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 plants for ********** medicinal 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 ***** shelves of the Assurbanipal library held tablets in cuneiform writ*****g that listed more than 250 ***** plants (Changeaux 1998). Today, there has been a resurgence ***** interest in such medic**********l plants as many people seek alternatives to the cures being touted by mainstream medicine. There ***** been some controversy, though, over the regulation and use of many ***** these plant materials, particularly in view of the lack of quality control and the wide variety ***** applications for which such ********** are ***** used today. Furthermore, there is much money at stake in the medicinal 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 some light on this c*****troversy *****d to determine whether medicinal plants are, in fact, efficacious, this paper provides a re***** of the relev*****nt literature concern*****g medicinal plants to describe their history, traditional uses and their ***** *****. A summary ***** the research and findings will be presented in ***** conclusion.

***** and Discussion

Background and Overview. Plants that are used for medicinal purposes, rather ***** ***** food, are 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 *****day have been developed ***** such herbs (Freeman & Lawless 2001:388). In fact, ***** observers suggest that modern medicine would be light-***** ahead of where it is today if mainstream practitioners had taken the ***** to investigate the countless reports of the *****nefits of ***** plants; 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 been 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 ***** years, it ***** believed that each medicinal plant was a divine gift from God that also contained some type of "sign" that ***** intended to provide humankind with the benefits of the plant's healing effects. "This belief was referred ***** as the 'doctrine ***** signatures,'" Freeman ***** Lawlis note, and "*****, herbals are still used for their healing abilities, and herbal phyto***** is the fastest growing alternative therapy in the United States" (2001:388). Given this increased popularity, it is little wonder that there has been some m*****understanding ab***** how and when such *****

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