Our most intimate and direct contact with plants is through food and medicinal herbs of enormous diversity. A whole range of herbal medicines and nutraceuticals are now being consumed the world over. Development of Quality Plant Material (QPM), micropropagation of valuable species and development of herbal teas are steps towards harnessing the medicinal value of herbs. Additionally, sensitizing young minds on the significance of these silent saviours, through development of herbal gardens in schools, could reap rich dividends.

Fast modern lifestyle of today has made many of us oblivious of the rich, abounding gifts of Nature — the green world of plants, which truly deserve our appreciation. The exciting benefits of plants with medicinal importance have been known since time immemorial. With time-tested benefits of herbal remedies, today there is an increasing inclination towards holistic medicine, which is based on treating the body on the whole by natural ways. It is not surprising that about 80% of world population depends on traditional medicine for their primary healthcare needs.

Bioenergy therapies, therefore, act as an alternative to the mainstream medicine. Working at the mental, emotional and psychological levels, they help to rebuild tissues and establish equilibrium at all levels. Healing of all chronic conditions, particularly the psychosomatic disorders, is possible. Stress, anxiety, depression, phobias, addiction, trauma, chronic fatigue, sleep disorder etc., find a relief. Thus, bioenergy therapies heal from within, give relief from illness and make a person constitutionally stronger to fight any illness.

The growing concern about the side effects of many synthetic drugs is a signal towards harnessing the medicinal properties of herbs and making natural medicines. As research into the active constituents of herbs continues, an increasing number of ancient treatments and herbal formulae are being brought back into widespread use. Development of Quality Plant Material (QPM) and micropropagation of valuable species are, therefore, significant activities.

Different formulations of Herbs to Health Green Tea developed by World Healthal Trust comprise unique combinations of time-tested effective herbs. These include herbal teas that promote blood circulation and relieve stress; promote anti-diabetic activity; ease cough and cold; boost the immune system; help in reducing weight and support elderly women in fighting menopausal blues.

Spreading awareness about medicinal plants among school children through development of herbal gardens creates understanding of traditional use of herbs, inculcates eco-consciousness, plant conservation and sensitizes student to protect endangered species.

The QPM developed by World Healthal Trust comprises medicinal plants that are used in many home remedies for common ailments. These include: Zingiber officinale (Ginger), Coriandrum sativum (Coriander), Allium sativum (Garlic), Mentha piperita (Peppermint), Thymus vulgaris (Thyme), Aloe vera, Ocimum sanctum (Basil), Ocimum basilicum (Sweet Basil), Cymbopogon citratus (Lemon grass), Catharanthus roseus (Periwinkle), Curcuma longa (Turmeric), Casia augustifolia (Senna), Lawsennia iermis (Mehndi), Cinnamomum zeylanicum (Dalchini), Bryophyllum pinnata (Patharchur), Tinospora cordifolia (Giloy), Stevia rabavdiana (Stevia), Mimosa pudica (Touch Me Not), Cinnamom umtamala (Tejpatta), Plantago ovate (Isabgol), Moringa olifera (Sohanjana), Hibiscus rosa sinensis (Chinese Hibiscus), Murraya koenigii (Curry leaves), Piper nigrum (Black pepper), Capsicum frutescens (Green chillies), Phyllanthus emblica (Amla), Thuja occidentalis (Thuja), Carissa carandas (Karonda), Amomum subulatum (Black cardamom) and Elettaria cardamomum (Green cardamom).

Various herbs are known for their astounding beneficial properties. Basil and Sweet Basil are considered as the ‘queen’ of medicinal plants as they are used for treating ailments from common cough to lowering blood sugar levels and lowering cholesterol levels. Aloe is bestowed with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that help in treating various skin disorders and ulcerative conditions. Isabgol is considered as a natural cleanser of stomach and provides relief from acidity, cleanses colon, reduces weight, promotes digestion and prevents heart diseases. Stevia is a natural sweetener. Coriander consists of different healing agents to treat urinary tract infections, liver diseases and arthritis. Black cardamom works as an antiseptic, anaesthetic and antioxidant, while the green cardamom works as an anti-inflammatory, detoxifying and anti-blood clotting agent. Fresh leaves of Lemongrass help in reducing cholesterol levels. Lemongrass oil is popularly used to treat various skin diseases. The flowers of Hibiscus have the property to regulate menstruation and stimulate blood circulation. Curry leaves consist of various nutrients which act as appetizer while having anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. Chillies have excellent antioxidant properties and they boost the immune system. The leaves of Patharchur are very effective in the treatment of arthritis, hypertension, jaundice and piles. The leaves of Mehndi act as astringent and have anti-inflammatory properties. The flowers of Periwinkle are considered to cure cancer due to the presence of alkaloids namely, vinblastine and vincristine, besides reducing blood sugar levels and lowering blood pressure. The leaves of Giloy have various medicinal properties as they act as anti-pyretic and anti-arthritic, while also being a blood purifier, immune-modulator, antioxidant, and a restorative tonic. The fruits of Karonda are a rich source of Vitamin C and they help in treating wounds, and also work as appetizer and astringent. The fruits of Amla are a good source of Vitamin C and they help in maintaining eyesight, reduce blood sugar, prevent heart diseases, enrich hair growth and boost immunity.

Developing the QPM of these medicinal plants is indeed the stepping-stone towards promoting the use of herbal medicines, in the form of simple plant-based home remedies and herbal teas, for staying fit and healthy.