Medicinal Plants

Medicinal Plants: Their Role in Health and Biodiversity

Timothy R. Tomlinson
Olayiwola Akerele
Copyright Date: 1998
Pages: 240
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    Medicinal Plants
    Book Description:

    From the beginning of human civilization, people have depended on plants to cure disease, promote healing of injuries, and alleviate pain. In many places that has changed very little. In the West, however, herbal and botanical cures have long been ignored in favor of "scientific medicine." But the benefits of medicinal plants are being rediscovered in many developed countries, where consumers are turning to such therapies in place of, and in addition to, Western medical treatments. And, all over the world, the drive to lower the cost of health care has made herbals and botanicals an attractive alternative to more expensive synthetic remedies.

    In 1978, the World Health Organization responded to increased interest in medicinal plants by convening a series of international consultations, seminars, and symposia to explore and promote the use of medicinal plants.Medicinal Plantspresents the proceedings of the last of these symposia, held in 1993. It brings together an vast range of information and presents an overview of the use of medicinal plants that includes a discussion of a variety of issues-scientific, economic, regulatory, agricultural, cultural-focused on the importance of medicinal plants to primary health care and global health care reform.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-9263-3
    Subjects: Botany & Plant Sciences

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Preface: Promoting the Worldwide Use of Medicinal Plants
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Timothy R. Tomlinson
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
    Timothy R. Tomlinson and Olayiwola Akerele
  5. Medicinal Plants, Scientific Progress, and Development
    • Chapter 1 A Case History of Plant-Derived Drug Research: Phyllanthus and Hepatitis B Virus
      (pp. 3-10)
      Baruch S. Blumberg

      There is a paradox in the current approach to the discovery of medications derived from natural sources. On the one hand, there are many successful medications in current use that have been derived from natural materials, particularly plants. In addition to the drugs derived directly from plants, there are many others, introduced as plant-derived materials, originally used for a particular purpose but whose molecules have subsequently been greatly altered by the ingenuity of synthetic chemists and which now serve other purposes. Many of these plant-derived medications came from indigenous medical systems in the Western tradition or were identified because of...

    • Chapter 2 An Expanded Program for Medicinal Plants
      (pp. 11-16)
      Olayiwola Akerele

      It has been estimated that some 80 percent of the world’s inhabitants rely chiefly on traditional medicines for their primary health care needs, and it can safely be assumed that a major part of traditional therapy involves the use of plant extracts or their active principles. In many areas, especially in the tropics, an abundance of medicinal plants offers people access to safe and effective products for use in the prevention and treatment of illness through self-medication. Such plants are also useful in modern medicine:

      They are used as sources of direct therapeutic agents.

      They serve as raw materials for...

  6. Medicinal Plants in the Socioeconomic Context
    • Chapter 3 Exploiting Medicinal Plants: Why Do It the Hard Way?
      (pp. 19-28)
      Nathan Sivin

      I follow a good many fields of enterprise, some of them in scientific and historic research and some in what, despite all the evidence, is usually called the real world. Among the many topics that interest me I certainly include traditional medicinal substances, mineral and animal as well as plants, mainly, but not only, Chinese.

      In my view, the natural medicinal substances used in popular pharmacy around the world will continue contributing to health as they have done for millennia, and their reach and value can be greatly extended by modern science. There are, however, great obstacles in the way...

    • Chapter 4 Safety, Efficacy, and the Use of Medicinal Plants
      (pp. 29-41)
      Norman R. Farnsworth

      There is little doubt that medicinal plants are important in developed countries as a source of prescription drugs in the form of their active principles. These drugs of known structure number about 120 and are used globally (Farnsworth et al. 1985a). In developed countries, crude plant materials and extracts are of lesser importance as drugs, but there is a steady growth in their use, especially in Europe. For example, worldwide sales of extracts of the leaves ofGinkgo bilobawere estimated to be U.S.$500 million in 1991. Since authors of other chapters in this book address the uses of medicinal...

    • Chapter 5 Economics and Medicinal Plants
      (pp. 42-54)
      Peter P. Principe

      The fundamental hypothesis of my laboratory’s research was that public policies necessary to preserve plant biodiversity were likely to be implemented only if there existed a substantial and demonstrable economic self-interest in taking such actions, primarily in the developed countries. In other words, if it is not possible to show national governments that it is in their economic self-interest to preserve plant biodiversity, national policies that are undermining and destroying plant biodiversity are unlikely to change. While many believe it is inappropriate to attempt to place a value on something like biodiversity, we took the view that economics is not...

    • Chapter 6 The Medicinal Plant Marketplace
      (pp. 55-68)
      Robert S. McCaleb

      The world botanicals market has thrived since before the time of Marco Polo. It has fueled empires and nourished the development, as well as the exploitation, of supplier countries. The market is diverse, encompassing culinary herbs and spices, crude drugs as starting materials for extraction and semisynthesis of modern pharmaceuticals, and herbs used for both traditional and orthodox medicines throughout the world. In the United States, regulatory obstacles and ignorance have driven most botanicals from the pharmacy into the health food market, but their increasing popularity and use by other technologically advanced nations offers hope for change. Medicinal plants can...

  7. Conservation:: Issues and Future Prospects
    • Chapter 7 Linking Ethnopharmacology and Tropical Forest: Conservation in Belize
      (pp. 71-81)
      Michael J. Balick

      In the last few decades, the discipline of ethnobotany has undergone a great evolution in methodology, focus, and application. Traditionally, ethnobotanical studies were carried out by systematic botanists whose goal was to produce lists of useful plants of a particular tribe or region. Most of these studies were presented in encyclopedic form. Ethnobotanical inventory is still very important, since such a small fraction of the total existing information has been catalogued. In the last few decades, however, an interdisciplinary approach has become more important in ethnobotanical research, involving the close collaboration of botanists, pharmacologists, anthropologists, chemists, nutritionists, economists, conservationists, policymakers,...

    • Chapter 8 Exploitation of Medicinal Plants
      (pp. 82-102)
      Akhtar Husain

      Higher plants have been exploited by humans for meeting their basic needs since the very beginning of human civilization. Ancient humans obtained most of their medicines from green plants, as documented evidence from the major centers of civilization indicates. Archaeological studies carried out by Shanider in Iraq have shown that Neanderthals living nearly sixty thousand years ago may also have used plants for healing purposes, as evidenced by the study of pollen grains of eight medicinal plants found there, including yarrow (Achillea millefolium), hollyhock (Althea officinalis), and joint pine (Ephedrasp.).

      Some of the civilizations in Mesopotamia had extensive knowledge...

    • Chapter 9 Agronomics and Medicinal Plants
      (pp. 103-119)
      Dan Palevitch

      Medicinal plants were among the first plants to be utilized by humankind. Many species have been known from time immemorial to have medicinal properties. Over thousands of years, human observation has served as the basis for the preparation of medicines that led to the emergence of the production of modern industrial pharmaceuticals. Medicinal plants differ from other economic plants in that a huge number of species, numbering in the thousands, are involved.

      Medicinal plants are still an indispensable source of drugs and galenic preparations, despite the considerable progress made in synthetic organic chemistry and biotechnology. Well past the mid–twentieth...

    • Chapter 10 The Role of Botanical Gardens and Arboreta in Traditional Medicine: A Personal Reflection and Case Study
      (pp. 120-134)
      William McKinley Klein Jr.

      In tracing the history of the development of botanical gardens, John Prest states, “It might appear then that in the botanic garden, one stands in the presence of the beginnings of modern science – the collection of data, and the patient, detailed observation of causes and their effects. These are, indeed, the directions in which the garden ultimately led. However, reference to modern science does not describe the motivation with which it began. Contemporaries interpreted the foundation of these encyclopedic gardens in a context of the re-creation of the earthly paradise or Garden of Eden.”¹

      The earthly paradise was a...

  8. Promising Practices in the Use of Medicinal Plants
    • Chapter 11 The Legal Situation of Phytomedicines in Germany
      (pp. 137-143)
      Barbara Steinhoff

      Phytomedicines are medicinal products whose active ingredients comprise plants, parts of plants, or plant materials, including essential oils and other, similar substances. Phytomedicines form an important part of the German pharmaceutical market. Combinations of plant preparations have been widely used for many years and are mainly distributed by over-the-counter (OTC) sales through pharmacies and other distribution channels.

      According to information presented during the European Scientific Cooperation for Phytotherapy Symposium in October 1990 in Brussels, the phytomedicines market in 1989 in the former West Germany reached $US1.7 billion in sales. This represents a public price level (including VAT) equal to 10...

    • Chapter 12 Indonesia: The Utilization of Medicinal Plants for Primary Health Care
      (pp. 144-148)
      Djoko Hargono

      Since antiquity, Indonesian traditional drugs, orjamus, have been known and utilized, but the earliest known documentation of their use dates to a.d. 772–specifically to a relief from the Borobudur Temple, which contains drawings of medicinal plants. These plants still exist today and are used injamuformulas. Similar documentation has been found in reliefs from the Brambanan, Panataran, and Tegalwangi temples.

      In the past,jamuswere also written on Lon tar leaves (the leaf of a kind of palm tree) from Bali known asLontar Usada(from about a.d. 991 to 1016), on leaves known asLontarafrom...

    • Chapter 13 Ethnopharmacological Surveys in Brazilian Extractive Reserves
      (pp. 149-155)
      Elaine Elisabetsky

      Amazonia is estimated to contain at least 50 percent of the planet’s plant species, and it is suffering a faster rate of depletion than any other ecological zone (Myers 1988). Habitat destruction, the primary cause of natural resource depletion, results from the expansion of human populations and activities (Ehrlich 1988). Conservation should be seen as the wise use of natural resources, a view that implies the need to select, for each habitat and social context, resource uses compatible with the degree of preservation needed to insure their renewability (Barlowe 1972). It follows that the forest peoples must adopt ecologically sound...

    • Chapter 14 Traditional Korean Medicine
      (pp. 156-160)
      Chong-Yul Kim

      Traditional Korean medicine, which can be traced back to ancient times, gained new momentum in South Korea in 1952 with the creation of a certification system for oriental medical doctors. This system was one of the provisions of the Medical Act passed that same year.

      In the early 1970s, China’s acupuncture anesthesia drew worldwide attention, triggering an oriental medicine boom both within and outside South Korea. Such popularity sparked a rapid increase in the number of oriental medical schools in South Korea: by 1990, the number had jumped from only 1 to 11. These schools, along with 32 medical, 10...

    • Chapter 15 Utilization and Conservation of Medicinal Plants in China with Special Reference to Atractylodes lancea
      (pp. 161-168)
      He, Shan-An

      Chinese medical and pharmaceutical sciences are essential constituents of China’s civilization and its rich scientific heritage. These sciences, based in a land rich in flora, have made China’s utilization of medicinal plants among the most advanced in the world.

      According to investigations all over the country, there are more than ten thousand varieties of medicinal plants (He and Cheng 1990). Indeed, in China, the proverb “Every plant is a medicinal herb” is particularly apt. More than five hundred species are considered essential medicinal plants. The Pharmacopoeia of the People’s Republic of China contains 709 kinds of Chinese drugs. Among them,...

    • Chapter 16 Medicinal Plants in the Philippines
      (pp. 169-176)
      Nelia P. Cortes-Maramba

      The cultivation and use of plants as medicines in the Philippines dates back to pre-Spanish times. Although there are no published records of the plants used, knowledge of their healing properties was handed down from generation to generation. The studies on plants with medicinal values began by the sixteenth century and attained its more fruitful years in what historians call the Empiric Period, which continued for the next three hundred years. Manuscripts and books on herbal medicines were written mostly by Spanish missionaries. The two best-known works were Father Blanco’sFlora de Manila, with three printings (1737, 1845, and 1877–...

    • Chapter 17 Promising Practices in the Use of Medicinal Plants in the United States
      (pp. 177-190)
      Ara H. DerMarderosian

      In attempting to assess current usage of medicinal plants in the United States, it is necessary to understand that there are several major interest groups functioning simultaneously in natural product medicine. These include mainstream or conventional medicine, largely dominated by industry; certain basic and applied pharmacognostical and ethnobotanical and ethnopharmacological research being carried out in academe; active programs in a few government agencies (e.g., National Cancer Institute, USDA, Office of Alternative Medicine) that are searching for new anticancer and other medicines from nature; a substantial national industry of health food businesses promoting nutritionally based “medical foods”; various pockets of ethnic...

  9. Regulatory Issues
    • Chapter 18 Medicinal Plants and Phytomedicines within the European Community
      (pp. 193-197)
      Hubertus Cranz

      The face of Europe is rapidly changing. From the concept of a single European market to the realms of a larger “European economic area” and beyond, one fact remains certain: the potential that the European marketplace represents has attracted interest from all corners of the globe. In concrete terms, this means that the new European Community (EC) legislation plays an integral role in providing access to the European marketplace.

      Since it was founded in 1957, the European Community has developed a comprehensive legislative network to facilitate the free movement of goods, capital, services, and persons across member states. As part...

    • Chapter 19 The Evolving Status of Herbals and Phytomedicines in the United States
      (pp. 198-204)
      Robert G. Pinco

      In the United States, the regulatory scheme is divided between foods and drugs; the requirements applicable to foods are much less demanding than those applicable to drugs. As will be discussed, up until 25 October 1994, when the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act became law, herbal products could be sold as either foods or drugs. I start by describing the regulatory status of herbal products prior to the passage of the Act and end by explaining what is happening now.

      In the United States, drug products are classified on the basis of whether they are “new” or “old” drugs....

  10. Appendixes
    • Appendix A: WHO Guidelines for the Assessment of Herbal Medicines
      (pp. 205-211)
    • Appendix B: A Recommendation for Governments around the World
      (pp. 212-212)
  11. List of Contributors
    (pp. 213-218)
  12. Index
    (pp. 219-221)