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Traditional medicinal knowledge about medicinal insect Spodoptera litura (Fabricius, 1775) [Noctuidae: Lepidoptera] feeding on Bramhi (Bacopa monnieri), in Chhattisgarh, India. Updated Version.
Entomophagy and Entomotherapy are well known in Asia since generations. Unfortunately not much work has been done to document valuable Traditional Medicinal Knowledge about Insects. Pankaj Oudhia is documenting this knowledge since year 1990. The present note is updated version of his previously published online research document available through pankajoudhia.com.
Keywords: Entomophagy; Entomotherapy; Medicinal Insects; Ayurveda; Chhattisgarh;
Bramhi is a prostrate herb distributed in damp, marshy areas throughout India. Bramhi holds a reputed position as medicinal herb in different systems of medicine in India. According to the reference literatures, the active principle Hersaponin, resembles reserpine and Chloromazine in its central action and is reputed to be promising new tranquilizer. The dense forests of Chhattisgarh are rich in natural population of Bramhi herb. The natives and traditional healers have in depth traditional medicinal knowledge about this herb. Bramhi is under cultivation also in fairly large areas. The infestation of Spodoptera litura was first observed by the herb growers of Chhattisgarh Plains in the year 1999. Every year the area under its infestation is increasing. When the traditional healers of Chhattisgarh specialized in use of medicinal insects were contacted, they replied that in wild population the attack of Spodoptera caterpillars is very common and many healers are utilizing the full fed caterpillar as medicinal insect. During the ethnoentomological surveys conducted in different parts of Chhattisgarh, I have noted that the traditional healers of Chhattisgarh Plains and Southern parts are more aware of different medicinal uses of Spodoptera. They use it externally in most of the cases. Its uses in treatment of Adhasisi (Migraine) and Mirgi (Epilepsy) are most common. The healers collect the full fed caterpillars and after killing, dry it in shade. After drying, the caterpillars are converted into powder and stored for future use. In treatment of Adhasisi, they mix the powder and Sonth (Dried Ginger) in equal proportion and with the help of water, prepare an aqueous paste. This paste is applied externally on painful parts. According to the traditional healers, this combination can be used in normal times also in order to prevent the attack. They further informed that Sonth alone can serve the problem but the addition of caterpillar powder result in synergistic effects. I have tried this combination many times successfully. In treatment of Mirgi (Epilepsy), the healers use the caterpillar powder in combination with dry leaf powder of Kukronda (Blumea lacera). During the attack, the combination is burnt and smoke is directed towards the patient’s nose. This smoke provides great relief to the patient. The traditional healers are not aware of its other medicinal uses. As the infestation of this insect is not very common in Bramhi herbs, many herb vendors collect and sell the full fed caterpillars in form of dry powder to the traditional healers. For the healers, there is no testing method to confirm that the powder is of the caterpillars fed on Bramhi leaves but it is a faith, they believe on the herb vendors.
[New comments added on April, 2014: Through recent surveys I have collected new information about medicinal uses of Spodoptera feeding on Bacopa. Spodoptera is added as important ingredient in over 1800 Formulations used at different stages of Epilepsy. Most of these Formulations are used internally. In Acorus based Formulations Spodoptera is added as secondary ingredient by the Healers of Bastar whereas the Healers of Odisha add it as nonary ingredient. In Mucuna based Formulations it is added as tertiary ingredient. The Healers of Jharkhand having expertise in treatment of advanced stage of Epilepsy add it as secondary ingredient in Mucuna based Formulations. In Cassia based Formulations it is added quinary ingredient. In these Formulations roots of 50 different species of herbs are used with Spodoptera collected from Bramhi. These Formulations are popular among the Healers. In Ocimum based Formulations it is added as septenary ingredient by the Healers of North Chhattisgarh. In Telia Kand based Formulations used in treatment of complicated cases of Epilepsy it is added as secondary ingredient. The Healers claim that without it these Formulations fail to give the desired effects. In Cyperus based Formulations it is added as octonary ingredient. I t is also added as tertiary ingredient specially when these Formulations are used to treat young patients. In Vanda based Formulations it is added as nonary ingredient whereas in Ailanthus based Formulations it is added as quaternary ingredient. It seems that there is endless knowledge present among the Healers about this medicinal insect. The efforts are on to document this knowledge. Please visit pankajoudhia.com for complete Formulations and information on dosage.]
These traditional medicinal uses of Spodoptera litura feeding on Bramhi have yet not been reported in reference literatures. This research article is the first written document on his aspect. Through the on-going ethnoentomological surveys I am trying my best to gather more information on this important aspect. You will find the details in coming articles.
Thank you very much for reading the article.
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Oudhia, Pankaj (2014). Traditional medicinal knowledge about medicinal insect Spodoptera litura (Fabricius, 1775) [Noctuidae: Lepidoptera] feeding on Bramhi (Bacopa monnieri), in Chhattisgarh, India. Updated Version. pankajoudhia.com
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