THE ROLE OF HERBAL MEDICINES IN HEALTH CARE

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Natural products have served as a major source of drugs for centuries, and about half of the
pharmaceuticals in use today are derived from natural products.
Quinine theophylline penicillin G, morphine,paclitaxel,digoxin,vincristine,doxorubicin,
cyclosporin, and vitamin A all sharetwo important characteristics: they are cornerstones of modern pharmaceutical care, and they areall natural products. The use of natural substances, particularly plants, to control diseases is a
centuries-old practice that has led to the discovery of more than half of all modern pharmaceuticals.


Theopium alkaloids codeineandmorphineserved as models for the synthesis ofnaloxone,an important analog used to treat and diagnose opiate addicts, and also led to the discovery ofendogenous opioids (enkephalinsandendorphins  Similarly,-tetrahydrocannabinol(THC), the component of Cannabis sativa responsible for the central nervous system (CNS) effect, has also been found to reduce nausea associated with cancer chemotherapy There is no doubt thatantibioticsare among the most important class of therapeutic agents
and have had enormous impact on both life expectancy and quality of life. With the discovery of
the natural penicillins as secondary metabolites of the fungusPenicillium, the course of medical
history was dramatically altered and the antibiotic era began.Another area in which natural products have had a major impact on longevity and quality oflife is in thechemotherapy of cancer In fact, most major anticancer drugs arederived from plants or microorganisms. Important examples include bleomycin, doxorubicin, daunorubicin,
vincristine,vinblastine,mitomycin,streptozocin, and most recently,paclitaxel

ironotecan(a camptothecin derivative), and etoposide and tenoposide (podophyllotoxinderivatives).
Some of the most exciting natural products discovered in recent years are the cholesterollowering agents
derived from fungi. These drugs inhibit 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase (HMG-COA reductase) , an enzyme critical in the biosynthesis of cholesterol. The first HMG-COA reductase inhibitors were isolated from Pencilliumsp.
The word healingis derived from the Greek “holos,” the same word that has given uswhole andholistic. The motions of life and spiritual flow are as important to health as the state of thebody’s organs and tissues. Whether one is concerned with being healthy, regaining health, orbecoming healthier, the entire being, physical, mental, and spiritual, is involved in the process.Although the therapeutic philosophy for plant use varies, plants have demonstrated their efficiency as healing agents for thousands of years. We find them in the Indian
Ayurvedic system; in Chinese medicine, alongsideacupunctureand other techniques; they play an important role in the spiritual healing ecology of the Native North Americans ; and their constituents are also used to
manufacture drugs in“orthodox” medicine
.

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