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Drugs From Plants For All Diseases

Updated on August 23, 2013

In recent times, we are seeing several published hubs about serious diseases. Authors and HubPage community is sharing their experience and torment about diseases such as Alzheimer’s, arthritis and chronic pain. After reading these hubs many of us have become suspicious about diagnosis and treatments provided by our medical community. Although, taxpayer’s billions of dollars are spent on research still we are far from controlling and preventing dreaded diseases, for instance, cancer and chronic pain. The reasons range from complexity of understanding the disease and in finding the right source for developing novel therapies.

Plants as a source of medicine

Early people confronted with illness and disease, discovered a wealth of useful therapeutic agents in the plant and animal kingdoms. The empirical knowledge of these medicinal substances and their toxic potential was passed on by oral tradition and sometimes recorded. For example, a number of singles and compound drug formulations of plant origin are mentioned in the traditional system of medicine such as Ayurveda (the ancient Indian traditional system of medicine) for the treatment of various illnesses. In fact, still 70% of the world’s population depends on natural products for the treatment of various aliments.

However, these herbal preparations are not fully accepted in modern medical sciences due to lack of scientific evidence. Herbal preparations are considered either an option for poorly educated, economically deprived and as superstitious without pharmacological value. With an advent of sophisticated technologies and standardized pharmacological methods, scientists are looking back for plants as the source to develop novel therapies.

Today’s drugs are from the knowledge of pre-historical times

Many valuable drugs of today (e.g., atropine, ephedrine, tubocurarine, digoxin, reserpine) came into use through the study of indigenous remedies. Chemists have continued to use plant-derived drugs (e.g., morphine, taxol, physostigmine, quinidine, emetine) as prototypes in their attempts to develop more effective and less toxic medicinals. Additionally, pharmaceutical industries have shown continued interest in alternative therapies and therapeutic use of natural products, especially those derived from plants.

Almost all parts of plant (leaves, root, stem, fruits) are used for therapeutic purposes. There are several ways of using plants for health benefits. The use of plants as herbal teas and other home-made remedies for illness are considered as medicinal plants. The plants that undergo standardized pharmaceutical procedures to make it as tinctures, powders, pills or capsules forms for treatment are considered as herbal medicines. Plants can also serve as leads or chemical templates after successive extractions and purifications procedures. Sometimes, the isolated active compounds can be used directly as drugs.

Plants-based modern drug development

The development of novel drugs from plant origin is a hard, laborious and expensive task. The process of developing each new drug cost around US $ 100-400 million and a minimum of 10 years of work. Approximately, out of 10,000 chemical constituents of plants screened for biological activities 1 may be promising for further development. For example, National Cancer Institute tested about 50,000 plants for ant-tumor activity and found only 3 as promising. Further, the process involves multi-disciplinary, as experts from botany, pharmacology, toxicology, computational, etc., has to integrate and work.

Research in medicinal plants

If you are interested to know the current findings about plants as a source for novel drug development, you can look at the journals,the Journal of Ethanopharmacology and Phytotherapy Research. These journals are highly ranked journals in the field. They publish original articles concerned with the observation and experimental investigation of the biological activities of plant and animal substances used in the traditional medicine of past and present cultures. These journals are dedicated to the exchange of information and understandings about people's use of plants, fungi, animals, microorganisms and minerals and their biological and pharmacological effects based on the principles established through international conventions.

Your garden plants with medicinal properties

Here is an interesting video showing garden plants as a source to cure various diseases.

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