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Medicinal Herb

Medicinal Herb herbaceous plants that possess medicinal and therapeutic properties or exert beneficial pharmacological effects on the animal and human body. However, the scope of this term is not limited to the herbaceous plants only. Medicinal herbs possess some special qualities or virtues that make them medicinally important due to the presence of some secondary metabolites like alkaloids, glycosides, tannins, volatile oils, minerals and vitamins in their cells and tissues.

Some common medicinal herb
Biskatali, Polygonum lanatum
Basak, Adhatoda vasica
Kurchi, Holarrhena antidysenterica
Neel Nishinda, Vitex trifolia

In a broader sense, medicinal herbs also include those plants or plant parts that are used (i) for medicinal purposes in galenical preparations (such as infusion, decoctions, tinctures, etc) either by modern or traditional systems of medicine, (ii) for extraction of pure substances either for direct medicinal use or for the synthesis of medicinal compounds (such as the plants which yield diosgenin, used for the synthesis of the sex hormones). They also include some food, spice and perfumery plants that are used medicinally in either modern or traditional systems of medicine.

Although the medicinal herbs possess some special virtues, they are not of any different appearance or grow in any particular area or habitat. In fact, they look like all other normal plants and grow in the same environment and remain naturally distributed in all vegetation and in all areas. For instance, out of a large number of plants growing side by side in a common habitat only one or two may possess medicinal properties. But possession of such properties does not bring about any change in their general morphology. Still they are special and different from their neighbours as they possess one or more medicinal properties.

The number of medicinal herbs included in the Materia Medica of traditional medicine in this subcontinent at present stands at about 2000. About 450 to 500 of such medicinal herbs have so far been enlisted as growing or available in Bangladesh. Herbal medicine is widely used in Bangladesh in traditional healthcare system such as Ayurvedic, Unani, Hekimi and other forms of folk treatments. [Abdul Ghani]

See also herb; herbal medicine; medicinal plant.