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Year : 2016  |  Volume : 35  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 195-200

Botanical identification of plants described in Mādhava Cikitsā for the treatment of diarrhoea

1 Department of Botany, Jamkhed Mahavidyalaya, Jamkhed, Ahmednagar, Maharashtra, India
2 Department of Botany, Sub-centre Latur of Swami Ramanand Teerth Marathwada University, Nanded, Maharashtra, India

Date of Web Publication10-Aug-2016

Correspondence Address:
Niteen Ramdas Salve
Shubham Bungalow, Shivkripa Colony, Bhist Bagh Naka, Savedi, Ahmednagar - 414 003, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0257-7941.188179

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Context: Mādhava is regarded as a 7th century Indian Physician who composed two treatises (in Sanskrit) on Ayurveda, the Mādhava Nidāna and Mādhava Cikitsā. The former treatise deals with the diagnosis of diseases while the latter with the treatment using medicinal plants and other recipes. In Mādhava Cikitsā , a common Sanskrit name is found to describe two or more totally different botanical plant species (thus leading to ambiguity) and a distinct botanical species is also found to represent two or more Sanskrit names at several instances.
Aims: The present paper deals with the correct botanical identification (most probable) of Sanskrit named plants described in Mādhava Cikitsā for the treatment of Diarrhoea (Atisāra Cikitsā).
Subjects and Methods: The authentic manuscripts of 'Mādhava Cikitsā' were critically studied for the present research outcome. A detailed literature survey is carried out from various references and texts.
Results: The list of Sanskrit named plants contains 103 names, while after the critical study and assigning the most probable botanical identification as per ICBN, the list of plant species described in the text for the treatment of Diarrhoea is found to contain 73 names.
Conclusions: The present study will certainly benefit Ayurvedic medical practitioners and pharmaceutical companies in selection of proper plant species avoiding substitutions for drug formulation.

Keywords: Atisāra Cikitsā, botanical identification, diarrhoea, Mādhava Cikitsā

How to cite this article:
Salve NR, Mishra D. Botanical identification of plants described in Mādhava Cikitsā for the treatment of diarrhoea. Ancient Sci Life 2016;35:195-200

How to cite this URL:
Salve NR, Mishra D. Botanical identification of plants described in Mādhava Cikitsā for the treatment of diarrhoea. Ancient Sci Life [serial online] 2016 [cited 2023 Mar 23];35:195-200. Available from: https://www.ancientscienceoflife.org/text.asp?2016/35/4/195/188179

  Introduction Top

Mādhava Cikitsā , a treatise on principles of therapeutics, is one of the classical Ayurvedic treatises in Sanskrit. It is believed to have been composed in 7th century CE by Mādhava, popularly known as Mādhavācārya or Mādhavakāra .[1]

Ayurveda texts are composed following synonymic names of plants in Sanskrit, whereas the modern system describes plant names by their binomial nomenclature. Many a time a single Sanskrit name is assigned to different botanical species. So it becomes difficult to ascertain the botanical identity of a plant that an Ayurvedic text is referring to.[2] Secondly due to absence of physical specimen or detailed morphological descriptions (necessary for botanical identification), in lexicons (Nighaṇṭus), it again becomes troublesome to correlate Sanskrit names of plants and their botanical identifications. Geographical variations are also found if the authors of the Materia Medica belong to different localities.[2] These medicinal plants/plant parts in modern usage as drugs need their exact botanical identifications for better efficacy of the preparations.

Diarrhoea (also spelt as diarrhea), atisāra in Sanskrit, as per WHO, is a condition where there are three or more loose or liquid stools (bowel movements) per day or more stool than normal. It is an intestinal infection due to a virus, bacteria or parasite. Mādhava Cikitsā in its Chapter 2 on atisāra cikitsā explains several preparations through 60 Sanskrit verses about treating this problem. The present study is an attempt to derive critically these verses, enlist the Sanskrit plant names, and assign these plants to the most probable botanical identity.

  Subjects and Methods Top

The primary authentic manuscript of 'Mādhava Cikitsā' is available as 'Mādhava Cikitsita ' at BORI (Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute), Pune. Its entry can be found in Mss. – A - Aufrecht's Catalogus Catalogorum: i. 449.[3] This manuscript has been worked out by Galgali and Gadgil.[4] The manuscript which was available with lot of gaps at BORI has been corrected by them and thus the transcript with continuity is available for further studies. Another manuscript is available with 'Prācya vidyā pratiṣṭhāna' , Udaipur Library, under the name of 'Mādhavī Cikitsā' that has been worked out by Vaidya Dadhich.[5] This edition is a product of comparison of all the available copies of manuscripts with the corrections for deleted parts, linkages and other discrepancies. Hindi commentary is also given for the original Sanskrit verses.

Both of these works were critically studied for the present study. A list of Sanskrit plants names was made from the study after analysing the verses (paragraphs) from the text for Atisāra Cikitsā .

The classical ancient Ayurvedic texts [4],[5] and lexicons [6] along with the modern work on Ayurveda such as commentaries on the same texts,[7],[8],[9] Sanskrit to English dictionaries,[10],[11] Indian Materia Medica,[12],[13] Glossaries of Indian Medicinal Plants,[1],[14],[15],[16],[17],[18],[19],[20] Databases of Indian Medicinal Plants,[1],[21],[22],[23],[24],[25],[26] that have done correlation work of Sanskrit plant names and botanical names were considered to ascertain correct botanical identities to Sanskrit named plant species described in Mādhava Cikitsā for atisāra cikitsā . A detailed literature survey was carried out from various references and texts, including the official API (The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia of India) and AFI (The Ayurvedic Formulary of India).[27],[28] The most probable botanical identifications were arrived at as per the maximum agreement of a name by the authors/compilers of the references and also by adhering to the latest taxonomic principles of nomenclature of ICBN. The details of the study and identifications are presented in tabular format.

  Results Top

The [Table 1] shows 73 botanical identifications (arranged alphabetically) for the Sanskrit names of plants described in the text.
Table 1: Medicinal plants described in Mādhava Cikitsā for Atisāra Cikitsā

Click here to view

  Discussion Top

The Mādhava Cikitsā text in its chapter on Atisāra cikitsā contains 60 Sanskrit verses describing the treatment, healing methods, and medicines to be administered for diarrhoea. All the plant names are described in Sanskrit either in simple words, compound words or synonyms. On several occasions a common group name representing two or more individual plants (such as Pāñcamūlikā, Tryuṣaṇa, Triphalā) have been prescribed, to which clarifications were resorted to from medico-botanical glossaries, commentaries and such parallel literature.

The Chapter mentions a total of 103 Sanskrit named plants for the treatment of diarrhoea. (The list is provided in column 3 of the table). Many of the plant names were found to be synonyms. The official names (in Sanskrit) as given by API and AFI [27],[28] (column 4 of the table) were given importance to avoid ambiguity. A careful analysis revealed that these 103 plants named in Sanskrit are actually 73 botanical plant species belonging to 47 Families.

The dominant families contributing more plants as medicines for the treatment of Diarrhoea as per Mādhava Cikitsā are Fabaceae (seven species), Apiaceae (five species) and Combretaceae (three species). The rest of the families are represented by one or two species each.

  Conclusion Top

The paper will certainly benefit Ayurvedic medical practitioners and pharmaceutical companies in selection of proper plant species avoiding substitutions for drug formulation and also in designing drugs to treat Diarrhoea.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Kapoor LD. Handbook of Ayurvedic Medicinal Plants, Herbal Reference Library. USA: CRC; 2001.  Back to cited text no. 1
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Sharma HD. Descriptive Catalogue of the Government Collections of Manuscripts Deposited at the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute. Part I. Vol. xvi. Poona: Vaidyaka, BORI; 1939.  Back to cited text no. 3
Galgali SS, Gadgil DP. A Critical Study of Madhava Chikitstitam. A Ph.D. Thesis. Pune: Tilak Maharashtra University; 2008.  Back to cited text no. 4
Dadhicha S. Madhava cikitsa, Acarya Madhavakara viracita Madhava cikitsa Bharti Bhasatika vimarsa vibusita. 1st ed. Rajasthan, Sardarsahar: Shri Bhanvarlal Dugad Ayurveda Vishvabharati; 1979.  Back to cited text no. 5
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Sastry JL, Prasad V. Lakshmana. Madhava Cikitsa Sutramala (Treatment for diseases mentioned in Madhava Nidana). Varanasi: Chaukhambha Orientalia; 2007.  Back to cited text no. 8
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Apte VS. The Practical Sanskrit English Dictionary. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass; 1965.  Back to cited text no. 10
Williams M. A Sanskrit-English Dictionary. London: Oxford University Press; 1964.  Back to cited text no. 11
Dash B, Kashyap VL. Materia Medica of Ayurveda – Based on Ayurveda Saukhyam of Todarananda. New Delhi: Concept Publishing Company; 1980.  Back to cited text no. 12
Dutt UC. The Materia Medica of the Hindus with a Glossary of Indian Plants. Calcutta: Adi Ayurveda Machine Press; 1922.  Back to cited text no. 13
Chopra RN. Indigenous Drugs of India – Their Medical & Economic Aspects. Calcutta: The Art Press; 1933.  Back to cited text no. 14
Fleming J. A Catalogue of Indian Medicinal Plants & Drugs, with Their Names in the Hindustani & Sanskrit Languages. Calcutta: Hindustani Press; 1810.  Back to cited text no. 15
Khare CP. Indian Medicinal Plants – An Illustrated Dictionary. New York, USA: Springer Science + Business Media, ILC; 2007.  Back to cited text no. 16
Mishra DN. Medicinal plants for the treatment of fever (Jvara cikitsa) in the Madhava cikitsa tradition of India. Indian J Tradit Knowl 2009;8:352-61.  Back to cited text no. 17
Meulenbeld GJ. The sarasvatinighantu – Review article. eJ Indian Med 2009;1:19-41.  Back to cited text no. 18
Premila MS, Tyler VM. Ayurvedic Herbs – A Clinical Guide to the Healing Plants of Traditional Indian Medicine. Binghamton, New York: The Haworth Press; 2006.  Back to cited text no. 19
Sivarajan VV, Indira B. Ayurvedic Drugs & Their Plant Sources. New Delhi: Oxford & IBH Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd.; 1994.  Back to cited text no. 20
Anonymous. Indian Medicinal Plants Database, Developed by FRLHT's (Foundation for Revitalization of Local Health Traditions), Bengaluru, India: ENVIS Centre on Medicinal Plants; 2010. Available from: [Last accessed on 2016 Feb 16].  Back to cited text no. 21
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Kirtikar KR, Basu BD. Indian Medicinal Plants. Bahadurganj, Allahabad: Panini Office, Bhuwaneshwari Asram; 1918.  Back to cited text no. 23
Roxburgh W, Carey W, Wallich N. Flora Indica or Descriptions of Indian Plants. Vol. I, II. Serampore: Mission Press; 1824.  Back to cited text no. 24
Sharma PC, Yelne MB, Dennis TJ. Database of Medicinal Plants Used in Ayurveda. I-VII; 2000. Available from: . [Last accessed on 2016 Feb 16].  Back to cited text no. 25
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Anonymous. The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia of India (API). Part I. Vol. I-VI. New Delhi: Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India; 2008.  Back to cited text no. 27
Anonymous. The Ayurvedic Formulary of India (AFI). Part B – Formulary of Single Drugs. New Delhi: Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India; 2000.  Back to cited text no. 28


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