Medicinal Plants, also called medicinal herbs, have been discovered and used in traditional medicine practices since pre-historic times. Plants synthesise hundreds of chemical compounds for functions including defence against insects, fungi, disease, and herbivorous animals. Numerous phycto-chemicals with potential or established biological activity have been identified. A medicinal plant is also used to attempt to Maintain Health.
All plants produce chemical compounds which give them an evolutionary advantage, such as defending against herbivores or, in the example of salicylic acid as a hormone in plant defense. These phytochemicals have potential for use as DRUGS. Modern knowledge of medicinal plants is being systematised in the Medicinal Plant Transcriptomics Database, which by 2011 provided a sequence reference for the trascriptome of some 30 species. The major classes of pharmacologically active phytochemical are described below, with examples of medicinal plants that contain them :
Alkaloids are bitter-tasting chemicals, very widespread in nature, and often toxic, found in many medicinal plants.There are several classes with different modes of action as drugs, both recreational and pharmaceutical. Medicines of different classes include Atropine, Scopolomine, and Hyoscyamine (all from Nightsahd), the traditional medicine Berberine (from plants such as Berberis and Mahonia), Caffine (Coffea), Cocaine (Coca), Epherdine (Ephedre), Morphine (Opium Poppy), Nicotine (Tobacco), Reserpine (Rauwolfia Serpentina), Quinidine and Quinine (Cinchona), Vincamine (Vinca Minor), and Vincristine (Catharanthus Roseus).
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