Experts in plant biology admit that Nilavembu (Andrographis Paniculata) is a fast-growing species found abundant in Tamil Nadu and is also now raised as an alternate crop.
The cost of raw herbal medicines had increased by 10 to 20 per cent and there is an immense potential to be tapped in cultivating herbs particularly those essential for treating corona and dengue and some of them are procured from Maharashtra and Chattisgarh, said Dr P Parthiban, joint director, Arignar Anna Institute of Indian Medicine, Arumbakkam.
Due to the massive consumption of Kabasura Kudineer and Nilavembu, concoction farmers are showing renewed interest in planting native herbs like Nilavembu and Kadukkaai (Terminalia Cherbula).
And there is a good demand for Keezhanelli (Phyllanthus Niruri) and the current rates are promising. Farmers should be advised accordingly to raise the medicinal crops and the spice cultivation had also increased in TN this season.
The price of cardamom which is a basic component in Indian medicine is now easily available and the wholesale prices of first quality have reduced to Rs 1000 per kilo and there are days where the top quality is also sold at Rs 4000 per kilo, Dr Parthiban added.
Tamil Nadu is blessed with plant biodiversity and its’ time to patent the reverse pharmacology practices and the documentation of these plants are very important, explains taxonomist D Narasimhan, who is also a professor in plant biology and floristic research.
Theni hills, Kolli Hills and hillocks in western ghats are the natural source of herbal medicine and there should be more conservation and protection practices for our herbal plants. Currently, the herbal plants used for kabasura kudineer and Nilavembu juice are made of the common ingredients and there is no threat of over-extraction or extinction, but there are several endangered medicinal plants in the list. There is an immediate need for protecting such native plants for the future generation, warned the veteran botanist adding that the medicinal plants have again and again proved to be a non-polluting industry.
“Adathodai, karum seeragum, kaattu nellikaai, karpoora valli, thoothuvellai, musumusu keerai, kuppamenia, sirutheku and vellampazham are some of the common plants that were consumed regularly, but due to the globalisation and the intervention of pharma industries people have forgotten the basic medicinal plants,” said KVRK Thirunaranan, founder, The Nature Trust.
People should return to the consumption of native herbal plants as part of their regular diet and these plants have anti-fungal and anti-viral properties in them.