Ancient-modern concordance in Ayurvedic plants: some examples

Environ Health Perspect. 1999 Oct;107(10):783-9. doi: 10.1289/ehp.99107783.

Abstract

Ayurveda is the ancient (before 2500 b.c.) Indian system of health care and longevity. It involves a holistic view of man, his health, and illness. Ayurvedic treatment of a disease consists of salubrious use of drugs, diets, and certain practices. Medicinal preparations are invariably complex mixtures, based mostly on plant products. Around 1,250 plants are currently used in various Ayurvedic preparations. Many Indian medicinal plants have come under scientific scrutiny since the middle of the nineteenth century, although in a sporadic fashion. The first significant contribution from Ayurvedic materia medica came with the isolation of the hypertensive alkaloid from the sarpagandha plant (Rouwolfia serpentina), valued in Ayurveda for the treatment of hypertension, insomnia, and insanity. This was the first important ancient-modern concordance in Ayurvedic plants. With the gradual coming of age of chemistry and biology, disciplines central to the study of biologic activities of natural products, many Ayurvedic plants have been reinvestigated. Our work on Commiphora wightti gum-resin, valued in Ayurveda for correcting lipid disorders, has been described in some detail; based on these investigations, a modern antihyperlipoproteinemic drug is on the market in India and some other countries. There has also been concordance for a few other Ayurvedic crude drugs such as Asparagus racemosus, Cedrus deodara, and Psoralea corylifolia.

MeSH terms

  • Cognition Disorders / drug therapy
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / drug therapy
  • Hair / drug effects
  • Hair / growth & development
  • Humans
  • Medicine, Ayurvedic*
  • Plants, Medicinal*