The third edition of this admirable book which is now being presented has been anxiously awaited by students and practitioners of Ayurvedic medicine.
The Indian systems of medicine both Ayurvedic and Tibbi even now give medical relief to a very large section of the population in our vast country especially in the rural areas. These are also believed to be effective by a large section of the urban population and even by the intelligentsia. These systems have continued to be useful and popular in spite of the fact that during the British regime Western Medicine was chiefly the system of medical relief and Indian Medicine was not encouraged.
The Indian Materia Medica contains about 2,000 drugs, the majority of which are of vegetable origin. During the time of the Great Ashoka the Hindu Materia Medica contained about 700 vegetable drugs which were used by the Vaidyas. They were mostly cultivated in gardens all over the country and time of collection, the parts used, methods of curing and preserving were well known. Since the number of drugs commonly used in those days was not large no elaborate descriptions were given with regard to their identification.
The student of medicine used to live with his Guru in the Gurukulas and received practical training in connection with the identification and proper time of collection. In the course of time more and more vegetable herbs growing in different parts of India were gradually included in the indigenous Materia Medica but unfortunately the standards of purity and their correct identification did not keep pace with expansion. From a perusal of the pages in the two volumes of this book readers would get the feeling that the author has tried to supply missing information.
The author has dealt with the section of herbs and their use in medicine in a very informative and at the same time lucid manner which will appeal even to practitioners of western medicine. It is needless to emphasize the rich herbal resources of the vast sub-continent and its varying climatic zones with variety of vegetation ranging from the alpine to the tropical regions.
Their exploitation in the interest of the suffering humanity is very important. This book will have served its purpose if the attention of all interested in the art of healing is attracted to this aspect.