medicines are solved these traditional medicines are the only alternative that the locals can rely on.
ELEMENTS OF EVM
The three most important elements of ethnoveterinary practices are:-
Application of natural products
Appealing to the spiritual forces
Manipulation and surgeries
It is further found that ethnoveterinary and human ethnomedicine overlap overwhelmingly.
Few pros and cons encountered are-
Easy to prepare
Enhances vaccine response
Easily administrable, mostly topically or orally
Little or no known side-effects
Do not show drug-resistance
Localized practices have a limited scope of dissemination
Treatment is highly variable and so is the cure
Ineffective against acute viral diseases
Many so-called medicines may be virtually ineffective
Technical personnel is hesitant to adopt, due to lack of research.
Plants are the most used ingredient for the preparation of EVM. All parts of the plants including the bark, flower, seeds, etc are used according to the desirable properties they possess. In literature, many plants that are listed as immunomodulators have been proven using modern technologies.
Following are some of the listed common ailments with their ethnoveterinary treatments:
Mastitis - a paste of turmeric, aloe vera, and lime can be applied topically on udder; lemon to be fed for three days.
Blood in milk - a paste of turmeric, aloe- vera, lime, curry leaves, and jaggery to be given orally.
Tympany - drenching linseed oil along with ginger and turmeric. keeping its mouth open by tying a piece of wood; small balls of paste made from soaked pepper, cumin seeds, onion, garlic, chilly, turmeric, jaggery, ginger, and betel leaves. Given 3-4 times for 4 days.
Retention of the placenta - feeding bamboo leaves or a mixture of ashwagandha root powder, bamboo leaf powder, jaggery, ginger powder, and milk; or a full radish tuber within 2 hrs of calving.
Teat obstruction - insert a neem leaf stalk that has been coated with turmeric and ghee, replace after every milking.
Repeat breeding - start treatment on 1st or 2nd day of heat and feed the following in order :
1 radish daily for 5 days
1 aloe vera leaf daily for 4 days
4 handful Moringa leaves daily for 4 days (Moringa leaves have been proved to be good immunomodulators)
4 handful of curry leaves with turmeric for 4 days (Repeat if the animal has not conceived)
Fever - a paste of garlic (2 pearls), coriander seeds (10g), cumin (10g), tulsi leaves (handful), dry bay leaves (10g), black pepper (10g), betel leaves (5 nos.), shallots (2 bulbs), turmeric powder (10g), chiraita leaf (20g), sweet basil (handful), neem leaves (handful) and jaggery (100g). Feed morning and evening in small amounts.
Diarrhea - drenching 1kg fruit pulp of Indian Bala extract and mango kernels for 2-3days; a paste of cumin, turmeric, garlic, onion, curry leaves, pepper, fenugreek, jaggery, Asafoetida is also helpful when given orally.
Worms - a paste of mustard, neem, bitter gourd, turmeric, pepper, banana stem, and jaggery, given as small balls once daily for 3 days; paste of garlic cloves and pumpkin seeds for intestinal worms.
Ticks/mites - spray made of blended garlic, neem leaves, lantana leaves, tulsi leaves, turmeric powder, and Acorus rhizome. Spray on animal’s body and also in the shed once a week.
FMD mouth lesions - a paste of turmeric, jaggery, grated coconut, cumin seeds, pepper and garlic to be applied on lesions.
FMD foot lesions - a paste of blended neem, turmeric, Mehendi, tulsi, garlic, custard apple, and acalypha leaves, boiled with coconut oil, cooled, and applied as bandage along with a medicated cloth.
Wound - leaf juice of goat weed; leaf and rhizome paste of Acorus; paste of leaves of acalypha; paste of leaves of custard apple and lime; paste made up of neem leaves, turmeric, black salt, and ajwain seed powder.
Maggots - a paste of onion and mustard oil; or onion, leaves of mimosa, and mustard oil. Pouring of turpentine oil on the maggoted wound forces the larvae out which can then be removed manually.
Burns - a paste of flaxseed oil and wheat flour is effective.
Poisoning - seed powders of coriander, sesame, and black pepper mixed with water given orally. Onion bulb or rhizome of ginger blended with black salt orally is also effective.
Reproductive health - root paste of chopped up a plant of Indian globe thistle or root paste of Ficus increases lactation; fennel fruits and roots of Shatavari/asparagus increases the flow of milk; leaf paste or the latex/milk of asthma plant (Euphorbia hirta) or grain mixture of maize used in case antifertility; fruit paste or the leaf and root of plantain helps in the prolapsed uterus; Indian Bela to restore reproductive health in cases of abortion.
Immunomodulators - neem, giloy, amla, tulsi, ginger, garlic, ginseng are a few of the most used traditional medicine for increasing the body’s immunity and also for their anti-inflammatory actions against numerous ailments both in human and veterinary use.
EVM BROCHURE BY NDDB
STATUS OF GROWTH
The period of the 1980's was when the term ‘ethnoveterinary’ was introduced as there was gaining momentum in the realization of the need for traditional healthcare for animals. It was realized that the high-cost of husbandry and healthcare practices could not cater to livestock raisers and small-scale farmers of developing countries. Misuse, abuse, side effects of modern medicines, the reluctance of veterinarians to settle in rural areas. Growing consumer’s interest in organic and farm-fresh food product also provided a stimulus for its emergence. In India, farmers still rely on traditional medicines due to the short-comings of modern medicines. So it has been realized that recognizing its potential will play a vital role in alleviating poverty.
Bharatiya Agro Industries Foundation (BAIF) hosted the first international conference regarding ethnoveterinary medicine in 1997 in Pune. A large number of research programs on EVM were initiated by ICAR through the different institutions to explore the possibilities of treating livestock. The central government is also actively promoting indigenous medicines through the Department of Ayurveda, Yoga Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, and Homeopathy (AYUSH). Indian Dairy Industry is promoting the use of ‘pashuayurveda’ after the success of a pilot project in the dairy community of Gujarat. In May, the government formed a committee to promote the “One Health” concept. As the health of animals and the environment closely links to the health of humans, ethnoveterinary medicines overlap highly with that of humans. This has led to the belief that EVM plays an important role in ‘One Health’.
NEED OF THE HOUR
The importance of these medicinal practices is well established throughout Indian history. However, the emergence of modern medicine has to lead to doubts in minds of the younger generations. It has been observed that the women of the localities are more knowledgeable about these practices. Therefore, it is today’s need that promotional approaches should be done for their wide application and popularisation. To reach the technical front of the sector, R&D activities are needed to encourage scientific testing which will provide validation to the effective practices. Integration of modern medicine, traditional practices, and the use of technology can help in the preparation of more effective and safe prophylactic and therapeutic formulations. Success in this sector can play a wonderful role in safeguarding the health of animals as well as humans.
India is a country of vast biodiversity, which also is the reason, why there is immense knowledge regarding traditional medicines. Recent times have seen diminishing popularity of these medicines as the old locals are dying and the younger have an interest in pursuing western traditions. However, in case of emergencies and fast-spreading epidemics, low-cost EVM will be more readily available. Also, since the EVM option will be available for treating an animal, there will be reduced instances of uneducated farmers getting tricked or forced into using expired allopathic medicines. Therefore, it is an urgent need for analysis, validation, and documentation of this indigenous knowledge that will revive the system of self-reliance in primary health-care. Strengthening and recognizing EVM practices may bridge the gap between natural resources and their management for the future. This will promote our tradition and culture and also work towards conservation, protection, and propagation of biodiversity.