Tuesday, April 22, 2008



Chief Patrons

Sri B. Karunakara Reddy

Prof. C. Ratnam


TTD Trust Board, Tirupati


S.V.University, Tirupati


Prof. Y.Venkata Rami Reddy

Prof. P. Sreenuvasulu


S.V.University, Tirupati


S.V.U. College of

Biological & Earth Sciences  

International Advisory Committee



Dr. Krishna K. Banaudha, USA  



Prof K. Hirimburegama,Colombo Sri Lanka 


Prof. Krishna K. Shrestha, Nepal 


Prof.K.R.S.Sambasiva Rao, NU, Guntur, India


Prof. M.V. Rao, Tiruchirappalli, India


G.Vijay Kumar, Consultant Advisor, Herbal Ayurvedics Cell



Dr.Bhaskar Rao, Tirupati, India


Dr. A. K. Rawat, NBRI, Lucknow India


Dr. Arvid Saklani, Mumbai, India



Dr. K.P. Srivasuki, I.F.S., Chief Executive Officer, APMAB, Hyderabad

Organizing Secretary :

Prof. G.Sudarsanam, Department of Botany, Sri Venkateswara University, Tirupati- 517 502

Joint Secretary :

Dr. N. Yasodamma 


Department of Botany, Sri Venkateswara University, Tirupati- 517 502

Organizing Committee Members:

Prof. A. Sreeramulu 


Prof. G. Rajendrudu, BOS


Prof. G.Ramagopal 


Prof. N. Savithramma, Head 


Dr. N. Yasodamma 


Dr. T. Vijaya 


Dr. J. S. R. Murthy 


Dr. K.Madhava Chetty 


Dr. M. Nagalakshmi Devamma


Dr. M. Santosh Kumar 


Souvenir Committee

Prof. G.Sudarsanam                

Dr. N. Yasodamma                

Dr. J.S.R.Murthy                

Dr. G. Prasad Babu                

Scientific Sessions co-ordinators


Senate Hall         :     Prof. Sai Gopal, Prof.Ch. Appa Rao (9849584708) &    

                Dr. T. Vijaya

Zoology Hall         :     Prof. Satyavelu Reddy (9849023339) & Prof. G. Rama Gopal

Physics Hall         :     Prof. N.Prabhakar Rao (9949017870) & Prof. G.Rajendrudu


S.V.Arts College (TTD)

MEETING HALL    :     Dr. K. Nagaraju (Principal & DEO)

C.RAMESH –Co-ordinator (9866315856)

Finance Committee

Prof. G.Sudarsanam        


Dr. N. Nagaraju        


Media, Publicity & Banner arrangement Committee

Dr. N. Yasodamma        

Dr. Petasri (Telugu)     

Dr. C.V. Naidu        


Site Seeing Committee

Dr. N. Nagaraju        


Dr. Bavaji, TTD        


First Aid Committee

Dr. Dharanipathi


Food & Hospitality Committee


Prof. Devasena Naidu            

G. Ramachandra Naidu        

Mr. C. Ramesh                 

Dr.A. Sudhakar             

Dr. G. Prasad Babu            


Mr. Arun Rasheed            

Reception & Registration Committee

Prof.G. Rama Gopal            

Dr. Murthi, Biochemistry         


Dr.JSR Murthy                

Dr. Nagalakshmi Devamma M     

Dr. G. Prasad Babu            

Deepthi Priya                

Karuna Priya Darshini            


B. Haseena Bhanu            


Transport & Accommodation Committee





Dr. O.V.S. Reddy 


Dr. N. Nagaraju 


Dr. Santosh Kumar 

Rajendra Prasad, A.,

Sri Srinivasa Ayurvedic Pharmacy, TTD 


R Hari Babu, Sri Padmavathi School of Pharmacy, Tirupati 


Vasantha Kumar, P.,

Asst. Professor, Krishna Teja Pharmacy College

Renigunta Road, Tirupati. 


Jaya Sankara Reddy, V.,

Asst. Professor Krishna Teja Pharmacy College

Renigunta Road, Tirupati. 


Mr. K. Rajesh           



Entertainment/ Cultural Committee

Sri. K.M. Bhanu            

Mrs. Subbalakshmi         

Prof. S. Abdul Sattar            

Dr. G. Prasad Babu            


Stage Committee

Prof. G. Rajendrudu             

Sri. K.M. Bhanu            

Prof. S. Abdul Sattar            

Dr. T. Vijaya                

Dr. G. Prasad Babu            

Dr. Bavaji, TTD            


Felicitation committee

Prof. A. Sreeramulu             

Dr. C.V. Naidu                

Dr. T. Vijaya                

Dr. Nagalakshmi Devamma M.    


International Herbo Expo- 2008



Sri KV Ramanachari I.A.S

Executive Officer, TTD 



Sri P. Adivappa IFS,

Conservator of Forests, TTD 



Dr V.Sudhakara Rao  
Principal, T T D's S.V.Ayurveda College
Cell 098661 90200



Dr.M.Bhaskar  Rao

T T D's S.V.Ayurveda College, 9849147330





Dr.N. Yasodamma

Dept. of Botany 



Mr. C. Ramesh

S.V.Arts College 



Dr. N. Nagaraju

Department of Botany

SGS Arts college , Tirupati 



Dr. N. Narapa Reddy

Sreenivasa Pharmacy  



Mr. Prabhakar

AE, Electrical, S.V. University Engineering Department  




Inaugural address delivered in the International Seminar on Medicinal Plants and Herbal products held on 7th -9th March, 2008 in the inaugural Session at S.V. University, Tiripathi , A.P

Prof. S. Kannaiyan
Chairman, National Biodiversity Authority,
Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India,
No. 475, 9th South Cross Street, Kapaleeswarar Nagar,
Neelankari, Chennai – 600 041

India, one of the 17mega diversity countries, is gifted with a wide spectrum of biodiversity. Agro biodiversity, focusing the portion of biodiversity, revolves around plants, animals and microorganism. Plant genetic variability, is very much useful, to breed and develop improved high yielding varieties, and also to utilize in commercial purposes. Therefore, they are given top most importance, and, being explored, and, conserved. It is estimated, that the total biodiversity, on the range of 3.25 million species to 1.4 billion species. According to the world conservation, monitoring center, the total number of species, described at the global level, so far is around 1.7 million. Like Food crops, as well as commercial crops, medicinal plants, are also having, wide genetic variability, and, being exploited, from time immemorial. By intuition, and instinct, Indian, Rishis identified, a particular plant, for a specific human desease. In addition, Siddhas, Dhanvanthiries, Moolavars, Nagarjunas and the farmers, and ancient experts identified, and, explored many medicinal plants, and their uses, in curing human deseases, and, these details, were also written in Palmyrah leaves in those days and, maintained in literature.

Human beings, have been utilizing, enormous, direct economies benefits, from biodiversity, in the form of food, medicines and industrial products, and has the potential, for gaining many more. Throughout the world, almost, a quarter of all medical prescriptions, are either for chemical compounds, from plants, or microorganisms, or of synthetic versions. In India, Traditional doctors, use more than 2500 plants, for medicinal purpose, while Chinese have been using, over 5000 medicinal plants. Our half of food source and human nutrition is provided by rice, wheat, maize and potato.

There are a lot of evidences to show the use of medicinal plants to cure human deseases from very long period ago. The Rig veda (5000 BC) mentioned 67 medicinal plants, Yajurveda 81, and Athervaveda (4500 – 2500 year BC) 290 plants. Charak Samhita (700 BC) has described medicinal properties and use of more than 1100 plants.

In the modern world, allopathic medicines, are given importance because, of their immediate cure, or curing the desease in short period, and got quick and fast spread allover the world, besides it is known, to mask the effect of indigenous medicinal plants. However, people have realized, that allopathic medicines, are having narcotic, and side effects, and, also expensive, to which, poor people, are not affordable. In addition, the allopathic medicines, are not curing, all the human deseases, there are deseases like jaundice, cancer, paralysis, diabetics, skin deseases etc. are not curable by the allopathic medicines. Therefore, the perception of medicare, turn around, the naturally grown, traditional medicinal plants and, also attracted, the attention, of the Governments in the world.

World Health Organization's role

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that 80% of the population in developing countries relies on traditional medicines, mostly plant drugs for their primary health care needs. The demand for medicinal plants got increased in both developed and developing countries due to growing recognition of natural products being non - narcotic with no side effects and cost effective. The Common Wealth Ministers at their triennial meeting in Barbados decided that one of the four best areas for healthcare sector reforms should be legitimizing the role of traditional and complementary medicines. With the effect the countries like Australia, UK, Newzeland and Canada supported this health policy from Africa and Caribbean countries and Asian countries like Malaysia, Srilanka and India. The Health Minister and Common Wealth secretariat have appointed a NGO, called GIFTS (Global Initiative for Traditional Systems of Health) based in Oxford University UK, to act as the Secretariat for Official working group on traditional and complementary medicines.

Genetic resources of medicinal plants

India is the treasure of plants, among them 70 percent of the plants are spread across tropical forests of Western Ghats, the Vindhyas Nagpur Plateaus, Aravalli, Terai region, wide areas of Hemalayas and North East. Among these plants more than 15000 plants are medicinal plants and they grow well here because India is bestowed with favourable climatic and environmental conditions.

Biodiversity is also precious "genetic library" maintained by several ecosystems. The potential of the genetic diversity of medicinal plants has not been tapped and thus their preservation and conservation is essential for economic benefit. There is also an intimate relation ship between genetic diversity of medicinal plants and ecological processes. Natural habitat also preserve a reservoir of continuously evolving genetic material that enable various medicinal plant species to adapt changing conditions.

According to the available information about 1800 species are used in classical Indian systems of medicines, Ayurvedic uses 1200, Siddha utilizes 900, Unani uses 700, Amchi uses 600 and 450 species are used by Tibetan.

In India, large quantities of Myrobalan (4,80,000 t) Mahua flowers (50,000 t), Salseeds (50,000 t), Neem berries (1,15000 t), the tree gums, Nuxvomica seeds, Vetaria-indica roots, Sandal wood, Lemongrass Palmrosa, Gingergrass, Vettiver, besides varieties of medicinal raw materials are some major products and marketed domestically. The domestic market of Indian systems of medicine and Homoeopathy is to the tune of 4000 crores per annum and Ayurveda drug market alone is to the tune of 3500 crores.

Export of products of medicinal plants

India ranks second to China in exporting medicinal plants. In the last 10 years India's export of medicinal plants have trebled. India exports currently 35700 t of medicinal plants and plant-parts with medicinal properties annually to USA, Japan, Germany, Russia, France, Switzerland and Hongkang etc which earns 3500 crores annually. Besides about 500 medicinal industries available in India provide employment opportunities.

The estimated 95% of the medicinal plants collected in India are from the wild and process of collection is said to be destructive because of plant parts like roots rhizomes, barks, wood, leaf flower, seeds etc are used to prepare drugs. It is estimated that the parts used for processing Ayurvedic drugs are roots (29.6%), leaves (25.8%), bark (13.5%), wood (2.8%), wholeplant (16.3%), and rhizome (4%) and the rest seeds and flowers etc.

Estimates suggest that over half a million tones of dry raw materials are indis criminately and most destructiovely collected from the wild every year. Due to over harvesting several medicinal plants occurring in the forest areas of tropical subtropical temperate and alphinezones have either become extinct or endangered. High percentage of medicinal plants used by Indian industries today are collected from the wild and less than 20 species are only under commercial cultivation and about 600 species are used for the production of medicines. In a span of 10 years the used medicinal plants population of different species in a region or throughout its range of natural distribution has reduced by 80%. It is critically endangered.

Since processing involves destructive harvesting to use different parts of the plant species poses serious threat to the genetic resources and the diversity of medicinal plants, when the wild population loss is estimated as 50%. A threat assessment exercise as per latest IUCN guidelines, Southern and Northern India have already listed 427 species of medicinal plants that are endangered and threatned, of which 28 are considered extinct, 124 endangered, 81 valuables, 100 rare and 34 are sufficiently available. These species need detailed studies on their population structure, breeding behaviour and protection of their habitats for insitu conservation.

Conservation of medicinal plants

This kind of situation warrents to develop methods for conserving the Indian medicinal biodiversity because it is the vital factor improving biological productivity. Several national and international agencies have formulated appropriate policies and strategies for the conservation of medicinal plants. Conservation and utilization of medicinal plants must involve a long term integrated and scientifically oriented action programme. This should involve pertinenet aspects of protection, preservation, maintenance, exploitation, conservation and sustainable utilization. To ensure the availability of raw material of medicinal plants in future its genetic resources must be conserved to protect these endangered species by developing appropriate policies. A holistic and systematic approach envisaging interaction between social, scientific, economic and ecological groups would be a more desirable one.

Government of India has enacted a Biological diversity Act – 2002 and Biological diversity Rules, 2004 legislation, which is under implementation from 2004.

The primary objectives of the act is

  • Conservation of Bioresources and Biodiversity

  • Sustainable use

  • Fair and equitable sharing of benefit arising out of the genetic resources / associated knowledge

The Biological diversity Act - 2002

  • Ensures that the protection of Traditional knowledge at local, state and national levels.

  • Any person applying for IPR in India or abroad relating to biological resources occurring in and accessed from India must obtain prior approval and abide by the benefit sharing condition imposed by the National Biodiversity Authority.

  • The National Biodiversity Authority if necessary shall oppose world wide, IPR granted in relation to biological resources or knowledge derived from India.

  • No foreign agency can access biological resources occurring in India and related knowledge without prior consent of National Biodiversity Authority.

  • Share of the benefits shall be deposited in the National Biodiversity Fund (NBF). NBF would be used to reward people for their conservation efforts and knowledge.

The concept of biosphere reserves is the method where in specific ecosystems are conserved and managed. The germplasm collections of herbal gardens, drugs forms of valuable medicinal plants are the major sources in conserving genetic resources and biological diversity. There are two approaches to conserve the genetic materials of medicinal plants. viz., In situ and ex situ conservations.

In situ conservation

In situ conservation relates to the conservation of wild population of medicinal plants in their natural habitats. Since their natural habitats are being destroyed, and shrunk of degraded due to various biotic and environmental factors, that controls and their survival. To prevent such destruction of medicinal plants conservation programmes were launched by the State Forest department of Tamilnadu, Karnataka and Kerala, Andhrapradesh and Maharashtra. This programme has set up a net work of 55 medicinal plants conservation areas across different attitude zones in these states.

Another programme known as Medicinal plant development Area, (MPDA) which are small area in NTFP (Non Tiusber Forest Products) circles and on degraded forests which are developed locally by planting available indigenous medicinal plants and trees.

Ex situ conservation

Ex situ conservation: Medicinal Plant Conservation Areas (MPCAS) Sixteen such parts have been established by NGOs and research Institutes. They grow 800 medicinal plant species known to local ethenic communities and conserve them. In addition the following are the activities of MPDA.

  • Systamatic survey and documentation of all details of each medicinal species.

  • Development of suitable species recovery programme of endangered and enrichment programme for economically valuable species.

  • Long term management of strengthened community institution and

  • Training of field staff and others on in situ conservation of medicinal plants.


The rapid loss of biodiversity remains greatest threat and to prevent this the "Gap analysis method" has been implemented to asseses the current status of the biodiversity in a given area. Another method is Bioprospecting ie, characterization of different agro ecological regions through remote sensing method on biosources, mapping, characterization and conservation of endangered medicinal and aromatic plants and bioprospecting molecules and genes for product development.

India as a part of emerging global market for herbal medicines, to have its rapid growth, herbal industry and traditional medicines sector of our country should emerge as strong forum under one umbrella. To initiate this effort the Federation of Indian Herbal industry (FIHI) was launched now in India. The Govt. of India, NGOs and Medical service Industry together should create a holistic Healthcare system.

Trade and Market potential

Like China, India should also develop its domestic market and to exploit global market. Since Europe and US have very good demand for herbal drugs and cosmetics, India can earn several million dollars annually from its International market by sending quality and effective medicines and products. To promote international trade of Indian medicinal plants and value added products marketing should be the key area to be addressed by developing Market Network and Market Intelligence Agency a market intelligence agency.

India should focus and concentrate Research and Development on value addition and manufacture for exporting phytomedicines to International standards and specifications. To promote this short - term training and financial support are to be provided to pharmaceutical industries.

India has to enforce stringent quality control and transparency as that of China. The quality of medicinal plants entails better production with rich biochemical contents, homogeneity of the product of raw materials intended for international market. The correct identity of the Botanicals without any pesticidal and heavy metal contaminants, Zero microbial activity should be ensured for International market.

Role of National Medicinal Plants Board

The National Medicinal plants board set up by the Govt. of India has identified 32 medicinal plants for promotion and developments. They are Amla (Emblica oficinalis), Ashok (Saraca asoca) Ashwagantha (Withania somnifera), Alees(Acontium heterophyllum), Bael (Aegale marmelos), Bhumiamlaki (Phyllanthus amrar), Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) Chandan (Santalum album) Chirata (Swertiachirata) Daruhala (Barberis aristata) Giloe (Tirospora cordifolia) Gudmar (Gymnema sylvestra) Guggal (Commitphora wishcii) isabgol (Plantag ovata) Jatamansib (Nardostachys jatamansi) Kalihari (Gloriosa superba) Kalmeh (Andropgraphis puniculata) kesar (Saffron) (Crocus sativus) Kokum (Garcinia indica), Kuth (Saussurea costus) kulki (Picrrhiza kurroa), Makoy (Solanum nigrum) Mulethi (Glyeyrrhiza glabra), Datterchur (Coleus) (Coleus barbatus), Pippli (Piper nigrum) safedmusli (Chlorophytum borivillanum) sarpagandha (Rauwolifa serpentina) Senna (Cassia angustifolia) Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus) Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum), Valvidang(Embelia ribes) Vatsnabh (Acontium ferox).

Future thrust areas

  • Collection of seeds of endemic species in countrywide should be deposited and utilize them in breeding programme.

  • Development of a nationwide network of Medicinal plant nursery involving farmers, Indian System of Medicines, Community, Plant Breedcas, industry and conservation organization.

  • Selection and supply of quality planting materials and seeds

  • The medicinal plants should be domesticated and brought under cultivation to maintain constant supply of quality materials and thus reduce the pressure on the wild populations.

  • Key Policy provisions to promote, cultivation, o medicinal plants, marketing, development of research, to regulate, indiscriminate destructive collection, of wild medicinal plants.

  • Involvement of the tribal communities in exploration of collection and conservation and trade of ethno medicines along with nontimber forest produce.

  • In order to conserve, cultivate and improve medicinal plants research should be strengthened to solve existing problems. Research should also to be strengthened on pharmacological, clinical and chemicals.

  • Imparting in service training for staff of various government and non - government agencies like officials of forests, wild life, botanic gardens, and teachers and students of schools and colleges in taxonomy and conservation techniques and value addition.

  • Agrotechnologies are not available for cultivation of many medicinal plants and this area needs attention particularly by the SAUS & ICAR.

  • Documentation of information on Geographical distribution and resource base, package of cultivation, value additions, market status, domestic policies, convention rules and regulations for harvesting, marketing industries and trade policy, pricing pattern, social and economic dimension, coordination of research and identification of national and international groups working on medicinal plants to share the scientific knowledge.

  • HRD and HRM in among the Scientists working in Research Institutions, University and Governments.

Keynote address



Formerly: Dean and Rector, Sri Venkateswara University, Tirupati

Senior Professor of Life Sciences, University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad

Director, Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology (CSIR), Plampur, Himachal Pradesh


    Please let me begin by saying that plants are nature's finest organic chemists producing more than 200 thousand small molecules (less than 500 daltons) many of which being secondary metabolites are also useful as medicinal compounds. Not only that what I have said plants being organic chemists they also perform an extremely difficult and an astonishing oxidation chemistry not matched in any other biological systems by splitting water into oxygen electrons and protons (not ionization). The oxygen released by the entire green mantle of the earth is estimated to be 1011 tons annually. It is this oxygen that sustains aerobic life on this planet besides the photosynthetic reaction resulting in production of carbohydrates (and not hydrocarbons) and other primary metabolites including proteins and fats. By our singing laurels on the extraordinary powers of plants the human intelligence is not yet adequate to understand intricacies of the plant way of life. This year being an International year of planet earth it becomes all the more important to understand the functioning of the green mantle, the biodiversity of which is extremely important and the dependence of man on the green plants.

    It is not precisely understood when perhaps the single celled bacteria, the earliest living organisms started using sun light to make food in the photosynthetic process. Chlorophyll development was mot important evolutionary consequence for releasing through photosynthesis free oxygen into the atmosphere. Presumably, cyanobacteria the earliest chlorophyll using organisms appeared 3,500 million years ago. Another very startling event in evolution is the acquisition of terrestrial habit by the plants from their ancestral oceanic home which has to possess many adaptive features for survival on land. It is interesting to note that a recent study on the genomics of very popular moss, Physcomitrella patens which has a genome size of 35,000 potential genes. The size is apparently larger than that of first higher plant, Arabidopsis whose genome has been sequenced. Some 10,000 genes are perhaps specific to moss for its evolution in movement to land.

What I spoke so far, is my invocation for plants; I shall move to medicinal plants:

A working definition of medicinal plants consists of all those species used in traditional medical systems of healing and also those which formed to the source of inspiration for several major pharmaceutical drugs. It is estimated that approximately 50,000 species are considered to be useful medicinally, which means that one in every six of all known higher plant species (estimated 300,000 are expected to be used in medicine). It is also that modern drugs apparently derived from only around 100 plant species. Medicinal plants actually are used to maintain or augment health – physical, mental and spiritual but also for specific ailments.

What cam be the main issues concerning the medicinal plants? In this context the most important factor seems to be conservation of species while harvesting from the wild. The harvest from the wild is known to cause loss of genetic diversity and habitat destruction. An alternative is to cultivate the wild plants particularly to avoid misidentification of genetic variability and instability of extracts and sometimes toxic components and contaminants. Problems encountered in commercial cultivation are the difficulty in predicting which extracts will remain marketable and the likely market preference.

Availability of genome sequences for Arabidopsis and O. sativa and several model species is of considerable help in the improvement of medicinal plants through comparative genetics. Medicago truncatula, a model legume is related to M. sativa which is a medicinal herb. The model plant Populus is the source of aspirin and other medically useful plants.

Several modern techniques which I can list as follows can be used for improvement and maximal utilization of medicinal plants. 1. Biotechnology for medicinal plant cultivation; 2. Metabolic engineering and use of metabolomics; 3. Biofortification and biotechnological principles; 4. Nutrition and health; 5. Molecular farming which is a fast developing technology (a latest example, 2008 is the production of resveratrol through metabolic engineering in several plants by bio-engineering; 6. Use specific techniques like gene silencing through RNA interference (RNAi), a mechanism for post transcriptional gene silencing.

The use of specific knockout of certain genes has been shown to increase morphinan alkaloids. Sometimes over expression of certain genes would also results in increased content of the required medical constituents.

Some therapeutic drugs are designed to increase natural concentration of key biological molecules which are depleted in particular disease states (like insulin). The primary objective of pharmaceutical technology is to generate new compounds that can modulate disease, mostly small molecules of less than a size of 500 daltons.

Medicinal Plant Cultivation:

Obstacle to bring medicinal plants into commercial cultivation is difficult in predicting which extracts will remain marketable and the likely market preference. The W.H.O. has estimated that more than 80% of world's population in developing countries is dependent on herbal medicine for healthcare needs. It is also increasing elsewhere and 25% of UK population uses herbal medicines in regular way. In Europe, 10% of medicinal species used are commercially cultivated. Several plants including Piper methysticum and Glycyrrhiza glabra are threatened. Nearly 10,000 medicinal species are endangered. Introduction of sustainable wild harvesting methods is a viable alternative to increase cultivation of medicinal plants. Biotechnology can solve some inherent problems with production of medicinal compounds if plants are cultivated. Cultivation also offers to optimize yield and achieving uniform high quality.

Complete genome sequences for Arabidopsis and O. sativa and several other model species including Medicago and Populus makes it possible for improvement of medicinal species via comparative genetics. The oestrogenic properties of Trifolium are of increasing interest in the context of human health and hormone replacement therapy. Populus is related to salix, the source of aspirin and other medicinally useful compounds.

Pathway Engineering:

Examples of pathway engineering leading to improvement of potential value in breeding medicinal plants are immense. In Hyoscyamus niger a ten fold enhancement in scopolamine was brought about by over expressing two genes encoding rate limiting steps.

Over harvesting is the cause of decline in medicinal plants. Himalayas are famous for high altitude medicinal herbs which are used in Ayurveda, Tibetan medicine and others. Unfortunately massive grazing pressures have denuded the area. FAO defined the use of sustainable harvests as 'the use of plant resources at levels of harvesting and in such ways that the plants are able to continue to supply the products indefinitely" (replenishment at least to match off-take).    

The adaptive management prescriptions are periodically reviewed and adjusted.

Metabolic Engineering and Use of Metabolomics:

Plants are fabulously rich source of diverse functional biochemicals and metabolomics is a valuable applied technology. The technology is geared towards providing an essentially unbiased comprehensive qualitative and quantitative overview of metabolites in an organism. Metabolomics is the newest field of functional genomics. Speculative estimations of total no. of metabolites in plant kingdom including secondary metabolites are between 100 thousand to 200 thousand.

Much of plant biochemistry can unfortunately still be defined as unidentified compounds derived from undefined pathways and with unknown function (Oliver Fiehn, UCD, 2005). The quality of crop plants is a direct function of their metabolite content. It also determines in the commercial value like for example flavour, fragrance shelf life and others. Further development of metabolomics is a complimentary technology to transcriptomics and proteomics. As in other areas the limitation of metabolomics is ignorance. Our basic knowledge of many secondary metabolic pathways and our inability to identify the compound is a drawback.

    Metabolomics is perhaps the ultimate level of post genomic analysis. Within functional genomics metabolomics emerges as a robust approach to credit gene activity than used for transcriptomic and proteomic approaches.

    Plant Metabolomic Research was not common prior to this decade. But now became increasingly widespread. Rice is also the popular metabolomic target. To overcome the current limitations on metabolomic analysis requires an interdisciplinary (cross disciplinary) approach where biologists, chemists, statisticians and instrument manufacturers need to provide an input. Metabolite profiling is being used extensively in studies of environmental perturbations in attempts to elucidate complex shifts.

Transgenic modification:

New opportunities to alter the content of important plant based secondary metabolites including pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals and plant protection chemicals. Metabolic engineering modifies the amounts or chemical structures of specific metabolites. Alkaloid pathways have been successfully modified by metabolic engineering. Over expression of strictosidine synthase in cell cultures of Catharanthus roseus resulted in increased content of terpenoid indole alkaloids.


Morphinan alkaloids are produced from Opium poppy, Papaver
somniferum. These include morphine, codeine, oripavine and thebaine. Genetically modified poppies with increased morphinan alkaloid production are reported.


The magnificent seven types, function, metabolism and longevity have been studied. The sirtuin family of histone deacetylases named after their homology to yeast gene information regulator. Sirtuin biology has come a long way from original description as Yeast class III HDAC that control yeast life span. Sirtuins might play important roles in some diseases. It can be predicted that therapeutic interventions at activating or blocking sirtuins will become helpful in the treatment of human diseases.

Resveratrol is produced by certain plants including grapes and peanuts. It is a major health promoting compound in red wine and functions as an anti oxidant. Consumption of resveratrol extends the life span of yeast, fruit fly, roundworm and fish, the mechanism of which is unclear.

Resveratrol biosynthesis involves deamination of phenyalanine and produces cinnamic acid which is hydroxylated to form 4-coumaric acid. Next 4-coumaroyl-CoA condenses with 3 molecules of malonyl-CoA to produce resveratrol. Sirtuins are implicated in several cellular processes like apoptosis, adipocyte and muscle differentiation and in malignancy and cancer.

Metabolic engineering related to resveratrol is done in many organisms with recent reports on longevity effect of resveratrol in some animals and attracts press coverage.

Biofotrification and Biotechnological Principles:

Deficiencies of micronutrients including iron, zinc and Vitamin A affect nearly three billion people (1/2 of world's population) disease stricken. The deficiency increases morbidity and mortality rates, loss of work productivity and impairment of cognitive development. Current programmes for food fortification and supplementation programmes have shown to be sustainable to live healthy and productive lives. Humans require at least 50 known nutrients in adequate amounts.

Staple cereal grains contain factors (tannins, poly phenols and heavy metals) which can inhibit bioavailability of micronutrients.

Plant based diet could limit intake of calcium. Osteoporosis is one of the most prevalent nutritional disorders and causes patho-physiological conditions. By engineering carrot and other vegetables to contain increased calcium levels may boost the uptake and reduce deficiency. The creation of genetically modified plants with increased nutritional benefits is an expanding field. The term "Nutritional genomics" is used to describe studies involving pint biochemistry, genomics and human nutrition.

Nutrition and Health:

    Food nutrition is by definition aimed at maintaining human cell, and organ, homeostasis. The concept of nutraceuticals and bio-protective foods continue to attract attention. Biofortification has several examples induing golden rice with enhanced provitamin A, lycopene rich tomatoes, lysine rich corn and ferritin rich lettuce.

Adding More Life to the Years than Years to the Life:

Nutrigenomics is a science growing rapidly and tries to link nutrition and genome. Although the food health link is still ambiguous, human health is the major driver to innovate in food industry. The current trends in global population and so called graying of the society it has been predicted that social security systems will not be able to survive without having healthier elderly

Molecular Farming:

Production of substances of industrial importance through genetically modified plants is referred to as molecular farming. The company known as Meristem Therapeutics markets a gastric lipase in open field production using maize.

Fighting Cancer with plant expressed pharmaceuticals: Plant made pharmaceuticals (PMPS) are important in the humanitarian problem of cancer. The advantages of plant system for expression of veterinary and pharmaceutical proteins are the low cost of cultivation, high biomass production and fast gene to protein time.

Specific Technologies:

RNAi for engineering plant gene functions (RNA silencing or RNA interference): This is a double stranded RNA and this can cause silencing of any particular gene. With the Nobel Prize award for medicine in 2006 to Fire and Mello for discovery
of RNAi, its use has become wide spread. The double stranded RNA (dsRNA) which is processed into RNA duplexes of 21 to 26 bp called small interfering RNAs. RNAi is used in applied plant biotechnology where reverse genetics is difficult due to lack of suitable mutants. RNAi is also a popular approach for validating the function of candidate genes.

Special papers



Palpu Pushpangadan

Amity Institute for Herbal and Biotech Products Development, Peroorkada, Trivandrum

The safety and efficacy of herbal medicine is closely related with the quality of the source materials used in production. The quality of source material is, in turn determined by intrinsic factors (genetic) and extrinsic factors (environmental conditions, cultivation and harvesting time, field conditions and post harvest/collection and transport and storage). Therefore it is very difficult to perform quality control on raw materials of herbal medicine. In a global survey by WHO (WHO, 2005) on Regulation of herbal medicines particularly on the regulatory status of herbal medicines, regulatory requirements, number registered herbal medicine products and quality control requirements, such as GMP, monograph etc. gave the following results.     Before 1988, there were only 14 Member State with regulations relating herbal medicines, but a figure increased to 53 member states (37%) having laws and regulations in 2003, of those member states without current laws on regulations, 42 (49%) declared that these regulations were in the the process of being developed. Such results show that Member States are increasingly involved in developing the regulation of herbal medicines. The question about the regulatory status of herbal medicines also show interestingly, that in most Member States (97 out of 142 respondents) herbal medicine are sold as over – the- counter medicines, in contrast to 50 Member States where herbal medicines are sold as prescription medicines. Medical claims, health claims and nutrient contents claims are the most common types of claims with which herbal medicines may legally be sold (90 Member States allow medicinal claims, 62 allow health claims and 49 allow nutrients content claims) The collected information about herbal medicines also shows that 86 member status (61%) have a registration system for herbal medicine and 17 have 1000 or more registered herbal medicines. The general lack of knowledge on the traditional drug authorities and the lack of appropriate evaluation methods are factors that delay the creations of updating the national policies, laws and regulations for Traditional Medicine. In order to meet there challenges, the WHO TM Strategy 2002 – 2003 developed with four primary objectives: farming policy, enhancing safety, efficacy and quality access, and inpromoting national use. Resolution of Traditional Medicine was adopted at the fifty sixth World Health Assembly held in 2003. The resolution requested WHO to support the Member State by providing to internationally acceptable guidelines and technical standards and also evidence based informations to assist member status in formulating policy and regulations for the safety, efficacy and quality, safety and efficacy mentioned were at best only subjective in the absence of objective means to evaluation available to modern day science (Choudhary 2003) The European Union has introduced a new legislation called the "Traditional Herbal Medicinal Product Directive" for fast track registration of traditional medicinal Products of plant origin. This directive seeks from Traditional medicine makers to show evidence of safe usage the Eu member nations, for market authorization of a product.The European Union has an agreement that all the countries would have their herbal industries and product under the identical medicine control by the end of 1992. The only major country to achieve tight control was UK and as a result most herbal products were thrown out of use market. The commission is preparing both positive (Approved monographs) and a negative (unapproved monographs). The commission received safety data according to doctrine of absolute proof of safety. The commissions attempted to ensure that there medicine were reasonably safe when used when according to the dosage, contradiction and other warring and provisions specified in the monographs. The commission takes the position that as long as the scientific data provided reasonable verification of particular historic use, the commission would grant the positive evaluation. Most positively evaluated monographs are based on the open clinical studies or data derived from filed studies, patent, patient case records and pharmacological research or proprietary data submitted by individual companies. The commission is also made many negative evaluations of herbal drugs and herbal plants which is known as a negative or unapproved list/drugs. The Traditional Herbal Medicine Product Directive (THMPD) is amendment made to the EU Directive regulating regarding medicinal products. The directive 2001/83/EC of the European parliament and of the council is aimed to include a new provision for traditional herbal medicine products. The directive which came in to force in Member States in October 2005, provides a transition period up to 2011 before it is fully implemented. Products regulated by the directive benefits from a fast track drugs regime where the need to supply costly safety studies can be avoided if it can be demonstrated that the products in question has been used safely over a period of 30 years, of which 15 must be in an Eu member status.    It is in this context the classical Indian System of Medicine uses over 2000 plant species, there are about 260 species of global interest and 52 of them can be prioritized on the base of their proven safety and efficacy. Combining the strengths of knowledge base of the Traditional Systems such as Ayurveda with dramatic power of combinational sciences can help for the scientific evidence of plants using Ayurveda. The Golden Triangle approach proposed in the Chitrakoot declaration (Figure 1) of National Botanical Garden and Research Institute's convention 2003 have amply demonstrate the efficacy of Ayurvedic medicinal plants. It adopts a reverse pharmacological approach. Reverse pharmacology will prove "Scientific Evidence" and it operates in three phases as described below. 1) Experimental – a robest documentation of clinical observations of the biodynamic effects of standardized Ayurvedic drugs by meticulous record-keeping; 2) Exploratory - studies for toleranility drug-interaction, dose-range finding in ambulant patients fo defined subsets of the disease and Para clinical studies in simple in vitro and in vivo models to evaluate the targetactivity and 3) Experimental - studies, basic and clinical at several level of biological organizations, to identify and validate the reverse pharmacological correlates of Ayurvedic drugs safety and efficacy. Such a creative research endeavor requires excellent team-work of multisystem and multidisciplinary experts. Reverse Pharmacology, for drug development, has been highly productive and cost-effective too in the recent past". Indian contribution by Reverse Pharmacology to therapeutic revolution will have to eventually integrate sate –of- art high through- put screening, combinatorial chemistry and effects of the old or novel compounds/plants on human gene expression and proteomic.( Vaidya 2006)













Table 1: Some Ayurvedic plants with noted/proven therapeutic activity.


S.No. Plant name                Therapeutic activity

1.    Acorus calamus L.            Tranquillizer

2.    Aegle marmelos (L.) Corr.        Anti-diarrhoea

3.    Ale vera (L.) Burn. F.        Atherpsclerotic synderome

4.    Andrographis paniculata        Hepatoprotective and

(Burm.f.) Wall.            Immunomodulator

5.    Asparagus racemosus Willd.        Galactogogue, uterine sedation and


6.    Azadirachta indica.            Anti fungal and immunomodulator

7.    Bosewellia serrata L.            Antiarthritic and antiinflamatory

8.    Bacopa monnieri (L.) Penn        Improve memory

9.    Berberis asiatica DC.            Antidiarrhoeal

10    Boerhavia diffusa L.            Diuretic, anti-inflammatory

11    Cannabis sativa L.            Psychactive

12.    Cassia fistula                Cathartic

13.    Cassia angustifolia            Cardiotonic

14.    Celastrus paniculatus Willd.        Immunomodulator, memory enhancer

15.    Centella asiatica (L.) Urbal        Memory enhancing, would healing

16.    Coccinium fenestratum        Hepatoprotective

17.    Chlrophytum arundinaceum Baker    Immunoenhancing

18.    Chrorophytum borivalianum    Immunoenhancing

        Sabt. and Fern

19.    Commiphora mukul            Hypolipidemic

20    Commiphora wightii (Arn.)        Hypolipidemic Bhandri

21.    Convolvulus microphyllus        Neural regeneration and synaptic

22.    Coptis teeta Wall.            Febrifuge, antidiarrhoeal

23.    Crocus sativus L.            Cardiotonic

24.    Curcuma longa L. Syn.        Anti- ingflammatory, anti-oxidant

        C. domesticate Val.            And anti-bacterial

25.    Eclipta alba (L.) Hassk.        Hepatoprotective

26.    Embelia ribes Burn. F.        Antifungal and anttheletic

27.    Evolvulus alsinoides L.        Immunododulators

28.    Garcinia cambogiodes (Graham)    Hyperlipidemic

29.    Garcinia gummi-guta (L.)        Antiobese

30    Garcinia indica (Thouars) Choisy    Hypolipidemic

31.    Gloriosa superba            Antiobese

32    Gymnema sylvestre (Retz.)R. Br.    Hypoglycemic

33.    Momordica charantia L.         Hypoglycemic

34    Nardostachys jatamansi DC.    Neurotonic

35.    Ocimum sanctum L.            Anti-stress, adaptogenic

36.    Phyllathus amarus Schum.         Hepatoprotective

37.    Phyllathus emblica L. Syn.        Antioxidant

38.    Picrrorrhiza kurrooa Royle         ANtithepatotoxic

39.    Piper lngum L.            Immunomodulator

40.    Piper nigrum L.            Bioavailability enhancer

41    Rauwolfia serpentine Benth        Anti-hypertensive

42    Rubia cordifolia            Antistress carminativ

43    Saraca asoca (Roxb.)         De Wilde    

44.    Sida spp. (S. cordata(Burm. F.    Tranquilizer

45.    Silibum marianum Gaertn.        Hepatoprotective

46.    Solanum melongena L.        Antitussive

47.    Swertia chirayita (Roxb. Ex        Adatogenic, Febrifuge

48.    Terminalia achebula Retz.        Antiaging

49.    Tinospora cordifolia (Willd.)        Immunoenhancing, adaptogenic

50.    Tribulus terrestris L.            Diuretic, antihypertensive

51.    Wedelia calendulacea Less        Hepatoprotective

52    Withania somnifera    L.        Anticancer, Immunimodulator



  1. Choudhary, Jayesh 2003. Standardization on Traditional Medicine Nature Biology 22(3) 263-265
  2. Vaidya A 2004 Reverse Pharmacological Correlates of 'Ayurvedic Drug actions Indian Journal of Pharmacology
  3. WHO 2003 http:#WWW.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs134/en
  4. WHO, 2005 National Policy on Traditional Medicine and Regulation of Herbal Medicines, Report of a Global Survey, Word Health Organization, Geneva





Krishna K Banaudha, Georges St. Laurent and Ajit Kumar

The George Washington University,School of medicine, Washington DC, USA


Six thousand years ago, the Reshi Bharadwaj of traditional Hindu culture set the stage for the modern Science of Genomics and Molecular Biology when they declared that "all the features of our universe are found inside every living cell."   These concepts from traditional Indian culture represent a central truth, now urgently needed in our modern day society. As a result of the human genome, deciphered in 2001, a unique opportunity exists to establish a broad scientific acceptance of Ayurveda and Unani by Western Science, and widespread use in western medicine.  Genomic tools now provide a new level of clarity and resolution for understanding the molecular networks of human physiology, as described by the Vedas, and how these molecular networks evolve during Ayurveda and Unani treatments. The St. Laurent Institute announces Genoma Ayurveda, a global initiative in partnership with Ayurveda and Unani experts throughout India, to decipher the molecular universe of Ayurveda and Unani in human physiology.  The Genoma Ayurveda initiative uses genomics, proteomics, micro-fluidics, nanotechnology, and Bioinformatics to scientifically validate the healing capabilities of Ayurveda and Unani.   Data generated by these high-throughput techniques are processed by Systems Biology tools, which use massive amounts of computing power to create a truly holistic view of the human cell at the molecular level.  By profiling the multidimensional molecular landscape of human physiology in response to Ayurveda and Unani, the Genoma Ayurveda initiative aims to translate the wisdom of Ayurveda into a detailed high resolution molecular language. 





Lakshmi S.R.Arambewela1, L.D.A.Menuka Arawwawala2 and W.D. Ratnasooriya3

1PGI Exports and Member, Sri Lanka Ayurvedic Drugs Corporation, Sarasavi Lane,

Castle Street, Colombo ,Sri Lanka , E mail larambewela@yahoo.co.uk

2 Industrial Technology Institute, Colombo, Sri Lanka

3Dept. of Zoology, University of Colombo, Colombo, Sri Lanka


 Alpinia calcarata belongs to family Zingiberaceae and is distributed in tropical countries such as Sri Lanka, India, Malaysia, China, Indonesia and Japan. This plant is used in traditional systems of medicine and a survey on "Traditional treatment in Sri Lanka for chronic arthritis" has indicated that A. calcarata in an important ingredient in decoctions prescribed for arthritis patients. Therefore studies on this plant were initiated.

The GC-MS studies on the essential oils of A. calcarata grown in Sri Lanka resulted in the identification of 18 compounds and the major compound was 1, 8 cineol. This composition is different to those reported for A calcarata grown in other countries To investigate the antinociceptive activity different doses (100,250, 500,750,1000mg/kg) of ethanol and the water extracts were orally administered to rats and the reaction times were determined using hot plate, tail flick and formalin tests. The antinociceptive activities of both extracts were comparable to that of pethidine. The anti-inflammatory activity of A. calcarata was determined by carrageanan induced rat paw edema model using four doses (250, 500, 750, 1000 mg/kg) Significant and dose dependent anti inflammatory activity of hot water (HWE) and hot ethanol extracts (HEE) of A.calcarata rhizomes was observed. The maximum effect was evident with 500 mg/kg dose of both extracts. The anti inflammatory effect of HEE was higher than that of HWE and was comparable to indomethacin (5 mg/kg) Three doses (500,750, 1000 mg/kg ) of HWE and HEE were evaluated for gastroprotective activity against ethanol induced gastric ulcers in rats. Oral administration of extracts provided a significant protection of gastric damage and was superior to that of cimetidine. The hot water extract significantly inhibited gastric volume and acidity while the gastric mucosal secretion remained unaltered. The A. calcarata extracts were well tolerated. No overt signs of toxicity, hepatotoxicity or renotoxicity were observed. These results demonstrate the therapeutic potential of A. calcarata extracts to be used as a safe herbal anti inflammatory agent subject to clinical trials.




T. Pullaiah, S. Karuppusamy and A. Ugraiah.

Department of Botany, Sri Krishnadevaraya University, Anantapur. A.P. India.

E.mail: Pullaiah @ Yahoo.co. in

a genus of about 100 species is distributed in the driest parts of India, Arabia, Pakistan, Africa and Myanmar. Plants of this genus are succulent herbs. Greater number of species is reported from South Africa. Out of 14 species reported from India, 11 species are concentrated over in Peninsular India. 5 species and 5 varieties are strictly endemic to India. Gravely and Mayuranathan (1931) have brought out a monograph on genus Caralluma in India, but after their work three more new species were described from India. Plowes (1995) reclassified the genus Caralluma and according to him Indian Caralluma includes three sub-genera. Even with all this there exists greater difficulty in identification and nomenclature on this genus worldwide. Many of Indian Caralluma species are exhibiting more intermediate forms in their habitat due to their interhybridizable potency. Gravely and Mayuranathan (1931) have described 5 varieties under Caralluma adscendens. One of these varieties has been elevated to the species level Caralluma geniculata recently by molecular systematics. A number of Caralluma species are being used by local inhabitants for their primary health care. Plants of this genus are used as food and appetite suppresser among the poor people. The present study highlights the morphological diversity of Caralluma in India and utilization of different species by local inhabitants.



Krishna K. Shrestha

Central Department of Botany, Tribhuvn University,

Kirtipur, Kathmandu, Nepal


Nepal comprises nearly 1,800 species of medicinal plants, of which about 400 species are common ingredients in Ayurvedic, Amchi and traditional folk medicine, and more than 100 species of medicinal plants are of trade value. The Conservation Assessments and Management Plan (CAMP) held in Pokhara, Nepal in 2001 listed 51 species of threatened medicinal plants. Three species were designated as Critically Endangered (CR), 14 species as Endangered (EN), 23 species as Vulnerable (VU), three species nearly threatened, and remaining eight species are data deficient (DD) or Least concern (LC). The Government of Nepal endorsed Herbs and NTFP Coordination Committee (HNCC) in 2002, and prioritized 30 species of medicinal plants for conservation, and recommended 12 species of medicinal plants for cultivation. A short list of 30 priority species of traded medicinal plants was prepared by Ethnobotanical Society of Nepal (ESON) in 2006, through extensive consultation of the literature, field visits of selected areas, and also through interviews with individual experts. Several indicators were used such as: levels of commercial or local demand, rarity, growth rate, potential for regeneration, success of propagation, and Nepal Governments' priority for conservation, included in different conservation categories (IUCN, CITES, Nepal government, CAMP workshop, etc). ESON, with support from Plantlife International, in 2007 conducted a research project 'Community-based Conservation and Sustainable Utilization of Potential Medicinal Plants in Rasuwa district'. In collaboration with local community-based organizations, ESON initiated the management of medicinal plant resources by involving Tamang ethnic communities in inventory, monitoring, sustainable harvesting, processing, marketing, and in situ conservation of potential medicinal plants. Emphasis is also given in the identification and conservation of threatened habitats in the buffer zone. Attempt will be made to continue similar type of work within the national park, in coordination with the concerned authorities and local communities.




T.Shimada, W.D.T.Maduwanthi and K.Hirimburegama

Department of Plant Sciences, University of Colombo, Colombo, Sri Lanka


Plumbago indica is a perennial herbaceous plant with long succulent roots. It is an exotic plant and is probably native to Southeast Asia. In Sri Lanka, it is found in anthropogenic localities and only under cultivations. The roots of P. indica are commonly used in indigenous medicine of Ayurveda. It contains an orange yellow pigment named Plumbagin (2-methyl-5-hydroxy -1,4-naphthoquinone) which has several pharmacological activities. Although P. indica can be easily grown under local conditions, the domestic production is at a minimum level due to lack of organized cultivation. It is propagated only vegetatively by stem cuttings. It was revealed that more than 90% of the industrial requirement is imported from India.  In vitro propagation has been achieved by some researchers by using the meristem culture technique, but its efficiency needs to be improved. The main object of the study is to develop a technology for mass production of P. indica plants through callus culture of leaf explants. Somaclonal variation of regenerated plants from calluses is investigated and the plants with high contents of Prunbagin are selected for subsequent propagation . The vigorous calluses with shoots was obtained from leaf explants of P. indica on the medium containing TDZ 1.0 mg/L and IAA 1.0 mg/L. The shoots were propagated on the medium containing BA 0.5 mg/L and IAA 0.5mg/L. The shoots developed roots by transplanting onto the medium containing Adenine Sulfate 15.0 mg/L and IBA 1.0 mg/L. Many regenerated plants were acclimatized and grown in the green house.



Sarvepalli Badari Narayan

Medicinal Plant Project, Dabur Nepal Ltd, Kathamndu, Nepal 

The Himalayas are home to world's unique biodiversity wealth and considered as one of the important "Hotspot". Nepal is rich in biodiversity of medicinal and aromatic plants (MAPS)which are classified under RET sp. Global concern over the loss of biological diversity due to the unsustainable harvesting methods accelerated the need for conservation of the same. More than 1740 plant species have been recorded as MAPS species in this region and majority of them are on continuous decline in their number and abundance. Due to the rapid loss of these important herbs, Dabur Nepal was proactive in its approach, to visualize and establish a state of the art facility -'Medicinal Plant Project' at Banepa near Kathmandu, Nepal, in the year 1998. To develop a sustainable source of MAPS and protect the delicate natural resources of the Himalayas. Dabur is renowned for Ayurvedic medicines and herbal health care preparations from over a century. Our Medicinal Plant Project conserved and cultivated more than 25 important MAPS sp like Chiriata, Kuth, Kutki Taxus etc. in different agro-climatic zones ranging from Terai plains to high hills of the Himalayas, spreading across 18 districts and 46 cooperatives as a major source of livelihood marginal farmers. 




Arvind Saklani

Natural Products-Botany,Nicholas Piramal Research Centre,

1-Nirlon Complex, Goregaon (E),Mumbai- 400063

email: asaklani@nicholaspiramal.co.in


The mankind cannot survive without plants. Apart from basic needs plants have been source of medicines since ancient ages to the modern world. The finding of cinchona in 17th century, followed by digitalis, morphine, and so on, and then introduction of synthetic aspirin, a derivative of a plant-based drug, compelled human beings to believe in the wonders of the diverse floristic wealth and vow their heads in front of the plants- the best combinatorial chemist. A large number of plants used in the traditional medicine have now become a part of the modern world health care system and the introduction of herbals in the form of nutraceuticals and dietary supplements are also changing the plant-based drug market, which is estimated to be more than $26 billion by 2011 at an average annual growth rate (AAGR) of 6.6% between 2006 and 2011. Interestingly, a total of 26 plant-based drugs were approved/ launched during 2000–2006 and a total of 91 plant-derived compounds are under clinical trials. The resurgence of plant-based drugs, mainly for the treatment of cancer, immunological and CNS related diseases, is certainly exciting. Over 60 compounds are in the pipeline, as anticancer drugs alone, from plant sources.

These all discoveries have made the source plants immortal. In this process, several issues also cropped up revolving around the plant-prospecting, which are related to IPR, benefit sharing, biopyracy etc. This resulted into educating the discoverers to support the source country or the indigenous society sharing the traditional medical knowledge, financially or helping in the developmental activities and also in conservation of indigenous plant resources. We must appreciate that the drug discovery programs helped quite a few potential wild plants hitherto unknown to the science and to the society, which not only found a place in the farms to uplift economy of the farmers, but also assured their own survival. The Coleus forskohlii is one such common example in India. We are very rich in biodiversity and associated TEK. It is important to know the potential of each and every floristic component that we have. This would not only help in identifying leads but would also give us a strong support to set priorities and ways for conservation of the species.