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From ancient days onwards, people have depended greatly on the traditional systems of medicine, which were concentrated in specific regions. These systems of medicines concentrated on the use of the most popular herbs and spices, which are common to the specific geographic locations and were used effectively to treat many serious disorders. Ayurveda, commonly referred to as the Elixir of life in the Indian system of medicine, has gained many accolades from the time it was used to cure medical ailments. Moreover, Ayurveda is one of the oldest traditional health care systems in the world, with more than 2000 medicinal plants in its Materia Medica, which highlights health promotion, illness prevention, delivers actions to address sickness, and also deals with pharmaceutical science. As per Ayurvedic systems, life is sustained by a tripod of mental, physical and spiritual factors constituted by body (Sharir), senses (Indriyas), mind (Satwa) and spirit (Atma), and the healing principles of Ayurveda focus on curing the three doshas, vata, pitta and kapha. Ayurvedic preparations are available in numerous versatile delivery platforms like choornas, kashayams, Ghrita, aasava, tablets, decoctions, etc. Ayurveda also relies on the concept of polyherbal formulations to make the final formulations.

Ancient literatures have cited the use of herbs/spices, which are of importance in common kitchen use and also for treating many medical disorders. These herbs and their bioactive components act by multiple mechanisms of action to heal disorders. Various plants and their parts are used in different Ayurvedic and Siddha formulations, in particular, turmeric, ginger, boswellia, ashwagandha, pepper, bacopa, amla, galangal, cissus, etc. are the most important species, with lengthy therapeutic practice dating back 5000 years. These spices and herbs have enormous amounts of bioactive components, which have shown various biological activities. Several drugs have captured the global market through the exploration of traditional medicine and ethnopharmacology. Some of these herbs and their important formulations have been clinically validated to heal multiple disorders.

This book provides insights into the most popular herbs and spices, and their bioactive components responsible for the medicinal properties of different herbal formulations and their clinical evaluation. The book highlights chemistry, biological activities and therapeutic applications of significantly used herbs and spices in various Ayurvedic formulations and their utilization and applications in different dietary supplements, and nutraceutical, pharmaceutical and functional foods, and also discusses the advantages, concerns, and challenges of integrating Ayurvedic principles. Furthermore, the book also highlights the interdisciplinary research approach involving traditional knowledge and evidence, history of ethnopharmacology, molecular biology, pharmacoepidemiology and other advanced research areas for the scientific basis to integrate Ayurveda into modern drug discovery.

The book comprises 15 chapters, each written by experts in their respective field and each chapter having a comprehensive bibliography. The editors have attempted to collect and organize as much information as possible about the chemistry, biological activities and therapeutic applications of selected medicinal plants in Ayurveda and they would like to place on record their gratitude to the various chapter authors for their wonderful efforts. This book is directed at researchers, scientists, clinicians and industrialists working in the areas of Ayurveda and herbal medicine, experimental and molecular medicine and general biomedical sciences. We hope that this book will inspire all those who are involved in the research, production, processing and marketing of medicinal plants in Ayurveda for the growth and upgrading of Siddha and Ayurveda.

Augustine Amalraj

Sasikumar Kuttappan

Karthik Varma A. C.

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