A Comparative Study On Herbal Medicine Biology Essay

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Nature always stands as a golden mark to exemplify the outstanding phenomenon of symbiosis. The biotic and a biotic element of nature are all independent. The plants are indispensable to man for the life. Nature has provided a complete store house of remedies to cure all aliments of the mankind. The knowledge of the drugs has accumulated over thousands of years as a result of man's inquisitive nature so that today we possess many Effective means of ensuring health-care (Cotton, C.M. Ethan botany, 1996).


The history of herbal is as that old as human civilization. The documents, many of which are of great antiquity, revealed that plants were used medicinally in china, India, Egypt and Greece long before the beginning of the Christian era. One of the most famous surviving remnants is papyrus Ebers, a scroll some 60 feet long and a foot wide, dating back to the 16th century before Christ. The text of the document is dominated by more 800 formulae and 700 different drugs. A large portion of the Indian population, even the present time, depends on the Indian system of medicine- Ayurveda - Ancient science of life. The well known treatises in Ayurveda are the charka samhita and the sushruta samhita. The world health Organization (WHO) estimates that 75% of the world population use herbal remedies as their primary therapeutic treatment. Every culture has developed the use of simple herbal extracts, used alone or in combination. Modern phytotherapy tends towards the approach of using a variety of herbs in combination to enhance treatment (Indian Herbal Medicine, 2007).


Traditional Chinese Medicine and Kamboh:

This ancient system finds its references in the yellow emperor's classic of internal medicine which is believed to be prepared between 200 B.C. and 100 A.D. this herbal is based on the idea that all life is subject to natural laws. The hypothesis includes two quite different systems the yin and yang theory and the five elements (i.e. water, metal, earth, fire and wood). These two theories have been developed separately and differ in terms of diagnosis and treatment. The traditional Chinese system of medicine has spread to Japan and Korea in a form called Kamboh, called as the traditional Japanese system of medicine (Siddha Medicine, 1994).

Ayurveda-Indian System of Medicine:

Ayurveda is believed to be prevalent since lost 5000 years in India. It is one of the most noted systems of medicine in the world. Ayurveda is based on the hypothesis that everything in the universe is composed of 5 basic elements viz. space, air, energy, liquid and solid. Authentic information on Ayurveda has been compiled by ancient Indian medicine practitioners in forms called samhita and other similar books. Some important herbs from Ayurveda and Rauwolfia serpentina, asparagus racemosus, Cassia angustifolia, Withania somnifera etc.

Unani System of Medicine:

The routes of this system go deep the times of the well known Greek philosopher Hippocrates Who is credited for it. This system is based on two theories viz. the Hippocratic theory of four humours are blood, phlegm, yellow bile and black bile. While the four qualities are the states of living human body like hot, cold, moist and dry. They are represented as earth, water, fire and air.

Homeopathic System of Medicine:

In comparison to traditional systems medicine homeopathy is a newer one and developed in the 18th century by Samuel Hahnemann - a German physician and chemist. He proposed that the cause of the disease itself can be used for its treatment. In the homeopathic system, the drug treatment is not specified but the choice of the drug depends on the symptoms and the clinical condition of the patient. This is based on the concept of proving and prove.

Bach Flower Remedies:

Bach flower remedies were discovered by Edward Bach, a physician in the early decades of the 20th century. These include 38 remedies prepared from flowers of the wild plants, bushes or trees. The remedies are prescribed as per the patient's state of the mind like depression, anger, fear, worry etc.


It is one of the most ancient healing arts and traces its origin to 4500 B.C. when Egyptians used aromatic substances in medicines. Greeks also used plants essences for aromatic baths and scented massage. Ayurveda has also mentioned scented baths (abhyanga). Various essential oils used in aromatherapy are basil, black pepper, caraway, eucalyptus, fennel, garlic, jasmine and sandalwood. The world health organization (WHO) estimates the 80% of the population in the developing countries rely almost exclusively on traditional system of medicines for their primary health care needs (Chidambarathanu pillai, 1922).

Herbal preparations and preferred nowadays, because of their effectiveness

Easy availability

Their low cost, and

Devoid of their severe toxic effect

This quest for a healthier lifestyle has meant that people are once again recognizing the healing powers of herbs. Even in the west, natural products are now widely available and herbalist is again coming into its own in a world which is becoming more health and environmentally conscious. While the therapeutic effects of many herbal remedies have now been scientifically validated, others are backed by strong traditional and historical evidence.

In fact, there needs to be no animosity of competition between herbalists and modern allopathic medicines. They both have their place and have much to learn from each other.


The "traditional medicine" refers two ways one is protect and another one is restore health that existed before the reach of the modern medicine. Traditional systems have to meet the needs of the local communities for many centuries. China and India, for example, have developed Ayurveda medicine and acupuncture. In the term" traditional medicine" refers to the following components: traditional birth attendants, acupuncture, mental healers and traditional herbal medicine (Romanik. G et al, 2007).

A high proportion of the people in a number of developed countries still rely on traditional practitioners, including herbalists, traditional birth attendants and on local medicinal plants to satisfy their primary health care needs and bone- setters. WHO approximates that traditional medicine rural births and all birth attendants assist in up to 95% and urban births in developing countries up to 70%; traditional medicine has maintained in a number of Asian countries, such as India, china, Pakistan and Japan.

Medicinal plants are the health- care products. Their importance growth on the medical plant ,ethnological and drug development and historical research, not only when plant constituents are used directly as pharmacologically active compounds, but also when they are used as basic materials for the synthesis of drugs and therapeutic agent.

Medicinal plants play a key role in the Human Health Care. About 80% of the world population relay on the use of traditional medicine, which is predominantly based on plant materials. The Traditional Medicine refers to a broad range of ancient Natural Health Care practices including Folk/ tribal practices as well as Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani. These medical practices originated from time immemorial and developed gradually, to a large extent, relying or based on practical experiences without significant references to modern scientific principles. These practices incorporated ancient beliefs and were passed on from one generation to another by oral tradition and/or guarded literature. Although herbal medicines are effective in the treatment of various ailments very often these drugs are unscientifically exploited and/or improperly used. Therefore, plant drugs deserve detailed studies in the light of modern science.

It is estimated that 7,500 plants are used in local health traditions, mostly, rural and tribal villages of India. Out of these, the real medicinal value of over 4,000 plants is either little known or hitherto unknown to mainstream population. The classical systems of medicine such as Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and Tibetan use about 1,200 plants.

A detailed investigation and documentation of plants used in local health traditional and pharmacological evaluation of invaluable plant drugs for many dreaded diseases. Random screening has not proved economically effective.

Crude drugs in general, are complex mixture of a number of biologically active substances integrated under a certain rule to make crude drug function in same way as a single agent. For the purpose of the uses of crude drugs, the isolation of active principles, the determination of their structures and pharmacological investigation have to be carried.

Global Scenario of herbal medicine:

Ayurveda the traditional Indian medicine (TIM) and traditional Chinese medicine (TIM) remain the most ancient yet living traditions. About 95% of general hospitals in china have traditional medicine departments. These are the two 'great tradition' with sound philosophical, experimental basis. Increased side effects, lack of curative treatment for several chronic diseases, high cost of new drugs, microbial resistance and emerging diseases are some reasons for renewed public interest in complementary and alternative medicines. It has been postulated that by 2010 at least two-thirds of the United States population will be using one or more of the alternative therapeutic approaches. Use of indigenous drugs of natural origin forms a major part of such therapies. More than 1500 herbals are sold as dietary supplements or ethnic traditional medicines (Dr. Vinod D et al., 2003).

Health authorities and governments of various nations have an active internet in provide standardized botanical medications. United States congress has fuelled rapid growth in the nutraceutical market with passage of the dietary supplement health and education act in 1994. Us food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently published the International Conference on Harmonization guidance common Technical Document addressing concerns related to quality of medicines that also includes herbals. World Health Organization (WHO) is keen regarding traditional botanical medicines the global scenario illustrate challenges presented and vividly both promise by the traditional medicines.

Worldwide Trends and Developments on Herbal Products:

The past two decades have seen a worldwide upsurge in the use of traditional medicine in both developed and developing countries:

In Africa, up to 80% of the population in rural areas depends on traditional medicine to meet their primary health care needs, while in India the corresponding figure is 65%.

The percentage of the population that has used traditional medicine at least once in the past 10 years is 42% in the USA, 48% in Australia, 49% in France. In Australia as well as overseas, this market appears to be growing at about 30% per year. The rapid growth is largely due to a growing demand from the public, with reportedly more than 50% of Australians using herbal or complementary medicines. In the USA (population 250 million) it has been estimated that a total of $5 billion was spent on herbal medicine alone in 1997.Recent surveys have found that the prevalence alternative medicine use ranges between 10% to 40%, and is continuously rising. This trend is definitely on the increase, and as lead by the tremendous growth of available herbal medicines, megavitamins, supplements and folk remedies. According to the World Health Organization, as many as 80% of the world s people rely for their primary health care on traditional medicine, most types of which use remedies made from plants. The use of traditional medicine in developing countries is increasing. Two of the largest users of medicinal plants are China and India. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) uses over 5000 plant species; India uses some 7000. In China, sales of traditional medicines have more than doubled in the last five years, while India s booming export trade in medicinal plants has risen almost three-fold during the last decade.


The herbal sciences are in their infancy; much is known, yet more we know, the less we seem to know. Scientific investigators is lacking mostly because of funding problems. The herbal companies are tiny compared to pharmaceutical companies and this combined with the fast that herbs can t be patented means that there is little incentive for companies to spend money on herbal medicine research. We still face the situation that traditional information, or empirical information, about herbs and their uses is still our most useful and reliable source of information (Quality Control of Herbal Product, 2001).

Fundamental Differences between herbs and drugs

Chemical complexity

Subtle and gentle activity

Therapeutic strategy

Aims of Herbal Medicine

Symptom relief

Treating the cause if known

Raising the vitality of the patient

Use of Herbal Medicine

Supporting hormonal and nervous system balance by improving Sleep patterns,

Asthmatic function

Improving digestion

elimination by treating liver function

bowel function

upper digestive function

Treating stress, improving adrenal function (with adapt gens or adrenal tonics).

Many of our patients will be prescribed nervous system tonics and/or digestive tonics.

Because in herbal medicine we find that many disease states either create or have Digestive problems as part of their aetiology


Natural products extracts of paramount importance are of as therapeutic relevance of structural and chemical diversity. A resent pharmacopoeia from several countries reveals at least 130 distinct chemical substances from different medicinal plants that have utilized and life saving drugs. This has been achieved through pharmacological and chemical screening of only 6% of the total medicinal plant species. The wealth of flora needs to be unearthed to cure diseases like cancer, AIDS, Asthma, diabetes, etc.

Three basic sources of Information:

The Actions which is based on traditional knowledge

Modern pharmacology based on individual active constituents

Pharmacological & clinical Studies of whole herb extracts

More specifically phytotherapeutics investigations can be categorized as follows:

Individual chemical component

The pharmacological effect of the crude drug

Crude drug combination. Especially found in Chinese, Japanese and Indian Formulations.

In vitro and In vivo methods

Clinical trials