Our Databases
  1. Helminth Parasite Spectrum in Northeast India NE
  2. Traditional Fermented Foods and Beverages of the Sikkim Himalayas (CLICK HERE for details)
  3. Medicinal Plants of Meghalaya
The Helminth Parasitic Spectrum in Northeast India

Countries situated in the tropics or subtropics the most optimum conditions for the growth and propagation of helminth parasites. Being in a tropical zone, India is by no means an exception to this, for her helminth fauna is rich both in numbers and variety. The vast majority of metazoan parasites known to invade vertebrate hosts are mainly  represented in 3 phyla: Platyhelminthes (Monogenea, Trematodaand Cestoda), Nematoda and Acanthocephala. Many of the parasitic members of these phyla are collectively known as helminths and are causative agents of many debilitating, deforming and killing diseases of man and animals. The diversity to helminth fauna in the Indian subcontinent is reflected in various surveys carried out from time to time by many workers in different parts of the country. However, barring a countable scattered studies, the northeastern region did not get much attention in this regard. This region, covering an area of 2,55,000 sq km (representation about 7.7% of the total geographic area of the country) is a distinct geographic unit. Presently comprising seven administrative states viz., Assam, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura, the northeastern region in India is known of high endemism with a rich diversity in its biocoenospectrum.  Research in to the parasitofauna in Northeast India is at different levels. The earlier studies done in the region pertain to medico-veterinary aspects in the erstwhile Greater Assam. Of the seven administrative states of the region, some have remained untouched as far as exploratory study on helminthiasis is concerned, and for others there is scattered and scanty information available. The greatest amount of material has been studied with regard to only some groups of verteprates, Amphibia and mammalian livestock in particular, which have been devoted considerable attention. While negligibleseems to havebeen done on this aspect in Arunachal Pradesh, there is scanty information available on the distribution and abundance of helminth parasites in respects of only some host groups from Mizoram, Manipur and Tripura states. The present compendium provides a general and concise description of the helminth parasite spectrum in Northeast India based on the so far available information. Some of the parasite species recorded from animal host acquire added signifacance, as they are known to cause zoonoses.

Traditional Fermented Foods and Beverages of the Sikkim Himalayas (Click Here)

Sikkim is a mountainous state of India with an area of 7096 sq. km and altitudes ranging from 300 m to 8500 m. The state comprises four districts of North, East, South and West. The total population of Sikkim is 540,493 (Census 2001) and comprises three major ethnic groups of people, the Nepali, the Bhutia and the Lepcha. The food culture of the Sikkim Himalayas is reflected in the pattern of food production. Agriculture forms a major component of a mixed farming system. Depending on the altitudinal variation, the main agricultural crops are rice, maize, finger millet, wheat, buckwheat, barley, vegetable, potato, soybeans, large cardamom, ginger, and a variety of seasonal vegetables such as cabbage, brinjal, chili, mustard leaves, cucumber, pumpkin, sponge gourd, radish, carrot, tomato, etc. Preparation of wild edible plants including bamboo shoots, ferns and their parts such as seeds, fruits, roots, leaves, flowers in local diet is an important component of food culture. Seasonal fruits such as orange, apple, banana, etc. are grown and eaten. Livestock mostly plays a subsidiary role in the mixed farming system. Cattle rearing is common for milk, milk products and meat. Yaks (Bos grunniens) are reared mostly on extensive alpine and sub alpine scrub lands between 2100 m to 4500 m altitude for milk products and meat.

Traditional food fermentation is one of the oldest ‘biotechnological’ processes from which development of fermented foods, based on trial and error, is rooted in the cultural history of human being. Development of spontaneous food fermentation technology was primarily governed by agro-climatic conditions, availability of raw materials of plant and animal origin, socio-cultural ethos and ethnical preferences. During the process locally available agricultural produce are converted biochemically into upgraded edible products called fermented foods.

Traditional fermented food has always been a rich ingredient to the Sikkimese culture. The Bhat-dal-tharkari-achar (rice-legume soup-curry-pickle) constitutes the daily food supply in the meal (Tamang, 2000a). Daily per capita consumption of fermented foods in Sikkim is 87.6 g and in the Darjeeling hills, 60.9 g, representing 9.8 % and 6.8 % of the total daily food consumed in local diet, respectively (Yonzan and Tamang, 1998). Selected microorganisms harbour on to the substrates and optimum condition provided by the people, helps to get new products. These inexpensive culturally acceptable traditional foods provide basic diet as staple, adjunct, pickle, confectionery, condiment and alcoholic beverages, which supplement enhanced nutritional quality, palatability and wholesomeness of the product with acceptable flavour and texture. Varieties of traditional fermented and non-fermented foods are prepared, cooked and consumed in the Sikkim Himalayas (Tables 1 & 2). Women in these regions, using their indigenous knowledge of food fermentation, mostly prepare these traditional foods.

Medicinal Plants of Meghalaya

Meghalaya, the 21st state of the Indian Union, has an area of 22,429 sq km and a population of 23,06,069 (Census 2001), the higher ridges of the state lie in the coniferous belt, gradually sloping down to sub-tropical and tropical zones. Tucked away in the Northeastern region of India, it lies between 250 and 26.150 N and 89.450 and 92.470 E. The state has at present seven administrative districts-West Garo Hills, East Garo Hills, South Garo Hills, West Khasi Hills, East Khasi Hills, Ri Bhoi and Jaintia Hills. 


Meghalaya is one of the richest states of India in terms of vegetation and flora. A large variation in the altitude, topographical features, soil characteristics and climatic factors has favoured the growth and luxuriance of the rich flora here. Meghalaya is endowed with a rich variety of beauty in nature. Of the 17,000 species of orchids in the World, about 1,250 exist in India; about 700 species are distributed in the northeastern states, of which nearly 352 are found in Meghalaya. 

The wide geographical and climatic diversity provides a repository of valuable medicinal plant wealth of the region. These plants had valuable place in indigenous system of medicine. It is only recently that the importance of these plants has been focussed on collection and evaluation of their valuable constituents. This valuable germplasm may be lost or may become extinct due to deforestation, shifting cultivation, over-exploitation, and also because of the power and irrigation projects being established to develop the area.

The people of Meghalaya, especially the tribals, are well acquainted about the medicinal properties of the plants growing in their surroundings. This knowledge was gained through experience and on from generation to generation as a guarded secret, and therefore, remained limited to a small group.

The state of Meghalaya is inhabited by three distinct tribes- Khasis, the Garos and the Jaintias, each occupying the respective hill district in the State, among which there exists a rich plant folklore.