Before the prehistoric time, plants have been utilised for medical purposes. Herbs were described in ancient Unani texts, Egyptian papyrus, and Chinese literature. There is evidence that Unani Hakims, Indian Vaids, and European and Mediterranean cultures have used plants as medicine for over 4000 years. Indigenous societies such as Rome, Egypt, Iran, Africa, and the United States utilised herbs in their healing rituals, while others created traditional medical systems such as Unani, Ayurveda, and Chinese Medicine in which herbal remedies were systematically employed.
Traditional medicine is still commonly practised for a variety of reasons. Increased reliance on plant-based medicines for the treatment of a wide range of human ailments has been spurred on by factors such as an expanding global population, an insufficient supply of drugs, prohibitively high treatment costs, adverse effects from several synthetic drugs, and resistance to currently used drugs for infectious diseases.
About 80 percent of people worldwide rely on herbal medicines for some part of their basic health care requirements, according to the WHO (World Health Organization). Around 21,000 plant species have been identified by the WHO as having therapeutic use.
The use of medicinal plants for treatment is seen to be quite safe, as there are no or only mild negative effects. The greatest advantage of these medicines is that they are in harmony with nature. The fact that herbal remedies may be used by both men and women of any age or gender is a major plus.
In the following four medicianal plants and their uses are discussed at length.
1. Acorus calamus
This plant is found in the northern temperate hemisphere, India, and Hungary under the local name “Sweet flag.”.
Long used in Indian traditional medicine, Acorus calamus L. is a tall, perennial, grass-like monocot plant from the Acoraceae family. It is a highly prized plant because it helps the brain and neurological system regenerate.
Constituents: Calamus (as various extracts of the rhizome) contains constituents such as alkaloids, flavonoids, gums, lectins, mucilage, phenols, quinone, saponins, sugars, tannins, and triterpenes (steroids).
Flavonoids, lectins, phenols, and saponins are some of the elements that are active.
Making medicine involves using the root (rhizome). Calamus is used for digestives (GI) issues such as ulcers, inflammation of the stomach lining (gastritis), intestinal gas (flatulence), upset stomach, and loss of appetite despite safety concerns. It is a key medhya medication with the ability to increase intelligence and memory. The plant’s rhizomes are frequently used to cure a variety of illnesses, including rheumatism, epilepsy, chronic diarrhea, dysentery, fever, abdominal tumours, and kidney and liver problems.
2. Asparagus Filicinus
It is known by its local name “Fern Asparagus”. It is found in the Loose humus-rich soils in forests, 1700 – 2700 metres in the Himalayas and Pakistan (Hazara, Baltistan), Kashmir, Bhutan, India, China, Myanmar, and Thailand.
Asparagus has a variety of steroidal saponins, which are its main bioactive components. A, B [sub]1, B [sub]2, C, E, Mg, P, Ca, Fe, and folic acid are also present in this plant. Essential oils, asparagine, arginine, tyrosine, flavonoids (kaempferol, quercetin, and rutin), resin, and tannin are some of the other main chemical components of asparagus.
The dried root is antipyretic, antitussive, diuretic, expectorant, stomachic, nervous stimulant, and tonic. The root is employed as an astringent and tonic in India. As an antipyretic, bechic, diuretic, expectorant, nervine, stimulant, and tonic in China, as well as for constipation, cough, hemoptysis, dry throat, and pertussis, the root is also boiled with pork to make a tonic. This species is used medicinally in Yunnan. She adds that the species has applications akin to those of A. cochinchinensis.
3. Boesenbergia Rotunda
In Southeast Asia and Indo-China, “fingerroot”, also known as Boesenbergia rotunda (Family: Zingiberaceae), is a common dietary component.
Boesenbergia rotunda is native from southern Yunnan Province, China, to west Malesia. It grows in dense forests and is common in its natural range. It is widely cultivated throughout south-east Asia.
Rotunda includes boesenbergin, cardamonin, pinostrobin, pinocembrin, panduratin A, and 4-hydroxypanduratin.This plant also contains krachaizin, and panduratin, all of which have been linked to the plant’s therapeutic benefits, including its aphrodisiac effects.
It has been demonstrated to have anti-bacterial, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-ulcer, and wound healing properties. Alkaloids, phenolics, essential oils, flavonoids, and alkaloids are some of its typical phytochemical components.
4. Curcuma longa
Locally known by the name of “Tumeric” found in India, Thailand and some other parts of Asia. Its rhizomes are the source of a bright yellow spice with several therapeutic uses.
Three curcuminoids, curcumin (diferuloylmethane, the main component responsible for turmeric’s yellow colour), demethoxycurcumin, and bisdemethoxycurcumin, are the main active components of turmeric.
Curcuma longa commonly known as Tumeric is traditionally used as a spice in Indian food. A wide range of biological activities e.g. anticancer, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and free radical scavenging activity of the plant suggests a logical basis for its traditional use in foodstuff.
We are moving away from nature as our lifestyles get more technologically advanced. Because we are a part of nature, there is no way for us to get away from it. Because herbs are natural items, they are devoid of adverse effects, environmentally friendly, and easily accessible. Seasonal illnesses are traditionally treated with a variety of herbs. In order to save human lives, they must be promoted.
In contrast to synthetic pharmaceuticals, which are considered harmful to both humans and the environment, herbal products have become a symbol of safety. Even though herbs have been used medicinally, flavorfully, and aromatically for millennia, they were eclipsed by synthetic items in the modern day. Naturals are becoming more popular as people begin to realise how dangerous synthetics may be. Time to get the word out there about them.