There are many medicinal plants in India that have been used to treat various human diseases for ages. Since ancient times, humans have battled against many natural calamities that they are faced with. One of these is our battle against illnesses and diseases. We have found many of the cures and treatments from nature itself. Some plants have been used as medicine by us for centuries. Commercial farming of these medicinal plants has created new economic opportunities for us. There are around 500 species of medicinal plants in our country. Some of them are shrubs, some herbs and trees. A lot of medicines in our rural and village areas come from these plants. The bark, fruits, flowers, seeds, roots, leaves and many other parts of these plants are used to make medicines.
T. Cebula, Amla and T. belerica
T. Cebula, Amla and T. belerica are the most well known medicinal plants in India. These medium sized plants can be found all over the country and their main medicinal component are their fruits. Trifola is created from the fruits of these 3 plants which is a well known Ayurvedic medicine in India. T. cebula fruit is used to treat constipation and dysentery and T. belerica fruit is used to treat breathing problems and jaundice. The thin leaved Amla tree has round fruits hat grow in bunches. It contains large amounts of Vitamin C and is used to treat stomach related diseases.
T. Arjuana and A. indica
T. Arjuana are large trees with medicinal properties. They have very thick stems and many branches with leaves that elliptical. The bark of T. arjuana trees is used to treat heart diseases and problems with blood pressure. Their star shaped fruits also have medicinal value. The black pods of Golden Shawer trees are used to treat ringworms and heart diseases. Another commonly used medicinal plant is A. indica. Almost all parts of A. indica trees have some medicinal properties like Olive trees. The leaves and fruits of Olive tree are used to cure stomach related problems. Basil are shrubs that can grow up to one meter in height and have leaves with sharp edges. The juice of their leaves are used to treat the common cold, coughs and various skin diseases.
Vasica and Aloe Vera
Vasica are evergreen shrubs with many branches and found all over India, especially rural areas. These plants can grow up to 3 meters tall. Their roots, leaves and bark is usually used in medicines. Asparagus trees have hard bark, thin leaves, thorns and numerous tuber roots. Their roots are used to treat kidney related diseases. Aloe Vera trees have very long life cycles and its leaves are juicy and thorny. The pulp from these leaves are used to treat ulcers, asthma and diabetes. Rose periwinkle is yet another medicinal herb. This dark green tree has thick leaves and pink flowers. This can be used successfully to treat cancer.
C. Asiatica, R. Serpentina and C. Alata
C. Asiatica is a creeper plant possessing kidney shaped leaves. The juice from its leaves is used to treat various eye related problems. M. Pudica plants are a great source of Adrenaline. This plant is very common on roadsides and in gardens and used in different treatments. It is known as blood purifier. R. Serpentina is a shrub having red flowers and large leaves. Its roots and bark are used to treat high blood pressure. C. Alata is a large plant with large smooth leaves and its fruits are very important in treating bronchitis. Some of our other medicinal plants are Dudhia, silk cotton tree, S. Asoca, Stone apple, C. dactylon, marigold, A. augusta, A. paniculata and I. indicum.
Medicinal plants are now being farmed commercially along with our cash crops. Around 40 species of medicinal plants are being grown commercially. The valuable parts of these plants are dried and stored even in powdered forms in farms. These farms have also helped employ a lot of people in this industry. These plants are also used as raw materials for modern medicines but due to lack of proper research, we still don’t know about some of these valuable plants and we are losing some of them due to lack of conservation efforts. We need proper management and conservation to save our medicinal plants. It is estimated that 25 percent of all our medicines have some component that comes from these medicinal plants. More than 70 percent of our population that don’t have access to modern medicine are entirely dependent on these plants. Then in our cities, a lot of doctors and pharmaceutical companies are distributing medicines that is created from plants. Generally, these plant based medicines are a lot safer for human consumption than synthetic medicines and this has led to them increasing in popularity in the US, China, Europe and Japan.
The farming of medicinal plants is not very scientific on a institutional or national level yet. So, there is big danger that these medicinal plants may extinct and there won’t be any herbal medicine anymore. People who are creating these medicines are doing it in their own way so id the process is not scientific, the medicine won’t work and might even be harmful in some cases. So, it is very important that these plants are grown and turned into medicines scientifically. There are very good commercial and economic possibilities with these plants. According to WHO, there is a 60 billion USD market worldwide for medicinal plants and it is estimated that by 2050, this market will grow to 5 Trillion USD. In India, the situations are getting really better.
Most of the medicinal components are exported from India to abroad like the medicinal component of R. serpentina. However, there are many medicinal plants that are on the verge of extinction because of lack of our concern. Most of the people collecting these plants have no scientific knowledge which is resulting in disappearance of some important plants from forests. If these people were being educated and trained on how to collect them sustainably then we could conserve them effectively. If we are just aware enough, the level of conservation would go up naturally. Still, there are some companies in India that have all their medicines based on plants and we are seeing a growing trend for herbal medicines in the developed world.