In 1982, the Regional Research Laboratory, Jammu published two companion volumes, namely (1) Cultivation & Utilization of Medicinal Plants and (2) Cultivation and Utilization of Aromatic Plants. These compendia continue to serve as reference books. Due to increased demand and significance of the subject matter, there was a growing need to prepare Supplementary Volumes to these compendia.
This book entitled "Supplement to Cultivation & Utilization of Medicinal Plants" is aimed at providing a multidisciplinary compendium of information on botany, agronomy, chemistry and technological aspects of medicinal plants. It covers medicinal plants containing alkaloids, steroids, flavonoids, glycosides, terpenoids, cathartics, adaptogens, anti-inflammatories, insecticides, additives and other active metabolites. It also includes contributions on traditional medicine/ethnomedicine, nomenclatural ambiguity of plants used in Indian System of medicine, conservation of diversity, genetic improvement, biotechnology and cultivation/chemistry of some medicinal mushrooms.
It is hoped that this book will cater to the needs of not only professional scientists and technologists, but also of farmers, traders, importers and exporters of medicinal plants.
I am very happy that Prof. S.S. Handa and Dr. M.K. Kaul has prepared a supplement to earlier book on the "Cultivation and Utilisation of Medicinal Plants". This supplement is a timely contribution since all over the world there is great interest now on "green health" products. Medicinal plants are growing in importance day by day because of the wide spread interest in the revitalisation of local health traditions, The goal of "Health for All" by the year 2000 can be achieved only through the adoption of multiple approaches to health care. In such a movement, medicinal plants and the products derived from them have an unique place both in preventive and curative medicine. We therefore owe to Prof. Handa and Dr Kaul a deep debt of gratitude for this labour of love.
In 1982, Regional Research Laboratory, Jammu released two companion volumes namely - Cultivation and Utilization of Medicinal Plants and Cultivation and Utilization of Aromatic Plants with the aim of revising and enlarging the original combined book entitled "Cultivation and Utilization of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants" published in 1977. These compendia have served as reference books wherein information on botany, agronomy, chemistry and technology of medicinal and aromatic plants is put together by different specialists. Due to increased demand and significance of the subject matter, these books were reprinted in 1989.
During the last decade there has been a flurry of scientific & commerical activities centred around medicinal and aromatic plants. According to a UNDP (1994) report, the annual value of medicinal plants derived from developing countries is about US $ 32 billion (Rs. 100,000 crores).Resurgence of interest in herbal drugs in the western & european countries is evident from the fact that two volumes of British Herbal Pharmacopoeia have been published and $ 33 million worth literature on herbal products was sold in the USA in 1990. The "green wave" in the utilization of medicinal plants resulted in higher consumption. Research workers and industrialists engaged in the field of medicinal plants have increased many folds. Considerable efforts are being made all over the world to utilize more and more plant resources for the benefit of mankind. In India extensive research work done on medicinal plants has yielded useful research data. Similarly work on medicinal and aromatic plants is being pursued in developing countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America. Developed countries like Germany, France, USA, Britain and China have shown renewed interest in growing and processing of these plants. UN agencies are recommending, advocating and promoting development of industries based on medicinal and aromatic plants for economic uplift of developing nations. There seems to be a major shift to natural products as these are biologically more compatible and less toxic to human systems as compared to synthetics.
To draw a consolidated thumb-nail sketch of scattered information on all the aspects ranging from field to factory pertaining to medicinal and aromatic plants, a need was felt to publish the supplementary volumes to both the books. The supplements include research papers on important crops not covered earlier, besides revising and updating articles published in the original two volumes. An honest attempt was made to contact the contributors of the original volumes for revising and updating their research articles. New contributions on topics of current interest were received from different specialists for inclusion in the present books. The format followed in arranging articles in these supplementary volumes is more or less similar to that of the original books which was found to be suitable.
This book on Medicinal plants is aimed at providing a multidisciplinary compendium of information on botany, agronomy, chemistry and technological aspects like post harvest and chemical technology. It covers medicinal plants containing alkaloids, steroids, flavonoids, glycosides, terpenoids, cathartics, adaptogens, antiinflammatories, insecticides, additives and other related active metabolites used in drug and pharmaceutical industries. The book also includes contributions on traditional medicine/ethnomedicine and nomenclatural ambiguity of plants used in Indian systems medicine.
Conservation of diversity, genetic improvement and biotechnological studies on medicinal plants are of considerable significance at present. Articles on these topics have been included. Studies on cultivation and chemistry of some medicinal mushrooms form important and novel contribution. Besides these air borne fungal diseases which create problems in post harvest processing of medicinal plants have been discussed.
The editors had to make some modifications in the presentation of articles to maintain the distinctive flavour of the important reference book on medicinal plants which is supposed to cater the needs of not only professional scientists, technologists & R&D personnels, but also of the laymen, farmers, traders, importers and exporters. However, these modifications and editorial corrections have not changed the inherent structure of articles given by the authors. No work is complete in all respects. Although lot of efforts have been put to exclude ommissions, yet there could be some. The editors hope that the useful material provided in each article will go a long way to help people working on different aspects of medicinal plants.
We are extremely indebted to Dr. R.S. Kapil for initiating the work. All the authors who have contributed their articles were prompt in replying our queries. Thanks are due to Ms Rekha for typing the manuscript. Ms. Kiran Kaul, Miss Suman Chib assisted in proofreading whereas Miss Uma Jamwal helped in drawing work. We are thankful to or. G.P. Phondke, Director, National Institute of Science Communication (CSIR), New Delhi and his team of dedicated workers for printing & production of this work.
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