The present volume is the first in the series on the Treatise on Indian Medicinal Plants. The series is likely to be completed in six volumes. Volume 1 covers one hundred and eleven plants which have been classified according to the latest botanical nomenclature and is profusely illustrated, both coloured and black and white, which will help in the proper identification of plant species. The write-up on each plant includes selected vernacular names, occurrence and distribution, botanical description, therapeutic uses and important chemical constituents with references. The chronological development in Ayurvedic system of medicine and its relevance to modern materia medical has been discussed in the introduction. The distinctive feature of Vol. 1 is the inclusion of authentic Sanskrit slokas (wherever available), both in Devnagri and Roman scripts, explaining the therapeutic uses of individual plants. Since the basic concepts of Ayurvedic terms are not literally the same as those used in modern medicine these have been retained in the English translation of the slokas. The explanatory notes of these terms have been dealt with in a separate section. Glossaries of Sanskrit/Ayurvedic and Medical terms have been incorporated and the list of books referred to has been given for ready reference.
This is the second in the series of six volumes on the treatise on Indian medicinal plants. It incorporates one hundred and twenty species of dicotyledonous flowering plants. By and large, the features and the pattern presented in the earlier volume have been maintained. In addition, attempts have been made to specify the parts from which the important chemical constituents have been isolated. As in the previous volume, each plant is illustrated either with photograph or line sketch. To make the volume self-contained, the basic concepts, glossaries of the various terms used and the books referred to have been repeated with appropriate revision along with the list of plant species dealt with in volume 1.
The third volume in the series of the Treatise on Indian Medicinal Plants incorporates one hundred and twenty one species of dicotyledonous flowering plants belonging to twenty seven families. The same features and pattern of presentation of the earlier volumes have been maintained. Only the well-characterized chemical constituents have been included with the parts they have been isolated from wherever available. As before, each plant has been illustrated either by a coloured photograph or a line sketch. In order to make the volume self-contained, the basic concepts, glossaries of various terms used, the books referred to, the indices of plant species and common vernacular names of the earlier volumes have been repeated along with new additions wherever necessary.
In the first three volumes on "The Treatise on Indian Medicinal Plants" classified informations have been given on 352 plant species used in the traditional system of medicine. This volume describes 127 plants covering twenty one botanical families maintaining the same pattern of presentation as in previous volumes. In order that the readers may be conversant with the Ayurvedic terminologies, the chapter on the "Basic Concepts of Ayurveda" has been retained also in the present volume. Index of plant species of volumes 1-3 have also been incorporated. Several plants included in this volume are well-known sources of herbal drugs and drug intermediates. A few deserve to be highlighted.
The Treatise on Indian Medicinal Plants, a compilation of the indigenous drugs of plant origin used in Ayurveda is being published in six volumes. Of these, four volumes describing four hundred and seventy nine plant species have already been published. The present volume describes one hundred and sixteen species comprising ninety three genera belonging to eleven families. Some of the plants described in Volume 5 are well-known sources of drugs used today, for example, emetine, the antiamoebic drug from Cephaelis ipecacuanha (Brot.) A Rich., quinine, an antimalaria and the antiarrythmic quinidine from Cinchona ledgeriana L., the cardiotonics, digitoxin and digoxin, from Digitalis lanata Ehrh. and Digitalis purpurea L. Several other sources of Ayurvedic drugs with their established activities which have been described in this volume are Andrographis paniculata (Burm.f.) Wall ex Nees., the liver tonic, which yields the bitter principle, andrographolide; Adhatoda vasica Nees. Which produces the bronchodilator, vasicine; Nardostachys jatamanis DC., the source of the anticonvulsant and the antihypertensive jatamonsone, and Picrorhiza kurroa Royle ex Benth. Containing the mixture of glycosides, kuttkoside and picroside, used as antihepatotoxic and antipyretic agent. The widely used menthol occurring in Mentha arvensis L. finds extensive application in pharmaceutical industry. The psycllium husk and seeds of Plantago ovatum Forsk. Have received wide acceptance as a laxative. The seed oil from the economic plant, Helianthus annus L. is prescribed for patients suffering from hypercholesterolemia. The current trend of research on development of drugs from natural products used in traditional medicine has been highlighted in previous volumes.
Special mention may be made of forskolin, the drug from Coleus forskohlii (Willd.) Briqs., for its adentylate cyclase activating property. This compound is considered to be an invaluable tool for proper understanding of cyclic AMP-dependent physiological processes. It has been reported that forskolin reduces preload and after load of the heart due to myocardial contractivity arising from its positive inotropic action without affecting myocardial oxygen consumption. Nevertheless, its association in the decrease of the "superoxide burst" brings in the concept of oxidant-antioxidant balance in the body. Antioxidants play a vital role in preventing degeneration by scavenging free radicals. This property is exhibited by many plant products such as vitamins A, C and E and polyphenols like flavonoids, tannins and tannic acids. In volume 5, the same features have been followed as in earlier publications. Efforts have been made to cover modern nomenclature of the plant species and the chemical literature up to 1995 as far as practicable. Further chemical, pharmacological studies on the plant and clinical trials of plants and their products used in traditional medicine described in this volume are likely to produce more bioactive compounds in future.
About the Author:
Dr. Satyesh Chandra Pakrashi (b 1930), Ph.D (Calcutta) D.Sc. (Hc. Kanpur), formerly Director and CSIR Distinguished Fellow, Indian Institute of Chemical Biology, Kolkata and Senior Scientist, Indian National Science Academy is now the Principal Investigator of a USERS project of DST for writing books at the S.N. Pradhan Centre for Neurosciences, Calcutta University. An extramural teacher, Department of Biochemistry, Calcutta University, for thirty-five years, he was also a National Lecturer, University Grants Commission amongst others. A student of Prof. (Mrs.) Asima Chatterjee (Kolkata), Dr. Pakrashi also worked collaborated with Professors Carl Djerassi (Wayne), K. Bieman (MIT) and R.B. Woodward, N.L. (Harvard) in USA. Dr. Pakrashi has made outstanding contributions on the Chemistry of Natural Products, particularly alkaloids and terpenoids, authored -180 original research papers in reputed international journals besides a number of patents, review articles and chapters in several monographs. He is the Co-editor of the six-volume "The Treatise on Indian Medicinal Plants" jointly with Prof. Asima Chatterjee and the Co-author of the recently published book, "Ginger-A Versatile Healing Herb". He is also the Chief Editor of "Medicinal and Aromatic Plants of Red Laterite Region of West Bengal" and other publication of the West Bengal Academy of Science & Technology jointly with the State DST and DBT, Govt. of India. He is, inter alia, a fellow of the Indian National Science Academy and National Academy of Sciences, Past General President, Indian Science Congress Association (1994-95), Past President, International Federation of the Associations of Advancement of Science and Technology, Canberra, Australia (1996-98) and West Bengal Academy of Science and Technology (1997-2000).