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About Authors:
Kapil Sharma*, Priyanka Sharma
Yaresun Pharmaceutical Pvt. Ltd.,

Herbalism is a traditional medicinal or folk medicine practice based on the use of plants and plant extracts. Many plants synthesize substances that are useful to the maintenance of health in humans and other animals because herbal medicine have harmless advantages. Humans, and even neanderthals, have used plants to treat their ailments for at least tens of thousands of years; most likely even longer than that. The first written accounts of the use of herbs originate in china, although all other civilizations from the ancient world were using plants as natural remedies for their ailments. Western herbal medicine dates back to ancient greece and its famous doctors like hippocrates and galen.The 15th to 17th centuries were the most popular time for herbalism in europe. Herbal remedies are still relatively popular today, mainly due to the fact that they are regarded as harmless because they are natural. So this paper describe basic information  involved in preparation of herbal remedies for internal use and for external useand gives a detail account about standardization and evaluation in formulations of herbal drugs.

Reference Id: PHARMATUTOR-ART- 1455

Herbalism is a traditional medicinal or folk medicine practice based on the use of plants and plant extracts. Herbalism is also known as botanical medicine, medical herbalism, herbal medicine, herbology, and phytotherapy. The scope of herbal medicine is sometimes extended to include fungal and bee products, as well as minerals, shells and certain animal parts.1

Many plants synthesize substances that are useful to the maintenance of health in humans and other animals. These include aromatic substances, most of which are phenols or their oxygen-substituted derivatives such as tannins. Many are secondary metabolites, of which at least 12,000 have been isolated — a number estimated to be less than 10% of the total. In many cases, substances such as alkaloids serve as plant defense mechanisms against predation by microorganisms, insects, and herbivores. Many of the herbs and spices used by humans to season food yield useful medicinal compounds.

Herbal medicine, sometimes referred to as Herbalism, Botanical medicine or Herbology, is the use of plants, in a wide variety of forms, for their therapeutic value. Herb plants produce and contain a variety of chemical compounds that act upon the body and are used to prevent or treat disease or promote health and well-being.

Advantages of Herbal Medicine1
1.      Herbal medicine have long history of use and better patient tolerance as well as acceptance.
2.      Medicinal plants have a renewable source, which is our only hope for sustainable supplies of cheaper medicines for the world growing population.
3.      Availability of medicinal plants is not a problem especially in developing countries like India having rich agro-climatic, cultural and ethnic biodiversity.
4.      The cultivation and processing of medicinal herbs and herbal products is environmental friendly.
5.      Prolong and apparently uneventful use of herbal medicines may offer testimony of their safety and efficacy.
6.      Through out the world, herbal medicine has provided many of the most potent medicines to the vast arsenal of drugs available to modern medical science, both in crude form and as a pure chemical upon which modern medicines are structured.

Role of Herbal Medicine in Modern Human Society2
Botánicas, such as this one in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, cater to the Latino community and sell herbal cures and folk medicine alongside statues of saints, candles decorated with prayers, lucky bamboo, and other items.

The use of herbs to treat disease is almost universal among non-industrialized societies.] A number of traditions came to dominate the practice of herbal medicine at the end of the twentieth century:
·                     The "classical" herbal medicine system, based on Greek and Roman sources
·                     The Siddha and Ayurvedic medicine systems from various South Asian Countries
·                     Chinese herbal medicine (Chinese herbology)
·                     Unani-Tibb medicine
·                     Shamanic herbalism: a catch-all phrase for information mostly supplied from South America and the Himalayas

Many of the pharmaceuticals currently available to physicians have a long history of use as herbal remedies, including opium, aspirin, digitalis, and quinine. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 80 percent of the world's population presently uses herbal medicine for some aspect of primary health care. Pharmaceuticals are prohibitively expensive for most of the world's population, half of which lives on less than $2 U.S. per day. In comparison, herbal medicines can be grown from seed or gathered from nature for little or no cost. Herbal medicine is a major component in all traditional medicine systems, and a common element in Siddha, Ayurvedic, homeopathic, naturopathic, traditional Chinese medicine, and Native American medicine.


All plants produce chemical compounds as part of their normal metabolic activities. These are arbitrarily divided into primary metabolites, such as sugars and fats, found in all plants, and secondary metabolites, compounds not essential for basic function found in a smaller range of plants, some useful ones found only in a particular genus or species. Pigments harvest light, protect the organism from radiation and display colors to attract pollinators. Many common weeds, such as nettle, dandelion and chickweed, have medicinal properties.The functions of secondary metabolites are varied. For example, some secondary metabolites are toxins used to deter predation, and others are pheromones used to attract insects for pollination. Phytoalexins protect against bacterial and fungal attacks. Allelochemicals inhibit rival plants that are competing for soil and light. Plants upregulate and downregulate their biochemical paths in response to the local mix of herbivores, pollinators and microorganisms. The chemical profile of a single plant may vary over time as it reacts to changing conditions. It is the secondary metabolites and pigments that can have therapeutic actions in humans and which can be refined to produce drugs. Plants synthesize a bewildering variety of phytochemicals but most are derivatives of a few biochemical motifs.

Alkaloids contain a ring with nitrogen. Many alkaloids have dramatic effects on the central nervous system. Caffeine is an alkaloid that provides a mild lift but the alkaloids in datura cause severe intoxication and even death.

Phenolics contain phenol rings. The anthocyanins that give grapes their purple color, the isoflavones, the phytoestrogens from soy and the tannins that give tea its astringency are phenolics.

Terpenoids are built up from terpene building blocks. Each terpene consists of two paired isoprenes. The names monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, diterpenes and triterpenes are based on the number of isoprene units. The fragrance of rose and lavender is due to monoterpenes. The carotenoids produce the reds, yellows and oranges of pumpkin, corn and tomatoes.

Glycosides consist of a glucose moiety attached to an aglycone. The aglycone is a molecule that is bioactive in its free form but inert until the glycoside bond is broken by water or enzymes. This mechanism allows the plant to defer the availability of the molecule to an appropriate time, similar to a safety lock on a gun. An example is the cyanoglycosides in cherry pits that release toxins only when bitten by a herbivore.

The word drug itself comes from the Dutch word "droog" (via the French word Drogue), which means 'dried plant'. Some examples are inulin from the roots of dahlias, quinine from the cinchona, morphine and codeine from the poppy, and digoxin from the foxglove. The active ingredient in willow bark, once prescribed by Hippocrates, is salicin, which is converted in the body into salicylic acid. The discovery of salicylic acid would eventually lead to the development of the acetylated form acetylsalicylic acid, also known as "aspirin", when it was isolated from a plant known as meadowsweet. The word aspirin comes from an abbreviation of meadowsweet's Latin genus Spiraea, with an additional "A" at the beginning to acknowledge acetylation, and "in" was added at the end for easier pronunciation. "Aspirin" was originally a brand name, and is still a protected trademark in some countries. This medication was patented by Bayer AG.

Few Examples of plants used as medicine2
Few herbal remedies have conclusively demonstrated any positive effect on humans, possibly due to inadequate testing. Many of the studies cited refer to animal model investigations or in-vitro assays and therefore cannot provide more than weak supportive evidence.

Aloe vera has traditionally been used for the healing of burns and wounds. A systematic review (from 1999) states that the efficacy of aloe vera in promoting wound healing is unclear, while a later review (from 2007) concludes that the cumulative evidence supports the use of aloe vera for the healing of first to second degree burns.

Agaricus blazei mushrooms may prevent some types of cancer.

Artichoke (Cynara cardunculus) may reduce production cholesterol levels according to in vitro studies  and a small clinical study.

Blackberry (Rubus fruticosus) leaf has drawn the attention of the cosmetology community because it interferes with the metalloproteinases that contribute to skin wrinkling.

Black raspberry (Rubus occidentalis) may have a role in preventing oral cancer.

Boophone (Boophone disticha) This highly toxic plant has been used in South African traditional medicine for treatment of mental illness . Research demonstrate in vitro and in vivo effect against depression.

Butterbur (Petasites hybridus) Calendula (Calendula officinalis) has been used traditionally for abdominal cramps and constipation. In animal research an aqueous-ethanol extract of Calendula officinalis flowers was shown to have both spasmolytic and spasmogenic effects, thus providing a scientific rationale for this traditional use. There is "limited evidence" that calendula cream or ointment is effective in treating radiation dermatitis.

Cranberry (Vaccinium oxycoccos) may be effective in treating urinary tract infections in women with recurrent symptoms.

Echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea pallida, Echinacea purpurea) extracts may limit the length and severity of rhinovirus colds; however, the appropriate dosage levels, which might be higher than is available over-the-counter, require further research.

Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) may speed the recovery from type A and B influenza. However it is possibly risky in the case of avian influenza because the immunostimulatory effects may aggravate the cytokine cascade.



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