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

The epigram above suggests that humans have been using plants for ********** medicinal qualities since time immemorial. In fact, the pollen of eight medicinal plants was determined to have been intentionally deposited in a 60,000-ye*****r-old tomb in Iraq, and the shelves ***** the Assurbanipal library held tablets in cuneiform writing that listed more than 250 ***** plants (Changeaux 1998). Today, there has been a resurgence of interest in such medicin*****l plants as many people seek alternatives to the cures being touted by mainstream medicine. There h***** been some controversy, though, over ***** regulation and use of many of these plant materials, particularly in view of the lack of quality control ***** ***** wide variety of applications for which such ********** are ***** 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 their collection and sale is going to the indigenous peoples who rely upon them as a prim*****ry source of medicines. In an effort to shed some light on this controversy and to determine whether medicinal plants are, in fact, efficacious, this paper provides a review of the relev*****nt literature concern*****g medicinal ***** to describe their history, traditional uses and their applications *****. A summary of the research and findings will be presented in the conclusion.

***** and Discussion

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


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