This book contains
information about the use of common plants to cure common ailments. It deals
with range of problems from the common cold and sunburn to chronic problems
like diabetes and gastric troubles, using materials available at home. It is
popular knowledge gained from the experience of generations. The suggested
treatments are simple, inexpensive and easy to follow. They are recommended
only as primary health care measures. The book is beautifully illustrated with
line drawings of each plant to facilitate easy identification.
This book will be useful as
a first-aid instructional manual, using the available materials on hand. As the
literature on this subject is fragmentary and not available in one place, it
would be of great help to the interested reader. This book will also be a handy
guide to rural and indigent people who cannot afford modern hospital treatment.
It can be used in Colleges
of Ayurveda, and by pharmacists, exporters,
collectors and botanists engaged in the field of medicinal plants.
Nair is a Professor of Botany, and retired from Government
Victoria College, Palakkad as Head of Department. He
is now associated with Arya Vaidya
Pharmacy, Coimbatore, as Taxonomist. He has identified several new species from
local flora. He has a number of published research papers and four books to his
credit and is a member of the Indian Association of Taxonomy. He has provided
hundreds of illustrations of medicinal plants for books and other publications.
Though a self-taught artist, he has won recognition for his nature paintings.
His earlier book titled Controversial Drug Plants is also published by
We now live in the age of
globalization and this opening up of the gates of world nations has created new
opportunities, new challenges. Ayurveda has also gone
global, and this will pose hitherto unasked questions, and hitherto unfaced challenges. If Ayurveda
has to stand firmly, maintaining its originality and ideology and practices in
tune with the changing expectations and demands, then many problematic areas
have to be tackled and many queries have to be answered. Among the many
problematic areas, the standardization of drugs is the most complex and the
most difficult. In order to maintain efficacy as well as
public acceptance, Ayurvedic drugs need
standardization at all stages-starting from identification of the source plants
to the finished product, including storage and shelf-life.
The major stumbling block is
the non-uniformity in the identification of medicinal plants, and this one
aspect makes Ayurveda non-appealing to most people in
the developed countries and to a large section of educated Indians. There is a
great North-South divide in this area: the source plants of many raw drugs used
by practitioners in North India are different from those used by Ayurvedic physicians in the South. Even in the South,
Kerala has developed a unique system of its own. Very often, the various plants
used are from different genera and families, with no relationship with one
another. Does our commonsense permit us to accept such a system? The very
credibility and reliability of the system is at stake because of this confusing
It is said that God created
pharmacy in nature when he created man, animal and other forms of life. The
ancient rishis might have surveyed, studied, tasted
and tested various plants in nature and their experience and findings took
shape in the form of the great Ayurvedic texts of our
country. The knowledge was passed on from generation to generation over the
past centuries, from the ancient to the modern times. However, it seems that
only the information was passed on, the spirit of enquiry was lost somewhere on
the way. For a long time the need for further research, including validation,
was not realized or accepted by Ayurvedic pundits,
and it is only in recent times that research is being given its rightful place.
Ayurvedic education has been fashioned after modern
medicine and, as a result, the system has switched over to prescription drugs
manufactured by commercial establishments. There is no direct link between the
physicians and the plants. The manufacturers know only the names and not the
plants, and depend totally on the suppliers, and these suppliers depend on the
collectors, and everyone is driven by only one motive-profit. In such a
profit-driven chain there is ample scope for misrepresentation, miscollection, and deliberate adulteration; and the ignorance
of one is exploited by the other. Even officially, many raw drugs have more
than one accepted source plant that are taxonomically
unrelated. Finally, what goes into the manufacturers' godowns
and what goes into the medicine is a subject that needs serious study.
The age-old question comes
up here-who will bell the cat? Who will tell us which is the plant and which is
not. Belling this cat needs meticulous, dedicated
investigation. That is exactly what Prof Vasudevan
Nair has done in this book. He has boiled down his vast experience with
medicinal plants for the past many years into logical conclusions on the source
plants of one hundred raw drugs that are widely used in Ayurveda.
Prof Vasudevan Nair is a naturalist, a wonderful
teacher of taxonomy, and a researcher who carries forward the torch of enquiry,
spreading the light of knowledge to those who care to tread the path. This book
will be immensely useful to the students and practitioners of Ayurveda and to those who are involved in the manufacture of
Nair is a believer of the karma yoga; he does his chosen duty with dedication,
and then silently attends to his work. Such people are rare, and rarer are
teachers who still carry forward
spirit of enquiry, even at his present age and under ill health. I salute him!
I take it as a great
privilege and fortune to write this introduction to Prof Vasudevan
Nair's book. I do hope that this is only the first volume and the second and
the third will come out in the years to come. Let the Almighty bestow on him
good health to do this chosen karma for the benefit of the age-old system of Ayurveda and for the benefit of all those who depend on and
believe in this system.
Herbal Home Remedies is an
informative book that enables us to realize the medicinal properties of the
plants around us and their simple usage for the common ailments. Before going
into the details of the book, let me write a few lines about the author.
Professor Vasudevan Nair, a noted plant taxonomist, is a good teacher
and artist and hails from a vaidya family. The
Professor has involved himself in the study of herbs and indigenous medicine
right from his childhood. A post-graduate in Botany, he has enriched the
younger generation with his experience for a period of 35 years as a teacher.
His artistic excellence and depth in taxonomy is unveiled by his illustrations
in the Compendium of Medicinal Plants', which is an exhaustive work on
Presently, he is related to
the indigenous medicine industry as a consultant taxonomist for the Arya Vaidya Pharmacy (CBE) Ltd.
In this book, the Professor
has effectively detailed a good number of simple preparations using common
herbs. The preparations are very scientific and can be safely used by laymen.
Very often, we are unaware of the medicinal properties of the common herbs, and
even for a trivial ailment we run to physicians. This book will be a boon,
especially to the common villagers who are denied of or do not have easy access
to medical facilities.
I feel privileged to write a
Foreword to Professor Vasudevan Nair's
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