Jyoti Ahlawat, Nidhi Verma, Anita R. Sehrawat
Abstract: A man earth relationship has been well canvassed to encourage the usage of botanicals. The use of plants for healing purposes predates to the Neanderthal period in human history and forms the origin of much modern medicine. 25 % of drugs prescribed worldwide come from plants. India has about 45000 plant species out of which 15, 000-20, 000 have active principles of proven medicinal values. India ranks second in the world in herbal medicine and there is enormous scope to emerge as a major player. Natural plant products are perceived to be healthier than manufactured medicine Herbal medicines are now in great demand in the developing world for primary health care not because they are inexpensive but also for better cultural acceptability, better compatibility with the human body and minimal side effects. However recent findings indicate that traditional herbal products are heterogeneous in nature and may not be safe and impose a number of challenges to qualify control, quality assurance, effectiveness and the regulatory process. Some products contain mercury, lead, arsenic and corticosteroids and poisonous organic substances in harmful amount. Hepatic failure and even death following ingestion of herbal medicine have been reported. Medicinal plant materials and possibly herbal tea, if stored improperly allow the growth of Aspergillus flavus a known producer of aflotoxin mycotoxin. Herbal preparation should be used with extreme caution on the advice of a herbalist familiar with the relevant conventional pharmacology. The manufacturers, the researchers and the regulatory agencies of the herbal products must adhere to rigorous scientific methodologies, good manufacturing practices (GMPs) and preclinical testing to gain public trust and to bring quality herbal product into mainstream of today health care system worldwide. Herbal medicines should be purchased from authenticate and reputable provider, company or internet site to avoid any disguise. Despite herbal medicines offers bright opportunities for Indian Farmers and Entrepreneurs, a hard fact is that most of the overseas markets are very difficult to penetrate, their stringent rules and regulations allows the entry of most deserving and quality products. Hence an eye on the negative list of exporters must be kept. Alarmingly herbal medicines in some cases are found to be admixed with allopathic medicine which implies the synergistic effect of component. Hence, in the absence of pharmacopoeia data on the various plant extracts, it is not possible to isolate or standardise the active contents having the desired effects. Ayurvedic pharmacopoeia compiled on modern lines and updated periodically is an urgent requirement. A combination therapy integrating Ayurveda and allopathy whereby the side effects and undesirable reactions could be controlled can be thought of. Modern science and technology have an essential role to play in the process. An integrated approach for the cultivation, conservation and preservation of important plant species through plant molecular biology, plant tissue culture; research on the rationale and methodology of Ayurvedic medical practice; isolation of active constituents and their development into new therapeutics; standardisation and validation of known herbal medicines and other related aspects need to be focussed upon.
Keywords: Herbal drugs, Nutraceuticals, Cosmoceuticals, Nanopharmaceuticals, Pharmacopoeia