Essay - An Analysis of the Medicinal Uses of Plants First the...

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An Analysis of the Medicinal Uses of Plants

First ***** word, then the plant, lastly the knife. - Aesculapius of Thassaly, c. 1200 BC

The epigram above suggests that humans have been using *****s for their medi*****inal qualities since time immemorial. In fact, the pollen of eight medicinal plants was determined to have ***** intentionally deposited in a 60,000-ye*****r-old tomb in Iraq, and the shelves of the Assurbanipal library held tablets in cuneiform writing that listed more than 250 ***** plants (Changeaux 1998). Today, there has been a resurgence ***** interest in such medicinal plants as many people seek alternatives to the cures being touted by mainstream medicine. There has been some controversy, though, over ***** regulation and use of many of these plant materials, particularly in view of the lack of quality control and the wide variety of applications for which such *****s are ***** used today. Fur*****rmore, there is much money at stake in the medic*****al plant trade, and critics suggest that virtually none of the money being made from their collection and sale is going to the indigenous ********** who rely upon them as a prim*****ry source of medicines. ***** an effort to shed ***** light on this c*****troversy and to determine whether medicinal plants are, in fact, efficacious, this paper provides a review of the relev*****nt literature concern*****g medicinal plants to describe their history, traditional uses and their applications today. A summary of the research and findings will be presented in the conclusion.

***** and Discussion

Background and Overview. ***** ***** are used for medicinal purposes, rather ***** ***** food, ***** commonly referred to as "herbs" or "medicinal herbs." There is physical evidence that the use of medicinal plant preparations dates back more than 60,000 years, ***** more ***** 25 percent of prescription ***** available today have been developed ***** such herbs (Freeman & Lawless 2001:388). In fact, some observers suggest ***** modern medicine would be light-years ahead ***** where it is today if mainstream practitioners had taken the ***** to investigate the countless reports of the *****nefits ***** ***** *****; for example, Sapu Changkija (2000) points out that, "Many renowned drugs of today would have gone into wider use decades ago ***** the folklore and traditions of tribal people concerning certain plants had ***** taken seriously" (205). Perhaps some of ***** reluctance to such traditional approaches can be related ***** the decidedly unscientific source of *****ir effectiveness. For instance, for hundreds of years, it ***** believed that each medicinal plant was a divine gift from God ***** also contained ***** type of "sign" that was intended to provide humankind with the benefits of the plant's healing effects. "This belief was referred to as the 'doctrine of *****atures,'" Freeman ***** Lawlis note, and "*****, herbals are still *****d for their healing abilities, and herbal phytomedicine is the fastest growing alternative therapy in the United States" (2001:388). Given this increased popularity, it is little wonder that ***** has been some m*****understanding about how and when such medicinal


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