Importance of Aromatic Plants

Madhu Tandon
Emerson has aptly said that nature is beautiful because it is alive, moving, reproductive. If we observe nature carefully, then we will find that there is growth and development in living things which is contrasted with the static or deteriorating state of the vast majority which is purely man made. Therefore, it is nature which attracts all. The flora and fauna add to the richness of nature. The term flora and fauna was coined by biologists and this refers to a collection of plants and animal species in a given geographical location. In a nutshell, flora refers to plant life whereas fauna refers to animal life.
Further, flora means the plants naturally occurring in a particular area. Some examples of flora include grasslands, forests, flowering and non-flowering plants and trees etc. Likewise, fauna means the animals naturally living in that area and some examples of fauna include birds, animals, fish, insects etc. The aromatic plants are also found in abundance in nature. It is estimated that out of 1500 species of Aromatic plants found and explored in the universe so far, only a little over 5oo species have been studied so far. The Aromatic plants are a special kind of plants used for their aroma and flavour. They are also used for medicinal purposes as they contain numerous medicinal properties. It is said that aromatic compounds are found in plants viz in root, bark, wood, foliage, flower, seed, fruit etc. The Medicinal and Aromatic plants are purely botanical raw materials, which are also referred to as herbal drugs. They are primarily used for therapeutic, aromatic and/or culinary purposes as components of cosmetics, medicinal products, health foods and other natural health products. Some of the well known aromatic herbs are- parsley, chervil, chives and tarragon and also provencal herbs- thyme (ajwain k Flowers), dill, basil (tulsi), rosemary, savory, fennel(saunf), wild marjoram, bay leaves (Tej Patta), coriander, mint (pudina) and even lavender. These herbs can also be classified on the basis of their intensity of flavour. One of the huge benefits from these medicinal and aromatic plants is that they help human beings to overcome many difficult illnesses, such as contagious disease, cancer and others etc. Likewise, dietary supplementation of aromatic plants is believed to improve performance by stabilizing the microbial eubiosis in the gut through provision of plants. The aromatic plants contain wide range of secondary metabolites and these compounds are being successfully utilised by humans for different applications for example certain aromatic plants such as alloy, golden sea, barberry and chirayata are used as mild tonics as the bitter taste of such plants neutralises the toxins in human body. Aromatic plants provide essential oil which is extracted for various applications in industries. For example, the extracts of these aromatic plants are used in cosmetics for flavouring and fragrance purposes. Likewise, these plants are of great utility in spices, pesticides and repellents making. Even some herbal beverages are prepared from the extracts of these plants.
These plants have been used from pre historic times to present day as it is believed that the herbal medicine can give soothing effects to human body without causing any side effects to human life. Thus, we can say that aromatic plants are used not only for health purposes but at the same time, the use of these plants in our day to day life also help cultivate and develop new habits and values in human life vis a vis ensuring protection to natural resources which are essentially required for sustainability and preservation of our culture, environment and mankind in the long run.
(The author is a Senior Lecturer in Botany at BHSS, Nowabad, Jammu.)