Traditional medicine is the sum total of the knowledge, skills and practices based on the theories, beliefs and experiences indigenous to different cultures used in the maintenance of health, prevention of diseases and improvement of physical and mental illness. In practice, traditional medicine refers to the following components: acupuncture (China), Ayurveda (India), Unani (Arabic countries), traditional birth attendant's medicine, mental healer's medicine, herbal medicine, and various forms of indigenous medicine. Complementary or alternative medicine refers to a broad set of healthcare practices that are not part of a country's own tradition and are not integrated into the dominant healthcare system. Traditional medicine has maintained its popularity in all regions of the developing world, and its use is rapidly spreading in industrialized countries . Knowledge of plants and of healing have been closely linked from the time of human beings' earliest social and cultural groupings. The medicine man was usually an accomplished botanist. Even in historical times, botany and medicine continued to be virtually one and the same discipline until about 1500 CE, when they began to separate from their close association, to the advantage of both sciences.
Knowledge of the medicinal plants used in the drugs of traditional systems of medicine (TSM) has been of great significance, especially as a lead for the discovery of new single-molecule medicines for modern system of medicine. To determine the chemical nature of such compounds, isolation of a substance in pure form using various separation techniques, chemical properties and spectral characteristics are a prerequisite for establishing its correct structure. Thus, medicinal plants are used in crude or purified form in the preparation of drugs in different systems. In countries like India, China and others with well-founded traditional systems of medicine, plant-based formulations occupy an important place in health management [1-10]. However, the recent broadening of the horizons of drug discovery, due to advances in instrumentation and bioinformatics (computational methods), has opened up new avenues for use of this knowledge in drug development research [2-5]. Structural novelty and new modes of action are common features of plant drugs. This has been shown by anticancer agents like vinblastine, vincristine and paclitaxel, cardiovascular agents like forskolin, anti-HIV agents like calanoid, and antihyperlipidemic agents like guggulsterones.
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