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.
By Ashwani Kumar
| September 23rd 2009 04:33 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.
The tribals of the district play an important role in conservation of flora and fauna of the area by imposing religious beliefs on communities, so that natural resources are available wherever they need them. The tribals primarily depend on locally available plant species for health care and for the treatment of diseases prevailing in men, women, children and their domestic animals.
Tribals of Jaipur district worship all the God and Goddesses of Hindu religion along with number of local deities. These deities are associated with a number of plant species. During the present survey 16 plant species have been recorded to be scared and auspicious, important one being of genus Ficus and Acacia. Ocimum sanctum and Aegle marmelos being sacred. Similar informations about herbal medicinal plants were provided by number of workers from various parts of country (Kirtikar and Basu, 1935; Nadkarni, 1954; Chopra et al., 1958; Sharma, 1982, Mishra and Kumar, 2001; Kumar and Roy, 2006; Kapil and Roy, 2007;Kumar and Sopory, 2008;).
Traditional herbal medicines are still under practice in different tribal areas of the state for the treatment of various diseases. These herbal traditional methods have been developed through experience of many generations. Tribals have also played an important role in preserving the germ plasm of certain crop plants by growing some of the traditional local races as well as wild relatives of the commonly cultivated crops, which are having specific characters of hardiness, disease resistance, drought resistance and on some occasions they have also helped in averting widespread famines.
Tribals also use herbal contraceptive, to control fertility and prevent pregnancy, thereby checking the population. For this purpose 16 plant species, recorded. Such herbal contraceptives have also been reported from various tribal areas of the state ( Jain et al., 2005).
The growing interest in herbal drugs owing to their minimal side effects, low cost and long lasting affectivity has opened a new global market for herbal drugs (Jhakar et al., 2004).
Since early age plants have served for human adornment for the millenia and people have been using various kinds of herbs to maintain their beauty.The study revealed that the use of plants as herbal cosmetics is prevalent among the tribal communities and represent not only a part of their ethnic culture but also witness the use of plants in their regular health care practices since ancient times. The most common plants recorded are Curcuma longa, Ocimum sanctum, Vitex negundo, Sesamum indicum and flour of Cicer aritinuma ( Ambasta et al., 1993, Sharma and Kumar, 2002 and Sharma et al., 2003).
The collection and documentation of tribal knowledge based on the cosmetic use of plants is no doubt a remarkable step keeping in view the fading ethnic traditions and culture. Attempts should be made to authenticate and evaluate the efficacy and cosmetic value of these plants and their products used by the tribals. Moreover, there is urgent need to conserve the germ plasm and cultivation of such plants in suitable agroclimatic zones for their better survival to meet the demand of herbal cosmetic industry for the welfare of human being.
During the present research on attempt has been made to place a brief note on the applied aspect of the fundamental principle of Ayurvedic therapy along with the concept of Ayurvedic classification of diseases and methods of cures and have a good grasp of the Ayurvedic treatment based on plant crude drugs (Jain et al, 2005, Sharma and Kumar 2007).
The collection, identification and documentation of ethnomedicinal data on biological resources are inevitable steps for bioprospecting. The native inhabitants are well-versed with the utilization of plants of their surrounding by their long trial and error method of using the herbal plants. 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.
Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) has been a serious life-threatening health problem since 1981 and is the most quickly spreading disease of the century. On account of recent reports of WHO and UNAIDS, at the end of 2001, an estimated 40 million people globally were living with HIV, out of them about 22 million people had died. Several plants have anti-HIV potential e. g. Artemisia annua, Croton tiglium, Curcuma longa , Glycyrrhiza lepidata, Polyalthia suberosa, Phyllanthus myrtifolius.