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Medicinal Herbs

Medicinal Herbs are those herbs used for curing certain ailments, skin remedies and have found wide application in health industry. These medical herbs have immediate effects so they are supposed to be used with greater knowledge for specific conditions and usually for a certain fixed period of time. Herbalists tend to make efficient use of the whole herb or some part of the natural medicinal herbs having remarkable medicinal effect, in the view that the fresh or dried plant contains certain substances that are having a balancing effect. The "medicine herbs" include Andrographis, Celandine, Ephedra, Goldenseal, Jamaica, Dogwood, Oregon Grape Root, Senna and Uva-Ursi.

History of herbs as medicine
Herbs have been found to have a wide variety of uses throughout the ages. As medicines, to enhance the flavor of foods, as insecticides, dyes, perfumes and ofcourse to ward off evil spirits, and sometimes to evoke them. The herbs we use today come from many parts of the world. India and China being the leading countries providing the vast range of Herbs in Light. Aloe Vera, Castor, Nutmeg, Cardamom, Magnolia, Mimosa, Mulberry, Myrrh, Rhubarb, Walnut, etc are few of the products come from India. Liquorice, Loquat, Lotus, Lychee, Peach, Pomegranate, is the range that China served.

Distribution of Medicinal Plants in India
Analysis of habits of medicinal plants indicates that they are distributed across various habitats. One third are trees, an equal proportion of shrub, remaining one-third herbs, grasses and climbers. A very small proportion of the medicinal plants are lower plants like ferns, lichens, algae, etc. Out of this catagory the majority of the medicinal plant are higher flowering plants and this constitute the vegetation of India.

Tamil Nadu is endowed with a very rich flora. Annona Squamosa, Andrographis Paniculata, Azadirachta indica, Ipomea carnea, Basil Herbs, Ficus riligiosa, Citrus Aurantium are few of the plants that are found through out india. Juglan Regia, Cassia fistula and Viola odorata are mainly confined to the Hilly areas.

Herbs in Medicine
Wise women, root gatherers and medicine men through age’s known the medicinal properties of many common plants. It was a common practice to observe a plant, its Habitat, its shape and color. The herbs were crushed to extract essential oils and perfume before being tasted. Different Herbs impart different taste. Some would seem to cure ailments and give extra vitality, whereas many proved to be fatal. Few have tasted bitter and unpalatable, others very pleasant.

Over the centuries the herbs used by the ancient people led to the modern range of medicines being available to physicians. We have learned from these early trials that herbs contain complex chemical structures. Their medicinal effects are because of the active constituent or secondary plant products such as alkaloids, mucilage, bitters, glycosides, essential oils, etc. Herb combinations are used widely as the understanding of the body systems has evolved. Herbs are used in many different ways and can be ingested or applied to the body directly or indirectly. The holistic approach consider diet, lifestyle, temperament, external influences and aims to recreate the perfect balance and helps the body to heal it. These herbs might be considered as daily tonics. These have got greater potential for adverse drug interactions. These herbs can be taken raw, boiled infusions, teas, herbal pills and syrups. They can also be converted into tinctures in alcohol, essences, ointments, essential oils, compresses or poultices.

Aromatic herbs as medicinal plant
In ancient Egypt scented oils were used for the purpose of massaging, while the Romans used to scent their famous baths with herbs the potency of aromatic herbs was used in various ways over the centuries. Around the home, herbs have been used for herbal pouches, for relaxing (herbal baths), and also made into oils for massage. The medicinal qualities of aromatic herbs are never unnoticed, and are widely used to ward off disease, deodorizers, as disinfectants, to make toilet waters and are burned for cleaning the sick rooms.

Medicinal Value of herbs
Many herbs contain minerals, vitamins, and even antibiotic substances that can help in building our body's immune system against various harmful disease and each herb has been noticed to have certain medicinal value or property. Medicinal value of the plants mainly depends upon the season in which these herbs are grown and collected like Aloe Vera, a widely used herb has got its wide applcation in herbal industry due to the wide range of properties it serves for eg. gel obtained from the inner part of the leaf is used to treat insect bites, burns, healing wounds and skin rashes by drawing out infection. The bark of walnut tree is found to treat dysentery and many skin diseases. The nut is used to promote strength and weight gain while the ground hull of the nut is used to treat various skin diseases and internal parasites.

Our ancestors always preferred the use of fresh plants but if it was not possible to collect fresh plants then the preserved, should not be used more than a year. Ayurveda means the 'science of life'. It derives medicine from Natural element. After thorough study, performing extensive experiment and updating documents of hundreds of plants over a period of more than thousand years, India's ancient herbalist have come to an accurate conclusions about the efficacy of different plants. Although efficacy of Ayurveda for a variety of human ailments is well known in India, Still most of the part of the world is unaware of the benefits that can be derived from this unique Indian system of medicine.

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