The Herbal Pallet

The pallet of available medicinal herbs in each geographical area varies of course because of the different latitudes and environments. But there are usually at least some available for wild harvesting if you are interested in harvesting and processing your own herbs.

Herbs are staging a comeback and herbal 'renaissance' is happening all over the globe. The herbal products today symbolise safety in contrast to the synthetics that are regarded as unsafe to human and environment. Although herbs had been prized for their medicinal, flavouring and aromatic qualities for centuries, the synthetic products of the modern age surpassed their importance, for a while.

However, the blind dependence on synthetics is over and people are returning to the naturals with hope of safety and security. Over three-quarters of the world population relies mainly on plants and plant extracts for health care. More than 30% of the entire plant species, at one time or other, were used for medicinal purposes.

It has been estimated that in developed countries such as United States, plant drugs constitute as much as 25% of the total drugs, while in fast developing countries such as China and India, the contribution is as much as 80%.

Thus, the economic importance of medicinal plants is much more to countries such as India than to rest of the world. These countries provide two third of the plants used in modern system of medicine and the health care system of rural population depend on indigenous systems of medicine.

Traditional systems of medicine continue to be widely practised on 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 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.

So what makes the herbal remedies different? Instead of the silver bullet approach of designer drugs, which have a few main ingredients engineered to do one thing and one thing only, medicinal plants have hundreds of compounds, that work as a synergistic whole giving them a whole range of properties and actions.

So, the shear number of medicinal herbs and the broad environmental spectrum of habitats, make it difficult to just go out and wild harvest the precise herbs we need. That and the reality of over harvesting has made the cultivation of herb colonies in controlled conditions extremely important.

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