Advantages of aromatic plants
Uses in pharmacy
Medicinal plants in traditional systems
of medicine and emerging plants of drug and pharmaceutical industries
- The use of plants as medicine is as old
an human civilization.
- The earliest record of use of medicinal
plants for prevention of diseased and cure of ailments can be
traced in "Rigveda" perhaps the oldest repository o
fhumna knowledge having been written between 4,500 and 1600 BC.
- In the 'Atherveda", which is a later
production , the use of plants as drug is more varied and it is
the "Ayurveda" which is considered as "Upveda"
that the definite properties of drugs and their uses have been
given in more details.
- To the early part of this century, there
was a perceptible change from herbal medicines to synthetic and
coal-tar products and one time it was thought that the chemical
systesis would completely replace the drugs of plant origin.
- There is no doubt that, with the development
of many wonderful drugs of plant origin and phenomenal growth
of modern pharmaceutical industry, the pace of growth and popularity
of herbal medicine have been considerable affected in recent past,
but the indigenous (traditional ) or folk medicines still remain
alive as precious cultural heritage in different civilization
of the world and herbal medicines continued to cater the medicinal
needs of the third world countries which are inhabitated by approximately
80% of the world's population.
- Moreover, there has been renewed interest
in the herbal medicines and apex body like WHO has recognized
the potentialities of traditional or folk medicines in the management
and self reliance of medicinal care system, and currently encourages,
recommends and promotes the inclusion of herbal drugs in "National
Health Care Pragrammes" because such drugs are easily available
at a price within the reach of a common man and as such are time
tested and thus considered to be much safer than the modern synthetic
- India, in this regard has unique position
in the world, where a number of traditional systems of midicine
Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani, Homeopathy are practiced and utilized
in the total health care system of the country and all the these
systems are predominantly dependent upon medicinal plants.
Medicinal plants used in Traditional or Indigenous
systems of medicine
- Traditional medicine is wide spread through
out of the world and it comprises those practices based on beliefs
that were inexistence, often for hundreds of years, before the
development and spread of modern scientific medicines and which
are strill in use to day.
- As its name implies, "It is the part
of tradition of each country of employees practices that have
been handed down from generation to generation. Its acceptance
by a population is largely conditioned by cultural factors and
much of traditional medicine, therefore may not be easily transferable
from once culture to another".
- An important feature of traditional therapy
is the preference of practitioner for compound prescriptions over
single substance/drugs as it is being held that some constituents
are effective only in the presence of others.
- This renders assessment of efficacy and
eventually identification of active principles as required in
international standards much more difficult than for simple preparation.
- In India earlier, the medicines used in
indigenous systems of medicines were generally prepared by the
practicing by themselves, but now this practice has been largely
replaced by the establishment of organized indigenous drug's industry.
- It is estimated that at present there are
more than 46,000 licensed pharmacies in Indian systems of medicine
and nearly 400,000 registered practitioners of Ayurveda, Siddha,
Unani medicine or Homeopathy. As far as the Ayurveda systems of
medicine is concerned, it does not rule out any substances being
used as potential source of medicine.
- Presently about 1,000 single drugs and
8000 compound formulations of recognized merit are in vogue.
- In fact reliable data on availability in
different regions of country as well as supply and demand of medicinal
plants used in production has been estimated around 2,000 crores
and is expected to reach up to 4,000 crores by the year 2,000.
Herbal Crude Drugs
- In India most of the medicinal and aromatic
plant or crude drugs (roots,Stems,leaves, flowers,seeds,fruit,whole
plants etc.) are handled by the traditional herbal crude drugs
dealers commonly known as "Pansaris" in the North and
"Pachamarunna Kado" in the south, who sell crude drugs
under Ayurvedic, Unani or local names.
- They have go their own traditional suppliers
who have been supplying the crude drugs to them since ages.
- In the market, we do not often get genuine
or standardized crude drugs due to one or another reason. In large
number of cases botanically different plants are being sold and
used for the same Ayurvedic drug in different places.
- Some times different species of the same
genus which are more easily and cheaply available are used in
the place of one that has been prescribed in the literature. Further,
there are certain well known drugs about which confusion still
prevails with regards to their correct identity dur to the fact
that descriptions of the plants in Ayurvedic literature are meager
- As a result of this confusion, different
drugs are being sold in different states under exactly the same
name and even the learned physicians (Vaidyas, Kaviraj, and Hakims
can not say with certainity which is the authentic specimen meant
in the old texts.
- Some examples may prove this point of view.
"Brahmi" a very important drugs in the Ayurvedic Material
Medica of India, has been employed as a nervine tonic, useful
in insanity and epilepsy from ancient times.
- The correct identity of this drug is not
certain on account of the fact that different plants are sold
under the name "Brahmi". In UP, most of the Ayurvedic
physicians regard Centella asiatica (Syn. Hydrocotyle asiatica)
to be "Brahmi" while physicians of Bengal consider Bacopa
monnieri (Syn. Herpestis monniera) as the real Brahmi of Ayurveda.
In North Gujarat and Saurastra, the entire species of Hydrocatyle
- nica and h.rotundifolia are also used in
some part or the other as "Brahmi" or Mandukparni".
However, Most of the Physician consider Bacopa monnieri as Brahmi
and centella asiatica as "Mandukuparni" being two separate
indentity of the drug in Ayurvedic texts.
- Similarly Chaerophyllum villosum sold in
place of Aconitum heterophyllum as "Atis"; Polyalthia
Longifolia and Shorea robusta inplace of Saraca asoca as "Ashoka",
and different crude drugs are available in the market under one
vermacular names of "Nag Keshar"-e.g Flowe buds of Mesua
ferrea, Ochrocarpus, logifolius, Callophyllums inophyllem, Cinnamomum
tamala and Dellenia Pentugyna etc.
- If we are to discuss the global importance
of medicinal plants, it is necessary to defince the term medicinal
- In the broadest definition of medicinal
plants-It includes all higher plants that have been alleged to
have medicineal properties i.e effects that relate to health or
which have been proven to be useful as drugs by western standards
of that which contain constituents that are used as drugs.
- Complicating the matter of identifying
all such plants is that, there are no readily available souces
of information, i.e, the information is found scattered through
out the world- in classical old leteratures, books om medical
botany, in ethnbo-medico-botanical survey reports for specific
geographic regions and or for different in various herbiaria.
In variety of reviews articles and in other sources.
- Secrets locked in minds of indigenous peoples,
traditional healers etc. are less likely to discovered.
Importance of medicinal plants
- Finally how does one measures "Importance"
of medicinal plants. It may be possible in two ways
- It is possible to document in many ways,
that medicinal plants and their active principles are able to
alleviate or cure human suffering and illness.
- Another, way is to measure the monetary
value of the cost of the plants entering into global commerce,
but data are available only for plants that are entering into
commerce on a major scale i.e. hundereds or thousands of tons
- On global basis, it appears that only consolidated
source of information in the monetary values of medicinal plant
entering into global commerce is that provided by the International
Trade Centre (UNCTAD/GATT). The most recent compilation of data
from this agency involving medicinal placts and their derivatives
was published in 1982. However this information must be considered
as grossly incomplete. Major data on export/import of medicinal
plants involve West Germany, Singapore and Hong Kong. However,
these countries produce little, medicinal plants.
- Other producing countries often do not
report details of specific plants but only report figures for
"Seeds", "Roots", "Medicinal Plnats"
etc. However, a publication. Export potential of selected Medicinal
plants and their derivatives has been brought out in India by
Prospects of cultivation
- One of the major difficulties for undertaking
medicinal plants in large scale is the lack of scientific and
appropriate agro technology for different climatic zones.
- Experimental cultivation has been carried out
in several places, but the recommended commercial practices had
been neither worked out nor tested on an industrial scale. Moreover,
even if the cultivation is likely to yield economic returns, the
dominant sector or cultivators in the country are conservative
and are reluctant to abandon their time tested crops and turn
to medicinal crops.
- In the view of the present status of medicinal
plants used in medicines, there is a need to pay special attention
on the cultivation of medicinal plants which are extensively used
by industry; which have become endangered/threatened; on which
significant research lands have been obtained and are emerging
in world pharmaceutical industry; which are being imported and
have exported potential.
Products from Aromatic crops & their uses
1. Recycle for Distillation
3. Spraying on Crops
4. Extraction of dissolved Oil components by Cohobation,
Poroplast technique etc.
4. In Naturopathy
5. Aromatheraphy etc.
6. For bathing
7. Herbal Teas etc.
8. Making of perfumed Waters
Essential Oil (Steam Distillation)
Terpeneless Essential Oils, Aroma chemicals, Residual
1. Fragrance Industry
2. Flavour Industry
3. Pharmaceutial Industry
4. Other specialised used
1. Manure after composting
2. Mulching in crops
3. Fuel for Distillation Unit
4. Fodder for Domestic Animals
5. Manufacture of paper
6. Packing materials Manufacturing
7. In Biogas Plant
9. Mushroom culture
10. Agarbatti Industry
11. Extraction of specialized products of pectin
12. Extraction of remaining oil components by
13. Blending with Fertilizers
14. In Insect repellin products
Emerging medicinal plants for drugs and pharmaceutical
- The role of plants as a raw materials for
isolation and characterization of new drugs molecules for cure
or prevention of most dreaded diseases like cancer and AIDS, ahs
created-resugence of interest in them, all over the world.
- A recent study carried out indicates that
about 60% of the anti-tumour or anti-infective agents that are
commercially available or at the advanced stages of clinical trials
are of natural origin.
- At present, there are about 125-130 clinically
useful prescription drugs derived from about 100 species of higher
plants. It has also been estimated that about 5000 species of
higher plants worldwide have been studied in some details as possible
source of new drugs.
- A programme for the screening of plant
extracts for a wide range of biological activities is in progress
at Central Drug Research Institute. Lucknow (India) since last
25 years. So far more that 3,300 plant materials have been screened
for various biological activities.
- Realizing, the importance of the plants
in the druf discovery, the bioprespection of the plant species
is in progress in many laboratories throughout the world, for
the discovery of new pharmaceuticals for the health problems such
as drug resistant infectious diseases, diabetes, asthma, arthristis
and neurological and psychiatric disordes.
- The satisfactory cure or means of management
for many of such diseases are not yet available in medical sciences.
Medicinal plants and phytopharmaceuticals
- The World Pharmaceuticals Industry is unique,
extremely competitive and highly research based. It is characterized
by some very special and striking features like high rate of obsolescence
of drug and technologies; requirements of high quality of products;
- Good manufacturing practices(GMP), Good
Labaratory praces (GLP), environmental and regulatory requirements
etc. The pharmaceutical research on a established parameters is
a complex, multidisciplinary and time consuming activity. The
current estimate indicates that more that 12 years of research
efforts from discovery to marketing with average cost of about
250 US$ are required for a drug molecule to be used as therapeutic
- During the past decades, bulk production
of placnt based has become an important segment of India Pharmaceutical
- Some of the phytopharmaceuticals whichare
produced in India at present include: morphine, codeine, papaverine
(Papaver somniferum), Quinine, Quinidine, Cinchonine and Cinchonidine
(Chichona spp. Viz: C.calisaya, C.ledgeriana,C.officinalis and
C.succirubra): Hyoscine and Hyoscyamine ((Hyoscyamus niger and
H.muticus); Colchine (Gloriso superba, Colchicum luteum and Iphigenia
stellata): Cephaeline and emetin (Cephalis ipecacuanha): Sennoside
A&B (Cassia angustifolia and C. acutifolia): Rescephine, Rescinnamine,
Ajmaline and Ajamalicine (Rauvolfia serpentina): Vinblastine and
vincristine, ajalmalcine, raubacine (Catharanthus roseus):Guggal-lipid
(Commiphora wightii), Taxol (Taxus baccata); Artemisinin(Artemisia
- In the present time, Pharmaceutical and
chemical sciences have greatly contributed in the enhancement
of the utility of medicinal plants.
- Selected medicinal plants have been subjected
to rigorous chemical analysis and the bioactive compounds have
been isolated and variously evaluated.
- As a result, new drugs have been discovered
and new applications have been found for the compounds/medicines
that were already in use.
- Over the years, there have been four principal
routes bywhich have led to new therpeutic agents.
- Chemical constituents isolated from the plants
are directly used as therapeutic agents Such as digitaxin, strophanhin,
morphine and atropine etc. which still unsurpassed in theie respective
- Plant constituents which are used as starting
material for the synthesis of useful drugs. For example adrenal
cortex and other steroid harmones are generally synthesized from
plant steroidal sapagenins.
- Natural products which serve as models for pharmacologically
active compounds in the field of drug synthesis.Frequently, the
side effects of a natural product often prevent its use in medicine
and resolved only by preparation of synthetic derivative for example
cocain which led to the development of modern local anaesthetics;
modification of colchicines and of podophyllotoxin to obtain anti
- The plant constituents which demostrate
a mode of action which is then copied as in muscle relaxants from
- In recent years, there has been use of
plant constituents as research chemical particularly in the areas
of molecular biology. More that 50 anti-cancer drugs are not marketed
because of the side effects but they are widely used in research.
- One of the major criterion for selection
of the plant for discovery of new lead molecules is the utilization
of available knowledge in coded or un coded from in traditional
or indigenous systems or medicines, including folk or tribal medicines.
The past experiences in the areas of drug discovery have proved
that the success rates are very high with such plantsand
they provide a fertile hunting ground for search of new therapeutic
- In this context, the development of new
drugs, viz Reserpine and related alkaloids for treatment of essential
hypertension and in certain neuro-psychiatric disorders from Rauvolfia
serpentina (Serpengandha); Guggulipid - for lowering of cholesterol
from Commiphora wightii Guggul); Forskolin (Coleonol) as anlihypertensive
agents from Coleus forskohlii; Bacosides - for memory enhancer
from Bacopa monnieri (Brohmi); are some of interesting example
of how obervation is recorded in ancient medical text of Ayurveda
or fold medicine, when investigated by modern scientific method
led to the successful development of new drugs and also provided
a lead compound for further modifications.
Some traditional Medicinal Plants on whcih
Significant Research Leads have been obtained and have yielded
clinically useful drugs
Besides this the plant species viz: Canarium
euphyllum, C.manii (Collected from Andman forests): Paeonia
obovato (Collected from western ghats); are found to be very
active against rhematoid arthritis and inflammation.