Traditional oral healthcare practices followed by the Garo tribe of West Garo Hills District, Meghalaya

Marak, Adela D; Mathew, Binu

Abstract

Ethnomedicinal study of therapeutic healing methods of oral diseases was conducted during 2016-19 in the West Garo Hills district of Meghalaya, India. Recurrent field trips in and around different parts of West Garo Hills lead to the five most knowledgeable and available THPs (Traditional health practitioners) from whom valuable information was elicited. A pre-tested interview schedule was used to gather information from them. Information like vernacular names, common names, scientific names, family, habit, habitat, plant parts used and a comprehensive procedure for preparation of the medicines was recorded. After obtaining detailed information regarding the indigenous wild medicinal plants used wholly for healing oral diseases, an assessment was made that, 14 plant species belonging to 12 different families were found to heal the dreadful and painful disease. Out of the 14 plants having medicinal value, the most important plants used were Curcuma longa L., Piper nigrum L., Piper longum L. and Mimosa pudica L., etc. These 14 medicinal plant species are comprised of trees (five), shrubs (three), herbs (three), vines (two) and grass (one). Among the plant parts used, the leaves were the most primarily used plant part, followed by root and rhizome. The plants were either used alone or in combination with other species. The administration of these herbal medicines was mostly done orally in the form of a juice/decoction. In some cases, the juice was also used to rinse the mouth. These medicinal plants were mostly collected from nearby forests, local markets and kitchen gardens. The present paper aims for the documentation of the ever-diminishing information on the wisdom and knowledge of the Garo THPs on use of various herbs in the traditional oral healthcare system and the detailed description of the preparation and treatment procedure that were practiced by the Garo THPs in the West Garo Hills of Meghalaya.

Keyword(s)

Dental care, Ethnomedicine, Garo tribe, Oral disease, Traditional medicine

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