Monday, April 21, 2014

More and more people are becoming interested in traditional medicine nowadays, worldwide. It is a highly effective and advanced method of treatment with a deep insight to the root causes of diseases and its value or the effectiveness has not diminished with the time. WHO had earlier estimates that the usage of traditional medicine in developing countries is 80%. Through the ages in the rural areas of countries such as India, Indonesia, Nepal and Sri Lanka, a large proportion of the population used traditional medicines to meet their primary health care needs. Sri Lankan population still relies on traditional healers for day-to-day health care.

Sri Lankan Traditional Medicinal and Treatment Methods are quite similar to the Ayurvedic methods; but have many Indigenous herbs, compounds and even techniques integrated as well. People believe that these have been developed, practiced and even improvements added on from time to time, since the country was inhabited. The Traditional Physicians of Sri Lanka use a wide variety of herbs to prepare various medicines for different ailments. Some of the valuable medicinal plants used therein are considered as weeds by agriculturists, from their focal point of view. This study was undertaken to make the world understand the traditional believes and value of herbs and to persuade them to protect and propagate the cultivation of herbs with due consideration and proper planning. 

Large numbers of herbals are used as medicines by Ayurvedic and traditional physicians in Sri Lanka. Entire plant or different parts of the plants such as roots, root bark, stem, stem bark, flowers, leaves, fruits and seeds are used as medicine. They are used in treatment of various diseases such as worm infestations, dysuria, polyurea, renal calculi, neuralgia, wounds, jaundice, impotency, diarrhoea, dermatitis, sinusitis, haemorrhoids, muscle sprains, pyrexia, spleen and liver disorders. However, Sri Lanka’s efforts to conserve its medicinal plants resource and the related indigenous knowledge base have fallen short of expectations. The failure to control illicit land clearing and encroachments and the use of destructive and wasteful methods of extraction from the wild are responsible for the depletion in our medicinal plants resource base. And the rich indigenous knowledge, held by practitioners of traditional medicine, is being progressively eroded in the absence of a determined effort to document and preserve it for posterity.

Medicinal plants played a very important role in the livelihoods of the communities. The herbal medicinal product sector has been identified as one of the key areas of promoting; exports in Sri Lanka. During the past decade, herbal product consumption has increased in developed countries. Many segments of the population have changed into herbal products resulting from increased health awareness, harmful side effects and product withdrawal of chemical products creating more market 'opportunities both locally and internationally. The demand for herbal products exceeds the supply in the major international markets in Europe, Japan and USA. However, non-availability of proven records for clinical, microbiological trials and quality tests limited the marketability of herbal products as herbal medicinal products to obtain the Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) certification.

From the researchers' point of view, the usage of herbal remedies in managing disorders is useful because of long cultural history of utilization and the current renewed interest in natural products to sustain health globally. As a way recognizing the values and roles of traditional medical knowledge in health care provision, further research into the efficacy and safety of herbal remedies in disorders is precious in Sri Lanka and beyond. More so, the establishment of rapport between relevant government department in Ministry of Health, modern health workers through collaborative and networking ventures with traditional healers under close supervision and monitoring of herbal treatments is noble. Also herbal-derived remedies need a powerful and deep assessment of their pharmacological qualities and safety issues due to the large and growing use of natural-derived substances all over the world, which cannot rely only on the tradition or supposed millenarian beliefs; explanatory and pragmatic studies are useful and complementary in the acquisition of reliable data both for health caregiver and patients.



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