The Use Of Herbs Biology Essay

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Herbal Medicine sometimes referred to as Herbalism or Botanical Medicine, is the use of herbs for their therapeutic or medicinal value. A herb is a plant or plant part valued for its medicinal, aromatic or savory qualities. Herbal plants produce and contain a variety of chemical substances that act upon the body. Herbal medicine is the oldest form of healthcare known to mankind (holistic online .com).

Herbs are staging a comeback and herbal 'renaissance 'is happening all over the globe. The herbal products today symbolize safety In contrast to the synthetics that are regarded as unsafe to human and environment. Although herbs had been priced for their medicinal, flavoring and aromatic qualities for centuries. Of the 2,50,000 higher plant species on earth, more than 80,000 are medicinal plants India is one of the world's 12 biodiversity centers with the presence of over 45000 different plant species. Traditional systems of medicine continue to be widely practiced as many accounts. Population rise, inadequate supply of drugs, prohibitive cost of treatments, side effects of several allopathic drugs and development of resistance to currently used drugs for the infectious diseases have led to increased emphasis on the use of plant materials as a source of

medicines for a wide variety of human ailments.

Green plants synthesis and preserve a variety of biochemical products, many of which are extractable and used as chemical feed stocks or as raw material for various scientific investigations. Many secondary metabolites of plants are commercially important and find use in a number of pharmaceutical compounds.(medicinal plant classification)

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 4 billion people, 80 percent of the world population, presently use herbal medicine for some aspect of primary health care. WHO notes that of 119 plant-derived pharmaceutical medicines, about 74 percent are used in modern medicine in ways that correlated directly with their traditional uses as plant medicines by native cultures Major pharmaceutical companies are currently conducting extensive research on plant materials gathered from the rain forests and other places for their potential medicinal value. Among ancient civilizations, India has been known to be rich repository of medicinal plants. The forest of India is the Principle repository of large number of medicinal and aromatic plants, which are largely collected as raw materials for the manufacture of drugs and perfumery products(herbal medicine holistic

The major systems of indigenous medicines are


Among these systems ayurveda is most developed and widely practiced in India. Ayurveda Dating back to 1500-800 BC has been an integral part of Indian culture. The term comes from Sanskrit Au (life) and Veda (knowledge) As the name implies it is not only the science of treatment of the ill but covers the whole gamut of happy human life involving the physical, metaphysical and the spiritual aspects. Ayurvedic form of medicine is believed to be existent in India for thousands of years. It employs various techniques also to provide healing or relief to the ailing patients. One of the things that ayurveda uses is medications of plant of Many herbs and spices used in Indian cooking, such as garlic, ginger, turmeric, clove, cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, fenugreek fennel, ajowan (ajwain), anise, amchur, bay leaf, hing (asafetida) etc., are known to have medicinal properties Ayurvedic medicine uses all of these either in diet or as medicine. Besides, the many Medicinal plants that are found in India (and elsewhere) are routinely used by the practitioners of Ayurveda. In India over 7,000 medicinal plant species are known to exist. Some of these medicinal plants have been featured on Indian postage stamps.

Unani system of medicine:

In the Unani system, various types of treatment are employed such as ilaj bit tad bur (regimental therapy), ilaj bil Ghiza (diet therapy), ilaz bid Dawa (pharmaco-therapy) and jarhat (surgery). The regimental therapy includes, vivisection, cupping, diaphores is, dieresis, Turkish bath, massage, cautery, purging, emesis, exercise, leeching, etc. Diet therapy aims at treating certain ailments by the administration of specific diets or by regulating the quality and quantit the pharmaco-therapy deals with the use of naturally occurring drugs of predominantly mineral or animal origin. Surgery that has been in use in Unani practice for a long time employs surgical procedures for which certain instruments and techniques have been designed.


        In Unani medicine, single drugs or combinations in the raw form are preferred, over compound formulations. The Unani Materia Medica is very vast, but most of the ingredients are locally available and easy to obtain. The naturally occurring drugs used in the system are symbolic of life and are generally free from side effects. And such drugs are toxic are processed from crude material and purified in many ways before use.


The Unani pharmacopoeia (Said, 1969) has a rich armamentarium of natural drugs, consisting of mostly herbs but also material of animal, mineral and marine origin. There are over 2,000 species of plants in the Unani Materia Medica (Daljithsimha, 1974), of which many species of plants occurring in India found a place (Fatima, 1994)

Siddha system of medicine:

Alternative medicine. Siddha system is one of the oldest systems of medicine in India. The term 'Siddha' means achievement and the 'Siddhars' were saintly figures who achieved results in medicine through the practice of Yoga. Eighteen 'Siddhars' seem to have contributed towards the development of this medical system. In the ancient period Indian saints handled the plants and herbs for long life with better health and lived more than thousand years of age. The sages were called Rishis in the North and Siddhars in the South and their systems were known as Ayurveda and Siddha. The name Siddha oushadha (Siddha medicine) relates to the earlier esoteric medicinal postulates concerning longevity, even immortality, and the later astrochemical formulations as conceived and practiced by 18 Siddhars, located in what is today, the Tamil Nadu. It is for this reason; the entire Siddha medical literature is in Tamil. The Siddha system has about 800 texts of which 180 are in print.

According to Siddha predictions, it is known to the world that Lord Siva taught the Siddha principles and philosophies to Matha, Sri Parasakthi. After that the Siddha principles were presented to the followers of Lord Siva and Sakthi, to Siddhars, starting with Siddhar - Nantheesar, then to Siddhar Thirumoolar, Agathiyar and other disciples along with the 18 Siddhars and soon. When we go through the Tamil Literature, we can see several Siddhars like Agathiyar, Tholkappiyar etc. All the Siddhars adopted the saiva siddantham principles. It is an excellent philosophical theory to human beings with holy life. In all Siddhars, Agathiyar was considered the prominent leader with his later guru Lord Subramaniyar. From the old Siddha literature we can understand that Siddhar - Agathiyar was first taught by Lord Siva, Sakthi and later by Lord Subramaniyar. The system is also called Agathiyar system in the name of its famous exponent sage Agasthya. A number of medical works of this system are ascribed to him but it may be difficult at this time to say the exact number that can be credited to him. This system of medicine developed within the Dravidian culture, which is of the pre-Vedic period. The Siddha system is largely therapeutic in nature. The Neem tree was regarded as sacred in Mohenjo-Daro Civilization. In the annals of the ancient Siddha System of Medicine, the first medicinal plant mentioned as well as found a place, in ancient Tamil literature is Margosa or Neem. Tamils has been used from the time of immemorial as prevention for smallpox and other transmittable diseases and also considered to possess powers to ward off evil spirits. Perhaps they were aware of the germicidal action and the medicinal properties of the Margosa, Tirumular, the great Siddha is said to have been in deep penance for several thousands of years before the Christian era in eternal bliss under a sacred pipal tree. According to Siddha medical science the universe consists of 5 elements. Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Ether which correspond to the five senses of the human body, Man breath air, maintains the heat in the body, consumes water and food, because of the life force given by ether, he is alive. The earth is the first element which gives fine shape to the body, including bones, tissues, muscles, skin, hair etc. Water is the second element representing blood, secretions of the glands, vital fluid etc. Fire the third element that gives emotion, vigor and vitality to the body. It also helps digestion, circulation and stimulation besides respiration and the nervous system. Above all other is the characteristic of man's mental and spiritual faculties. A suitable proportion of these five elements in combination with each other produce a healthy person. Siddha System presents the slogan, "Food is being medicine and medicine is being food" to people.

Folk medicine:

Folk medicine is traditional healing practice which is used for alleviating illness and

Injury and provides aid while giving birth to child. It is not a scientific medicine but folk

Medicine is more formal and systematic medicine. Folk medicine uses many plants

Derived remedies and by using folk medicine, you can keep yourself away from modern

medical services. Folk medicines are available for curing both physical and mental

illness. You can use plant or tree roots, fruits, insects, and food items for treating cancer,

Malaria, warts, sore throats to arthritis, impotence, high blood pressure and infected


Folk medicine from different plants:

Some plants are also used as folk medicines. The below folk remedies are used for

treating many physical disorders.

Chokecherry plant as remedy: It is used for treating pneumonia. It also treats cold, cough and clears your throat. We can use it by boiling chokecherry plant bark and make it as tea.

Juniper plant as remedy: It is used for treating kidney ailments. You can use it by crushing berries and mix it in tea and consume.

Labrador plant as remedy: You can use the leaf of Labrador plant for having relief over cold, flu and stomach upset. First you have to dry these leaves and make it into tea. Use this mixture as folk remedy.

Dandelion plant as remedy: This plant leaves are boiled freshly and used as the blood purifier.

Balsam plant as remedy: You can use the sap of balsam fir for healing a cut by spreading sap over the cut.

Haw thorn bush as remedy: It is used for treating sore throat. This is used by boiling the bush and gargling with liquid.

Many plants synthesize the substances and are used for maintaining health condition. All

The above remedies are folk remedies which are used for treating different physical


Natural Folk medicine as herbal medicine:

Fresh steaks and poultice is used for treating infected wounds. Molasses is used for treating sore throat and used for treating baby's teeth problem. Fresh cucumber and wet bag tea is used for treating bad eye. Garlic is used for reducing high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Juice from Neem leaves is used for curing malaria. Natural folk medicines are safe to use as they will not cause any side effects and chemical reactions. These are also called as home remedies.

These remedies are used for curing different ailments such as abdominal pain, chest pain, blood pressure, blood poisoning, anemia, arthritis, bone crackling, burning tongue, bladder infection, diarrhea, dermatitis, dehydration, dry skin, ear ache, eczema [Eczema Treatment] and many other skin diseases and physical disorders. Different methods of folk medicine used in treatment with the help of herbs, animal parts, ceremony, conjuring, magic, witchcraft and many other means are used. This treatment is done apart from medical science. Folk medicine is simple and easy to use. There are no risks and side effects involved in taking this medicine (


Family : Moraceae

Figs have been recorded in ancient historical tablets as far back as 2500 B.C.

Fig trees are Medium sized deciduous fruit trees that produce a profusion of

succulent fruit in late summer in most climates. (Article source www. ehow .com)

Ficus tree is a very common houseplant that comes in a number of different species.

Most of its species are native to indo- Australian region. Some are native to central and South America whole others are endemic to Africa, Figs grow well in Southern climates where winter low temperatures rarely hit freezing. (www.hub /hub/ficus)

Facts about the ficus trees

There are about 850 identified species of ficus

Many ficus species produce edible fruit. Depending on the species, each fruit can contain up to several hundred to several thousand seeds. Its fruit is considered to be one of the first fruits cultivated by humans.

It is an important tree from a religious point of view and has much importance in quite a few religions including Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism. They have a long history and are estimated to have been here on earth for 60 to 80 million years.

One of the oldest ficus trees is in Sri Lanka which according to history records was planted back in 288 B.C.

common varieties

Some of the common varieties of ficus.

Ficus midght

Ficus indigo (it can thrive very low light conditions)

Ficus starlight (it is a new variegated form of durable green weeping fig )

Ficus Monique (it is very popular new ficus variety.

Ficus hispida

Ficus retusa (it is considered fastest growing ficus variety)

Ficus elastica (commonly known as the rubber tree)

Ficus nerifolia (www.

Ficus (Moraceae) species are used in folk medicine for the treatment of various diseases, such as biliousness, ulcers, vomiting, vaginal complains, fever, diabetes, inflammations, Wound, lucoderma, ulcer itching, diuretic, liver diseases and leprosy, liver1.( Swapnadeep Drug 2010)


The world diabetes, meaning "siphan" was first given by Greek physician Arateus in the second century describe the patients with great thirst and excessive variation. In the 17th century, it was observed that urine of diabetes patients was sweet, so the word mellitus, meaning 'honey honey ' was added to it , the sweet urine of diabetes is due to increased blood sugar level which leads to spillage of glucose into the urine. Diabetes mellitus is a clinical disorder in which blood sugar level are abnormally high known as Hyperglycemia. It occurs due to Absence or insufficient production of insulin, it is a chronic condition, as it lasts life time, but can be well controlled. It is also known as" Madhumeha" in ayurveda. It is an endocrine disorder causing various metabolic changes in the body leading to severe complications such as damage to the eyes, kidneys, nerves, heart and blood vessels. (Htpp://

As per the calculations of the World Health Organization, more than 171 million fall victims to this menace all over the world. (Acta poloniae pharmaceutica-drug research vol 67) The disease is becoming more widespread withough its occurrence has been noticed in almost all nations, it is the developed nations that suffer more from this ailment. It will affect a person regardless of weight, age, or race; especially diabetes runs in the family.

Types of diabetes:

Type 1 diabete

Type 2diabetes

Gestational diabetes.

For all types of diabetes, the metabolism of carbohydrates (including sugars such as glucose), proteins, and fats is altered.

Type 1diabetes: (Also referred to as insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, (IDDM), and juvenile diabetes.)

In type 1 diabetes, the beta cells of the pancreas produce little or no insulin, the hormone that allows glucose to enter body cells. Once glucose enters a cell, it is used as fuel.

Without adequate insulin, glucose builds up in the bloodstream instead of going into the cells. The body is unable to use this glucose for energy despite high levels in the bloodstream, leading to increased hunger. In addition, the high levels of glucose in the blood cause the patient to urinate more, which in turn causes excessive thirst. Within 5 to 10 years after diagnosis, the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas are completely destroyed, and no more insulin is produced.

Type 1 diabetes can affect children or adults but, because it represents a majority of the diabetes cases in children so it was traditionally termed as "juvenile diabetes".

Type 2 diabetes:

Referred to as non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) and adult- onset diabetes, results from insulin resistance, a condition in which cells fail to use insulin properly, sometimes combined with an absolute insulin deficiency. Diabetes is caused by a problem in the way body makes or uses insulin. Insulin is necessary for glucose to move from the blood to the inside of the cells. Unless glucose gets into cells, the body cannot use it for energy. Excess glucose remains in the blood, and is then removed by the kidneys. The symptoms include excessive thirst, frequent urination, hunger, and fatigue.

Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM):

Resembles type 2 diabetes in several respects, involving a combination of relatively inadequate insulin secretion and responsiveness. It occurs in about 2%-5% of all pregnancies and may improve or disappear after delivery.

Causes of Diabetes

1) Hereditary or Inherited Traits : It is strongly believed that due to some genes which passes from one generation to another, a person can inherit diabetes. It depends upon closeness of blood

2) Relationship as mother is diabetic, the risk is 2 to 3%, father is diabetic, the risk is more than the previous case and if both the parents are diabetic, the child has much greater risk for diabetes.

3) Age: Increased age is a factor which gives more possibility than in younger age. This disease may occur at any age, but 80% of cases occur after 50 year, incidences increase with the age factor.

4) Poor Diet (Malnutrition Related Diabetes): Improper nutrition, low protein and fiber intake, high intake of refined products are the expected reasons for developing diabetes.

5) Obesity and Fat Distribution: Being overweight means increased insulin resistance that is if body fat is more than 30%, BMI 25+, waist girth 35 inches in women or 40 inches in males.

6) Sedentary Lifestyle: People with sedentary lifestyle are more prone to diabetes, when compared to those who exercise thrice a week, are at low risk of falling prey to diabetes.

7) Stress: Either physical injury or emotional disturbance is frequently blamed as the initial cause of the disease. Any disturbance in Corticosteroid or ACTH therapy may lead to clinical signs of the disease.

8) Drug Induced: Clozapine (Clozaril), olanzapine (Zyprexa), risperidone (Risperdal), quetiapine (Seroquel) and ziprasidone (Geodon) are known to induce this lethal disease.

9) Infection: Bacteria(strephylococci) be responsible factor for pancreas infection in.

10) Sex: Diabetes is commonly seen in elderly especially males but, strongly in women and those females with multiple pregnancy or suffering from (PCOS) Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.

11) Hypertension: It had been reported in many studies that there is direct relation between high systolic pressure and diabetes.

12) Serum lipids and lipoproteins: High triglyceride and cholesterol level in the blood is related to high blood sugars, in some cases it has been studied that risk is involved even with low HDL levels in circulating blood.

Symptoms of Diabetes

Diabetes occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin or the cells of the body do not respond to the insulin produced, resulting in high blood sugar. People with diabetic ailments, commonly complain of the following symptoms of diabetes:

frequent urination

extreme thirst and hunger

fatigue or unusual tiredness

weight loss

deep breathing



itchy skin

sores that take time to heal

abdominal pain

blurred vision

numbness of hands or feet

frequent skin, gum or vaginal yeast infections

Apart from those diabetes symptoms, skin rashes or diabetes dermadromes can also occur.

Treatment for Diabetes: As symptoms of diabetes tend to show up much later than the condition occurs in your body, it is advisable to have your blood sugar levels diagnosed periodically. Even if there are natural remedies that have been developed for the treatment for diabetes, insulin injections and implantable insulin pumps are the most sought out ones. Type 1 diabetes can be treated with exercise, insulin and a balanced diet. Type 2 diabetes is first treated with weight reduction, a diabetic diet and exercise. Weight reduction and exercising increases the body's sensitivity to insulin, thus controlling blood sugar elevations. When these methods fail to lower the blood sugar levels, oral medications are used. If oral diabetes medications are insufficient and do not help lower the glucose levels in blood, insulin treatment is used (


The rapidly increasing incidence of diabetes mellitus is becoming a serious threat to mankind health in all parts of the world. Moreover, during the past few years some of the new bioactive drugs isolated from plants showed anti diabetic activity with more efficacy than oral hypoglycemic agents used in clinical therapy. The traditional medicine performed a good clinical practice and is showing a bright future in the therapy of diabetes mellitus. Many studies have confirmed the benefits of medicinal plants with hypoglycemic effects in the management of diabetes mellitus. The effects of these plants may delay the development of diabetic complications and correct the metabolic abnormalities. WHO has pointed out this prevention of diabetes and its complications is not only a major challenge for the future, but essential if health for all is to attain. Therefore, in recent years, considerable attention has been directed towards identification of plants with anti diabetic ability that may be used for human consumption. Further, it emphasizes strongly in this regard the optional and rational uses of traditional and natural indigenous medicines.

Recently, some medicinal plants have been reported to be useful in diabetes worldwide and have been used empirically as anti diabetic and anti hyperlipidemic remedies. Despite the presence of known anti diabetic medicine in the pharmaceutical market, diabetes and the related complications continued to be a major medical problem. Anti hyperglycemic effects of these plants are attributed to their ability to restore the function of pancreatic tissues by causing an increase in insulin output or inhibit the intestinal absorption of glucose or to the facilitation of metabolites in insulin dependent processes. More than 400 plant species having hypoglycemic activity have been available in literature, however, searching for new anti diabetic drugs from natural plants is still attractive because they contain substances which demonstrate alternative and safe effects on diabetes mellitus. Most of plants contain Glycosides, Alkaloids, Terpenoids, Flavonoids, Cartenoids, etc, that are frequently implicated as having ant diabetic effect.

Based on the WHO recommendations, hypoglycemic agents of plant origin used in traditional medicine are important. The attributed anti hyperglycemic effects of these plants are due to their ability to restore the function of pancreatic tissues by causing an increase in insulin output or a decrease in the intestinal absorption of glucose. Hence, treatment with herbal drugs has an effect on protecting β-cells and smoothing out fluctuation in glucose level For a long time, diabetes has been treated with several medicinal plants or their extract based on the folklore medicine. Now adays Herbal medicines are highly recommended for treatment of diabetes in spite of other therapeutic action, which can produce serious side effects.( Neelesh malviya," 2010).

Some medicinal plants useful in diabetes worldwide are:

Anacardium occidentale Linn. (Anacardiaceae), herb originated from Brazil, it is used as folk medicine in African countries, mainly in Cameroon, for the treatment of diabetes mellitus.

Boerhaavia diffusa Linn. (Nyctaginaceae), is distributed widely all over in India.

Bougainvillea spectabilis Linn. (Nyctaginaceae), is a very familiar ornamental plant commonly

grown in Indian gardens.

Cassia kleinii Wight & Arn. (Caesalpiniaceae), is the medical remedy for the folk diabetic practitionersin South India.

Dioscorea dumetorum Pax. (Dioscoreaceae), used in treatment of diabetes in traditional medicine, possesses hypoglycemic effect.

Ficus hispida Linn. (Moraceae), also known as Daduri for the treatment of diabetes. May be found throughout India .it is significantly decreases fasting blood glucose levels in normal and alloxan- induced diabetic rats.

Panax ginseng Linn. (Asian ginseng, Araliaceae), root has been used clinically in the treatment of type II diabetes throughout Asian countries.

Syzyguim cumini Linn. (Formerly Eugenia jambolana, Myrtaceae), with putative antihyperglycemic effects. Many parts of the plant, like fruit, seeds, bark and tea prepared from the leaves, have been used in treatment of diabetes throughout Asian countries.

Terminalia chebula Retz. (Combretaceae), has been widely used in diabetes in Ayurveda and is widely distributed in India.

Terminalia catappa Linn. (Combretaceae), is found throughout the warmer parts of India and called an Indian almond. The anti diabetic potential of petroleum ether, methanol and aqueous extract of T. catappa fruits on fasting blood sugar levels and serum biochemical analysis in alloxan-induced diabetic rats was performed.


Plants have been an important source of medicine for thousands of years. Antioxidants are radical scavengers which protect the human body against free radicals that may cause pathological conditions such as ischaemia, asthma, arthritis, inflammation, neurodegeneration, Parkinson's disease, mongolism, ageing process and perhaps dementias1.Flavanoids and flavones are widely distributed secondary metabolite with antioxidant and antiradical properties. Plant based natural constituents can be derived from any part of plants bark ,leaves ,flowers, roots, fruits, seeds etc that is any part of the plant may contain active components. Antioxidant based drugs or formulations for the prevention and treatment of complex diseases like atherosclerosis, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease and cancer have appeared during the last three decades. This has attracted a great deal of research interest in natural antioxidants. Recently there has been a surge of interest in the therapeutic potential of medicinal plants as antioxidants in reducing such free radical-induced tissue injury. The main characteristics of an antioxidant are its ability to trap free radicals. Highly reactive free radicals and oxygen species are present in biological systems from a wide variety of sources. These free radicals may oxidize nucleic acids, proteins, lipids and DNA and can initiate degenerative diseases. Antioxidant compounds like phenolic acids, polyphenols and flavanoids scavenge free radicals such as peroxide, hydroperoxide or lipidperoxyl and thus inhibit the oxidative mechanisms that lead to degenerative diseases. ( E.N. Siju et. al ,2010)


Generation of free radicals

During several metabolic pathways, the living cells generate Reactive oxygen species (ROS) and Reactive Nitrogen species (RNS). Patho physiological condition enhance the generation of ROS begins with the rapid uptake of oxygen and activation of NADPH oxidase and the production of the superoxide free radicals (O2)

2 O2 + NADPH Oxidase 2O2 + NADP + H+



Alfa tocopherol (Vitamin E)

Fat soluble vitamins found in cells.

Role: - Breaks lipid per oxidation lipid. Peroxide and O2- and OH


β-Carotene (Vitamin A)

Fat soluble vitamins found in cells.

Role: - Scavenger OH, O2- and peroxy radicals prevent oxidation of

Vit.A. binds to transition metals.

Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C)

Ascorbic acid is water soluble, it is present in citrus fruits, potatoes, tomatoes and green leafy vegetables. Directly scavengers OH, O2- and H2O2. Neutralizers oxidant from stimulates neutrophiles. Contributes to regeneration of Vitamin E.