|Medicinal Plants: An Expanding Role in Development (World Bank, 1996, 32 pages)|
Despite all the progress in synthetic chemistry and biotechnology, plants are still an indispensable source of medicinal preparations, both preventive and curative. Hundreds of species are recognized as having medicinal value, and many of those are commonly used to treat and prevent specific ailments and diseases.
At least four out of every five of those plants are collected from the wild, most from the floras of developing countries. Medicinal properties may be present in one or all of their parts: root, stem, bark, leaf, flower, fruit or seed.
While in industrialized countries health providers have reduced their dependence on the Plant Kingdom, the majority of developing countries still rely on herbal remedies. However, in a complete turn-around, modern science and Western medicine are getting interested in the healing herbs once more (Eisenberg, et. al., 1993; Grunwald, 1994). Indeed, "phytomedicines", are beginning to link traditional (homeopathic) medicine and modern (allopathic) medicine. As a result of the new openness from leading industrialized nations, a wealth of technical information is now coming available, notably from sophisticated laboratories who are analyzing herbal ingredients and their effects with the latest technologies.