Conducting Research On The Medicinal Plants Of India

Plants are important sources of phytochemicals. Phytotherapeutic agents are standardized herbal preparations consisting of complex mixtures of one or more plants which contain plant parts or plant material in the crude or processed state as therapeutic active ingredients. The study of phytochemicals produced in plants is known as phytochemistry. Phytochemistry also deal with the isolation, purification, identification, and the structure of the large number of secondary metabolic compounds found in plant. The herbs are main source of medicine throughout the history of humans and continued in use as herbal drug in india because of their effectiveness, easy availability, low cost and comparatively less toxic effects.

From ancient time herbal drugs have been used as medicines for the treatment of various ailments.

Herbal medicine includes herbs, herbal materials, herbal preparations, and finished herbal products, that contain as active ingredients parts of plants, or other plant materials, or combinations. Herbal medicines are used very commonly in therapies of Traditional Medicines like Ayurveda, Unani, Naturopathy, Osteopathy, Homeopathy and Chinese medicine.

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History of herbal medicine The use of Herbal medicine for treatment of various discomfort is one of the oldest and most renewed traditional system of medicine since the 2nd century BC. The Hindu system of healing believed to be developed on four incredible compilation of intelligence universally accredited as Vedas namely Yajur Veda, Rig Veda, Sam Veda, and Atharva Veda. The information about the healing properties of herbs was composed in the form of shlokas to justify and communicate medicinal use of plants. Rig-veda describes 67 plants and 1028 shlokas.

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Atharva Veda and Yajur Veda describe 293 and 81 medicinally useful plant. Ayurved is the foundation stone of ancient medical science of India accepted worldwide.

Ayurveda is a form of knowledge of treatment which make use of natural remedies, different aspects of science of life and art of healing to balance good health of individual. Ayurveda has eight divisions: Kaya chikitsa (internal medicine), Salya tantra (surgery), Salakaya tantra (treatment of disease of head and neck), Agada Tantra (toxicology), Bhuta Vidya (mental disorder), Bala Tantra (pediatrics), Rasaynan Tantra (geriatrics), Vajikarnan Tantra (science of aphrodisiacs). The eight divisions of Ayurveda were followed by Susruta Samhita described science of surgery and Charaka Samhita described all aspects of Ayurvedic medicine. Until advancement of iatrochemistry in 16th century, plants had been a source of medication and prophylaxis. According to WHO traditional medicine as including diverse health practices, approaches, knowledge and beliefs incorporating plant, animal and/or mineral based medicines, spiritual therapies, manual techniques, and exercises/yoga applied singularly or in combination to maintain well being, as well as to treat, diagnose or prevent illness.

Even currently in Indian health care system for treatment of various disease conditions Ayurveda still remain dominant over modern medicines. Healthcare situation in India Health is a basic component of human development. The vital statistics like Crude Birth Rate (CBR), Crude Death Rate (CDR), Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) and life expectancy at birth provide the base for information on the health status and human development of any region or country. More than half of the world population relies mainly on plants and plant extracts for health maintenance. Millions of people use herbal drugs, spices, home remedies, health foods and also as drug prescribed in non-allopathic medication. India has a precious, prehistoric heritage of medical and health sciences. Ayurvedic medicine is originated in India more than 3,000 years ago and remains one of the country’s traditional healthcare systems. Herbal drug as alternative medicines are being used by about 60 % of the world’s population. India is eight leading country having more than 7500 species cited as medicinal plants.

Indian export of raw drugs has progressively increased at 26% to Rs.165 crores in 1994-95 from Rs.130 crores in 1991-92. Annual revenue of Indian herbal industry was projected at around US $181.45 billion in the year 2012 ( This is expected to touch the US $5 trillion by the year 2050 which imply cosmic potential in marketplace. In Indian market the 70% of modern medicine are plant origin, such practice of natural product in medicine will continue in future. Market Scenario of medicinal plants Domestic Scenario India has gold mine of well recorded and well-practiced knowledge of traditional herbal medicine. The health-care plant-derived product, herbal drugs, and medicinal plants are rich source of beneficial phytochemicals with favorable clinical effects such as immunomodulatory, antioxidant, anti-helminthic, anti-diarrhea, anti-hemorrhoid, sedative, analgesic, hemopoietic, appetizers, digestive stimulant, destroyer of kidney stone, wound healing etc Safety, stability, standardization on chemical and activity profile, free of heavy metals and low side effect compare to allopathic medicine essentially developed herbal interest in consumers and Indian business community.

The government of India has taken several initiatives to expansion of herbal technology. A large number of academic, industrial and government institutes are conducting research on the medicinal plants of India. The chief traditional sector are namely Himalaya, Zandu, Dabur, Hamdard Maharishi, etc. and modern sector in pharm, namely Ranbaxy, Lupin, Allembic, etc. India is a very large country with mega-biodiversity and different climatic zones. Although India having wide range of medicinal plant species India’s segment in multi-billion market is less than 1%. To encourage export of herbal product it is essential to maintain natural resource their cultivation cycle and also need to understand requirements of global market. Indian medicinal plants and their use. Global Scenario There is a grate demand of herbal medicine in global market with rapidly growing expenditure. The research in medicinal plants play important role in global health care system.

There are many traditional medicine systems with increasing growth in global market influenced by factor such as consumers awareness in functional foods, importance of healthy diet, concern about adverse effect of chemical drugs etc. India, China, Nigeria, the United States of America (USA) and WHO have all made substantial research investments in traditional herbal medicines. The growing number of national traditional medicine research institutes in developing countries is also a sign of the growing importance of Traditional Medicine. In fact, most developing countries now have national traditional medicine research institutes which include China, Ghana, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Republic of Korea, India, Mali, Madagascar, Nigeria, Thailand, Indonesia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Sri Lanka and Viet Nam. In spite of having many positive features to maximised the opportunity of herbal market, it required to overcome some challenges such as lack of scientific evidence on safety, efficacy and quality, need of regulatory and legal mechanism to assured authenticity, national policies for equitable distribution of benefits and inadequate information for its rational use.

Quality Control and Standardization of Herbal Medicines The medicinal plants are important source of phytochemicals required to pharmaceutical industry. Traditional system of medicines has accepted by entire globe for its effective and restorative abilities for chronic illness with less toxicity. The evidence from clinical studies are essential in order to established safety and effective use of herbal medicine. The process of Good Manufacturing Practice, application of modern techniques like chromatography, spectroscopy, advance analytical tools, suitable quality parameter and well-defined standards are required for making global herbal market safe from various forms of abuse and adulteration of herbal formulation.

Standardization of herbal medicine is important evaluation tool in commercialization process to assure safety, quality and efficacy of medicinal plants and herbal products. According to WHO quality standardization of herbal formulation include: • Quality control which include identity, purity and content. Identity mostly related to botanical quality. Purity signifies that it should be free from any form of contaminant like heavy metals, ash content, radioactive, pesticide, aflatoxin residues and microbial contamination. Content basically deal with determination of active ingredients using assay or modern chemical analytical methods such as TLC, HPLC, HPTLC, GC, GC-MS Ultraviolet spectroscopy. • Stability and shelf life, it includes physical and chemical stability of natural product/plant extract/ finished product/ drug with established shelf life. • Assessment of safety and efficacy, safety assessment deal with the toxic effect of herbal formulation. Toxicity evaluation involves phytochemical and pharmacological studies in detailed with in-vivo and in-vitro techniques, microarray, MTT assay. • Physical, chemical, biological and analytical evaluation of herbal product. • Evaluation in well-designed clinical trials. Fingerprint analysis approach Phytochemical standardization includes evaluation of information with respect to the chemical constituents present in an herbal drug.

Chromatographic and DNA fingerprints of herbal medicines is the most potent identification and quality control tool for herbal drugs as well as valid method for classification of herbal medicine species. Chromatographic fingerprint is a chromatographic pattern of phytochemicals featured with integrity, sameness, fuzziness and difference to chemically represent chemical component in herbal formulation. The chromatographic fingerprint of herbal medicine, medicinal plants and its extracts represent grate number of components that are known, unknown, pharmacologically active or inactive and sometimes low in amount hence the concept of phytoequivalence is develop to ensure consistency in formulations. It’s a comparison of two chromatographic fingerprints. Nowadays the use of chromatographic fingerprint in combination with detection techniques is more sensitive tool for quality control of medicinal plants. Techniques involve: Liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS), Liquid chromatography-nuclear magnetic resonance (LC-NMR), Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectroscopy (GC-MS), Gas Chromatography-Fourier Transform Infrared spectrometry (GC-FTIR).

Such techniques provide structure of compound present in chromatogram. DNA analysis in standardization of herbal medicines is a important tool for detection of adulterants. It make use of DNA markers a short DNA sequence associated with particular gene. Molecular techniques used to evaluate plant genome include: Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism (RFLP), Variable Number Tandem Repeats (VNTR), polymerase chain reaction (PCR), Randomly Amplified Polymorphic DNA ( RAPD) etc. Andrographis echioides (L) Nees is an annual herb found abundantly in India. Andrographis echiodies belongs to Acanthaceae family, used for various medicinal purposes. The phytochemistry evaluation of genus Andrographis reported to contain several phytochemical constituents such as glycosides, flavanoids, flavones, steroids, tannins, carbohydrate, glycosides and alkaloids. Andrographis echioides Ness is a one of the important herbaceous, used in the treatment of dyspepsia, influenza, malaria, goiter, liver diseases, fever, fertility problems, bacterial, helmintic, fungal, diarrhea, larvicidal disorders and respiratory infections, and also reported for their analgesic, anti-inflammatory and antipyretic activity, hepato-protective activity, anti-oxidant, immunomodulatory, cytotoxic activity and anti-microbial activities. 

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Conducting Research On The Medicinal Plants Of India. (2022, Apr 18). Retrieved from

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