Role of Medicinal Plants in the Rural Development Programs - PDF

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					                       Role of Medicinal Plants
             in the Rural Development Programs of India

                                 Sriram Vemuri, Ph.D.
               Vice President, Product Development and Manufacturing
               SciClone Pharmaceuticals, San Mateo, CA 94404, USA

Abstract                                                  •   Conserve and cultivate rare and endogenous
                                                              species of the local area
India is clearly known to be the richest source of        •   Orient the government organizations and
medicinal plants. One of the estimates indicates that         scientists to devote time and effort on rural
the Andhra Pradesh State in India alone is a habitat          development issues related to medicinal plants.
for more than 1000 varieties of plants that are used in
ayurvedic, unani, sydhi, homeopathic, J.J. Dechane,       As the demand for medicinal plants is increasing, the
or tribal medicine. In a “Weekend Warrior Survey”         population of India is also increasing. The increase
of rural areas, near Visakhapatnam alone yielded 50       in population causes encroachment, conversion of
different medicinal plant varieties.                      rural and forestland for living quarters and other uses.
                                                          This alarming situation could wipe out some of the
                                                          medicinal plants unique to this area, (and even
When traditional allopathic treatments fail to cure an
                                                          completely from the earth inadvertently) unless man
ailment, western trained MD’s turn to alternative
                                                          intervenes to protect them from extinction. This is
medicines. Nowadays, more and more doctors are
                                                          our opportunity to act.
turning towards plant derived products to treat their
patients. Clearly the demand for plant derived
products has increased all over the world. The            1. Background
demand will continue to grow through the year 2020
according to reliable surveys. This means that            The climatic conditions of the Visakhapatnam district
scientists, doctors and pharmaceutical companies will     support a number of plant species. Several of the
be looking at countries like India, China and Egypt       plant species are routinely used by tribal people for
for their needs. Early recognition of the demand for      treatment of pain, cuts and bruises, etc. In addition,
medicinal plants and being able to utilize the local      some of the plant extracts, fine powers of roots,
and rural resources, such as land and people, to meet     barks, leaves, flower, fruits or seeds are used in
the future demands would benefit the Visakhapatnam        ayurvedic medicine as well as in allopathic medicine
area.                                                     (e.g. “Metamucil” is a brand name for psyllium
                                                          husk). “Compound Q” was extracted from bitter
There are untapped resources like unused barren land      melons and used in the treatment of HIV infection,
in the Visakhapatnam district. There is a good            although unsuccessfully. There are a number of
possibility that the government of Andhra Pradesh         reasons why plants used in tribal medicine have not
would provide the land to Rural Development               entered the main stream. These include (a) lack of
Projects that would benefit the local people. A           efficient communication from tribal persons on the
number of projects could be developed to address          use of medicinal plants and (b) lack of basic and
medicinal plant demands of the future. The topics of      applied research on plants known to cure ailments.
consideration for sustaining the medicinal plant
products’ demand for the next 50 years and beyond         The medicinal value of a given plant depends upon
are as follows:                                           the conditions under which it is grown, the season in
                                                          which it is collected and the methods adopted to
•   Improve the quality of plant products                 harvest it. Farmers in rural/tribal areas can produce
    by standardization and ‘bioprospecting’               or collect high quality plant components provided
•   Educate the people in harvesting and                  they receive appropriate direction, receive attention
    wildcrafting procedures                               and gain knowledge from the experts in various fields
of agriculture science, chemistry, botany and rural       share some of my thoughts on plant species of the
development sciences. In this presentation, I will
Visakhapatnam district and opportunities for rural        organization must work towards re-forestation to
development projects. Well designed project plans         provide opportunities to make a good living from re-
and eagerness to participate in executing the plans,      forestation and cottage industries in rural areas.
coupled with proper utilization of natural resources      3. Utilization of Under-
(like land, trees, rivers, ponds, wells etc.) are
necessary for successful rural development projects.
                                                          developed or Waste Land by
Environment-preserving projects will benefit the          Forestation
local ecological balance in long term. In addition,
they offer immediate added value to plant products        Waste/surplus/untapped land is available in the
that would benefit the local farmers or girijans.         Visakhapatnam distract.           Under “Wasteland
                                                          Development Programs,” the government can
Rural development projects will contribute to             consider proposals for utilization of the wasteland for
increasing India’s G.D.P. and prescribed growth of        rural development. Land allocation information for
7% of the Ninth five-year-plan period of 1997-2002.       rural development projects can be obtained from the
These projects would help subsequent five-year plans      Land Bank of India, the Forest Department and the
as well.                                                  Land Commissioner. Development of wasteland for
                                                          rural projects requires water and irrigation of land for
                                                          cultivation. This can be achieved by bore-wells,
2. Population and Land
                                                          collection of rainwater into man-made ponds and
                                                          preservation. Education of rural/tribal persons in
The population of India has reached one billion in
                                                          utilization of water conservation techniques and
1999. Survival requires natural resources such as
                                                          maximum utilization of available water through
food, water, firewood and living quarters. Although
                                                          irrigation projects would be useful.
the number of people are increasing in India at a rate
of 1.6% per year the available land mass remains the
                                                          Value to the under-developed land can be brought by
same. The population of India will surpass China by
                                                          (a) promoting cultivation of existing plants
the year 2040. According to some statistics, 100 acres
                                                          (b) providing employment to local people
of tropical forests are cut every minute to support the
                                                          (c) preserving rare plant species of medicinal value
needs of growing people in the world. In 40 years,
                                                          (d) educating farmers in identifying and preserving
there will be no more tropical forests in India unless
                                                          the valuable plant species.
the government or non-governmental organizations
                                                          NGOs can teach local farmers the methods of
(NGOs) make an intensified effort to correct the
                                                          improving the value of under-developed land. Under
present rate of deforestation. For instance, many of
                                                          “Waste Land Development programs,” the
the people of India do not have enough firewood to
                                                          government can adopt sustainable and substantial
meet their needs for cooking and heating. According
                                                          utilization of land for rural development. Examples
to some estimates, five billion trees must be planted
                                                          of available land for development are the
each year until the year 2010 to catch up with the
                                                          Mudasarlova layout (about 200 acres), lands around
current rate of use.
                                                          Bhimanna dora palem (about 20 acres), etc.
Seventy percent of the populations of India live in
agricultural and rural areas. These persons should be     4. Standardization of Medicinal
informed of the reasons for plantation and forestation    Plant Products
from a global as well as local viewpoint, through
Rural Development Programs. Many of the rural or          The commercial value of medicinal plant products in
tribal persons are probably unaware of environmental      the global market is very high provided the quality is
issues such as depletion of rain forests and global       maintained at a high level with consistency from
warming. Although India’s ninth five-year plan            harvest-to-harvest and lot-to-lot. The quality control
(1997-2002)      emphasizes       rural   development     measures can be achieved by educating rural folk
programs, the results of these programs will not be       with a team of experts on methods of cultivation,
evident for sometime (say, the year 2010).                harvesting techniques and warehousing techniques.
  As the demand for medicinal plants is increasing,
the population of India is also increasing. Increase in   Recently, the demand for medicinal plant products
the population causes encroachment, conversion            has increased significantly and it will continue to
(deforestation) of rural and forestland for living        grow in the coming years. Physicians in the western
quarters and other uses. This alarming situation could    world are looking for alternative methods when they
wipe out some of the medicinal plants unique to this      can’t find a cure for ailments for a suffering patient.
area unless man intervenes to protect them from           Herbal drugs are one of the avenues scientists are
extinction. This means NGOs and government                using to look for new treatments. For example,
scientists recently investigated the Phyllanthus
amarus plant for anti-viral therapy.          In 1998,     In a “Weekend Warrior Survey” of rural areas,
Thygarajan and Blumberg (a Nobel Laureate)                 Visakhapatnam alone yielded as many as 50 different
reported that the phyllanthus has shown serum              plant varieties. These can be broadly classified as:
conversion rates for HbeAg and HBV/DNA around
65%. This means, in plain English, the plant has           •   Aromatics
some clinical effects against hepatitis B virus.           •   Green pesticides
                                                           •   Medicinal and Natural nutrients.
When other laboratories in America, Brazil and
China repeated the studies, the results were confusing     The data obtained is shown in tables 1-3 below.
and did not reproduce the results of Thygarajan and        Each plant in the tables is identified by its Telugu
Blumberg.       In the Chinese studies, the serum          name, Sanskrit name, Latin name, and physiological
conversion rate for HbeAg was 15% and for                  action, based on practices of doctors of ITM. It
HBV/DNA has 65%. American and Brazilian                    appears that all the plant products are orally
studies showed no effect. One may wonder the               administered to the patients. Some of these plants are
reasons for such a difference in clinical findings for     used of for more than one indication. The varied
this herbal medication.         However, the active        physiological functions indicate that the plant
ingredient (AI) of the plant has not yet been isolated.    product’s effects are different in different systems of
Since the AI has not been isolated there is no             the human body.
standardization (i.e. mg of AI / mg of bulk plant
product). The non-standardization of the drug              Plant products can contain more than one AI in them.
possibly led to the variable clinical results. The         To have a clearer understanding of the physiological
amount of AI in a given plant product can vary             action of each of the AI in a plant preparation,
depending upon the conditions under which it is            additional basic research and clinical research must
grown, the season it is collected, the conditions under    be done. Perhaps NGOs can identify and encourage
which it is stored and the methods by which it is          the research projects of importance and then fund
prepared for clinical use. A variation in any of these     them through private funds or the government.
events can vary the AI in the product. The delivery
of non-standardized herbal medication can thus lead
to confusing results.         This scenario clearly        6. Information Technology
demonstrates the important role of people at the
grass-roots level in developing quality herbal drugs       Identification of plants and commercial promotion of
for clinical use.                                          plant species can be achieved by utilizing
                                                           information technology for database development,
Ayurvedic       medicine      (AM),     unani,    sydhi,   new cultivation techniques to improve quality and
homeopathic, J.J. Dechane, or tribal medicines are         cataloging procedures to organize the botanical
collectively referred to, as Indian traditional medicine   species. Further, the same information can be shared
(ITM). ITM has been widely used in the treatment of        with any other interested parties via the Internet.
human ailments. The pharmacological mechanisms
of the treatments await further definition and clarity.    The advent of personal computers with large
For example it is usually not known which organ            memory-storage-systems has brought the computing
system the herb is acting upon or whether multiple         and database maintenance procedures to the desktop
components of the herb are showing effects on              of users. In recent years, the Internet has literally
different organs. Further research is needed in this       tapped into all desktop computers. The "Information
area. There are three major forms of ITM: mixtures         Highway" opened the doors of many remotely
of various herbal plants, extracts or constituents of a    located libraries or other information repositories to
single plant, or mixtures of plants with oxidized          data seekers by simply logging on to a web site.
forms of minerals. Standardization of plant products
for their AI is rarely done. Establishing                  NGOs can create information repositories on
standardization procedures and minimizing batch-to-        medicinal plants. They could develop data base
batch variation improves the quality of plant products     systems including the habitat status of the plants in
that will be available for patient use. High quality       the ecological system. Factors that enter this database
plant products could be obtained from the rural or         include: ideal growing conditions; best time for
tribal areas, through local people, by educating them      harvest; identified chemical compounds of the plant;
in new cultivation techniques, product collection          potency standardization methods; potential research
techniques, storage techniques and interactions with       projects; commercial value of the plant; methods of
standardization labs.                                      commercialization, potential vendors in India;
                                                           potential customers; methods of setting uniform price
5. Categorization of Herbs and                             for the standardization of medicinal plant products.
                                                           This would be a highly valuable information source.
Plants                                                     Cataloging the data on electronic media and
maintenance of a web site on medicinal plants would                development issues related to medicinal
provide the necessary exposure to the world                        plants.
regarding the plant species of Andhra Pradesh in
specific and India in general.                            References
The database system can be developed by choosing          1.     R. K. Hotha, “Otha’s Liver and Spleen book”,
one of any number of commercially available                      Published in 1941
software systems such as EXCEL, ACCESS or                 2.     R. Seshagirirao and K. Heymadri, “Medicinal
ORACLE, to name a few.                                           Plants in Andhra Pradesh" Third Edition,
                                                                 Published by Telugu Academy, 1998.
7. Cottage Industries                                     3.     K. Hemadri and M. Radhakrishnayya,
                                                                 Medicinal Botany, Third Edition, Published
Increasing the awareness of the commercial value of              by Telugu Academy, 1998.
medicinal plant species among the rural farmers and
tribal people will potentially increase their desire to
care for the plant species. The efforts of NGOs will      About the Author
go a long way toward developing the cottage
industries of India, which would benefit the tribes       Dr. Sriram Vemuri is Vice President of Product
and local farmers. Table 4 shows a list of cottage        Development        and    Manufacturing,       SciClone
industries that can be developed by preserving            Pharmaceuticals Inc. in San Mateo, CA, USA. He
medicinal plants of the area.                             received his B. Pharm degree from Andhra University.
                                                          He earned his M. S. and Ph.D. degrees from Purdue
                                                          University and URI in USA. He has published over
8. Recommendations
                                                          30 articles in the peer reviewed journals and wrote
                                                          several book chapters. Prior to joining SciClone he
After reviewing the present status of medicinal plant
                                                          worked at Cooper Biomedical Inc, Cetus Corporation,
cultivation in India and their demand in the world
                                                          Scios Inc., with increasing responsibilities. During his
now and in the coming years, I am convinced that
                                                          career, his laboratory developed formulations for a
there is ample room for improvement. These
                                                          number of peptides and proteins. They are rAAT,
improvements can be done by government
                                                          rIL2, rbFGF, ANP, BNP and Thymosin Alpha 1.
organizations as well as by NGOs. I recommend four
                                                          Under his guidance several INDs and NDAs were
projects for NGOs to work on, to improve the quality
                                                          prepared and filed with US FDA. He has developed
of Indian medicinal plants.
                                                          aseptic process for Liposomes manufacture. He is
                                                          interested in working with non-profit organizations to
1.       Improve the quality of plant products by
                                                          give back something from his life to the society. He
         standardization and ‘bioprospecting’
                                                          is a co-founder of Eco Foundation. He is very much
2.       Educate the people in harvesting and
                                                          interested in preserving the medicinal plants of India,
         'wildcrafting' procedures
                                                          provide education on population growth rate of India
3.       Conserve and cultivate rare and endogenous
                                                          and its adverse effects on the Environment and quality
         species of the local area
                                                          of people's life.
4.       Orient the government organizations and
         scientists to devote time and effort on rural
       Table 1: Precious Treasures of Herbs and Plants (Aromatics)

Telugu Name           Sanskrit Name     Latin Name                  Physiological Function
Aakupatri             Tamalapatra       Cinnamomum tamalam          Diuretic, expectorant, antipyretic
Ati Madhuram          Madhu Yasthi      Glycyrrhiza glabra          Sweetening -aid
Dalchina Chekka       Twaq              Cinnamomun zeylanicum       Anti-spasmodic, astringent, Carminative,
Davanam               Damanaka          Arteemesia sieversiana      Aromatic only
Guggilam              Guggulu           Somnifera rixburghi         Anti-spasmodic, emmenagogue, Stimulant and
Karivepaku            Kalasaka          Phalugiumtutube rosum       Anti-septic, vermicide and vermifugal
Karpooramu            Karppora          Camphora officinarum        Stimulant, expectorant, Diuretic, anti-septic,
                                                                    Diaphoretic, aphrodisiac, and sedative and anti-
Katchoralu            Karchoora         Curcuma zerambet            Expectorant, anti-septic
Manchi Gandham        Chandanam         Santalum album              Aromatic only
Maredu                Bilva             Aegale mormelos             Astringent, laxative, Digestive-aid
Nimmagaddi            Ghuyabija         Andropongon citratis        Digestive-aid
Pennerugaddalu        Aswagandha        Withania coaggnlans         Nutrition supplement and tonic
Raktachanduram        Raktachandana     Paterocarpus santalins      Anti-pyretic, astringent, bitter tonic, refringent,
Sugandhipala          Sariba            Hemidesemass indicus        Diaphoretic, diuretic, blood- purifier, refringent
Vippa/Ippa            Madhuka           Madhuka indica              Expectorant, anti-septic, anti- spasmodic,
                                                                    anaesthetic, parasiticide

        Tale 2: Treasures of Herbs and Plants (Green-Pesticides)
Telugu Name                Sanskrit Name     Latin Name                      Physiological Function
Amudamu                    Eranda            Ricinus communis                Lubricant and purgative
Jilledu                    Alarka            Gingantic swallowart            Anti-spasmodic, diaphoretic, diuretic,
                                                                             purgative, expectorant
Kalabanda                  Kumari            Aloe barbandensis (Aloe vera)   Liver stimulant, emmenagogue,
                                                                             purgative, vermifugal
Balurakkasi/ Brahmadandi   Katuparni         Aremone mexicana                Emetic, diaphoretic, parasiticide,
                                                                             vermicide, diuretic
Mushidi Chettu             Kupeeluhu         Strychno nuxvomica              Spinal cord stimulant, respiratory
                                                                             system stimulant, antipyretic
Neela vemu                 Kiratakaha        Sovirta chiretall               Hepatic stimulant, antipyretic, blood
                                                                             purifier, Anti-periodontosis
Palleru                    Kshuraka          Padlium murex or terrestris     Anti-septic, diuretic, aphrodisiac
Ummetta (Throne apple)     Datura            Dattura stramonium              Antipyretic, emetic, vermicide,
Vepa                       Nimba             Exadiracta indica               Anti-periodontosis, antipyretic,
                                                                             Antiseptic, anthelmintic
        Table 3: Potential for Cottage Industries based on
                     Medicinal Plant Species.
S.No.          Type of cottage Industry
1.             Bio-pesticide manufacturing units
2.             Camphor oil extraction units
3.             Collection and packing of nuxvomica seeds
4.             Controlled temperature storage facilities for plant derivatieves
5.             Essence making units
6.             Grading and packing units of Semicarpus Anacardium (Nallageedi)
7.             Medicinal plants grading / powder packing / making units
8.             Medicinal plants herbarium
9.             Natural dyes making unit
10.            Natural gum making units
11.            Strychno Potatorium grading and powdering unit
Table 4: Treasures of Herbs and Plants (Medicinal an Nutrients)

Telugu Name          Sanskrit Name      Latin Name                   Physiological Function
Addasaram            Vasaka             Adathoda vasika              Diuretic, antispasmodic,
                                                                     Blood-purifier, expectorant, tonic
Brahmi/Saraswati     Mandooaparni       Hydrocotyle asiatica         Brain tonic
Chandra              Kadhira            Acacia catechu               Purgative and diuretic
Chitramoolam         Chitrakam/Peetha   Plumbago rosia (Red)         Carminative, irritant in large doses
                                        Plumbigo zeylanica (White)
Danimma              Dadima             Punica granatum              Heart and respiratory disease
                                                                     treatments, digestive-aid
Devakanchanam        Kanchanara         Bauhinia naiegate            Tonic, dermal disease treatments
Duradagondi          Kapikatchoo        Mucuna pruriens              Increase sperm count, insecticide
Gunta Galagara       Bhringaraja        Eclipta prostrata            Anti-malarial, tonic, antipyretic,
Gurivinda ginjalu    Gunza              Abrus precatorius            Cause abortion, insecticide, hair
Indepu kaya/Chilla   Kathaka            Strychinos potetoram         Diuretic, anti dysenteric, remedy for
                                                                     diabetes mellitus
Jammi Chutu          Shami              Calotropis gigantea          Insecticide / anti-bacterial
Karakkaya            Haritaki           Terminalia chebula           A remedy in respiratory and heart
                                                                     diseases, laxative,
Kunkudu              Aristaha           Sepindus trifoliatus         Shampoo
Lodduga Chettu       Lodhra             Symplocos racemosa           Astringent, uterine tonic
Maddi                Arjuna             Terminalia arjuna            Used for heart disease treatment
Medi Chettu          Udumbara           Ficus glomerata              Dermal treatments
Nalla Jeedi Chettu   Bhallataka         Semecarpus anacardium        Skin diseases treatment
Neelataadi Dumpa     Musali (Kanda)     Hypoxis orchides             xxxxxxxx
Neelimanudu chettu   Neeli/Neelini      Indigofera cordifolia        A remedy for hepatitis and
                                                                     nervousness, purgative
Nela/Pedda Mulaka    Brihathi           Solanum indicum              Antipyretic, useful in respiratory
                                                                     disorders treatment
Pilli Vellu          Shatavari          Asparagus racemosus          Aphrodisiac and tonic
Potti dumpa          Langali            Gloriosa superba             Insecticide and antipyretic
Regu                 Badari             Ziziphus jujuba              Diuretic, blood-purifier, digestive -aid
Rela Chettu          Rajavriksha        Cassia fistula               Laxative / purgative
Tadi/Tani            Haritaki           Terminalia chebula           Astringent, laxative, digestive-aid
Tarigisa/tantepu     Chakramardhi       Cassia tora                  Dermatological treatments, insecticide
Tippa teega          Gudoochi           Coculus auriculata           Antipyretic
Usiri kaaya          Amalaki            Pyhlanthus embelica          Diuretic and astringent
Vavili               Sindhuvara         Vitex nirgundo               Anti-periodontosis,
                                                                     Antipyretic, anodyne