Human and Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (MAPs)

Medicinal and Aromatic Plants in everyday life

From the ancient times, Medicinal and Aromatic plants hold a prominent position in people everyday life. In particular, these plants were used in traditional medicine for their diuretic, antihypertensive and even contraceptive properties, causing less side effects on patients.

Nowadays the amount of knowledge and usages known for Medicinal and Aromatic plants have been significantly increased due to the detection of bioactive compounds contained, such as flavonoids and secondary metabolites. These metabolites are extremely important – mainly concerning pharmaceutical industry – because of their contribution to drug development those which either derive solely from plants or drugs having more complicated synthesis (synthetic medicines), whose active compound derives from a molecule similar in composition to those extracted from plant tissues. Furthermore, as for essential oils that can be extracted from Medicinal and Aromatic plants, these can be potentially used not only individually but in combination with other substances thus enhancing their efficiency.

As for human nutrition, Medicinal and Aromatic plants can be used as spices on dishes, as tisanes, as well as diet supplements. Furthermore, these can be potentially used in food industry either to improve nutritional value of some foods or as natural food preservation additives.

Medicinal and Aromatic Plants and biodiversity

Unfortunately, many Medicinal and Aromatic plant species are still on the verge of extinction, especially those which are commercially exploitated. This phenomenon continues to exist due to anthropogenic actions detrimental to the environment, such as forest areas degradation and the rapid development of agricultural practices. Moreover, Medicinal and Aromatic plants collection in a wrong manner (plants uprooting) is a habit that contributes to the gradual extinction of these species. Also, the extent of this phenomenon is affected by abiotic factors, such as the annual rainfall distribution which is crucial for plants survival.

Proposals for Medicinal and Aromatic Plants conservation

As previously stated, despite the fact that Medicinal and Aromatic plants exploitation continues, there are ways that society can eradicate -or at least limit- the extent of this continual situation, mainly protecting them by any means.
Specifically, in these means are included the cultivation of Medicinal and Aromatic plants more extensively in places away from their biotopes that thrive, as well as the erection of botanical gardens accessible to the general public in order the collection of these plants can be feasible limiting degradation of these biotopes that plants prosper. Also, Medicinal and Aromatic plants can be potentially cultivated by farmers, because of the high income that offer to them, combined with their potential use in crop rotation systems.

Furthermore, there have been recorded many scientific attempts focused on the preservation of Medicinal and Aromatic plants, mainly using tissue culture techniques especially in plant species showing great financial interest. It is interesting to note the potential usefulness of gene bank existence due to the capability to preserve plant propagules in case these plants species extinct.

Beyond all those ways of Medicinal and Aromatic plant conservation mentioned above, there are more ways to protect these plants indirectly, by informing general public either by professionals that are familiar with the usage of Medicinal and Aromatic plants in alternative therapeutic methods or by media.

Για να διαβάσετε αυτό το άρθρο στα Ελληνικά κάντε κλικ εδώ: Τα Αρωματικά – Φαρμακευτικά φυτά και ο άνθρωπος

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