Ethno-medicinal practices of the Lepcha Tribe in Kalimpong District of West Bengal, India
Geetamani Chhetri and YK Rai
Diverse use of natural resources is an age old practice of Lepcha tribe. Their health management system has two parts, first is good or bad spirit responsible for causing diseases and second one is curative herbal medicine prescribed by local healers. The present paper enumerates a total of 75 ethno-medicinal plant species belonging to 71 genera and 48 families used by Lepcha tribe residing in Kalimpong areas of West Bengal. Family Zingiberaceae is dominant with 6 species among all the medicinal plants recorded during the study. As far as plant parts is concerned they use mostly leaves (22 spp.) followed by bark (19 spp.), roots, fruits and seeds (14 spp. each) and rhizomes of 7 species. Of the total plants recorded 72% of them were found to be wild. While considering number of plant species for treating particular disease, maximum number i.e. 21 species is recorded for treating stomach related problems, 10 for treating skin diseases, 8 for rheumatism, 7 for cold and cough, 6 for fever and piles. During the study it has been observed that original Lepcha culture and tradition along with use of herbal medicines is deteriorating with changing of time, therefore documentation and conservation of this nature oriented, eco-friendly culture is of utmost importance.
KEYWORDS: Lepcha, ethno-medicinal plants, Kalimpong, West Bengal.