(Last Updated on : 07/02/2012)
Ayurveda is one of the most popular codified medical traditions in India. Aurveda traces its origins to the Vedic ages. The Vedic texts, thereby, mention numerous Indian medicinal plants that are grown throughout the Indian subcontinent. Besides Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani medicinal practices also used several trees to prepare medicines. The usage of medicinal plants for curing diseases goes back several millennia. Whilst most of the medicinal plants are native to India, some have their origin in foreign countries. The probable trade between the ancient civilisations and the arrival of the Europeans paved the way for these plants` entrée into the subcontinent.
In India one would easily come across the regions of high floristic diversity include the extensive, relatively undisturbed forest ecosystems of the Himalayas, the Khasi and Mizo Hills of northeastern India, the Vindhya and Satpura ranges of northern peninsular India, and the Western Ghats. These forests contain an estimated 90% of the country`s higher (flowering) plant species and are therefore of special importance to traditional medicine. A significant proportion of Indian medicinal plant species do occur throughout the country, however, in a variety of old-growth, successional and degraded forests, rangelands, and within the mosaic of habitats found within agricultural landscapes.
Some of the most popular Indian medicinal plants are tulsi, neem, cloves, ginger, turmeric, sunflower, Indian cherry, prickly pear, casuarinas and numerous others. Each of these species carries a botanical name but they are more popular in the subcontinent by names in regional language. For instance turmeric is known as Halud in Bengali; Halaad in Gujarati; Haldi in Hindi; Arishina in Kannada; Halad in Konkani; Niannal in Malayalam: Halde in Marathi; Haldar in Punjabi and so on. Almost all parts of the plants, including the leaves, flowers, fruits, roots, barks and other parts are used to prepare medicines.