Healing with Plants – traditional medicine & herbal industry

Medicinal plants are not only a major resource base for the traditional medicine & herbal industry but also provide livelihood and health security to a large segment of Indian population. About 1178 species of medicinal plants are estimated to be in trade of which 242 species have annual consumption levels in excess of 100 metric tons/year.

Use of plants based drugs for curing various ailments is as old as human civilization and is used in all cultures throughout history.

Plants play an important role in the development of new drugs. Phytochemicals are the natural compound occur in plants, vegetables and fruits, that work with nutrients and fibers to act against diseases or more specifically to act against diseases. As the plants are directly in contact with air, water and soil, the constituents of these sources might contaminate the plants. In addition to the toxic elements such as mercury, arsenic, lead, nickel and cadmium which might be present in some plants and threatened the consumer health, especially the children and elderly. Useful elements such as calcium, magnesium, zinc, manganese and iron are also usually present in plants which help the good health.

Classification of herbal medicines:
Herbal medicines are classified into;
1. Ayurvedic Herbalism (Ayurveda meaning science of life) which is derived from Sanskrit word. This system originated from Indian medicines about 500 years ago and was practiced in its neighboring countries like Srilanka.
2. Chinese Herbalism
3. African Herbalism

4. Western Herbalism, Greece and Rome were their originating countries which were then spread to Europe, North and South America Plants based medicine play an important role in world health.

The reasons for upsurge in the use of Herbal Medicine
In recent times, the popularity and use of Herbal Medicine have cut across geographical, gender, economic and socio-cultural divisions. Indeed, and is occupying a strategic position in the general healthcare of people worldwide. Some of the probable reasons for this include:
1. Personal preferences
2. Perception of safety

3. Easy accessibility
4. Low cost
5. Efficacy of treatments
6. As the last resort
Conclusion
Even in the light of increased sophistication of modern healthcare as enriched by science and technology, the use of herbal medicine will continue to thrive in both poor and rich societies for many and probably different reasons. It is important for stakeholders: governments, farmers, scientists, healthcare providers (physicians, pharmacists and nurses) and biotechnical engineers to give enough attention to herbal medicines and its challenges in a deliberate effort to create for it appropriate niche that will ensure that it develops alongside with conventional medicine.
Empower Your Health!!!
Be part of a growing movement in using herbal medicine for increased health, vitality and well-being.

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