Medicinal Plants for Modern Health Care
The growing focus on medicinal plants is becoming the solution to the health problem in the present world. Due to this awareness, trade in plants with medicinal value is growing internationally. Most third world countries view medicinal plants as an important part of their culture. However, the practice of traditional medicine suffered a greater setback during colonial times in most African and Asian countries, thus loosing patronage especially in urban settings (Chech, 1997). Today, these countries still suffer from the effects of colonialism as they still prefer synthetic medicine as a primary choice in the treatment of disease and other ailments. The impact of preferring these synthetic medicines is hitting many third world countries, as most rural people lack primary health care services because of unaffordable drugs and health services (Shahzad, 2000).
Medicinal plants are now widely used in cosmetic, pharmaceutical, agriculture, and food
Industries (Jan, 2006.). The use of medicinal plants in treatment of diseases has been documented in the in the history of civilizations. In pre-historic period, man was unaware of health hazards and problems which come with illogical therapy (this really needs a reference). With intensive research in medicine, it has been found that plants contain active principles responsible for curative actions (Shahzad, 2000). Before the synthetic era, man completely depended on herbal medicines for the treatment and prevention of diseases (Chech, 1997.).
With the introduction of the scientific method and procedures, scientist and researchers are now able to understand the toxic and curative principles in plants. After thorough isolation and testing the scientist have found out that actually medicinal plants are therapeutically active, some of these include; Morphine, Atisine, Lobeline, Digoxin, and Atropine.
Herbal products are effaceable beyond question, for example the novel herbal products of Silmarin (Silybum marianum, Family), Artemesinin (Artemisia annua, Family) and Taxol (Taxus baccata, Family) have outworked the efficacy of other recognized remedies like Ginkgo biloba (Family), and Hyperricum perforatum (Family) known for curing depression and stress (Jan, 2006).
According to Defeudis (1991),scientific researchers in the recent past have come up to support the presence of medicinal activities in herbs recently, by carrying out research that can be found in the scientific literature (DeFeudis, 1991 .), these include herbs that produce an exceptional molecule to fight cancer and other diseases. In so doing, medicinal plants like mezerien (Daphne mezereum, Family), elephantpoin (Elephatopus elatus, Family), and allamndin (Allamanda cathratica, Family) have shown a recommendably significant effect towards inhibiting some tumors (Jan, 2006).
According to Shahzad (2000), a number of researches are currently taking place in many research laboratories all over the globe on medicinal herbs like Ajuga reptens (Family) to determine if it contains a potent and active principle to treat and cure diabetes (DeFeudis, 1991 ). Other herbal products like galagine (Galagea officinalis, Family), chirantin
(Momordica charanta, Family), and gymenemic acid (Gymnema sylestre, Family), have shown commendable activities in insulin independent diabetes (Chech, 1997).
Tecoma stans (Family) extract has recently been shown to have a activity against Diabetes mellitus (Mazumdar et at., 1996). Arthritis is a distressing disease when it comes to treatment, as most medicines on market do not give a satisfying solution towards eliminating it. Important plants like boswellic (Boswellia serrata, Family), ruscogenin (Ruscus acueleatus, Family), and guggulserones (Commiphora mukul, Family), contain anti arthritic agent(s) and activity, while Harpagoside is known to contain the activity against rheumatoid (Giday et al., 2009). Chrysanthemum partheniumis have potential activity against migraines, a disease which has eluded the researchers for many years; it has got parthenoides that act as an active principle or agent against the activities of migraines. Herbs like Schisandra chinensis (schsantherin) and Sedum sarmentosum (sarmentosin) have depicted considerable ability and capability to lower levels of enzymes raised in hepatitis (Defeudis, 1991).
Research has confirmed that most derivative from herbs contain outstanding antioxidant activities. A strong antioxidant like bacoside A, which reduces numerous levels of free radical destruction was discovered in the Bacopa monnieri. Polyphenols (Camellia sinensis, forskolin (Coleus forskohlii), proanthocyanidins (Grape seed), huperzine (Huperzia serrata), pycnogenol (Pinus maritime), and gamma linoleic acid are known to contain potential antioxidants (Gidayea at., 2009)
Plants are ‘biosynthetic laboratory’ for both chemical compounds and a massive amount of compounds such as alkaloids and glycosides, as a result they exert therapeutical and physiological effects in that, those compounds or products with medicinal value are typically of secondary metabolites. In consideration of metabolites derived from plants by metabolism, the plant materials are screened using phytochemical to detect a variety of constituents (Shahzad, 2000).
Ecological disruption is being overlooked in many countries thus leading to destruction of forests which remain the source of medicinal herbs. Most policies regarding forest discuss and emphasis on the need for a ‘working forest’, which puts more weight on timber harvesting and not conservation of medicinal herbs in the forest. These archaic policies have lead to massive destruction of woodlands resulting in the future loss of herbal medicine (Chech, 1997).With the beginning of scientific research on medicinal plants, it is now becoming crystal clearer that medicinal plants have a possible disease remedy in this synthetic age. With a rapid growth of drug resistant in most diseases due to lower efficacy and potency, medicinal herbs stand out as the only hope towards curbing this problem. There is an urgent need to identify species of trees which contain medicinal activity; to recognize their values, and subject them to a scientific research. We must make sober decisions and choose which way to follow, the planet we live on has abundant healing resources(medicinal plants) naturally available, and through self desire and interest we can improve on rising need of medicinal herbs thus promoting a sustainable affiliation with the woodland, weeds, forests, and surrounding environment.
Chech, R. (1997). An Ecological Imperative. Growing a Future for Native Plant
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DeFeudis, F. (1991) Ginkgo biloba Extract. Pharmacological Activities and Clinical
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Giday, M., Asfaw, Z., & Teklehaymanot, T. (2009). An ethnobotanical investigation. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine. Vol (5):34.
Jan, M. (2006). Pharmacological effects of extracts from medicinal plants on volume and
acidy of stimulated gastric secretion, liver and kidney functions. Faculty of Biological
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Shahzad, R., & Qureshi, J. (2000). Common ethnomedicinal uses of plants in Pakistan.
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