Health Perceptions and Ethnomedicinal Practices among the Tai Khamti in Namsai District of Arunachal Pradesh, India

With the current pace of globalisation and increased anthropogenic activities, forest resources are rapidly deteriorating. Consequently, the primary challenge to the forest fringe communities is the reduction of biodiversity and the gradual change in climatic conditions. Such societies are naturally dependent on the forest resources for their livelihoods and the use of medicinal plants remains crucial to their traditional healthcare practices. Keeping this in perspective, it has become essential to explore and identify the traditional ethnomedicinal knowledge and document the enriched, localised herbal remedies for the preservation of such information for the greater interest of human society. The present study reports the health consciousness of the Tai Khamti of Namsai district of Arunachal Pradesh and highlights their ethnomedicinal system. Data was collected through extensive fieldwork among herbal practitioners assisted by concrete case studies of patients and the author’s first-hand observation. The study stresses that perceptions of health and illness were closely associated with deities and evil spirits and hence involved magico-religious beliefs and spiritual practices. It was also found that the traditional knowledge of ethnomedicine has strengthened their hygiene practices and also promoted the health consciousness among the tribe.