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Human, animal and plant living are inter-twined since the beginning of human civilization. The usages of plants for food, shelter and medicine is an age-old practice of human. In ancient time, humans learned to cultivate plants for food as well as to live alongside with them as natural gifted companions. Traditional herbal formulations and local home-made medicine have been used throughout history and within all welfare to prevent and cure diseases. People coming using plants that were available within their geographical boundary to cure diseases addressing their local health related issues. Actually cultural tradition were exposed due to people immigration for trade and business, and gets often overwhelmed by modern scientific concepts and medications relates to various culture of different country. Since time immemorial, people believe that a plant keep the mind in tune with nature and maintains proper balance of thinking and health. As we enter the new decades of twenty-first century, drugs and medicines continue to constitute one of the essential components of health care system in promoting health and preventing illness. Usually a severe disease causes staggering amount of suffering and death in humans and animals, and with time proceeds humans committed itself to alleviate the suffering caused by pathogens and microbes.
Scientific research on plants and their application for human health care is once again assuming a prominent position. This book deals with ’Plants for Human Survival and Medicine’ is the outcome of ongoing R&D for discovering new molecules, new drugs, new leads, ethnobotany and nutraceuticals in relation to tribe, nature and climate change directly or indirectly leads to affect or effect human population. The main objectives of the present book is to provide a baseline data and information on plants and their hidden secret relates to human health and survival. Scientific data obtained from the plants always remain the basis for commercial medication and product formulation for the treatment of chronic diseases such as heart problem, blood pressure, inflammation, arthritis, rheumatism and other associated human related issues.
Plants have been recognized as a rich source of novel drugs that form the ingredients in traditional system of medicine, and approximately 90% raw botanicals of ayurveda, amchi, siddha and unani formulation were manufactured and prepared by using plants as a main source of ingredient. It is proven that the use and the search for medicine, and nutrients supplements derived and prepared from plant have accelerated the discovery. In recent decades, the discovery of several molecules such as artimisinin from Artemisia annua, tetrahydrocannabine (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) from Cannabis sativa, diosgenin (phytosterol sapogenin) from Costus speciosus, trihydroxy benzoic acid glycoside (bergenin) from Bergenia ciliata, foskolin from Coleus forskohlii, withanolides and withaferin from Withania somnifera, santonin from Artemisia maritima, morphine from Papaver somnifera, n-triacontane from Colebrookea oppositifolia, taxol from Taxus baccata, campothecin from Campotheca acuminata, Nothapodytes foetida and Nothapodytes nimmoniana, curcuminin from Curcuma longa, and glycyrrhizin and licorice from Glycyrrhiza glabra, galegine from Galega officinalis, spilanthol from Heliopsis longipes and Spilanthes acmella, indole alkaloid (yuehchukene) from Murraya paniculata, and several others bioactive molecules from ethnobotanical plants which has long history of use for human needs and wants are the best examples of drug discovered for human health and survival.
Illustrating further, the most widely sold and consumed dietary supplement chyawanprash is the best example of plants serving as source for human survival and energy boost ingredient. The product so called chyawanprash is prepared as per the instruction suggested in ayurvedic text. Historically, various Indian holy books such as Mahabharat and Puranas mentioned that Ashwini Kumar brothers who were Raj Vaidya to devas during the Vedic age first prepared chyawanprash formulation for Chyawan rishi in his ashram at Dhosi hill situated near Narnaul (present Haryana), and hence the name of chyavanprash comes in focus. Amla, Astavarga plants, Ashwagandha, Satawari, Bhumi-amalaki, Long Pepper, Malabar nuts, Punarava, sugar, honey and other total 30-100 ingredients are usually used in this formulation and today serving as the most life saving product for humans.
Scrutiny of literature reveals that in traditional Ayurvedic system of medicine, herbal botanicals were usually prepared by mixing different plants, which used to be flowering twigs, leaves, leaf exudates, gums, fruits, barks, roots, rhizomes or tubers. The first chapter of this book starts with Himalayan herbs used by human as food and medicine followed by chapter that focused on Ashtavarga plants, heptatoprotective properties of plants in treatment to liver toxicity. It is then followed by chapters shift on focus to the clinical arena, and the usages of plants in relation to cancer, diabetes and skin disorders. There is published report that 122 compounds of defined structure, obtained from only 94 species of plant, that are used globally as drugs and demonstrate that 80% of these have ethnomedical applications identical or related to the current use of the active elements of the plant (Daniel S. Fabricant and Norman R. Farnsworth. 2001. The Value of Plants Used in Traditional Medicine for Drug Discovery. Environmental Health Perspective 109: 69-75). Therefore, this book also contains few chapters on plants that have tremendous potentials as ethnomedicine used by different tribes spreading in different geographic locations from Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh and vice-versa.
Today traditional herbal formulations, drugs, food supplements, nutraceuticals, pharmaceutical intermediates, bioactive natural products and lead compounds derived from synthetic drugs are of high demand. Herbs contain many compounds with powerful antioxidant properties as evidence from the scientific data, and herb-induced change in biomarkers that assess antioxidant status and oxidative stress are of interest in relation to the mechanism of herbal protection. In cell culture studies, direct cytotoxicity, gene expression, protein synthesis and transport mechanism can be measured, and the morphology and the growth of cells could be assessed, which is a great achievement of science today. In animal studies, tumor occurrence and size can be examined which can prevents deadly diseases such as cancer and AIDS.
This book also focuses on presenting the current scientific evidence of bio-molecular effects, agrotechnology and other parameters of medicinal and nutraceutical aspects of selected plants such as Boswellia serrata, Butea monosperma, Colebrookea oppositifolia, Cymbopogon khasianus, Dendrophthe falcata, Dysoxylum binectiferum, Echinacea purpurea, Grewia asiatica, Northeast Panax species, Picrorrhiza kurroa, Saussurea costus, Withania somnifera, Zanthoxylum armatum, and most important Ashtarvarga group of plants such as Habenaria intermedia, Plantathera edgeworthii, Malaxis acuminata, Crepidium muscifera, Lilium polyphyllum, Polygonatum verticillatum, Polygonatum cirrhifolium and Roscoea purpurea were discussed and presented in this book for human needs and wants.
The present book is based on twenty five excellent research articles provided by fifteen topmost research organizations of India. I am sure and confident that this book will serve as the baseline information server for future research in the field of drug discovery and new nutraceuticals for human health. The biological, chemical pharmacological and clinical studies mentioned in this book will add and contribute in discovering quick leads for medicine formulations and products development relates to pharmaceutical industries. In addition to research suggestions and value of plants for human survival contained in each of chapter, an introduction section emphasizes particular research avenues for attention in the drug development programmes, and role of plants in human survival.
The Editor tried to convey maximum knowledge through this book ’Plants for Human Survival and Medicine’ regarding potential plants for human needs and medicine discovery. Readers are considered as the best panel of judges to evaluate the content of any writing and also applies to this particular book. I am sure and full confident that the readers have a moral obligation to convey their suggestions on this book in near future for its better improvement. It would be a great pleasure for me if this book could attract civilians, scientists, research scholars, strategies planners like forest department, tourists and industries who have ideas in their mind and take forward the economic plants for human survival and looks for local traditional medicines that can prepared from nearby their surroundings and forests to heal diseases. It would be worthless to mention that this book will have a way of providing a new level for future perspectives in understanding different areas of sciences and humans.