Dr. K.M. Parikh
Knowledge of medicinal use of plants in India is amassed over a millennia by tribals. The scientific studies of such plants is carried out all over in India since vedic times (i.e. more than 6000 years B.C.). This science is known as Ayurveda (i.e.Ayu means life and veda means knowledge. Thus, this science is called knowledge of life, in sanskrit "Ayurveda"). There are many plants used and known to tribals and used by folks which are not covered under Ayurveda.

There is an active work continuing in the field of folk medicines and ethnobotany in India. Large numbers of graduates and post-graduates with the assistance of government and philantropic institutes are working in this field. 2500 species and 15000 folk uses have been enumerated in the recently published "Dictionary of Indian Folk Medicine and Ethnobotany" by Dr. S.K. Jain, Ex-Director Botanical Survey of India.

In spite of all these efforts, an extraordinary large population of tribals with rich knowledge of their ambient vegetations, if not documented may be lost forever. With the advent of fast expanding knowledge of genetics and bio-technology this knowledge of Ethnobotany will be very useful for human health and diseases. This is going to change rapidly the entire field of medicine, pharmacy and food in the next few decades.

We will discuss here only a few plants belonging to Ayurveda, a systematic scientific discipline of medicine and recognised by Government authorities and popularly used by large population.

This system of Ayurveda in its diagnostic part differs very much from the Allopathic system and hence the properties ascribed to medicinal plants also differs. But human beings being one, and on the basis of use of these plants, efforts are made to describe the properties on the basis of Allopathic system which is known to you all.

The plants are the basic source of knowledge of Modern Medicine and still continues the same position. The basic molecule and active structures for synthetic fields are provided by rich natural source.

The list of important medicinal plants used in Ayurveda is circulated and the endangered species are marked. A few important plants are discussed to give an idea of the work done and work required to be done.

Parikh, Dr. K.M. (1993). TRADITIONAL MEDICINAL PLANTS OF INDIA. Acta Hortic. 332, 43-54
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.1993.332.8

Acta Horticulturae