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The Global Importance of Plants as Sources of Medicines and the Future Potential of Chinese Plants

  • James S. Miller

Abstract

It has been estimated that more than 25% of prescription pharmaceuticals contain plant-derived ingredients yet only a small percentage of the plants in the world have been evaluated for potential pharmaceutical use. Increased efforts to survey plants as sources of new drugs in recent years have stepped up the pace of the discovery of new bioactive compounds from plants, and many programs will continue to contribute to this in the near future. With an estimated 30,000 species of plants, many with a long history of use as traditional medicines, China has played an important role in the development of presently used pharmaceuticals. Chinese plants also have promise to contribute useful medicines in the future. Several factors are contributing to the current interest in Chinese plants, particularly those used in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Recently programs have been initiated for clinical trials of herbal products from Chinese species. In addition, advances in pharmaceutical screening and evaluation of plants against a broader range of targets is increasing the potential for the discovery of new pharmaceutical and nutritional products from Chinese medicinal plants. Plants have always played an important role as a source of medicines both in a western sense and in a traditional sense. This review will cover the historical importance of plants in human health care and will examine three areas in which Chinese plants may be of particular importance in the future. New trends in natural products research have great importance for the potential use of Chinese plants for both the discovery of novel bioactive compounds and also the scientific validation of traditional Chinese medicine.

Keywords

Traditional Chinese Medicine Herbal Product Natural Product Research Chinese Medicinal Plant Chinese Plant 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • James S. Miller
    • 1
  1. 1.Missouri Botanical GardenSt. LouisUSA

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