Role of Herbs in Modern Pharmacy

Traditional medicine still meets the requirements of the people in the devel­oping world.

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Following the Alma Ata declaration of 1978, efficient strategies have been adopted by many countries for integrating the traditional health practices into the national health systems. India is no exception to this.

The country has by now developed a parallel stream of Indian medicine alongside the modern medical system as constituted by allopathy.Role of Herbs in Modern Pharmacy

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However, the policies adopted for promotion of the Indian systems of medicine do not cover the traditional health practices of the local communities, which fall outside the realm of the classical medical systems like Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and naturopathy.

The Local Health Traditions (henceforth referred as LHT) which are nothing but the traditional health practices of the local communities making use of locally available herbs, have from time immemorial provided innumerable health care options as preventives and curatives and has thus played an important role in enhancing the health of the local populations.

LHT are the oral traditions practiced by the local people, who by trial and error selected many plants from their habitat to treat the ailments confronted by them.

LHT as referred to in the study is devoid of any personalistic or super­natural beliefs and confines to the natural beliefs.Role of Herbs in Modern Pharmacy

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According to Aregbeyen (1996) there is growing evidence that:

i. Herbal medicine is effective and acceptable and that:

ii. There is every reason to promote knowledge and understanding of which type of herb must be used for treating which ailment in the various communities.

iii. He suggests that, if properly developed, herbal medicine could be used to supplement PHC, and in promoting a spirit of self-reliance.

However, the LHT have moved into oblivion, with increasing access to modern medicine especially in Kerala, the state lying along the south-west coast of India. It might seem paradoxical that Kerala blessed with rich herbal wealth, which has stepped into sectors like health care tourism, has experi­enced a tremendous decline in the population employing LHT to meet the health requirements.

The excessive commercialization of the health sector is one major reason for the current health seeking pattern.Role of Herbs in Modern Pharmacy The commercial­ization has also made health care unaffordable to the majority of the people. Ayurveda, the classical medicine and allopathy, the modern medicine are increasingly becoming unaffordable with increasing price of medicines (Ekbal, 2000).

This coupled with the excessive privatization of the health sector and the deterioration state of the public health facilities, is pushing the rural population further into the vicious poverty trap. The current research paper, therefore, looks into the reason for the popularity of particular medical systems and the viability of promoting LHT alongside the dominant systems of medicine.

Geo-informatics has by now been used for mapping biodiversity and efficient management of the various natural resources. The herbal wealth which forms the valuable resource base for the LHT can be mapped in their habitats with the help of the local knowledge.

The objectives of the study are therefore:

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i. To assess and evaluate the relationship existing between the choice of a medical system and the physical and socio-cultural space.Role of Herbs in Modern Pharmacy

ii. To evaluate the significance of ignorance of the local health traditions and non-availability of the resources and associated practitioners as influ­encing the limited use of the local health traditions.

iii. To assess the possibilities of employing geo-informatics in the promoting the use of the local health traditions at the local level and thereby providing affordable health care options at the finger tips of the lay people.

The Study Area:

The study is carried out in the Kanjoor panchayat of the Ernakulam district of Kerala (Map 1). The village is bound on the east and south by the Periyar River. Lying along the flood plains of the largest river in Kerala, the region is blessed with fertile alluvium supporting all forms of agriculture. The village also has a well divined canal system belonging to the Kodanad-Edanad canal system.Role of Herbs in Modern Pharmacy

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Toward the north the region has vast areas under paddy cultivation. However, the region is covered with nutmeg plantations and other crops making it a rich agricultural zone. However, tremendous land use change are taking place with more agricultural and virgin lands getting converted into residential areas, threatening the herbal population in the area.

The Kanjoor panchayat occupies an area of 14.32 sq. km and has 4,885 households. The total population of the panchayat as per the 2001 census is 21,651 of which 10,624 are males and 11,027 are females. Of the total population of 21,651 the working population is 7,793. Of this 5,858 are men and 1,935 are women. The total work participation rate therefore is 35.9 per cent. The male work participation rate is 55.1 per cent and the female work participation rate is 17.5 per cent.Role of Herbs in Modern Pharmacy

 

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