Deforestation, a major threat to development of several herbs: Dr Venkitaraman
Wednesday, February 03, 2010 08:00 IST
Urgent measures are required to preserve the century old and time tested healthcare system of the country as India is losing the herbal wealth in naturally grown in wild habitat, said Dr Venkitaraman, the general secretary of the Indian Herbal Conference and the former dean and professor of Pharmacology at the PG Institute of Basic Medical Sciences in the University of Madras.
He said deforestation is the biggest handicap for herbal development in India. Previously ninety percent of the extracts and roots used in the preparation of herbal medicines were collected from forests. Measures to cultivate plants in wild areas have to be taken seriously in order to meet the increasing demand traditional medicines with quality products.
Organized cultivation in natural habitat must be carried out for the availability of quality drugs. Compared to olden days, the consumption of herbal medicines is increasing regularly. He said so many ayurvedic medicines now available in market do lack quality as they are not prepared by herbs authenticated in texts. Many species of plants are now become endangered or extinct. Such herbs are substituted with other herbs for medicines. Even for the preparation of Desamoolarishtam, certain species of herbs are not available. So, organized system of cultivation is important for the preservation of medicinal property of the plants.
“Botanists and Agricultural scientists, who are interested in medicinal plant science, should go along with the traditional plant collectors into the forest or into natural habitat of the area, and identify the plants. Later it can be collected and propagated by natural or tissue cultural methods to preserve the authenticity of the medicine. The herbs should be collected and processed at the particular season as mentioned in the text book of Ayurveda to preserve the quality of the constituents and their therapeutical efficacy,” Venkitaraman suggested.
He said pollution is one factor that reduces the quality of herbal drugs at present. The plants have to be grown in an unpolluted environment. If it is planted on the roadside, it is likely to absorb heavy metals like lead. Even if it is cultivated in a modern agricultural scientific way, it will have heavy metal and pesticide pollution, he said while speaking to Pharmabiz.