Traditional Medicine

During the past decade, traditional systems of medicine have become a topic of global importance. Current estimates suggest that, in many developing countries, a large proportion of the population relies heavily on traditional practitioners and medicinal plants to meet primary health care needs. At the same time, many people in developed countries have begun to turn to alternative or complementary therapies, including medicinal herbs.

Few plant species that provide medicinal herbs have been scientifically evaluated for their possible medical application. Safety and efficacy data are available for even fewer plants, their extracts and active ingredients, and the preparations containing them. Assurance of the safety, quality, and efficacy of medicinal plants and herbal products has now become a key issue in industrialized and in developing countries.

During the fourth International Conference of Drug Regulatory Authorities (ICDRA) held in Tokyo, WHO was requested to compile a list of medicinal plants and to establish international specifications for the most widely used medicinal. As a result, WHO has published several monographs over 100 medicinal plants.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), identified over 500 monographs of Indian medicinal plants that has potential for the management of communicable diseases, fertility control, maternal and child health, and control of nutritional disorders and non-communicable diseases like cancer, cardiovascular diseases, blindness, diabetes and other metabolic, haematological disorders, and mental health disorders.

Cancer prevention and treatment using traditional Chinese medicines have attracted increasing interest. This study characterizes antioxidant activity and phenolic compounds of traditional Chinese medicinal plants associated with anticancer, comprising 112 species from 50 plant families. Traditional Chinese medicinal plants associated with anticancer might be potential sources of potent natural antioxidants and beneficial chemopreventive agents.