Emerging and reemerging infections and spread of deadly drug-resistant strains of organisms are posing a challenge to the Global Public Health in terms of their treatment. The solution perhaps lies in the Indigenous Systems of medicine, and the plant- based drugs which could provide both concept of therapy, as well as therapeutic agent to complement modern medicine especially in management of life-style diseases and communicable diseases. Medicinal plants products could also prove useful in reducing / minimize the adverse effects of various chemotherapeutic agents as well as in prolonging longevity and attaining positive health.
The consequent global interest in medicinal potential of plant during the last few decades is quite logical. Scientific research activities have been focused not only on known but also on numerous lesser known medicinal plants mentioned in the ancient texts. Enormous amount of scientific data on various aspects has been generated during the period.
In this backdrop, the Council initiated the development of databases of multidisciplinary scientific information on medicinal plants in form of Monograph series. The focus has been on pharmacognostic, photochemical, Pharmacological, clinical, toxicological studies and Ayurvedic description. Additional information on regional names, habit and habit uses ascribed, ethno botanical studies, etc. has also been included. The first volume in this series deal with over 200 plant species. The next three volumes covering over 600 plant species are also being published simultaneously. The Monographs may be of great relevance and importance in developing new herbal drugs for health care, establishing correlation ship between the uses/ claims made in Indigenous systems of Medicine, particularly Ayurveda, and understanding the scientific basis of their action. The compiled information may also be of great help in defending issues related to Intellectual Property Rights and patents on Indian medicinal plants at global level. The compilation is also intended to serve as an inventory of the Indian medicinal plants, which have been investigated. The leads could e further followed up for in-depth research.
I Trust that this initiative of the Council and the resulting series of the publication arising there from will be of immense help to researchers, academicians, scientific bodies, policy makers, regulatory authorities, drug industry, physicians of different systems of medicine and others interested in the area of medicinal plants.
I deeply appreciate the efforts of the Chairman, and the members of the Scientific Advisory Group and the Technical Review committee. The contribution made by late Professor P.K. Das needs special mention. His untimely and sad demise took him away from us before these volumes could appear in print.
It is hoped this publication would help in meeting the unmet need for new and better drugs.
Medicinal plants belong to the earliest known health care products that have been used by the mankind. Over three-quarters of the world population rely on the use of traditional medicines for their primary health care needs. The medicinal plants are not only major components of the many formulations used in Indigenous Systems o Medicines but also of a large number of drugs in Allopathic. In India, with one of the oldest ethno botanical tradition in the world, medicinal plants are the backbone of all major systems of medicine.
Indian Council of Medical Research has been supporting various research programmers in the area of medicinal plants and Indigenous systems of Medicine since 1929. In the recent past, under the leadership of Dr. G.V. Satyavati, the then Sr. Deputy Director general and later director General, the ICMR published a compilation of data on scientific work conducted in India on medicinal plants in two volumes of Monograph in 1976 and 1987, respectively, covering a total of about 900 plant species ( alphabet A to P as per their botanical names). There have been several other publications in the last few decades. The coverage of plant in these and other publications was selective or focused primarily on aspects like agronomy, botany, cultivation and chemistry. There was however, less focus on pharmacological, clinical, toxicological and drug development aspects.
In the interregnum there has been an information explosion on medicinal plants. A vast amount of information is available on published and unpublished scientific data spanning various related specialties. systematic compilation of this information became essential for its fruitful management and utilization. In the changed present day scenario this compilation needed to be viewed with a contemporary perspective which could lend support to IPR issues, priorities setting in R&D, credence to plant based drugs, global acceptance, boost of trade, and exploitation of untapped indigenous resources for better health care. The international agencies like WHO too, have advocated for development of databases which could help in harnessing full potential of medicinal plants and also help in protecting country’s ethno medicinal and biological wealth.
The present series of monographs is an effort by ICMR in this direction.
Extensive search has been made for relevant literature from primary, secondary and tertiary sources, as well as by contacting various universities, medical institutions and individual researchers involved in activities related to medicinal plants. The monograph on each plant includes regional names, habit and habitat, Ayurvedic description (wherever available), Sanskrit synonyms, uses ascribed, ethno botanical studies, the details of botanical, pharmacognostic, chemical, pharmacological/ biological, clinical and toxicological aspects backed by complete references on each aspect of the information cited. Colored photographs of some important medicinal plants have been also included.
The available literature information is so enormous that the total number of 600 plant species with 8400 references under alphabet ‘A’ (as per botanical names) could be covered in 3 volumes. The present publication is first in the series, and covers over 220 plant species (Abe-Alle). The second (Alli-Art) and Third (Are-Azi) volumes, have also been prepared and are being published simultaneously.
It is hoped that the series of publication may be useful for researchers, scientific bodies, herbal drug industry and other organizations. The policy planners, regulatory and health authorities may also find it equally useful.
Efforts have been made to compile published research efforts on the taxa found in India whether indigenous or introduced. The present volume is the first of the series of Reviews on Indian Medicinal Plants comprising 60 plant genera comprising 223 species from Abelmoschus- Allemanda
The Monographs cover largely the studies on Indian medicinal plants conducted by scientists in Indian institutions and published in national and international journals. At places work done by Indian scientists in collaboration with foreign laboratories or carried out exclusively in foreign laboratories has also been covered. Citations of foreign scientists and the work carried out abroad have been made wherever it was found relevant to the text. Plants imported in India have not been included. The plants Achras Zapota and Agati species have not been included due to change of nomenclature status of the plant species of Manilkara Zapota and Sesbania species, respectively.
The sources of information included survey of published literature including primary, secondary and tertiary sources, besides the literature made available by various scientists, academicians, medical colleges, research institutions and universities involved in activities related to medicinal plants / Indices.
This section deals with the information mainly related to nomenclature, habit and habitat, regional names and the claims about the medicinal value of the plant species. To have an ideal of the possible medicinal potential of the plants, an attempt has been made not only to include information from the Ayurvedic literature and Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia of India but also from the beliefs and practices prevalent in India on the basis f folk lore or empirical / traditional uses of certain plants, as reported in various well reputed compendia and ethno botanical surveys conducted. The details provided under the following sub-heads are mentioned as under:
The plant genera and species are arranged by their botanical names in alphabetical order. The nomenclature of many plants has undergone revision during the last few decades. The names of the plant given in the cited references have been updated as far as possible to provide currently accepted names. In case of change of name, the obsolete names have been given as synonyms in the following order: the currently accepted name is followed by the corresponding names given in Hooker’s flora of British India or other subsequent relevant literature in addition to Indian flora and finally by the title name of the plant given in the reference cited, if is different from the earlier mentioned names. Further to this, in cases where the currently accepted binomial nomenclature starts with alphabets other than “A” such names have been provided in the footnote for the convenience of the readers. Similarly, the names of the families have been given according to the currently accepted pattern.
Habit and Habitat
A brief account of habit and habitat for each species has been also included in the Monograph.
Regional and Other Names
For most of the regional names of the plant included in this volume, information has been compiled mainly from Chopra et al. (1956, 1958), Nandkarni (1954) as well as Wealth of India (1985). In cases where names of the plants in various languages were not available, either only English names or local names as mentioned in various ethno botanical reports have been included.
The Sequences of Ayurvedic description given in these volumes is the main Sanskrit name, its Synonyms, the Ayurvedic properties i.e. Rasa, Guna, virya, Vipaka, the basis of Ayurvedic pharmacology, actions and uses is given according to their importance. Diacritical marks have been used for correct pronunciation and to have correct meaning of these words.
Based on the above aspects Ayurvedic details of some of the allied species having similar properties are given. kA word of caution is very essential as some of the allied botanical species may not have similar actions rather allied species may be highly poisonous, for example Aconitum palmatum and A. hetero phylum are not poisonous whereas all other species of Aconitum are poisonous.
Therapeutic Uses Mentioned in Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia
The actions and therapeutic uses of the plant drugs as reported in the three volumes of the official publication-Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia of India, have been mentioned.
Properties and Uses Ascribed
The main sources of the information about the uses ascribed to various plant species under this head, are the publications by Chopra et al. (1956, 1958), Nadkarni (1954), and Wealth of India (1985). Ethno botanical Studies
These cover beliefs and practices prevalent in India as per published reports of various ethno botanical surveys. In some cases the uses of plant when employed in combination with other plant(s) have also been mentioned. However, no details about the formulation, method of preparation or dosage have been given.
Pharmacognosy part mainly includes important macro-and microscopic characters of various parts of the plant viz., leaves flowers, fruits, seeds, wood, bark, rhizome, root, lattices, gum, resin, oil fats, and waxes and fluorescence analysis. At places, wherever available. At places, wherever available, the relevant information and comparative features of the adulterants and substitutes have also been given. Pharmacognostic studies on medicinal plants which now form a part of chapters in standard books on pharmacognosy have not been included.
A through survey of the chemical studies done on the plants has been attempted, taking into account even those references where the plant has been mentioned in general photochemical screaming for the presence or absence of a particular group of chemical constituents. Thus the reader may find some insignificant journals also being cited.
An attempt has been made to relate the pharmacological / biological activity with the chemical constituents of the plant or the part of the plant used in Indian Systems of Medicine. In such an attempt, the chemical studies done on a particular plant have been described in the order of the occurrence of the chemical constituents in different parts of the plant such as whole plant, aerial parts, stem, stem bark, leaves, flowers, fruits, seeds, root rhizome, root bark. This has been done purposely to meaningfully correlate the biological activity exhibited by a medicinal plant or a particular part thereof under description with the chemical constituent(s) occurring in the plant or the particular part. Thus one may encounter a chemical constituent being repeated at several places in the text under different parts of the plant.
The reader may find this approach unacceptable if one is looking from a pure chemical review point view. A more acceptable write-up under the chemical studies would have been to describe the chemical constituents according to the chemical nature of the components i.e., alkaloids, flavonoids, terpenoids, fatty acids etc. But this approach would have defeated the purpose of correlating the activity of a part of the plant used in Indigenous Systems of Medicine with the constituents occurring in that respective part of the plant.
Under the chemical studies, the generic names of phytoconstituents given by the authors have been largely retained in the text. At places if the compound under generic name has been fully characterized, a complete chemical name has been mentioned to give an idea of the chemical structure, as the text does not contain the graphical representation of chemical structures
The structural drawings of the chemical constitutions described are not purposely included in the text; the structures are already given in the publications cited under references or can be seen from other standard publications like Compendium on Indian Medicinal Plants (CSIR), Merck Index (Merck & Co., New Jersey ), etc.
Under the chemical write-up coverage is also given to component like proteins, carbohydrates, fats, fibers, nitrogen contents, ash or even mention is made of inorganic mineral components. This has been done taking into view the nutritional value of the plant. At places the reader may also find inclusion of chemical analytical methods for the estimation of particular constituent. Tissue culture studies carried out to enhance the parentage of chemical constituent have also been included at place under chemical studies. In cases where a plant has been extensively worked out chemically and a very large number of constituent plant has been extensively worked out chemically and a very large number of constituents have been reported the text under the sub-title chemical studies has been condensed by summarizing the constituents in tabular forms. Classifying the constituents according to their photochemical groups.
Pharmacological and Biological studies
This heading incorporates biological activities as reported in experimental animals, helminthes, microbes including bacteria, fungi, viruses and infecting parasites. Besides systemic pharmacology, wherever required, effects on experimental disease models have been described. In selected cases, effects on cattle, poultry and agriculture have been included in the text. Most of the pharmacological actions reported are on crude extracts or active fraction. However, in case of many promising plants, active principles have been identified and studied pharmacologically. In general, the traditional and Ayurvedic uses of the plants are so wide and varied that it was not possible to correlate the pharmacological actions with the uses of the plants. But wherever such correlation exists, the same has been highlighted.
Large number of plants have been screened by Central Drug Research Institute, Lucknow, for various biological activities and results published in series of papers. But a very limited number of plants have been reported to have confirmed activity in their fractionated extracts. As the effort is to consolidate and cover most of the studies carried out and published, the results of the preliminary biological screening have also been mentioned in the Monographs for the benefit of the readers.
Pharmacological actions of the plants have been described under classified under classified subheads antimicrobial, general pharmacology, cardiovascular system, central nervous system, respiratory system, hypolipidaemic, hepatorprotective, hypoglycaemic, antifertility and wound healing activities etc.
Toxicity in animals is mostly limited to determination of LD 50. However, in case of potential therapeutic agents more detailed toxicology has been studied and the same has been included in the text. Toxicity details in cattle and poultry, wherever available, have been given. The animal toxicity comes under the head Pharmacological and biological Studies.
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