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New Delhi: Neem is considered to be highly conducive to maintain good health but in a bizarre move, ten ASEAN nations have banned selling of products made of neem. This has not only baffled the manufacturers of Ayurvedic medicines but has also taken the health experts and scientists by surprise. In these East Asian countries including Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand and Philippines, the committees assigned to have a watch on traditional treatment of diseases and health products, have imposed ban on neem based products. Dr Ramesh Saksena, associated with trade of neem in China after promoting neem farming in many African countries, has called the move of these ASEAN countries reckless. Many Ayurvedic experts are successfully treating the skin diseases and diabetes with the help of neem based medicines in India.
Herbalism is the study and use of medicinal properties of plants and plant extracts.[1] Herbalism is also known as botanical medicine, medical herbalism, herbal medicine, herbology, herblore, and phytotherapy. Traditional use of medicines is recognized as a way to learn about potential future medicines.
Plants have the ability to synthesize chemical compounds that help them defend against attack from a wide variety of predators such as insects, fungi and herbivorous mammals.
People on all continents have used hundreds to thousands of indigenous plants for treatment of ailments since prehistoric times. The use of herbs and spices in cuisine developed in part as a response to the threat of food-borne pathogens. Borage from Project Gutenberg EBook of Culinary Herbs: Their Cultivation Harvesting Curing and Uses, by M. In the written record, the study of herbs dates back over 5,000 years to the Sumerians, who described well-established medicinal uses for such plants as laurel, caraway, and thyme.
In India, Ayurveda medicine has used many herbs such as turmeric possibly as early as 1900 BC.[18] Many other herbs and minerals used in Ayurveda were later described by ancient Indian herbalists such as Charaka and Sushruta during the 1st millennium BC. The first Chinese herbal book, the Shennong Bencao Jing, compiled during the Han Dynasty but dating back to a much earlier date, possibly 2700 BC,[citation needed] lists 365 medicinal plants and their uses - including ma-Huang, the shrub that introduced the drug ephedrine to modern medicine.
Thyme from Project Gutenberg EBook of Culinary Herbs: Their Cultivation Harvesting Curing and Uses, by M.
The uses of plants for medicine and other purposes changed little in early medieval Europe.
Medical schools known as Bimaristan began to appear from the 9th century in the medieval Islamic world among Persians and Arabs, which was generally more advanced than medieval Europe at the time.
Marjoram from Project Gutenberg EBook of Culinary Herbs: Their Cultivation Harvesting Curing and Uses, by M.
The fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries were the great age of herbals, many of them available for the first time in English and other languages rather than Latin or Greek. The second millennium, however, also saw the beginning of a slow erosion of the pre-eminent position held by plants as sources of therapeutic effects.
The rapid development of chemistry and other sciences led increasingly to the dominance of chemotherapy as the orthodox system of medicine in the 20th century. Botanicas, such as this one in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, cater to the Latino community and sell herbal cures and folk medicine alongside statues of saints, candles decorated with prayers, lucky bamboo, and other items.
Many of the pharmaceuticals currently available to physicians have a long history of use as herbal remedies, including opium, aspirin, digitalis, and quinine. In addition to the use in the developing world, herbal medicine is used in industrialized nations by alternative medicine practitioners such as naturopaths. The use of, and search for, drugs and dietary supplements derived from plants have accelerated in recent years. As Eisenburg states in his book, Encounters with Qi: “The Chinese and Western medical models are like two frames of reference in which identical phenomena are studied.
Plants upregulate and downregulate their biochemical paths in response to the local mix of herbivores, pollinators and microorganisms.[43] The chemical profile of a single plant may vary over time as it reacts to changing conditions. Plants synthesize a bewildering variety of phytochemicals but most are derivatives of a few biochemical motifs. The word drug itself comes from the Dutch word "droog" (via the French word Drogue), which means 'dried plant'. The active ingredient in willow bark, once prescribed by Hippocrates, is salicin, which is converted in the body into salicylic acid.
This approach was used by early physiomedical practitioners, whose doctrine forms the basis of contemporary practice in the UK. Modern practitioners - called Phytotherapists - attempt to explain herb actions in terms of their chemical constituents.
Herbalists tend to use extracts from parts of plants, such as the roots or leaves but not isolate particular phytochemicals.[46] Pharmaceutical medicine prefers single ingredients on the grounds that dosage can be more easily quantified.
In specific cases the claims of synergy[51] and multifunctionality[52] have been supported by science. In selecting herbal treatments herbalists may use forms of information that are not applicable to pharmacists. A survey released in May 2004 by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine focused on who used complementary and alternative medicines (CAM), what was used, and why it was used. In India, the herbal remedy is so popular that the Government of India has created a separate department - AYUSH - under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare. In the United Kingdom, the training of medical herbalists is done by state funded Universities. In the United States, a Bachelor of Science degree in herbal sciences is offered at various institutions, including Bastyr University, with many smaller organizations and teachers offering certifications.
Use of medicinal plants can be as informal as, for example, culinary use or consumption of an herbal tea or supplement, although the sale of some herbs considered dangerous is often restricted to the public. Some researchers trained in both western and traditional Chinese medicine have attempted to deconstruct ancient medical texts in the light of modern science.
In America, early settlers relied on plants imported from Europe, and also from local Indian knowledge.
In India, Ayurvedic medicine has quite complex formulas with 30 or more ingredients, including a sizable number of ingredients that have undergone "alchemical processing", chosen to balance "Vata", "Pitta" or "Kapha.[67] "[68]. In Ladakh, Lahul-Spiti and Tibet, the Tibetan Medical System is prevailed, which is also called as 'Amichi Medical System'. In Tamil Nadu, Tamils have their own medicinal system now popularly called the Siddha medicinal system. In addition there are more modern theories of herbal combination like William LeSassier's triune formula which combined Pythagorean imagery with Chinese medicine ideas and resulted in 9 herb formulas which supplemented, drained or neutrally nourished the main organ systems affected and three associated systems[citation needed]. Many traditional African remedies have performed well in initial laboratory tests to ensure they are not toxic and in tests on animals. Vinegars - Prepared at the same way as tinctures, except using a solution of acetic acid as the solvent.

Salves, oils, balms, creams and lotions - Most topical applications are oil extractions of herbs. Poultices and compresses - One can also make a poultice or compress using whole herb (or the appropriate part of the plant) usually crushed or dried and re-hydrated with a small amount of water and then applied directly in a bandage, cloth or just as is. Whole herb consumption - This can occur in either dried form (herbal powder), or fresh juice, (fresh leaves and other plant parts).
For partial list of herbs with known adverse effects, see List of herbs with known adverse effects. Standardization of purity and dosage is not mandated in the United States, but even products made to the same specification may differ as a result of biochemical variations within a species of plant.[82] Plants have chemical defense mechanisms against predators that can have adverse or lethal effects on humans.
There is also concern with respect to the numerous well-established interactions of herbs and drugs.[7] In consultation with a physician, usage of herbal remedies should be clarified, as some herbal remedies have the potential to cause adverse drug interactions when used in combination with various prescription and over-the-counter pharmaceuticals, just as a patient should inform a herbalist of their consumption of orthodox prescription and other medication.
For example, dangerously low blood pressure may result from the combination of an herbal remedy that lowers blood pressure together with prescription medicine that has the same effect. The common names of herbs (folk taxonomy) may not reflect differences in scientific taxonomy, and the same (or a very similar) common name might group together different plant species with different effects. For example, in 1993 in Belgium, medical doctors created a formula including some Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) herbs for weight loss.
Note that neither herb used in a TCM context would be used for weight loss or given for long periods of time.
For this reason, Western herbalists use binomial nomenclature in their terminology within the profession. One study found that non-impact factor alternative medicine journals published more studies with positive results than negative results and that trials finding positive results were of lower quality than trials finding negative results.
Ironically, the Centre has done bare minimum to lift ban on neem based products in ASEAN countries. He said that due to illusion, these countries might have considered neem similar to poisonous herb Chinaberry and banned neem.
The scope of herbal medicine is sometimes extended to include fungal and bee products, as well as minerals, shells and certain animal parts.[2] Pharmacognosy is the study of medicines derived from natural sources. Some of these compounds, whilst being toxic to plant predators, turn out to have beneficial effects when used to treat human diseases. Medicinal herbs were found in the personal effects of Otzi the Iceman, whose body was frozen in the Otztal Alps for more than 5,000 years.
Studies show that in tropical climates where pathogens are the most abundant, recipes are the most highly spiced. Ancient Egyptian medicine of 1000 BC are known to have used garlic, opium, castor oil, coriander, mint, indigo, and other herbs for medicine and the Old Testament also mentions herb use and cultivation, including mandrake, vetch, caraway, wheat, barley, and rye. Succeeding generations augmented on the Shennong Bencao Jing, as in the Yaoxing Lun (Treatise on the Nature of Medicinal Herbs), a 7th century Tang Dynasty treatise on herbal medicine.
Greek and Roman medicinal practices, as preserved in the writings of Hippocrates and - especially - Galen, provided the pattern for later western medicine.
Many Greek and Roman writings on medicine, as on other subjects, were preserved by hand copying of manuscripts in monasteries.
The Arabs venerated Greco-Roman culture and learning, and translated tens of thousands of texts into Arabic for further study.[20] As a trading culture, the Arab travellers had access to plant material from distant places such as China and India.
The continuing importance of herbs for the centuries following the Middle Ages is indicated by the hundreds of herbals published after the invention of printing in the fifteenth century. This began with the Black Death, which the then dominant Four Element medical system proved powerless to stop.
Pharmacologists, microbiologists, botanists, and natural-products chemists are combing the Earth for phytochemicals and leads that could be developed for treatment of various diseases. These are divided into primary metabolites, such as sugars and fats, found in all plants, and secondary metabolites, compounds not essential for basic function found in a smaller range of plants, some useful ones found only in a particular genus or species. For example, some secondary metabolites are toxins used to deter predation, and others are pheromones used to attract insects for pollination. It is the secondary metabolites and pigments that can have therapeutic actions in humans and which can be refined to produce drugs.
The anthocyanins that give grapes their purple color, the isoflavones, the phytoestrogens from soy and the tannins that give tea its astringency are phenolics. The aglycone is a molecule that is bioactive in its free form but inert until the glycoside bond is broken by water or enzymes.
Some examples are inulin from the roots of dahlias, quinine from the cinchona, morphine and codeine from the poppy, and digoxin from the foxglove.
The discovery of salicylic acid would eventually lead to the development of the acetylated form acetylsalicylic acid, also known as "aspirin", when it was isolated from a plant known as meadowsweet. Herbs are regarded as having actions in terms of their energies and affecting the energies of the body. Herbs have a functional action, which is not necessarily linked to a physical compound, although often to a physiological function, but there is no explicit recourse to concepts involving energy. It is generally assumed that the specific combination of secondary metabolites in the plant are responsible for the activity claimed or demonstrated, a concept called synergy.
Because herbs can moonlight as vegetables, teas or spices they have a huge consumer base and large-scale epidemiological studies become feasible. The survey was limited to adults, aged 18 years and over during 2002, living in the United States. For example, Bachelor of Science degrees in herbal medicine are offered at Universities such as University of East London, Middlesex University, University of Central Lancashire, University of Westminster, University of Lincoln and Napier University in Edinburgh at the present. One idea is that the yin-yang balance, at least with regard to herbs, corresponds to the pro-oxidant and anti-oxidant balance.
One particularly successful practitioner, Samuel Thomson developed a hugely popular system of medicine. His system has been taught to thousands of influential American herbalists through his own apprenticeship programs during his lifetime, the William LeSassier Archive[72] and the David Winston Center for Herbal Studies.[73] Different chemicals in herbs are more abundant than in a single drug.
Gawo, a herb used in traditional treatments, has been tested in rats by researchers from Nigeria's University of Jos and the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development. Usually obtained by combining 100% pure ethanol (or a mixture of 100% ethanol with water) with the herb. Taking a food grade oil and soaking herbs in it for anywhere from weeks to months allows certain phytochemicals to be extracted into the oil. Likewise, studies published in peer-reviewed medical journals such as Journal of the American Medical Association receive more consideration than those published in specialized herbal journals. High impact factor mainstream medical journals, on the other hand, published equal numbers of trials with positive and negative results. Such secondary metabolites are highly varied in structure, many are aromatic substances, most of which are phenols or their oxygen-substituted derivatives.

Hippocrates advocated the use of a few simple herbal drugs - along with fresh air, rest, and proper diet.
The monasteries thus tended to become local centers of medical knowledge, and their herb gardens provided the raw materials for simple treatment of common disorders. Herbals, medical texts and translations of the classics of antiquity filtered in from east and west.[21] Muslim botanists and Muslim physicians significantly expanded on the earlier knowledge of materia medica. Theophrastus’ Historia Plantarum was one of the first books to be printed, but Dioscorides’ De Materia Medica, Avicenna's Canon of Medicine and Avenzoar's pharmacopoeia were not far behind.
The two best-known herbals in English were The Herball or General History of Plants (1597) by John Gerard and The English Physician Enlarged (1653) by Nicholas Culpeper. A century later, Paracelsus introduced the use of active chemical drugs (like arsenic, copper sulfate, iron, mercury, and sulfur). Pigments harvest light, protect the organism from radiation and display colors to attract pollinators. Caffeine is an alkaloid that provides a mild lift but the alkaloids in datura cause severe intoxication and even death. The names monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, diterpenes and triterpenes are based on the number of isoprene units. This mechanism allows the plant to defer the availability of the molecule to an appropriate time, similar to a safety lock on a gun. The word aspirin comes from an abbreviation of meadowsweet's Latin genus Spiraea, with an additional "A" at the beginning to acknowledge acetylation, and "in" was added at the end for easier pronunciation.[44] "Aspirin" was originally a brand name, and is still a protected trademark in some countries. The practitioner may have extensive training, and ideally be sensitive to energy, but need not have supernatural powers. Herbalists often reject the notion of a single active ingredient, arguing that the different phytochemicals present in many herbs will interact to enhance the therapeutic effects of the herb and dilute toxicity.[47] Furthermore, they argue that a single ingredient may contribute to multiple effects. Herbalists would argue that cases of synergy can be widely generalized, on the basis of their interpretation of evolutionary history, not necessarily shared by the pharmaceutical community. Avid public interest in herbalism in the UK has been recently confirmed by the popularity of the topic in mainstream media, such as the prime-time hit TV series BBC's Grow Your Own Drugs,which demonstrated how to grow and prepare herbal remedies at home.
This approach was subsequently broadened to include concepts introduced from modern physiology, a discipline called Physiomedicalism. It contains roughly 300,000 verses covering diverse aspects of medicine such as anatomy, sex ("kokokam" is the sexual treatise of par excellence), herbal, mineral and metallic compositions to cure many diseases that are relevant even to-day.
Some chemicals in herbs may work as growth hormones or antibiotics, nutrients, and toxin neutralizers.
A completed tincture has a ethanol percentage of at least 25% (sometimes up to 90%).[75] The term tincture is sometimes applied to preparations using other solvents than ethanol.
This oil can then be made into salves, creams, lotions, or simply used as an oil for topical application. A case of major potassium depletion has been attributed to chronic licorice ingestion.,[86] and consequently professional herbalists avoid the use of licorice where they recognise that this may be a risk.
At least 12,000 have been isolated so far; a number estimated to be less than 10% of the total. Anthropologists theorize that animals evolved a tendency to seek out bitter plant parts in response to illness[citation needed].
Galen, on the other hand, recommended large doses of drug mixtures - including plant, animal, and mineral ingredients. At the same time, folk medicine in the home and village continued uninterrupted, supporting numerous wandering and settled herbalists. For example, al-Dinawari described more than 637 plant drugs in the 9th century,[22] and Ibn al-Baitar described more than 1,400 different plants, foods and drugs, over 300 of which were his own original discoveries, in the 13th century.[23] The experimental scientific method was introduced into the field of materia medica in the 13th century by the Andalusian-Arab botanist Abu al-Abbas al-Nabati, the teacher of Ibn al-Baitar. Gerard’s text was basically a pirated translation of a book by the Belgian herbalist Dodoens and his illustrations came from a German botanical work. These were accepted even though they had toxic effects because of the urgent need to treat Syphilis. An example is the cyanoglycosides in cherry pits that release toxins only when bitten by a herbivore. Another group, the Eclectics, were a later offshoot from the orthodox medical profession, who were looking to avoid the then current medical treatments of mercury and bleeding, and introduced herbal medicine into their practices.
Chemical compounds in plants mediate their effects on the human body by binding to receptor molecules present in the body; such processes are identical to those already well understood for conventional drugs and as such herbal medicines do not differ greatly from conventional drugs in terms of how they work. The Greek physician compiled the first European treatise on the properties and uses of medicinal plants, De Materia Medica. Among these were the "wise-women", who prescribed herbal remedies often along with spells and enchantments. Al-Nabati introduced empirical techniques in the testing, description and identification of numerous materia medica, and he separated unverified reports from those supported by actual tests and observations. Bacteria, inflammation, nutrition and ROS (reactive oxygen species) may all play a role in arterial disease.[55] Herbalists claim a single herb may simultaneously address several of these factors. Both groups were eventually overcome by the actions of the American Medical Association, which was formed for this purpose. They can then be further refined to a capsule or tablet.[75] A nebulisate is a dry extract created by freeze-drying.
This enables herbal medicines to be in principle just as effective as conventional medicines but also gives them the same potential to cause harmful side effects. In the first century AD, Dioscorides wrote a compendium of more than 500 plants that remained an authoritative reference into the 17th century. It was not until the late Middle Ages that women who were knowledgeable in herb lore became the targets of the witch hysteria.
Culpeper’s blend of traditional medicine with astrology, magic, and folklore was ridiculed by the physicians of his day yet his book - like Gerard’s and other herbals - enjoyed phenomenal popularity. Likewise a factor such as ROS may underlie more than one condition.[56] In short herbalists view their field as the study of a web of relationships rather than a quest for single cause and a single cure for a single condition. Similarly important for herbalists and botanists of later centuries was the Greek book that founded the science of botany, Theophrastus' Historia Plantarum, written in the fourth century BC. The Age of Exploration and the Columbian Exchange introduced new medicinal plants to Europe. The Badianus Manuscript was an illustrated Aztec herbal translated into Latin in the 16th century.

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