The department of Ethnomedicine and Medicinal Plants generate the first hand field information on ethnomedicinal practices for their further scientific validation. The department was co-established with the Institute in 2006 and Plant Biotechnology & Tissue Culture facilities were established in 2010 within the department. The documentation of traditional practices, collection and identification of medicinal plants, developing pharmacognostic & quality profiles of the medicinal plants are the core activities of the Department. The department is also involved in conservation of genetic resources of medicinal plants in the form of Herbal Garden and development of Crude Drug Repository and Herbaria in the institute. In plant biotechnology, we are engaged in developing protocols for rapid multiplication for prioritized medicinal plants, re-introduction programs for RET species, analysis of important phytoconstituents, variations in levels of secondary metabolites, the role of mutation for higher production and elicitation of secondary metabolites, Agrobacterium-mediated transformation, etc. The studies on alternative sources for production of valuable bioactive compounds, such as endophytic fungi are also in progress. The Department has harboured several PDFs, Doctoral, and PG students to work. The division is engaged in.
The Department is envisaged to have the knowledgebase on ethnomedicinal practices in the region. The Department have the required facilities for plant identification, herbarium preparation and storing, micro- and macro- photographic facilities including florescent microscope. In addition, facilities for extraction and fractionation (Rota evaporator, Lyophilizer etc.) for quality studies, analytical facilities such as HPLC (Analytical)/ UFLC, UV double beam spectrophotometer etc. are also available in the Department.The Department has the basic requirement for plant tissue culture and biotechnological research. Facilities available include well-equipped plant tissue culture laboratory and greenhouse, along with Laminar fume hood, Balance, pH meters, steam less Autoclaves, Orbital shakers, Centrifuges, Ultra Flow Liquid Chromatography, Cryostats, Deep freezers (-20°C), etc.
The department started its activities with the creation of “Database for medicinal plants of Western Ghats”, through ICMR multi-centric task force study, the CD of which was released in 2010 and was made available online later (http://nitmmedplantsdb.in/). The “Herbal Garden for Medicinal Plants of Western Ghats” and “Museum for Ethnomedicinal Plants of Western Ghats” were established, with funding support by National Medicinal Plants Board and Central Council for Research in Ayurveda, respectively. In the process of validation of traditional practices, the preparations for arthritis, ulcers, fever, and abdominal colic pain have been evaluated, of which the TM practice for arthritis has completed the clinical evaluations and ready for commercialization. Scientific evaluation of selected practices for wound healing and diabetes are in progress. The department has also worked on concepts of Ayurveda, like Vrikshayurveda (Ayurveda for plants) and Shodhana (Process of de-toxification) and provided the scientific basis for these concepts. The department has successfully completed several projects funded by ICMR, Department of Science and Technology, Karnataka State Forest Department, and others. In vitro multiplication protocols have been developed for prioritised medicinal plants like on different species including Achyranthes coynei, A. aspera, Saraca asoca, Nothapodytes nimmoniana, Jasminum malabaricum, Ancistrocladus heyneanus, Curcuma pseudomontana,Iphigenia stellata and Sps. of Clerodendrum. The enhanced production of Betulinic Acid, Oleanolic acid, Ursolic acid, apigenin and shikimic acid has been achieved through biotechnological application, when compared to their natural sources. In addition, different extraction techniques for bioactive compounds and their effect on biological activities have been optimised for various sps. of Sida, Ocimum, Piper, Curcuma, and many others. Efforts were also made to identify the alternative sources for the medicinally important bioactive compounds like Shikimic acid and Glaucarubinone.
The Department is recognized for guideship by KAHER (KLE Deemed University), Belagavi and Shivaji University, Kolhapur for Ph. D programs. The department is hosting various Post-Doctoral fellows from ICMR, DHR, DST etc. Workshops, field visits, and hands-on training programs related to plant identification, herbarium and pharmacognosy techniques are being organized regularly. Regular and customised workshops and hands-on trainings on plant tissue culture and phytochemical techniques are being organized. The department is providing services like taxonomic identification and authentication of plants, helping in the collection/processing of medicinal plants to the researchers from neighbouring institutes in the region. The Department welcomes Post-Doctoral fellows, PhD students and a limited number of trainee/ Master’s dissertation students of M.Sc in Biological Sciences/ Pharmacy/ AYUSH backgrounds to become members of the team !