Most of the plant species used by tibals are included in the modern form of pharmacopoeia: Herbal medicine and health
By Ashwani Kumar
| September 20th 2009 06:49 PM | Print
Traditional medicines are used in all civilizations and cultures in health care systems worldwide. Since the beginning of civilization, people have used plants as medicine. Ethnobotany is the study of use of indigenous plants by particular culture and region. Ethnobotanists explore how plants are used for food, shelter, medicine, clothing, hunting, and religious ceremonies.
Perhaps as early as Neanderthal man, plants were believed to have healing powers. The earliest recorded uses are found in Babylon circa 1770 BC in the Code of Hammurabi and in ancient Egypt circa 1550 B.C. In fact, ancient of their pharaohs. Plants have been recovered from the Giza pyramids as Egyptians believed that medicinal plants to have utility even in the afterlife.
In most developing countries, the indigenous modes of herbal treatment are a part of the culture and the dominant method of healing therapy. These remedies, show considerable effectiveness, and are socially accepted, economically viable and, mostly, are the only available source. Plants used in traditional medicine, therefore, have a critical role in the maintenance of health all over the world.
Traditional medicine is practiced throughout the world. The examination of drugs used in traditional medicine in the various parts of the world is, therefore, one of the priority programs of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
All traditional medicines have their roots in folk medicines and household remedies. Globally, about 80 per cent of the traditional medicines used for primary health care are derived from plants. Medicinal and aromatic plants (MAPs) play an important role in the healthcare of people around the world. WHO has listed 20,000 medicinal plants used in different parts of the world. Some other estimates indicate between 35,000 and 70,000 plants are used worldwide in traditional medicine. However subsequently the traditional medical systems became more organized. These organized or codified traditional medical systems employ relatively few species, viz. 500-600 in traditional Chinese medicine, 1100 in Tibetan medicine (Sowangpa), 1500 in the Ayurveda, 450 in the Homoeopathy, 342 in the Unani, and 328 in the Siddha systems (Jain et al., 2005).
In spite of tremendous development in the field of allopathy during the 20th century, plants still remain one of the major sources of drugs in modern as well as traditional systems of medicine throughout the world . India and China are the world’s leading producing nations of medicinal and aromatic plants.
About 25 per cent of drugs in modern pharmacopoeia
are derived from plants (phytomedicine) and many others are
synthetic analogues built on prototype compounds isolated from plants
. Upto 60 per cent of the drugs prescribed in Eastern Europe consists of unmodified or slightly altered higher plant products Hence it is important to look for the plants used in traditional medicines for the source for allopathic medicines also.
Ethnobotinical relationship exist among the tribal communities and flora and fauna through the world. Ethnobotany has been shown to be a useful guide to the selection of plants containing compounds active against viruses that cause human disease. The Australian Aboriginal people are estimated to have inhabited the Australian continent for at least 40000 years. Experimentation with plants and the passage of knowledge from one generation to the next resulted in the development of a vast knowledge about the plants to use for foods, implements, medicines and narcotics, and the methods of plant preparation. Traditional medical practices still play an important role in some areas of Australia today. Ethnobotanical studies provide vast amount of data with potential use in medicine. Pharamcognostical studies are helpful in identification of crude drugs. The yield of the plant could be improved by experimental manipulation (Ambastha, 1986; Kotia and Kumar, 2000; Johari and Kumar, 1992).
The tribal man have developed a good expertise to locate, harvest and process the useful materials for various purposes( Maheshwari, 2000). Number of plant species have useful and privileged value for tribals as they use these species for making various agricultural tool, domestic articals and treatment of various diseases. Such type of study has been carried out by number of Botanists and Ethnologists in our country (Jain, 1960, 1997). In present study, during survey, it has been observed that the tribals of different regions. They seem to have the knowledge of the chemical composition of plant species as most of the plant species used by them are included in the modern form of pharmacopoeia.
- These plants may serve as source of some important medicine against some major diseases. Therefore, these tribal and rural claims should be further validated scientifically.
- Nature has been a source of medicinal agents for thousands of years
- Nature has been a source of medicinal agents for thousands of years, and an impressive number of modern drugs have been isolated from natural sources
- The tribal people and ethnic races throughout the world have developed their own culture, customs, cults, religious rites, taboos, totems, legends and myths, folk-fores and song, foods, medicinal practices, etc.
- Only reverting to nature cure can make human health better: Ethnobotany in modern perspective