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India is rich in medicinal and aromatic plants covering an extensive area with different environmental conditions. The geographical position of India, its geomorphology, the presence of flora of past geological eras and the coexistence and interplay of biotic and non-biotic factors have defined it as a region of high plant diversity and endemism, a fact that also impacts the category of medicinal and aromatic plants (MAPs). Man found that a plant which is astringent in taste will arrest diarrhea, a plant which is acid to taste will control vomiting and a plant which is aromatic will control nausea. In the olden days indigenous medicine had attained a very high standard, and we have stalwarts in Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani, Allopathy and Homeopathy. After some decades there is a shift within many developing countries from subsistence to commercial usage. In India, MAP's play an important role in the country's agricultural profile due to quantitative and qualitative advantages. MAPs cultivation can help small-scale farmers to strengthen their livelihoods and as a result, greater access to a wider range of assets can be achieved, and a capacity to build these into successful and sustainable activities. This review aims at profiling the current state of MAP cultivation in India, and an attempt has been made to study the various Medicinal plants and Aromatic plants with respect to their commercial uses.
The development of systematic pharmacopoeias dates back to 3000 BC, when the Chinese were already using over 350 herbal remedies. Ayurveda, a system of herbal medicine in India, Sri Lanka and South-East Asia has more than 8000 plant remedies and using around 35,000-70,000 plant species. China has demonstrated the best use of traditional medicine in providing the health care. China has pharmacologically validated and improved many traditional herbal medicines and eventually integrated them in formal health care system.
Green plants synthesis and preserve a variety of biochemical products, many of which are extractable and used as chemical feed stocks or as raw material for various scientific investigations. Many secondary metabolites of plant are commercially important and find use in a number of pharmaceutical compounds. However, a sustained supply of the source material often becomes difficult due to the factors like environmental changes, cultural practices, diverse geographical distribution, labour cost, selection of the superior plant stock and over exploitation by pharmaceutical industry. Plants, especially used in Ayurveda can provide biologically active molecules and lead structures
Or the development of modified derivatives with enhanced activity and /or reduced toxicity. The small fraction of flowering plants that have so far been investigated have yielded about 120 therapeutic agents of known structure from about 90 species of plants. Some of the useful plant drugs include Andrographoloide , Sennosides, Ajmalicin, Resperine, Withonoids, Asiacoside, Bacosides, vinblastine, vincristine, taxol, podophyllotoxin, camptothecin, digitoxigenin, gitoxigenin, digoxigenin, tubocurarine, morphine, codeine, aspirin, atropine , pilocarpine , capscicine, allicin, curcumin, artemesinin and ephedrine among others. In some cases, the crude extract of medicinal plants may be used as medicaments. On the other hand, the isolation and identification of the active principles and elucidation of the mechanism of action of a drug is of paramount importance. Hence, works in both mixture of traditional medicine and single active compounds are very important. Where the active molecule cannot be synthesized economically, the product must be obtained from the cultivation of plant material. The scientific study of traditional medicines, derivation of drugs through bio prospecting and systematic conservation of the concerned medicinal plants are thus of great importance.
In developing countries more than 80 per cent of the population relies on traditional medicines, mostly plant drugs, for their primary healthcare. Herbal remedies are available in all chemists and grocery stores. Ayurvedic products are reasonably cost effective and well accepted by patients. They are easily available and do not have side effects. These herbal drugs and Indian medicinal plants are also rich sources of beneficial compounds including antioxidants and components that can be used in functional foods and also aromatic crops like lemongrass, palmarosa, citronella and vetiver oil are also widely used in perfumery and cosmetic industry which in turn gave employment opportunity to many people. Newer approaches utilizing collaborative research and modern technology in combination with established traditional health principles will yield rich dividends in the near future in improving health, especially among people who do not have access to the use of costlier western systems of medicine.
Bio Pharma companies need to carry out more extensive market penetration and research for ayurvedic medicines to be more frequently used by consumers. All manufacturers in India with the support of State and Central Governments have to set up a world standard laboratory in quality control, R&D facility which would facilitate and help exporters in respect to quality assurance of drugs exported from India. A reasonable status of scientific vigour is needed to assess the threat status of species to be banned. The conservation status of all species in trade should also be studied. This clearly opens up a huge challenge for conservationist, policy makers, researchers, industry and farmers to manage one of the most important natural resources, medicinal plants and aromatic plants wisely.