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Medicinal Plants

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Medicinal plants have therapeutic and curative property. Some part or the parts of the plants have health-promoting characteristics or are effective in providing temporary or long term relief to symptomatic problems. Its effectiveness in providing relief is a precursor for synthesis of useful drugs.

The history of medicinal plants is as old as mankind. When people became ill and suffered from various ailments, they relied on herbal remedies derived from herbs and spices. These became the source of many medicinal herbs and spices, which find place in day-to-day uses.

In recent years, there has been an explosion of interest regarding plants and their medicinal value in the western world, especially the US. In 1994, the Dietary Health and Education Act was passed which allowed any substance which can be found naturally to be sold as a “dietary supplement” regardless of its concentration or potential hazards. Since then, interest in medicinal plants has increased dramatically in the United States.[1]

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[edit] Why should I be aware of this?

  • Plant medicines require longer duration to cure but have fewer side effects apart from being free of industrial chemicals.
  • It is easy to introduce healing herbs into our lives on a day to day basis.
  • One should be aware of the correct dosage, the correct plant species before using it.
  • Some parts of the plants might be toxic even as other parts are curative. It is better to consult an alternative medicine physician or an expert in the field or at least do detailed research before consuming anything. Consulting your family physician who is aware of your medical history is also important otherwise you may land up with a new problem.
  • Medicinal plants are an important part of primary health care in underdevloped and remote regions.

[edit] All about medicinal plants

Medicinal plants constitute an important natural wealth of a country. They play a significant role in providing primary health care services to rural people.

They serve as therapeutic agents as well as important raw materials for the manufacture of traditional and modern medicine. Substantial amount of foreign exchange can be earned by exporting medicinal plants to other countries. In this way indigenous medicinal plants play significant role of an economy of a country.

medicinal plants based on Indian System of Medicine comprising Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and Homeopathy had least side effects, he said Nutraceutical supplements based on herbal plants, such as garlic, turmeric and spirulina were emerging into trend across the world. There is no doubt that certain plants offer valuable medicinal properties. But there are many challenges that local communities face in the harvesting and cultivation of these plants

[edit] All about medicinal plants

Medicinal plants display beneficial pharmacological effects. Although they have nothing specific in common amongst themselves or have apparent morphological characteristics, they possess some special qualities or virtues that make them medicinally important.

Scientists have established that plants which naturally synthesise and accumulate some secondary metabolites, like alkaloids, glycosides, tannins, volatiles oils and contain minerals and vitamins, possess medicinal properties.

[edit] How should these plants be consumed

These plants can be taken in many forms.

  • Infusions --- Here herbs or spices ae steeped with parts like leaves and flowers with boiling water for some time.
  • Filtered or unfiltered -- The water extracts of medicinal parts are taken in filtered or unfiltered form as herbal remedies.
  • Decoction -- Here the roots, bark and hard parts of herbs and spices are boiled in water for a long time.
  • Herbal tea -- Infusion and decoction both are known as herbal teas.

[edit] Examples of medicinal plants

  • Thyme -- Thyme is said to slow down the ageing process by maintaining the vigour of our body cells
  • Sage -- Sage is an excellent antiseptic for treating mouth ulcers and sore throats.
  • Chamomile -- Chamomile is a safe treatment for childrens' stomach upsets.
  • Garlic --Garlic contains fungicides and is used in the treatment of Candida. It is also good for those suffering from a heart disease.
  • Hollyhock- The flowers of hollyhock are used for treating repiratory and inflammatory ailments.
  • Angelica -- Though all parts of the plant are medicinal, preparations are made mainly from the roots. It helps those suffering from flatulence, colic, Buerger’s disease and a tonic for bronchitis.
  • Hyssop -- Hyssop is used in the treatment of chest congestion and coughs, to soothe sore throats, and to act as a mild sedative. Topical applications of hyssop include use as a gargle for sore throat, as a poultice or compress for bruises, sprains, wounds, and insect bites, as a bath herb for rheumatism, and as a salve or chest rub for congestion.

[edit] Medicinal plants and health

Here are some common ailments which benefit from medicinal plants in most cases.

  • Bronchial disorders -- The whole plant of Indian Acalypha, dried, is a drug against bronchitis, asthma and pneumonia. The dried stems of Ephedra and dried leaves of Datura also provide anti asthmatic medicines. Holy basil or tulsi, long pepper, black pepperand vasaka are used in preparations to combat coughs and common cold.
  • Rheumatic disorders -- Dried Acalypha, dried rhizomes, the oil of wintergreen and the dried roots of ashwagandh provide relief in rhematism.
  • Digestive ailments -- A drug made from the entire plant of perguleria is effective for infantile diarrhea. A drug based on immature leaves and flower heads of wormseed is used for deworming for children. Indian gentian plant components and the rhizomes of calamus remove flatulence. Cassia pulp is a good laxative, while kaladana seeds give rise to a remedy for constipation. Cinnamon bark preparations prevent/ control vomiting.
  • Cardiac problems -- The dried roots of Rauvolfia Serpentina and catharanthus have a good action against high blood pressure. Dried leaves of digitalis are also used to control problems associated with heart diseases.
  • Others --Amla, bahera and harra endowed with excellent tonic characteristics. Amla is a good source of Vitamin C. The antimalarial quinine is a component of cinchona bark. Aswagandha is used as a general restorative for consumption, debility and sexual weakness.

[edit] References

  • Uses of Medicinal Plants
  • Medicinal plants of India
  • Medicinal plants `awareness low'
  • Medicinal plants, Spices, and Herbal Remedies as Ayurveda in India
  • Hortus Medicus
  • Medicinal plants of Bangladesh

[edit] Source

  1. The Natural History of Medicinal Plants