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Focus on medicinal herbs, students told

Staff Reporter

CHENNAI: Colleges and universities must help spread the wealth of the knowledge "we have on the Indian systems of medicine."

An integrated approach will ensure that the excellent knowledge that Indians have of the traditional systems of medicine is made commercially viable, said experts at a one-day workshop on herbs and medicine at Meenakshi College for Women on Tuesday.

S.P. Thyagarajan, Vice Chancellor, University of Madras, who inaugurated the workshop urged students to take a "vertical approach" in their dissertation and focus on one medicinal plant instead of taking several plants and giving a mere overview of the plants. Most of the information that the student would provide in such a "horizontal approach" is already common knowledge, he said. He delineated the various aspects that could be taken up.

This could include soil preparation, identifying and choosing the correct variety of a plant, authenticating the source of the plant and updating the knowledge by making it available to all in a language understood universally, he said.

Indian systems of medicine are documented in Sanskrit or Tamil, languages not understood by many. The Union Government had taken up a project to spread the knowledge and to better understand the systems, which are described as only alternative systems of medicine, he said.

M.F. Farooqui, special commissioner of Indian Medicine and Homoeopathy, said while in the 19th century scientists wanted to control nature, in the 20th century scientists realised that nature is above everything. Now, people are looking to the past to draw inspiration for the future.

He called on the students to work on improving the knowledge base on various plants and herbs grown in the country.

Scientific validation of the efficacy of medicinal-plant based drugs would be necessary in this era of scientific research, he said.

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