National meet on medicinal plants

Staff Reporter

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Exhibition of medicinal plants, posters and herbal preparations, scientific session and a seminar on traditional knowledge in health will be the highlights of the two-day fifth national congress on medicinal plants that begins in the capital on December 4.

"Evidence-based herbal drugs: prospects and challenges" will be the theme of the Congress being organised jointly by Oushadhi, Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment and the Medicinal Plants Board of the Union Government. The congress will be inaugurated by Governor R. L. Bhatia at a function to be held at Priyaradarsini planetarium, president of the congress and chairman of Ousadhi Vithura Sasi and chairman of the programme committee and managing director of Oushadhi K. K. Chandran told a press conference here.

Chief executive officer of the National Medicinal Plants Board B . S. Sajwan and director of the Botanical Survey of India M. Sanjappa are among those scheduled to attend. Around 150 delegates from the country are expected to participate in the congress.

The scientific session will be inaugurated by the director of the NBRI, Lucknow, P. Pushpangadan, on December 5. As many as 20 papers based on the theme and related subjects will be presented in the scientific session. The former vice-chancellor of the University of Kerala B. Ekbal also attend the congress.

The exhibition is being organised by the TBGRI, Agriculture University, Government Ayurveda College and the KFRI. Minister for Forest Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan will inaugurate the valedictory function.

The herbal industry is billed to become the country's second biggest revenue earner after IT industry. According to a note prepared for the congress, there is urgent need to strengthen the extremely productive theoretical foundations of Indian Systems of Medicine for efficiently generating thousands of herbal formulations.

Herbal medicine is still used by about 75-80 per cent of the world population, mainly in developing countries for primarily health care because of better cultural acceptability, better compatibility with human body and lesser side effects.

Well-documented traditional use, single plant medicines, medicinal plants free from pesticides and heavy metals, standardisation based on chemical activity profiles and safety and stability had been suggested as the basic requirements for gaining entry into developed countries.