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INDIA—THE LAND AND THE PEOPLE MEDICINAL PLANTS Dr S. K. JAIN Deputy Director Botanical Survey of India, Calcutta NATIONAL BOOK TRUST, INDIA ‘New Dewar First published 1983 (Saka 1890) ‘Second revised edition 1975 (Saka 1897) © DrS.K. Jay, 1968 Rs, 10.75 Sole Distributors ‘THomsoy Press (INpta) Lip. Olympus Building 29, Netaji Subas Marg Delhi-1 10006 PUBLISHED aY THE DIRECTOR, NATIONAL MOOK TRUST, INDIA, NEW BELIT-110016 AND PRINTED BY THE NATIONAL PRINTING WORKS, 10, BAKYAGAS), BELHI-110006, PREFACE ‘The words Medicinal Herbs often lead to the thought of some miraculous and supernatural cures. Out aacient literature has references not only of plants ceputed to cure dificult and incurable diseases, but also of plants related with many magical properties. For example, we reud of certain sees ‘treated with oracles (Mantras) ad thrown on somebody to entice him, certain roots chewed to increase longsvity of life, oF « few drops of juice of & plant put in the mouth of the dead (0 bri In olden days, a medicine preseribed by « hermit (fegir) earned more favour dad reputation thea the one based on some test and experience, It is possible such beliefs suited the conditions and mental attitudes of those times. As times changed, and man started weighing everything on the sealos of reasoning, several of the earlier beliefs and despite their golden pust, the use of medicinal herbs declined. Today, the importance end uility of medicinal herbs are a subject more of argument and speeches, than of actt tional work, Why such a sitgation? When developed countries were busy rescarebiag on theiz native plants, and exploring newer uses and newer sources of useful consti- tuents, we only talked of our glorious past, our miracle-herbs, and our wealth of past knowledge: we remsined complacent. On the other hand, we weleomed the increasing numbers of allopathic drugs with such entizusiasm that we graduslly lost interest in Ayurvedic and Yunani medicines of even proven efficacy. Most of us never tried to know, of even think, iFany of our medicinal plants also had real useful properties. Until about fifty years ago, few of our medicinal plants had been subjected to scientific testing and experimentation.and it was difficult