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Plant based Medicines: Current trends

Author: 
Dr. Shailendra Pradhan
Subject Area: 
Life Sciences
Abstract: 

Medicinal systems in India when traced back to 5000 BC coincide with the emergence of the Indus Valley civilization around 4500 BC, where agriculture was given much importance. As per the ancient traditions, local communities in every ecosystem starting from the Himalayas down to the coastal plains have discovered the medical uses of thousands of plants found locally in their respective ecosystem. India has one of the richest medical plant cultures in the world. It is a culture that is of tremendous contemporary relevance because it can on one hand ensure health security to millions of people and on the other hand it can provide new and safe herbal drugs to the entire world. It is estimated that there are around 25000 effective plant based formulations used in folk (rural) medicine and known to rural communities all over India and around 10000 designed formulations are available in the indigenous medical texts. Ayurved and Siddha System are probably more than 4000 years old. Charak Samhita (500 BC) the classical, ancient Pharmacopeias were complied on the basis of knowledge obtained from Atharveda. It is estimated that as many as 3226 communities out of 4775 communities in India (70%) are dependent on plant based medicines. The main reasons for wide spread use of plant based medicines in AYUSH (Ayurvedic, Yoga, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy) of ISM include: Efficacy and Safety of the medicine, cultural acceptability, availability, lesser side effects, high sensitivity to disease causing entities (bacteria, fungi, viruses, worms etc.) and above all, the cost effectiveness as compared to allopathic medicines and western system of medicines. In spite of extensive use ofMedicinal and Aromatic Plants(MAPs) in AYUSH and obvious advantages over allopathic medicines, the turnover of Indian herbal medicinal industries is a meagre sum of about Rs. 2300 Crores as against that of allopathic pharmaceutical industry of Rs. 14500 Crores, with a 15% per annum growth rate for ISM.

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