Herbal drugs constitute a major share of all the officially recognised systems of health in India viz. Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha, Homeopathy and Naturopathy, except Allopathy. More than 70% of India's 1.1 billion population still use these non-allopathic systems of medicine. Currently, there is no separate category of herbal drugs or dietary supplements, as per the Indian Drugs Act. However, there is a vast experiential-evidence base for many of the natural drugs. This offers immense opportunities for Observational Therapeutics and Reverse Pharmacology. Evidence-based herbals are widely used in the diverse systems and manufactured, as per the pharmacopoeial guidelines, by a well-organised industry. Significant basic and clinical research has been carried out on the medicinal plants and their formulations, with the state-of-the-art methods in a number of Institutes/Universities. There are some good examples. Indian medicinal plants also provide a rich source for antioxidants that are known to prevent/delay different diseased states. The antioxidant protection is observed at different levels. The medicinal plants also contain other beneficial compounds like ingredients for functional foods. Hence, the global knowledge about Ayurveda and Indian herbals will hopefully be enhanced by information on the evidence-base of these plants. This will yield rich dividends in the coming years.
2007 by The Editorial Secretariat of JCBN