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Traditional medicinal knowledge about Tussock caterpillar Porthesia xanthorrhoea Kollar feeding on medicinal rice variety Bhejri 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 “Traditional medicinal knowledge about Tussock caterpillar Porthesia xanthorrhoea Kollar feeding on medicinal rice variety Bhejri in Chhattisgarh, India.” is updated version of his previously published online research document available through pankajoudhia.com.
Keywords: Entomophagy; Entomotherapy; Medicinal Insects; Ayurveda; Chhattisgarh;
Chhattisgarh is known as 'The Rice bowl of India'. Chhattisgarh is considered as one of the origins from where Rice has spread all over the world. The state is rich in Rice diversity. In earlier days, many rice varieties of medicinal importance were under cultivation in Chhattisgarh. The natives and traditional healers have in depth traditional medicinal knowledge about the medicinal varieties. In many parts of the Chhattisgarh, the healers are still using medicinal rice varieties, to treat many common diseases. During the Ethno-entomological surveys conducted in different parts of Chhattisgarh, I have observed that the senior traditional healers of Chhattisgarh Plains aware of medicinal rice varieties use the insects feeding on these varieties as medicinal insects. Through the interactions with the traditional healers, I got information on some unique uses of Tussock caterpillars feeding on medicinal rice variety Bhejri. I have mentioned in previous articles that the grains of Bhejri are used for early removal of placenta in case of cattle. The grains are given in combination with Linseed and Gud (Jaggery) internally. Tussock caterpillars feed on rice leaves. According to the traditional healers the caterpillars collected from organically grown rice plants are collected and after killing, the caterpillars are dipped in decoction, prepared by boiling the Bhengra (Eclipta alba), a common rice weed, leaves in water. After one hour, the caterpillars are taken out and dried in sunlight. After complete drying, by crushing, powder is prepared. The powder is stored for future use. The traditional healers use this powder both internally as well as externally in treatment of many common troubles. The powder is added as main ingredients in popular herbal combinations used to stop all types of bleeding. According to the healers, the powder plays an important role in these combinations. In combination with medicinal herbs, this powder is used internally in treatment of Safed Pani (Leucorrhea), a common trouble in women. Externally, in combination with Kukronda (Blumea lacera) leaves, Kali Mirch (Piper nigrum) and Cow ghee, the powder is used in treatment of Bavasir (Piles). Its regular use not only checks the bleeding but also helps in reducing the intense pain. At present, Bhejri is not under cultivation in Chhattisgarh. The Tussock caterpillars feeding on other rice varieties are not considered suitable by the traditional healers. This is the reason, the use of Tussock caterpillars as medicine is becoming a thing of past. The traditional healers when informed about the medicinal insect of Bhejri, I showed them the coloured photographs of Rice insects around the world. They identified Tussock caterpillars as Bhejri Kidwa. I have yet not seen its practical uses. The senior traditional healers, most of them are over 80 years old, are eager to demonstrate the efficacy of medicinal insect. Their deep faith in the traditional uses is enough to convince me.
[New comments added on April, 2014: Through recent surveys I have collected information about over 2100 Traditional Formulations in which Porthesia collected from medicinal rice Bhejri is added as important ingredient. These Formulations are used for acute as well as chronic cases of Bleeding Piles. In Cissus based Formulations Porthesia is added as secondary ingredient. In Cissus based Formulations both Bhejri and Porthesia play vital role. In Tamarindus based Formulations used for complicated cases of Bleeding Piles Porthesia is added as quinary ingredient. Many times based on the condition on the patients it is added as secondary ingredient. In Madhuca based Formulations Porthesia is added as quaternary ingredient. These Formulations are popular among the Traditional Healers of young generation. The Healers of Odisha add Porthesia as nonary ingredient in Madhuca based Formulations. In Calotropis based Formulations Porthesia is used fresh and added as septenary ingredients. In Blumea based Formulations of North Chhattisgarh Porthesia is added as secondary and quaternary ingredients whereas the Healers of Bastar add it as octonary ingredient. In Tacca based Formulations used to stop the excessive bleeding in this disease add Porthesia as secondary ingredient.
I have noted during surveys that Porthesia is used in Traditional Formulations used to manage old fever. In modern days the so-called unexplained fever is easily managed by the Formulations having this insect. I have documented information about over 300 Formulations in which Porthesia plays key role. In Ventilago based Formulations Neem and Porthesia play important role whereas in Trapa based Formulations Cynodon and Porthesia play the main role. For information on complete Formulations and dosage please visit pankajoudhia.com]
The traditional medicinal uses of Tussock caterpillars on medicinal rice variety Bhejri have yet not been reported in reference literatures. I personally feel that there is a strong need to popularize these promising uses after systematic research.
Thank you very much for reading the article.
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Oudhia, Pankaj (2014). Traditional medicinal knowledge about Tussock caterpillar Porthesia xanthorrhoea Kollar feeding on medicinal rice variety Bhejri in Chhattisgarh, India. Updated Version. pankajoudhia.com
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