Medicinal plants, also called medicinal herbs, have been discovered and used in traditional medicine practices since prehistoric times. Plants synthesise hundreds of chemical compounds for functions including defence against insects, fungi, diseases, and herbivorous mammals. Ayurvedic medicine as documented in the Atharva Veda, the Rig Veda and the Sushruta Samhita has used hundreds of pharmacologically active herbs.
About Medicinal plants in brief
Medicinal plants, also called medicinal herbs, have been discovered and used in traditional medicine practices since prehistoric times. Plants synthesise hundreds of chemical compounds for functions including defence against insects, fungi, diseases, and herbivorous mammals. Medicinal plants are widely used in non-industrialized societies, mainly because they are readily available and cheaper than modern medicines. The annual global export value of the thousands of types of plants with suspected medicinal properties was estimated to be US$2. 2 billion in 2012. In 2017, the potential global market for botanical extracts and medicines was estimated at several hundred billion dollars. In many countries, there is little regulation of traditional medicine, but the World Health Organization coordinates a network to encourage safe and rational usage. The effects of using a whole plant as medicine are uncertain. Further, the phytochemical content and pharmacological actions, if any, of many plants having medicinal potential remain unassessed by rigorous scientific research to define efficacy and safety. In ancient Sumeria, hundreds of medicinal plants including myrrh and opium are listed on clay tablets. The ancient Egyptian Ebers Papyrus lists over 800 plant medicines such as aloe, cannabis, castor bean, garlic, juniper, and mandrake. Ayurvedic medicine as documented in the Atharva Veda, the Rig Veda and the Sushruta Samhita has used hundreds of pharmacologically active herbs and spices such as turmeric, which contains curcumin.
In the fourth century BC, Aristotle wrote the first systematic botany text, The Historia plantarum. In around 60 AD, the Greek physician Pedus Dioscorides documented over 1000 recipes for medicines using over 600 medicinal plants in De materia medica, c. 60 AD; this formed the basis of pharmacopoeias for some 1500 years. Some animals such as non-human primates, monarch butterflies and sheep ingest medicinal plants when they are ill. Spices have been used partly to counter food spoilage bacteria, especially in hot climates, and especially in meat dishes which spoil more readily. Angiosperms were the original source of most plant medicines. Human settlements are often surrounded by weeds used as herbal medicines, such as nettle, dandelion and chickweed. A mushroom was found in the personal effects of Ötzi the Iceman, whose body was frozen in the Ötztal Alps for more than 5,000 years. For instance, a 60 000-year-old Neanderthal burial site, \”Shanidar IV\”, in northern Iraq has yielded large amounts of pollen from eight plant species, seven of which are used now as herbal remedies. This was in the Tangoxing Lunoxing Dynasty, the expanded Dynasty of Yaoxing, and expanded into the Tangruxing Dynasty of Lunoxoxing. The Golden Age of Islamic scholars translated many classical Greek texts including the Golden Age Curae on herb gardens into their own commentaries.