Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Herbal Plants in India and Sri Lanka

The evergreen forests of India and Sri Lanka are home to an amazing variety of rich medicinal plants, herbs and spices. The Western Ghats including the Agasthya kudam in Kerala and the Horton plains of Sri Lanka are a veritable treasure trove of this immense wealth. The climatic conditions and the nature of the soil give both Sri Lankan and Kerala Ayurveda formulations a unique potency.

The eco- system existing in the central high lands of Sri Lanka resembles those found in the Shola forests of the Western Ghats, including Agasthya kudam in Kerala. Agasthya kudam, extending over an area of 1300 sq km is probably the richest source of herbal wealth in the world.

A majority of the rare medicinal herbs and spices found in Kerala can also be seen growing in abundance in the Horton plains. 2500 varieties of medicinal plants have been identified in the forests of India and over 1400 varieties in Sri Lanka. The march of Ayurveda science over the years was to a large measure the result of an uninterrupted flow of medicinal herbs from these virgin forests.

From the earliest of times, medicinal herbs and spices from South India always commanded a premium in the International market due to their potency. This was a direct result of the climatic conditions and the nature of the soil prevalent in the South. As the eco- system existing in Sri Lanka and the Western Ghats are similar, Ayurveda formulations prepared from medicinal plants and herbs from Sri Lanka also have the same potency as those of Kerala.

“Conservation International”, a leading International organization dealing with biodiversity has designated Sri Lanka and the Western Ghats as one of the “25 Global Biodiversity Hot spots”

But deforestation and wanton destruction of these medicinal plants over the years resulted in a drastic reduction in their availability. Most Ayurveda manufacturers in the present day resort to cultivation of medicinal plants to sustain their production and to guarantee an uninterrupted
supply in future. Advances in bio technology have given rise to tissue culture cultivation. This has also helped augment the present day availability of these medicinal herbs.
The evergreen forests of India and Sri Lanka still continue to be the ultimate resort as the deep interiors may still hold the required quantities and varieties that modern day man so eagerly needs.
The Rhododendron tree, Neem tree, Stevia, Aswagandha, Amala, Aloe Vera ,Basil, Sidda plant, Sandal wood, Malabar Nut, turmeric, etc are but a few of the invaluable medicinal plants and herbs that the forests of the Western Ghats and Sri Lanka hold.


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