REMEDIES STILL IN USE

Since India gained its independence in 1947, the Indian Government, recognising the services rendered by traditional medicine, has given a new impetus to these practices. The study and practice of traditional medicine has been regulated, and training is provided at present by a large number of schools with associated hospitals and care centres. This movement has also benefited traditional veterinary medicine, which has undergone a revival (2). For example, India still provides leading elephant specialists. Several Indian laboratories now produce preparations from ancestral recipes, which are packed under modern conditions and sold throughout India for the treatment of domestic animals. Traditional formulations produced on a large scale include tonics, fortifiers and digestives, as well as antiparasitic and antifungal products. Many of these medicaments are polyvalent, due to the multiplicity of ingredients used in their preparation. For example, a stomachic and tonic containing 59 ingredients is produced by a company in Bangalore. This preparation is recommended for treating digestive disorders (anorexia, dyspepsia, constipation, etc.) in cattle, sheep, goats, horses and dogs, in doses proportional to the size of these animals. The principal ingredients of vegetable origin include the following: Aegle marmelos Corr., Aquilaria agallocha Roxb., Butea monosperma (Lam.) Kuntze, Centratherum anthelminticum Kuntze, Curcuma longa L., Ferula narthex Boiss., Moringa oleifera Lam., Piper longum L., Punica granatum L., Terminalia bellerica Roxb., Terminalia chebula Retz., Tinospora cordifolia (Willd.) Miers, Trachyspermum ammi (L.) Sprague and Zingiber officinale Rosc. These ingredients were prescribed in Âyurvedic medicine for their aperitive, digestive, stomachic, carminative or anthelmintic properties. Another example is provided by an ointment against sprains and sores, prepared from the following plants: Abrus precatorius L., Acorus calamus L., Celastrus paniculatus Willd., Hyoscyamus niger L., Moringa oleifera Lam., Nardostachys jatamansi D.C., Ocimum sanctum L., Saussurea lappa C.B. Clarke and Vitex negundo L. To these oils are added extracts of seven other plants: Anacyclus pyrethrum D.C., Colchicum luteum Baker, Curcuma amada Roxb., Gloriosa superba L., Litsea sebifera Pers., Myrica nagi Thunb. and Nerium odorum Sol. All these plants have been investigated and their active principles are known (1,6). Nardostachys jatamansi is often combined with oil of henbane (Hyoscyamus niger) as an antineuritic. Ocimum sanctum and Vitex negundo are used as wound dressing. In traditional medicine, the root of Curcuma amada is applied to contusions and sprains. Extract of Colchicum luteum is applied externally as an analgesic. Many plants of the Âyurvedic pharmacopoeia have since been shown to be effective. Listing and identification of the many plant species used in preparing remedies described in the ancient medical literature was accomplished during the 1970s. Veterinary applications of these medicines were also taken into account. Despite the increase in chemical and pharmacological studies in recent years (8,13,28), there is still much to be done in evaluating the resources of India with regard to medicinal plants which may be useful in veterinary medicine.

 

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