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

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An Analysis of the Medicinal Uses of Plants

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

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

Review ***** Discussion

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


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