The Bold Voice of J&K

Promoting Medicinal and Aromaice Plants Modern Medicine is a negation of health- “Ivan Illich”

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GL Khajuria

Ever since the dawn of civilization, the man has remained wonderstruck viewing its surrounds, the flora and fauna, the natural bounties who alongside subsist with him. And at times, he wondered as to how these animals and plants are less disease free with vibrant, lush green and flora. This has left him with regenerating perceptions of all hues and years have rolled by and these mysteries till date remained as folded as ever before.
Undoubtedly, nature is a greater healer and its mysteries are so far hidden and folded. Unlike men, whom there is a team of doctors for treatment and then what about for those innocent and voiceless animals and birds. Surely, hunters and poachers are definitely there in the process!. And then why the nature should come to their rescue of human kind.
One also wonders at times or gets more curious to know how were the names given to the plants and how do we name them today is again a folded mystery. Presumably enough, the oldest names given must be having in the remote past some relevance when no language existed barring few broken words which off shooted, of course, the beginning of plants nomenclature, for they are as obscure as the record of earliest civilization. The first book dealing with plants was directly taken from early Greek or Latin manuscripts or more so ancient translations into those classical languages. The plant names are mostly Greek or Latin but of course, some seemed to be unaltered barbarous names used by not too civilized tribes of the time. However, the first attempt to scientifically nomenclaturise the plants was made by renowned/celebrated Greek, Philosopher ‘Theophrastus’ (370-287 B.C.) who was pupil of Aristotle. He had vide intellectual interests of various subjects which he wrote on biology where he described around 500 species of plants in his botanical treatise ” on the study of plants: and ” on the causes of plants”, the main thrust being on the medicinal plants.
Later, Pliny the Elder(23-79 A.D.) described about 1000 species in his book “Historia Naturals” and at the same time a Military Physician ‘Diesecaridas’ described around 600 Mediterranean medicinal plants in his book entitled ‘Materia Medica’ in the early part of 16th century . Man’s curiosity ever since remained in the run-race in exploring more and more medicinal plants and many biologists of whom the few et al Morrison carolus, John Ray Linnaeus and Benthom and Hooker (1830-1884) remained in the lead.
Though it seems strange and intricate when one talks of botanical names, yet at the same time these occupy extremely interesting and instructive part in so far as modern ‘Ayurveda System of Medicine’ is concerned , apart from ‘Unani’ and siddha. This system of medicines have had an integral part when the modern allopathy had no longer surfaced and that’s why this herbal system occupies a unique placement amongst the most proclaimed systems of medicines so much so that the ‘World Health organization'(WHO) has fully recognized its values in its broader spectrum.
In India, where around 70% of population is below poverty line, ‘herbal system’ (Ayurveda) is perhaps the last hope. The system though having no side effects unlike other system of medicines. It is matter of utmost pride that India in general and the Himalayan states in particular are the richest source of medicinal and aromatic plants though human interferences in many a ways are diminishing the rich, vide, varied resources which warrants their due preservation and enhancement and that’s why there is endless scope of Ayurvedic medicines abroad which fetches hefty dividends, besides providing undesirable side- effects:
Strange are the ways of nature that there exists a strong linkage between the herbs, shrubs climbers, plants and the trees with the variety of ailments as for example, Belladonna ( meaning beautiful lady) was employed in Italy by ladies to give softness to their eyes and the same was for Potentilla-a panacea for all cures. There is a vide diversification of plants in times long past when they received their names because of medicinal properties real or supposed to assuage grief and so on the list goes endlessly…”
Of the few, the most important’ Ayurvedic herbs, shrubs, climbers, plants and the trees are briefed down below viz-a-viz their medicinal uses:
Picorhhiza kurrora: locally spoken as ‘Kour’ is perennial herb found in Himalayas (2500-4500) is the best herb for liver ailments, roots however, contain glycoside. Liv-52, Livosin and heptaguards are the Ayurvedic drugs prepared from this.
Valeriana Wallichina (Mushakbala) is predominantly the most important medicinal plant, apart from its uses in perfumery/dhoop.
Whithania Somnifera (Ashwagandha) (L) Dunsal (1725) : belongs to F. Solaceceae, finds its usefulness to rejuvenate therapy, excessive emancipation, bronchial asthama, insomnia and cardiac disorders.
Tuxus bacatta : A very important conifer species mostly confined to Himalaya region (Tangmarg belt). A life saving drug is manufactured out of bark and leaves of plants for the treatment cancer patients.
Macrotomia bentham: belonging to the F: Boragiecae habitats Gurez” – Kahmir valley reaching an altitudes upto 1200 ft. It finds its usefulness in cardiac ailments, apart from fevers and throat troubles.
Chrysanthimum cincerifolium also called Pyrethrum is belonging to composite F. (Sun Flower) is injurious to warm-blooded and toxic insects and is mostly used as insecticides and flits.
Apart from the most prominent medicinal/aromatic plants, also include, Hibiscus esculentas, Acasia Arabica, Achyranthes aspera, Adhatoda vasica, Agave Americana(sisal), Aloe Vera, Aloe Vulgaris, Rauwalfia’ Serpetina(cobra plant), Datura, Stramonium, viola odorata, Digitalis purpurea, cannabis sativa, Aegle marmelas(Bel), Various Artimisias, Vitex negundu(Bana), Cassa fistula (Golden Shower), Flacourtia romonchhi, indigoferas, Mallotus philippinenisis, Phylnthus emblica, Benninghausinia albifloria(pisumar Buti) – an insecticide so on and so forth.
Though the fact goes that this vide, varied medicinal/aromatic, herbs of plant kingdom are sprawling world over in general but fact still remains that our tropical, sub Himalayan and the Himalayan region are bountiful of the vast resources which remain hidden and folded all over the globe. Our ‘Regional Research Laboratories” and others pharmaceutical in the arena should pick up the thread in exploring this vast potential which forms the very fundamental source of our ” Indian System of Medicines” do,de facto, stand the test of the day. And these herbs, shrubs and other medicinal/aromatic plants are fastly depleting, obviously for two reasons.
First, that modern man wants quick relief which only allopathic system of medicines can provide too rapidly, but going by the side-effects, the results are alarmingly astonishing . Herbal treatments though go slow, but the results are success-oriented with zero side-effects and that is why Hippocrates, the father of Ayurvedic system of Medicines depended on nature for cures. And alongside in not promoting and developing these plants will resultantly vanish this vast treasure-house of medicinal kingdom. It is no doubt a fact that the Ministry of forests and environment, Govt , of India has opened all avenues in almost all states and a separate wing by the name and claim as “Minor forest produce: to exaggerate and promote these medicinal/aromatic plants but here too lot of efforts coupled with and supported by funding is the call of the hour. India, of course, should feel proud that our world renowned Pharmaceuticals et al. Himalayan drug stores, Dabur, Chark etc. are rendering yeoman’s services and their export potential is far exceedingly catching momentum and their medicinal outflow world over is fetching hefty dividends. Yet the task is not over and we have to make every possible attempt to grow and enhance the equilibrium of the vast, varied treasure to its proximity and hence then we can be proud of our achievements.
Secondly, none can deny the fact that with ongoing onslaught of dwindling and decimation of forest cover together with diminishing voiceless wildlife, the medicinal and aromatic plant kingdom is still at greater risk. This being because of the fact that word minor (minor forest produce MFP) is so minor that its inescapability is too easy to be carried away by the greedy and over-needy men. As such, all out efforts and surveillance need to be actively initiated by all and one as per the laid down rules in the “Constitution of India” enunciated in general and the forest Deptt has to play an optimum role in curbing the menace of smuggling of Kuth, Discoria and its ilk which are under the process of being smuggled out. In the past many decades, credit, de facto goes in favor of Forest Deptt. When Optimum number of cases has been taken into cognizance and action followed thereto rapidly. Public awareness and awakening is of paramount need of the hour as it is after all public property and such a tempo will have to be continued in achieving successful results for ever and ever…
And with this, the writer adds over here as such: Trees, herbs, shrubs, bushes and climbers through all their parts like leaves, flowers, fruits, shade, roots, bark, smell, juice, ash and buds get engrossed into service of others and for their benefits. They can even sacrifice their lives, how blessed are the lives of these trees. (Srimad Bhagavata Mahapurna)
(The writer is former Deputy Conservator of Forest J&K)

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