MEDICINAL PLANTS

Medicinal plants are various plants used in herbalism and have many medicinal properties. Few plants or their photochemical constituents which have been proven to have medicinal effects by rigorous science or have been approved by regulatory agencies such as the United States Food and Drug Administration or European Food Safety Authority.

Pharmacognosy is the study of medicines derived from natural sources, including plants. There are a vast varieties of plants with medicinal values & are used very frequently.


ALOE VERA

Aloe Vera is a stem less or very short-stemmed succulent plant growing to 60-100 cm (24-39 in) tall, spreading by offsets. The leaves are thick and fleshy, green to grey-green, with some varieties showing white flecks on the upper and lower stem surfaces. The margin of the leaf is serrated and has small white teeth. The flowers are produced in summer on a spike up to 90 cm (35 in) tall, each flower being pendulous, with a yellow tubular corolla 2-3 cm (0.8-1.2 in) long. These plants can with stand humid temperatures. The pulps of these plants are widely used by the cosmetic industries & many pharmacies.


Alpinia Variegate

Alpinia is a genus of plants, with more than 230 species from the ginger family (Zingiberaceae). It is named for Prospero Alpini, a 17th-century Italian botanist who specialized in exotic plants.

These plants grow from large rhizomes. The stem consists of closely folded blades. The flowers grow on long racemes. They are popularly grown as ornamentals for their flashy flowers.

Its leaves are sold as herbal tea. Its tea has hypertensive, diuretic and antiulcerogenic properties. Decoction of leaves has been used during bathing to alleviate fevers. The leaves and rhizomes have been proven effective against HIV-1 integrase and neuraminidase enzymes and has also shown anti-diabetic effect through inhibitions of formation of advanced glycation end products.

Azadirachta Indica

Azadirachta indica is a tree in the mahogany family Meliaceae. It is one of two species in the genus Azadirachta, and is native to India, Pakistan and Bangladesh growing in tropical and semi-tropical regions. Its fruits and seeds are the source of neem oil.

Neem is a fast-growing tree that can reach a height of 15-20 metres (49-66 ft), rarely to 35-40 metres (115-130 ft). It is evergreen, but in severe drought it may shed most or nearly all of its leaves. The branches are wide spread. The fairly dense crown is roundish or oval and may reach the diameter of 15-20 metres (49-66 ft) in old, free-standing specimens.

Medicinal Uses

Extract of neem leaves is thought to be helpful as malaria prophylaxis despite the fact that no comprehensive clinical studies are yet available. In several cases, private initiatives in Senegal were successful in preventing malaria.

Neem extracts as Insecticides : Neem products are unique in that they are not outright killers. Instead, they alter an insect's behavior or life processes in ways that can be extremely subtle. Eventually, however, the insect can no longer feed or breed or metamorphose and can cause no further damage.

Azadirachtin : One of the first active ingredients isolated from neem, Azadirachtin has proved to be the trees main agent for battling insects. It appears to cause some 90% of the effect on most pests.

Fungicides : Neem has proved effective against certain fungi that infect the human body. Such fungi are an increasing problem & have been difficult to control by synthetic fungicides.

Antibacterial : In trials neem oil has suppressed several species of pathogenic bacteria including Staphylococcus & Salmonella spp.

Antiviral Agents : In India, there is much interesting, but anecdotal information attributing antiviral activity of Neem. Its efficacy particularly against pox viruses is strongly believed, even among those of advanced medical training. Small pox, chicken pox has traditionally been treated with a paste of Neem leaves - usually rubbed directly on to the infected skin.