MAPs (Medicinal and Aromatic Plants)
Medicinal and Aromatic Plants
Medicinal plants, since times immemorial, have been used in virtually all cultures as a source of medicine. The widespread use of herbal remedies and healthcare preparations, as those described in ancient texts such as the Vedas and the Bible, and obtained from commonly used traditional herbs and medicinal plants, has been traced to the occurrence of natural products with medicinal properties.
demand for plants and plant-based drugs of proven therapeutic value within
traditional medical systems such as Ayurveda, Unani and Chinese
medicine has never been higher. In many countries, including India, traditional
medicine is becoming more widely appreciated within all segments of society.
Due to population growth and increasing urbanization, the demand for plant-based
drugs is rising very rapidly in cities and towns. Worldwide, the increased
popularity of non-Western treatments ("alternative" or complementary
medicine) is creating a rapidly expanding market for both crude drugs
and sophisticated compound preparations.
The global annual trade in herbal
drugs has recently been estimated at US$14 billion to over US$20 billion
with the largest markets found in Europe (-50% of global trade), Asia,
and North America. While
we may welcome the growth of Ayurveda and other traditional medical systems,
we should be very seriously concerned about other trends that jeopardize
the future availability of Ayurveda's plant drug sources.
Healthy, diverse forests and other natural ecosystems that are the source of the overwhelming bulk of medicinal plants are being degraded, fragmented and disappearing altogether at alarming rates in many parts of the world. At the same time, the cultural diversity and traditional ecological knowledge of the uses and medicinal value of biodiversity that have been developed through millennia by countless indigenous or tribal societies throughout the world is also on a downward spiral.