Introduction

Medicinal plants have been identified and used throughout human history. Plants have the ability to synthesize a wide variety of chemical compounds that are used to perform important biological functions, an to defend against different diseases.

Medicinal plants are not only a major resource base for the traditional medicine & herbal industry but also provide livehood and healthe security to a large segment of Inian population.

India has 15 Agroclimatic zones and 17000-18000 species of flowering plants of which 6000-7000 are estimated to have meicinal usage in folk and documented system of edicine, like Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and Homoeopathy.About 960 species of medicinal plants are estimated to be in trade of which 178 species have annual consumption levels in excess of 100 metric tones.

The omestic trade of the AYUSH industry is of the order of Rs. 80 to 90 billion (1US$ = Rs. 50). The Indian medicinal plants and their products also account of exports in the range of Rs. 10 billion.

There is global resurgence in traditional and alternative health care systems resulting in world herbal trade which stands at US$ 120 billion and is expected to reach US$ 7 trillion by 2050. Indian share in the world trade, at present, however, is quite low.

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