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Khilendra Gurung E-mail: email@example.com Introduction: Nepal harbors rich flora due to the presence of wide range of geographical and climatic conditions. The floral diversity comprises about 6500 species of flowering plants and 28 species of gymnosperms (Chaudhary, 1998 and Press et al., 2000). Nature has endowed it with over 700 species of medicinal plants (DPR, 1976) and over 200 species of aromatic plants (Adhikary, 1989). The presence of ecological zones ranging from tropical to alpine has created the potentiality for the cultivation of a wide variety of exotic species of essential oil bearing aromatic plants in Nepal (Rawal and Pradhan, 1996). Essential oils are chemical compounds with an odoriferous nature which are highly volatile, insoluble in water but soluble in organic solvent. They are obtained from herbs, flowers, woods, leaves and seeds including spices, by steam distillation or solvent extraction. 'Essential' refers to the presence of an essence or odor and the term 'oil' is used due to the retention of oil spot when they are placed on a transparent paper. The families Pinaceae and Cupressaceae among the gymnosperms; Apiaceae, Myrtaceae, Rutaceae, Lauraceae, Lamiaceae, Asteraceae (dicots) and Poaceae, Araceae, Zingiberaceae and Amarylidaceae (monocots) among angiosperms, account for a large number of aromatic plants bearing essential oils of commercial importance. The utilization of essential oil is very extensive and covers a wide range of human activity. Some of the important uses are as; ingredients in the manufacture of soaps, cosmetics, perfumery, health care herbal products, confectionary, aerated water, syrups, disinfectants, insecticides, fungicides, paper writing pads, greeting cards etc. Present status: The world's total production of essential oil is estimated at about 1,00,000 to1,10,000 tons (Farooqi and Sreeramu, 2001). But, Nepal shares a negligible percentage of essential oil in terms of production despite its rich aromatic floral diversity. Most of the essential oil produced is exported, while few amounts are marketed within the country. This oil is very expensive and earns good revenue in terms of foreign exchange. Most of the essential oil bearing aromatic plants are distributed throughout the country. While few plants are cultivated in farmlands, community forests and in marginal lands. Major essential oil produced and these bearing plants of Nepal are summarized in Table 1. Table 1: Essential oil bearing plants and their distribution in Nepal
SN 1 2 3 Essential oils Abies oil Anthopogon oil Artemisia oil Botanical name / Parts used Abies spectabilis / Needles and young twigs Rhododendron anthopogon / Leaves and young twigs Artemisia vulgaris / Leaves and flowering tops Active constituents Pinene, limonene α-pinene, β-pinene, limonene and δ-cadinene Thujone, cineol, pinene Distribution in Nepal WCE, alt, 21003600m WCE, alt.33005100m WCE, alt.10002400m
4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34
Basil oil (French) Calamus oil Camphor oil Cedar wood oil Chamomile oil Cinnamon oil Citronella oil Clove oil Coriander oil Corn mint oil Cumin oil Curcuma oil Eucalyptus oil Garlic oil Ginger oil Hemlock oil Jasmine oil Jatamansi oil Juniper oil Lemon oil Lemongrass oil Marigold oil Orange oil Palmarosa oil Peppermint oil Pine oil Rose oil Sage oil Sandalwood oil Sugandhakokila oil Tagetes oil
Ocimum basilicum / Flowering herbs Acorus calamus / Rhizomes and roots Cinnamomum camphora / Leaves Cedrus deodara / Woods and saw dust Matricaria chamomilla / Flowers Cinnamomum tamala / Leaves and twigs Cymbopogon winterianus / Partially dried grass Syzygium aromaticum / Buds and leaves Coriandrum sativum / Crushed ripe seeds Mentha arvensis / Flowering herbs Cuminum cyminum / Ripe seeds Curcuma zedoaria / Rhizomes Eucalyptus camaldulensis / Leaves and young twigs Allium sativum / Crushed bulbs Zingiber officinale / Rhizomes Tsuga dumosa / Needles and twigs Jasminum officinale / Flowers Nardostachys grandiflora / Rhizomes and roots Juniperus communis / Berries and needles Citrus aurantifolia / Peel of fruits Cymbopogon flexuosus / Partially dried leaves Calendula officinalis / Flowers Citrus reticulata / Peel of fruits Cymbopogon martini / Partially dried grass Mentha piperita / Flowering herbs Pinus roxburghii / Needles and twigs Rosa spp. / Fresh petals Salvia officinalis / Dried leaves Santalum album / Heartwoods Cinnamomum glaucescens / Berries Tagetes minuta / Fresh flowers
Methyl chavicol (70-88%), linalol Beta-asarone (up to 80%), calamene, calamol Cineol with pinene Cedrol, cadinene Chamazulene, azulene (115%) Eugenol (80-96%), cinnamaldehyde (3%) Citronellol (upto50%), geranial (upto45%) Eugenol (60-90%), eugenol acetate Linalol (55-75%), decylaldehyde Menthol (70-95%), menthone (10-20%) Cuminaldehyde (upto60%), pinene, terpinene Tumerone (60%), zingiberene Cineol (70-85%), pinene Allicin Gingerin, gingenol, zingiberene Pinene, limonene, bornyl acetate Benzyl acetate, linalol, cisjasmone Bornyl acetate, isobornyl valerianate Pinene, myrcene, sabinene Limonene, pinene, camphene Citral (65-85%), myrcene (1225%) Calendulin Limonene, myrcene, camphene Geraniol, farnesol Menthol (29-48%), menthone (20-31%) Alpha pinene (50%), beta pinene (25-35%), carene (2060%) Citronellol (20-35%), nerol (30-40%), geraniol Thujone (upto42%), cineol, borneol Santalols (90%), santene, teresantol Methyl cinnamate, cineol Tagetones, ocimene, myrcene
WCE, alt, 3001500m (cultivated) WCE, alt, 3002700m C, alt, 1300-1500m W, alt, 2400-3700m CE, alt, 500-1500m (cultivated) WCE, alt, 4502000m WC, alt, 400-2000m (cultivated) WCE, alt, 3001000m (cultivated) WCE, alt, 2001500m (cultivated) WCE, alt, 3002000m (cultivated) WCE, alt, upto800m (cultivated) CE, alt, 700-1500m (cultivated) CE, alt, 400-1500m (cultivated) WCE, alt, 10002600m (cultivated) WCE, alt, 1501200m (cultivated) WCE, alt, 18003500m CE, alt, 800-1800m (cultivated) WCE, alt, 32005000m WCE, alt, 30004100m CE, alt, 600-1500m (cultivated) WCE, alt, 3001100m (cultivated) CE, alt, 300-1500m (cultivated) CE, alt, 600-1500m (cultivated) CE, alt, 900-2000m (cultivated) WCE, alt, 12002700m (cultivated) WCE, alt, 6001800m WCE, alt, 12003000m (cultivated) WCE, alt, 5001500m (cultivated) W, alt, 200-900m WE, alt, 2000-2500m WCE, alt, 9002000m (cultivated)
35 36 37 38 39
Thyme oil Valerian oil Vetiver oil Wintergreen oil Zanthoxylum oil
Thymus linnearis / Leaves and flowering tops Valeriana jatamansii / Rhizomes Vetiveria zizanioides / Roots and leaves Gaultheria fragrantissima / Leaves and twigs Zanthoxylum armatum / Dried fruits
Thymol and carvacrol (up to 60%), cymene Bornyl acetate, isovalerate Vetiverol, vitivone, terpenes Methyl salicylate (upto98%), gaultheriline Linalol (55-75%), methyl cinnamate, cineol
W, alt, 2500-3800m WCE, alt, 15003300m CE, alt, up to 300m WCE, alt, 12002600m WCE, alt, 11002500m
Where, W: West; C: Central; E: East and alt: Altitude Source: Lawless (1995); Press et al., 2000
Extraction method of essential oil: The basic methods of extraction of essential oil are distillation, enfleurage, maceration, solvent extraction, expression and supercritical fluid extraction. However, distillation has always been the most widely practiced methods of essential oil extraction. Distillation basically is the separation of components of a mixture of two or more liquids by virtue of differences in their vapor pressure. Distillation process of essential oil: If essential oil is immiscible, steam distillation is employed. In this process, the distillate separates out as a layer of oil, distinct from a layer of water. But, if water and various components of essential oil mixture are miscible, it becomes necessary to use rectification and fractionation techniques. In order to isolate essential oil by the first process, steam is subjected into aromatic materials. Under the influence of steam, essential oil is freed from the glands of plant tissue. Both water and essential oil vaporized, condensed by an adjacent condenser and drained into a receptacle, where oil separates automatically above and below water, depending upon its density. Steam is continuously charged until all the essential oil is vaporized and the distillate formed in the condenser is essentially pure water. In the second process, involving rectification and fractionation, the mixture of essential oil produced by the foregoing method is isolated and purified. The process involves a gradual increase in the temperature of the mixture, where more volatile compounds in the oil distil first and less volatile compounds later. Several distillation processes may be necessary to attain the desired degree of purity in the distillate. Storage of essential oil: Most essential oil deteriorate through oxidation and polymerization upon prolonged exposure to air and light. Therefore, producers should store essential oil in closed, completely filled containers and perfumers. In particular, essential oil should be stored in sealed bottles in dark and cool cellars. Without such precaution essences become less intense, grow darker and more viscous, develop a bleaching effect and eventually changes into a brown, odorless resin. Mode of action of essential oil: Essential oil have three distinct modes of action with regard to how they interrelate with the human body; pharmacological, physiological and psychological. The pharmacological effect is concerned with the chemical changes that take place when 3
an essential oil enters the bloodstream and reacts with the hormones and enzymes etc. The physiological mode with the way in which an essential oil affects the system of the body, whether they are sedated or stimulated etc. The psychological effect takes place when an essence is inhaled and an individual responds to its odor. Methods of application of essential oil: Essential oil can be used simply and effectively at home in a variety of ways, both for their scent and for their cosmetic and medicinal qualities. They can be added to the bath and used to make individual beauty preparations. They can also be employed in the treatment of minor first aid cases and to help prevent and relieve many common complaints as headaches, cold and coughs, period pains and aching muscles. Constraints: It is seen that the rate of growth of aromatic plants in relation to their economic prospects is not satisfactory. It is due to the following constraints: • Although diverse climate and soil exist in the country, the possibilities of raising large-scale plantations of aromatic plants on scientific lines has not been explored. • Interspaces in the perennial plantations, vast stretches of forests and barren, waste and marginal lands are lying fallow, when they can be gainfully used to raise aromatic raw materials. • Difficulties of processing in remote areas and transportation of the essential oil bearing plants to the nearest processing sites. • Complex and restrictive process to obtain permits for collection, trade and export of aromatic plants and essential oils. • Royalties for the aromatic plant products produced on private land and local taxes imposed by Village Development Committee and District Development Committee. Future prospects: The demand for essential oil is increasing day by day with the advancement of education and prosperity in the country. Fragrance plays a vital role in securing consumer's acceptability in almost every product used. The following are the reasons for the scope of essential oil bearing plants: • Essential oil is now a basic raw material for consumer products meant for mass consumption. • The interest in aromatics for their therapeutic value is increasing due to the worldwide scare of the side effects of synthetics, also the revival of interest in herbs. • Essential oil has the potential of being very safe insecticide. It has been found very effective and safe for the production of food grains. • The cultivation and processing of aromatic plants is labor intensive and hence generates employment locally. • The by products of aromatic plants can be used as a mulching material, fuel, cattle feed or ploughed back to soil to improve fertility. • Private entrepreneurs can register the enterprises based on aromatic plants to process, sell and export of the products.
Conclusion and Recommendations: Nepal being rich in biodiversity has ample scope for sustainable and rational utilization of its natural resources as essential oil bearing aromatic plants. Its favorable climatic zones should be utilized for commercial cultivation of exotic as well as proven indigenous plants. The following are recommendations for the proper management of aromatic plants: • It is very necessary to develop agro technology for the domestication of naturally occurring aromatic plants, basically those species exploited heavily. • The collectors need to be trained regarding pre and post harvest technique to minimize wastage and losses. • It is an opportune time to make organized efforts in the introduction of several new aromatic species of industrial utility and encourage their co-operative production and utilization in fast growing native industry as well as for expert. • Product diversification and manufacture of finished formulations as health care herbal products and cosmetics should be encouraged. References: • Adhikary, S R.1989. Development of Essential Oils in Nepal. In: Proceedings of the National Workshop on Chemical Investigation and Processing of Aromatic Plants, Sept. (11-18), 1989, Kathmandu. • Chaudhary, R P.1998. Biodiversity in Nepal: Status and Conservation. S. Devi Saharanpur (UP), India and Tec Press Book, Bangkok, Thailand. • DPR.1976. Medicinal Plants of Nepal. Department of Plant Resources, HMG/N, Kathmandu. • Farooqi, A A and B S Sreeramu. 2001. Cultivation of Medicinal and Aromatic Crops. Universities Press (India) Limited, India. • Lawless, J.1995. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils. Element Books Limited, UK. • Press, J R, K K Shrestha and D A Sutton. 2000. Annotated Checklist of the Flowering Plants of Nepal. The Natural History Museum, London. • Rawal, R B and J Pradhan. 1996. Essential Oil Bearing Plants and Their Commercial Processing in Nepal. In: Green Energy, Scientific Magazine, 2 (1): 43-50.