Medicinal plants and herbal products

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Nowadays, people are becoming more cautious about their lifestyle and health. As a result, they are increasingly seeking organic food and medicine. This has led to a booming market for herbal and medicinal products, which cater to various aspects of lifestyle and health.

Traditional Medicine & Herbal Medicine

  • Traditional medicine is the sum total of knowledge, skills and practices based on the theories, beliefs and experiences indigenous to different cultures that are used to maintain health, as well as to prevent, diagnose, improve or treat physical and mental illnesses
  • Traditional medicine that has been adopted by other populations (outside its indigenous culture) is often termed alternative or complementary medicine.
  • Herbal medicines include herbs, herbal materials, herbal preparations, and finished herbal products that contain parts of plants or other plant materials as active ingredients.

Medicinal Plant

  • A considerable number of definitions have been proposed for medicinal plants. According to the WHO, "A medicinal plant is any plant which, in one or more of its organs, contains substances that can be used for therapeutic purposes, or which are precursors for chemo-pharmaceutical semi-synthesis." When a plant is designated as 'medicinal', it is implied that the said plant is useful as a drug or therapeutic agent or an active ingredient of a medicinal preparation. Medicinal plants may therefore be defined as a group of plants that possess some special properties or virtues that qualify them as articles of drugs and therapeutic agents, and are used for medicinal purposes
  • A total of 2, 50,000 species of flowring plants are referred to as medicinal plants. The World Health Organizations (WHO) enlisted some 21,000 medicinal plant species.

Traditional medicine

  • In some Asian and African countries, 80% of the population depends on traditional medicine for primary health care.
  • In many developed countries, 70% to 80% of the population has used some form of alternative or complementary medicine (e.g. acupuncture).
  • According to WHO About 25% of modern medicines are descended from plants that were first used traditionally. Likewise, almost 70% of modern medicines in India are derived from natural products.

Major countries of Herbal Market:

  • The largest global markets for medicinal and aromatic plants are China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, the UK and the US.

    Region Million US$
    EU 6,000
    Asia 2,300
    Japan 2,100
    Japan 2,100
    2,100North America 1,500
    Rest of Europe 500
    Total 12,400

    Table: Sales of herbal medicine in 1994 (Source: Grunwald 1994)

National Overview

  • A recent study on Medicinal Plants Marketing in Bangladesh sponsored by SEDF and Interco operation (IC) conducted in October 2003, reviewed the current status and estimated the quantity and value of medicinal plants used as raw materials both in organized sector (large companies, small companies), unorganized sector (herbal doctors/practitioner) and spent annually on approximately 17500 tones medicinal plant (mostly dry) materials accounting approximately Tk. 81 Cr.

Sector Local (Cr Tk) Imported (Cr Tk) Total (Cr. Tk)
Unani 12.7 12.7 25.4
Ayurverdic 8.2 10 18.2
Herbal Doctors 4.5 5.4 9.9
Self Treatment 7.6 20 27.6
Sub total 33 48.1 81.1
Tonnes 12500 5000 17500

Furthermore, A Study on Sector-based Need Assessment of Business Promotion Council- Herbal Products and Medicinal Plants, Research Conducted by: Bangladesh Foreign Trade Institute is linked for more related information.

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