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close this bookEthnoveterinary Medicine in Asia - General Information (IIRR, 1994, 145 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentCollaborating organizations
View the documentIntroduction to the workshop process
View the documentHow to use these manuals
View the documentIdentification, collection and preparation of medicinal plants
View the documentApplication of herbal medicine
View the documentCommon units of measurement
View the documentEstimating live weight
View the documentSimple surgical techniques
View the documentTreating castration wounds
View the documentGlossary of english and botanical names
View the documentGlossary of medicinal plants
View the documentEthnoveterinary question list
View the documentGlossary of technical terms
View the documentParticipants' profile
View the documentReferences

Identification, collection and preparation of medicinal plants

Identification

Make sure that you know exactly which plant to use to treat a problem. The names of plants vary from one place to another. Different plant species may have the same local name. The botanical name of each plant used in these manuals is given with each remedy, except for the most common plants. Here are some things to check to make sure you use the right plant.

Type of plant

· Approximate size of the plant.
· Type: tree, woody, shrub, vine, grass.
· The position of flower or fruit in the plant (such as on the ton of stem. in the branches).

Leaves

· Approximative size
· Shape (number of leaflets or lobes, with ridges or not) and color.
· Texture (smooth or rough, with hair or not).
· Position and arrangement of the


Leaves

Flowers

· Type of flower; type of inflorescence.
· Size, color and shape of flowers and bud.


Flowers

Fruits

· Approximate size.
· Shape, color when young or ripe.
· Seed present or not.
· Size, shape and color of seeds.


Fruits

Bark

· Present or not.
· Color and texture (smooth or rough).

Collection

Know which materials to collect and what time to collect them. The content of the active ingredient may depend on the plant part, stage of growth, season of harvest, method of handling during collection, physical condition of its collection place and storage.

Leaves and stems are best collected during daytime and when the plant is about to bloom.

Flowers that have a smell are best collected when the flower buds are just about to open and in the morning when the sun is still low. Other flowers should be collected when they are in full bloom. Sometimes, collection should be done in batches since flowers do not bloom at the same time.

Unless the recipe says that unripe fruits will be used, fruits should be collected when they are ripe. Fleshy fruits which deteriorate rapidly should be gathered when they are somewhat ripe, preferably in the early morning or at nightfall.

Seeds are usually collected from thoroughly ripened fruits. Some dry-textured fruits fall off the plant or split open easily when fully ripened. As a result, seeds are easily scattered and lost. It is advisable to collect such fruits as soon as they start ripening.

Barks should be collected when the plants are in bloom or in vigorous growth. Barks should be collected from the trunk and branches.

Roots and other underground parts (e.g., rhizome, rootstock, stem tuber, bulb and stolon) are best collected when the plant is in full growth.

# Reminder

Avoid collecting plants in a way that kills the plant or damages its surroundings. Before collecting any, determine first how much of the plant and what parts are needed to prevent wastage. Collect only the plant parts you need. For instance, if you need only the leaves, take only the leaves and only the number that you need. Medicinal plants should be conserved to ensure their continuous supply.

After collection

Sorting and cleaning

Clean plant parts of soil and dust.

Plants that may have been exposed to pesticides should not be used. If you have no other choice, they should be washed properly in clear water. Clean and wash plants as quickly as possible to avoid damaging them.

Drying

Air-drying is the best way of drying herbal plants. Drying at high temperatures will destroy plant ingredients. Spread the plant materials thinly and evenly over an old newspaper, a bamboo mat, or chicken-wire screen. Put in the shade until the materials are dry. Drying can be done through artificial heat, especially in the rainy season. Heating devices vary from one place to another.

Cutting, trimming, grinding, chopping

These are done for various reasons:

· To increase the efficacy of the plants materials.
· To allow more active ingredients to go into the preparation.
· To reduce the toxicity or adverse effects of certain drugs.
· To shorten the duration of drying.
· To make the plant material more convenient to store.

Storing

Medicinal plants should be properly stored to preserve their quality. Otherwise, they may be attacked by insects, mites and fungus. Storage can also ensure the continuous supply and availability of the materials whenever they are needed. Dried plants should be kept in covered plastic containers or bottles. These should be covered tightly and kept in a cool, dry place away from sunlight. Label the container properly with the name of the plant and the date when it was collected. Do not use any stored herbal plant which has molds or is discolored.

Preparing herbal medicine

Plant materials can be either fresh or dry, depending on the need and preparation. If dried plants are to be used as a substitute for fresh parts, adjust the quantity or the weight since water is lost during drying.

Decoction

Boil the plant parts in water, preferably for 15-20 minutes from the time the water has started boiling. Some healers recommend boiling the plant materials until the original volume of the water is reduced to one half. Some plants are soaked or moistened. Ideally, plant materials should be decocted twice in order to extract their active ingredients thoroughly. Strain or filter the liquid either while it is still hot or after cooling.


Decoction

Infusion

Pour hot or cold water onto the fresh or dry plant material and allow it to stand. Cover the preparation tightly to stop important ingredients from being lost. The length of time needed to prepare an infusion depends on the type of plant material and whether the water is hot or cold. In general, hot infusions need to stand for only 5-15 minutes; cold infusions may require up to 24 hours. Filter the preparation (and allow hot liquid to cool) before administering to the sick animal.


Infusion

Powder

Pound and grind the dried plant materials into coarse, intermediate or fine particle sizes. Sift the powder (once or several times) through coarse or fine sieves to get the required particle size.


Powder

Juice

Pound the fresh plant materials, then pass them through a cheesecloth or any fine piece of cloth in order to get the juice. Or you may just squeeze the plant parts to extract the juice.


Juice

Poultice or paste

A poultice is a moist, semisolid preparation which is applied directly on the skin. Prepare it by grinding the plant materials (either fresh or dry), sometimes with a little oil, water, molasses, honey, or other liquids.


Poultice or paste

Bolus

A bolus is made by pounding fresh or dried plant material' and adding sufficient binding agent such as honey or molasses. Roll it or shape it with your hand to make a round or oval ball


Bolus