Tremendous potential for medicinal plants in Salalah

SALALAH, June 5 – World Environment Day on June 5 is a reminder to all of us to protect local plants, keep safe the environment for current and future generations and conserve it as much as possible. Dhofar, mainly suburban Salalah, figures prominently in the vegetation map of Oman as 800 plant species out of a total of 1,200 identified species in Oman are found here.
Among these plants there are several rare medicinal plants, which are yet to be documented in terms of their value. Some experts find the land natural home of many medicinal plants with high potency and purity.
An expert in Ayurveda claims to have identified 60 such plants and admits that there are many more which need to be documented and protected properly.
Dr Kapil Sreekumar has done extensive study on Dhofari medicinal plants and claims that the potency of medicinal quality of some of the plants are high in comparison to the same species found in his native place in India.
He cited an example of an experiment that he did on a herbal along with his team to find that there is a particular herb available in Dhofar which can be used for the treatment of dandruffs. “The outcome was exactly as mentioned in texts for the properties of a perfect oil. The smell was penetrating and the result was much faster than expected,” he said.
Dr Kapil put emphasis on the commercial value of these plants and called for their proper protection and domestication by doing organised plantation. “There has been huge demand for such plants because globally people are going for pure medicinal plant products. The commercial values of medicinal plants would increase in coming years. For example Gum Arabic (Acacia Senegal) is used for inflammation of stomach. Its market value is very big. So is Satavari (Asparagus racemosus). In certain Ayurvedic decoctions we use more than 30 drugs and in tablets more than 50 drugs. Commercial value of plants that are listed as extinct is even higher.”
He called for proper identification of these plants and creating awareness among the local people to protect them not only for the sake of environment but also as a source of employment. “These plants can generate lots of money if tapped and marketed properly,” he said.
Dr Kapil called for taking help of elders in identifying these plants, as some of them keep very good knowledge about their medicinal value and some of them still use these plants in their own limited way. “The older generations in Dhofar were using some plants for health remedies. I have heard from many patients that they have been using Aloe Vera and turmeric to treat swelling or insect bites.”
Most of such plants are found on the mountain areas known locally as Jebels. They are abundantly available during the Khareef season. Jebel Shahalnoot is very rich in such plants.

By Kaushalendra Singh