A Handbook of Medicinal Plants : A Complete Source Book
About this eBook
Medicinal plants are the local heritage with global importance . World is endowed with a rich wealth of medicinal plants. The variety and sheer number of plants with therapeutic properties is quite astonishing. It is estimated that around 70,000 plant specie, from lichens to towering trees, have been used at one time or another for medicinal purposes. The herbs provide the starting material for the isolation or synthesis of conventional drugs. In India, medicinal plants have made a good contribution to the development of ancient Indian Material Medica. During the past one century there has been a rapid extension of the allopathic system of medical treatment in India. It generated commercial demand for pharmacopoeial drugs and their products in India. Efforts have been made to introduce many of these drug plants to farmers. Several research institutes have undertaken studies on the cultivation practices of medicinal plants, which were found suitable and remunerative for commercial cultivation. Medicinal plants have curative properties due to the presence of various complex chemical substances of different composition, which are found as secondary plant metabolites in one or more parts of these plants. These plant metabolities, according to their composition, are grouped as alkaloids, glycosides, corticosteroids, essential oils, etc. During the past decade, a dramatic increase in exports of medicinal plants attests to worldwide interest in these products as well as in traditional health systems. In the last 10 years, for example, India's exports of medicinal plants have trebled. But with most of these plants being taken from the wild, hundreds of species are now threatened with extinction because of overharvesting, destructive collection techniques, and conversion of habitats to crop-based agriculture. For instance, the small coniferous Himalayan yew Taxus baccata has recently become a heavily traded species. Similarly, senna is being grown extensively in arid region of India. The pharmaceutical industries have made massive investment on pharmacological, clinical and chemical researches all over the world in past five decades. Efforts have been made to discover still more potent plant drugs. In fact, a few new drug plants have successfully been passed the tests of commercial screening. The benefits of these efforts would reach to the masses in future if farmers initiates commercial cultivation of medicinal plants. In fact, agricultural studies on medicinal plants, by its very nature, demand an equally large investment and higher priority. India, in particular, has a big scope for the development of pharmaceutical and phytochemical industry.
The Indian Pharmacopoeia 1966 recognized eighty five drug plants whose ingredients are used in various pharmaceutical preparations. We have however, confine our text to a few important commercially grown medicinal plants whose cultivation deserves priority in out national economy. This book is divided in four sections Section I Medicinal Plants An overview, Section II Medicinal Plants A to Z, Section III Colour Atlas, and Section IV Medicinal Plants Resources. The book will be useful for farmers, nursery men, growers, pharmaceutical and ayurvedic herbal companies, extractors, exporters, importers, large and small-scale organic cultivaters, seed production companies, scientists of various research institutes, consultants, planters associations, herbal hospitals, etc. We acknowledge our thanks to various sources from where the text material, photographs, economic-data and resources have been used. We also thank to Dr. Updesh Purohit of Agrobios India for quality production in record time.