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SURVEY AND CULTIVATION OF MEDICINAL PLANTS RESEARCH PROGRAMME AT A GLANCE

 

SURVEY OF MEDICINAL PLANTS

 

Survey of medicinal plants plays a pivotal role in the drug research programme of the Indian systems of medicine. Under this programme, the Council undertake the following activities: ethno pharmacological survey of medicinal plants in different forest zones of the country with particular reference to Unani medicinal plants; to study distribution, availability and threats of medicinal species facing depletion and suggest measures for their protection and conservation by setting up drug farms in different agro-climatic zones of the country; to maintain a herbarium and museum of medicinal plants and cataloguing information to develop a database; to maintain an exhibition of live medicinal plants and raw drugs for demonstration purpose; to develop a herb garden for cultivation of important and rare herbs and drugs/crops.

     

 The Council has undertaken programme of extensive surveys of medicinal plants in  different parts of the  country, primarily with a view to collect and identify medicinal plants and recording basic data on ethno-pharmacological uses of plants to provide a lead material for the discovery of new drugs of natural origin.  The broad objectives of the programme are;

 

  • To survey, collect and identify medicinal plants in different forest zones of the country;
  • To study distribution, availability, ethno-pharmacological uses and threats of medicinal plants;
  • To cultivate medicinal plants experimentally and in the field;
  • To maintain a herbarium and an exhibition of medicinal plants and raw drugs for demonstration purposes; 
  • To maintain a demonstrable herb garden;
  • To organize farmers’ meets to impart awareness, and provide training on cultivation of medicinal plants;
  • To document folk knowledge on medicinal uses of plants;
  • To collect samples of genuine drugs from the forest for Pharmacopoeial standard work;
  • To develop a nursery of medicinal plants for demonstration purpose with a view to popularize them amongst the masses.

 

This programme is being carried out at following research centers of the Council:

 

  • Central Research Institute of Unani Medicine, Hyderabad.
  • Regional Research Institute of Unani Medicine, Aligarh.
  • Regional Research Institute of Unani Medicine, Bhadrak.
  • Regional Research Institute of Unani Medicine, Chennai.
  • Regional Research Institute of Unani Medicine, Srinagar.

 

ETHNOPHARMACOLOGICAL SURVEYS

 

Under this programme the Council under took ethno-pharmacological surveys in different forest divisions/areas since 1979, a number of ethno-pharmacological surveys have been conducted in different remote forest zones of India, particularly tribal dominated areas, in the states of Andhra Pradesh,Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Jammu & Kashmir, Karnataka, Odisha, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh , Maharastra , Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Kerala , altogether 14 states has been explored during 1979-2017. As a result of the survey tour conducted, 1,06,301 botanical specimens  comprising 34,481 plant species of medicinal plants were  identified.

   

The survey teams also collected fresh raw drugs weighing 813kg including field scale cultivation and supplied to the pharmacy section of Central Research Institute of Unani Medicine, Hyderabad for the preparation of Unani formulations and few drugs to different pharmacies for the preparation of SOP formulations.

 

HERBARIUM

 

Plant specimens collected from the study areas were mounted on herbarium sheets. During the period 91,361 such herbarium sheets were prepared and information pertaining to plant’s botanical name, family, local name, Unani name (wherever available), date of collection, brief morphological features, medicinal/ other uses of plant were recorded on each herbarium sheet. Besides, 15,164  index cards were compiled and updated.

 

DIGITIZATION OF HERBARIUM

 

The Herbarium specimens are important material for the Scientist and Scholars engaged in the field of plants taxonomy & medicinal plants and allied sciences. Therefore, these specimens may be preserved and conserved for future use by converting the herbarium specimens into digitized form. 1,008 Herbarium sheets has been digitized so far.

 

FOLK CLAIMS

 

Folk medicines are gaining new importance as information on medicinal plants and folk drugs is subjected to investigation in the search for new compounds of potential therapeutic values. It has been brought to light that out of 121 biologically active plant-derived compounds, 90 have been discovered through follow-up research to verify the authenticity of information obtained through folk or ethno-medicinal uses. Such uses, therefore, represent a source of new leads that may shorten the long route of discovering modern drugs. It is in this context that the CCRUM have taken up work on collection of ethnopharmacological uses of plants through interviewing tribals and herbal medicine men in course of a series of medicinal plants collection trips in different forest zones of the country. As a result, over 16,442 folk claims for treating diseases and conditions including other economic uses have been gathered. Such claims recorded earlier till 2018 have been published in 19 Nos of Monograph/Books   on medicinal plants of different forest zones.  A number of claims have been collected for such diseases as have no satisfactory or viable cure in modern medicine. These include asthma, arthritis, liver disorders, hemorrhoids, elephantiasis, whooping cough and many other diseases. It is likely that further investigations on these folk claims may bring out specific medicines for such ailments.

 

EXPERIMENTAL AND FIELD SCALE CULTIVATION OF MEDICINAL PLANTS 

 

The Council has taken up cultivation of various plant-drugs to provide genuine material for clinical research and to develop pharmacopoeial standards. These include Afsanteen (Artemisia absinthium L.), Atrilal (Ammi majus L.), Arusa (Justicia adhatoda L.), Asgandh (Withania somnifera (L.) Dunal, Babchi (Psoralea corylifolia L.), Goazaban (Arnebia benthami Wall ex G.Don), Gurmarbuti (Gymnema sylvestre (Retz.) R.Br.ex Schult.), GulnarFarsi (Punica granatum L.), Karanjawa (Caesalpinia bonduc (L.) Roxb.), Kasni (Cichorium intybus L.), Khulanjan (Alpinia galanga (L.) Willd. Kutki (Picrorhiza kurrooa Royle ex Benth), Rasan (Inula racemosa C.B.Clarke), Sudab (Ruta graveolens L.), Sambhalu (Vitex negundo L.), Unsul (Urginea indica Kunth.), Waj (Acorus calamus L.) etc. As a result of survey and field scale cultivation 32,813kg of raw drugs were yielded.

 

NURSERY OF MEDICINAL PLANTS

 

In order to popularize medicinal plants, particularly those used in Unani Medicine, the CCRUM has embarked upon a vigorous programme of cultivating about 100 species in its nurseries at its centres at Aligarh, Hyderabad, Chennai and Srinagar. Some of the important species being cultivated in this programme include: Solanum nigrum L., Eclipta prostrata (L.) L., Cichorium intybus L., Carthamus tinctorius L., Plumbago zeylanica L., Plumbago rosea L., Catharanthus roseus (L.) G.Don., Saraca asoca (Roxb.)Willd., Allium ascalonicum L., Commiphora mukul (Hook. ex Stocks) Engl, Punica granatum L., Helicteres isora L., Cydonia oblonga Mill., Ocimum sanctum L., Pandanus tectorius Soland. ex Parkinson., Acorus calamus L., Caesalpinia bonduc (L.) Roxb., Trachyspermum ammi (L.) Sprauge., Cannabis sativa L., Gymnema sylvestre (Retz.) R.Br.ex Schult, Lawsonia inermis L., Malva sylvestris L., Picrorhiza kurrooa Royle ex Benth. etc.

 

HERB GARDEN

 

Classics of Unani system of medicine are replete with references to use of medicinal plants. In fact, plants are the major source of Unani drugs. Unmindful over-exploitation of this important resource has led to extinction of several species. Availability of genuine raw drug material is very important for the efficacy of the formulation. Besides, there are also some medicinal plants/drugs whose identification is controversial. Keeping this in view, a herb garden at CRIUM, Hyderabad has been recently established named as “Ibn-Al-Baitar Herbal garden” to cultivate important medicinal plants, particularly those used in Unani Medicine. At the herb garden, following activities are being undertaken.

 

  • Plantation of Unani medicinal plants of repute for demonstration purpose.
  • Field scale cultivation of medicinal plants particularly those used in clinical trials and kit medicines of the Council.
  • Development of nursery of certain medicinal plants of repute for their popularization.
  • Experimental cultivation of some Unani medicinal plants particularly for studying the effects of fertilizer doses, spacing etc. on their yield.

As of today, the garden has maintained over 160 species of Unani medicinal plants. Some of these species are: Caesalpinia bonduc ( L.) Roxb., Ruta graveolens L., Cassia fistula L., Terminalia bellirica (Gaertn.) Roxb, Ficus glomerata L., Aloe vera (L.) Burm.f., Semecarpus anacardium L.f., Tylophora indica (Burm.f.) Merril., Justicia adhatoda L., Aegle marmelos (L.) Corr., Mirabilis jalapa L., Santalum album L., Pterocarpus santalinus L.f., Pterocarpus marsupium Roxb., Gymnema sylvestre (Retz.) R.Br. ex Schult, Buchanania lanzan Spreng., Pongamia pinnata (L.) Pierre., Butea monosperma (Lam.) Taub., Helicteres isora L., Tamarindus indica L., Terminalia arjuna (Roxb.ex DC.) Wt. & Arn., Phyllanthus emblica L. etc.

 

PUBLICATIONS

 

During the  period 206 Nos. of Research Papers were published under Medicinal plants research programme. The Council also published 19 Nos. of monographs/Books based on field studies.

 

LIST OF MONOGRAPHS/BOOKS PUBLISHED

 

S.NO.

MONOGRAPHS/B OOKS.

YEAR OF PUBLICATION

1

A contribution to  the medicinal plants of Aligarh.

1981

2

Medicinal plants of Gwalior forest division, Madhya Pradesh.

1984

3

Contribution to the Unani Medicinal Plants from North Arcot district,Tamil Nadu.

1992

4

Medicinal plants of Andhra Pradesh, Part –I

1999

5

Potential anti-malarial herbal drugs from South Eastern India-Bihar & Orissa

2000

6

Medicinal   Plants in Folklores  of Northern India.

2001

7

Medicinal Plants in Folklores of Bihar and Orissa

2001

8

Medicinal Plants in Folklores of Southern India

2001

9

Medicinal Plants in Folklores of Kashmir Himalayas

2001

10

Medicinal Plants in Folklores of Northern India Part – II

2006

11

Medicinal Plants in Folklores of Orissa Part – II

2006

12

Medicinal in Folklores of Odisha Part –III

2014

13

Medicinal Plants in Folklores of Southern India Part – II

 2006

14

Unani   Medicinal   Plants of Tarai Forests in Kumaon  region of Uttarakhand.

2008

15

Unani Medicinal    Plants of Siddharthnagar   Forest Division,  Uttar Pradesh.

2010

16

Unani Medicinal   Plants of Andhra  Pradesh Part-I.

2010

17

Unani Medicinal Plants   of Dindigul District, Tamil Nadu.

2012

18

Unani Medicinal Plants and their folklore claims from Chamrajnagar Wildlife Division, Karnataka.

2015

 

 

19

Medicinal plants in Folklores of Southern India- Part-III

2018