Purpose: The study aimed to document wild food plants usefulness in boosting immunity, fighting COVID-19 and other related viruses. The study also examined the diversity, distribution, parts used and season of availability of wild food plants that can be useful in boosting immunity to fight COVID-19.
Subjects and Methods: The study was conducted in Himachal Pradesh (300 22' 40" to 330 12' 40" N Latitudes and 750 45' 55" to 790 04' 20" E Longitudes) northwest Himalaya from March 2020 to April 2021 by survey, sampling and interviewing knowledgeable persons through a questionnaire for the plants which are traditionally used as tonic and medicine to cure cough, cold and fever. Plants rich in antioxidant, Vitamin A,C and Zn were documented for their potential to boost immunity.
Results: Ninety-five wild edible plants have been documented in this study belonging to forty families and seventy-seven genera. Family Asteraceae is found dominant, represented by 8 species followed by Lamiaceae (7 sp), Rutaceae and Brassicaceae (represented by 6 species each). Among genus, Ficus is found dominant represented by 4 species followed by Amaranthus, Oxalis, Rumex and Citrus (represented by 3 species each). These plants have been documented based on their medicinal and nutritive value like the richness in antioxidants, their ability to act as a body cleanser, cure common cold, cough and fever (Symptom similar to COVID-19) as revealed by a discussion with locals and literature reviews. These plants can be incorporated in our day-to-day life as a food, flavoring agent, or food supplement to boost immunity, fight COVID-19 or future challenges like COVID-19. Traditional knowledge of using these plants is on a sharp decline and their acceptability as a medicinal herb, food plants, or food supplement is the need of the hour to combat present and future challenges of pandemic COVID-19.
Conclusion: Revitalization of our traditional health care and herbal healing with the use of nutritionally important medicinal wild food plants will be helpful to boost immunity and face ongoing and future challenges of pollution, stress, depression and pandemic like COVID-19. This can be done by the addition of documented plants as food and food supplements with some modern twist to our food plate.