Documentation of uses of traditional plants needed

Muscat, Aug 8 – The demand created by traditional medicine should encourage researchers to focus on documentation of traditional uses of plants and ecological aspects associated with such practices, said Oman Animal & Plant Genetic Resources Center (OAPGRC). OAPGRC says the sustainable management of traditionally used medicinal plants will not only help conserve important biodiversity, but also help sustain local Omani communities. The centre also called upon the regulatory authorities to put in place appropriate measures to protect public health by ensuring that herbal medicines are safe to use.

This has become all the more important in view of increase in the consumption of herbal medicines in the last 30 years, said OAPGRC. “Safety, therefore, is a major concern vis-à-vis herbal remedies,” it said. Despite the “positive perception” about the use of herbal medicines and alleged satisfaction with its health outcomes, safety remains a concern, says OAPGRC, adding the use of herbal medicinal products and its supplements has increased with not less than 80 per cent of people worldwide relying on them. “Many medicines we take for granted today are derived from plants”, which gives users of herbal medicine more confidence about their safety.

At the same time, it is important to note that herbal products have been made available to consumers without prescription in most cases, which could pose a health risk. Several reasons have been attributed to the increased self-medication through the use of herbs by patients and individuals. These include difficulties in discussing medical problems, lack of confidence in handling health information and fear of likely wrong diagnosis.

Mai al Abria