Importance of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants in Human Life

  • Mansour Ghorbanpour
  • Javad Hadian
  • Shahab Nikabadi
  • Ajit Varma


The plant kingdom includes a high number of species, producing a diversity of bioactive molecules with different chemical scaffolds. Over the centuries, the use of medicinal and aromatic plants has become an important part of daily life despite the progress in modern medical and pharmaceutical industry. They are now being progressively cosmetics, foods and teas, as well as alternative medicines. The growing interest in herbs and their ability to offer economical uses is a part of the movement towards greener economics and life styles. This movement is based on the belief that the plants have a vast potential for their use as a curative medicine. Medicinal and aromatic plants will also maintain their importance in the search for new, valuable sources of drugs and lead compounds. In view of the steadily rising demands on these important natural resources, attention should be paid to the sustainable forms of production and utilization.


Medicinal and aromatic plants Phytochemicals Traditional-/modern medicine 


  1. Abdul Rasool Hassan B (2012) Medicinal plants (importance and uses). Pharmaceut Anal Acta 3:10Google Scholar
  2. Akinyele BO, Odiyi AC (2007) Comparative study of the vegetative morphology and the existing taxonomic status of Aloe vera. J Plant Sci 2:558–563CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Ashihara H, Crozier A (1999) Biosynthesis and metabolism of caffeine and related purine alkaloids in plants. Adv Bot Res 30:117–205Google Scholar
  4. Ashour M, Wink M, Gershenzon J (2010) Biochemistry of terpenoids: monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes and diterpenes. In: Wink M (ed) Annual plant reviews: biochemistry of plant secondary metabolism, 2nd edn. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  5. Asres K, Sporer F, Michael Wink M (2004) Patterns of pyrrolizidine alkaloids in 12 Ethiopian Crotalaria species. Biochem Syst Ecol 32:915–930CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Barnes J, Anderson LA, Phillipson JD (2001) St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum L.): a review of its chemistry, pharmacology, and clinical properties. J Pharm Pharmacol 53:583–600CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bernays EA, Cooper Driver G, Bilgener M (1989) Herbivores and plant tannins. Adv Ecol Res 19:263–302CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bernhoft A (2010) Bioactive compounds in plants; benefits and risks for man and animals. The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, OsloGoogle Scholar
  9. Borchardt JK (2002) The beginnings of drug therapy: ancient Mesopotamian medicine. Drug News Perspect 15:187–192CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Butler MS (2004) The role of natural product chemistry in drug discovery. J Nat Prod 67:2141–2153CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Capasso F, Gaginella TS, Grandolini G, Izzo AA (2003) Phytotherapy a quick reference to herbal medicine. Springer. ISBN 978-3-540-00052-5CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Chiranjibi P, Sudhakar R, Dhal NK, Rashmita D (2006) Some phytotherapeutic claims by tribals of Rayagada district, Orissa, India. Ethnobotanical Leaflets 10:189–197Google Scholar
  13. Cragg GM, Newman DJ (2013) Natural products: a continuing source of novel drug leads. Biochim Biophys Acta 1830:3670–3695Google Scholar
  14. Croteau R, Ketchum RE, Long RM, Kaspera R, Wildung MR (2006) Taxol biosynthesis and molecular genetics. Phytochem Rev 5:75–97CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Davidson MP, Sofos JN, Branen AL (2005) Antimicrobials in food, 3rd edn. Taylor & Francis, Boca Raton, p 720Google Scholar
  16. Dewick PM (2002) Medicinal natural products: a biosynthetic approach, 2nd edn. Wiley, ChichesterGoogle Scholar
  17. Draelos ZD (2003) Topical anti-inflammatory agents. Cosmetic Dermatol 16(10):41–42Google Scholar
  18. Endress ME, Bruyns PV (2000) A revised classification of the Apocynaceae. Bot Rev 66(1):1–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Esposito ER, Bystrek MV, Klein JS (2014) An elective course in aromatherapy science. Am J Pharm Educ 78(4):79CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Fiore C, Eisenhut M, Ragazzi E et al (2005) A history of the therapeutic use of liquorice in Europe. J Ethnopharmacol 99:317–324CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gad HA, El-Ahmady SH, Abou-Shoer MI, Al-Azizi MM (2013) Application of chemometrics in authentication of herbal medicines: a review. Phytochem Anal 24(1):1–24CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Ghorbanpour M, Hatami M, Khavazi K (2013) Role of plant growth promoting rhizobacteria on antioxidant enzyme activities and tropane alkaloids production of Hyoscyamusniger under water deficit stress. Turk J Biol 37:350–360Google Scholar
  23. Glaser DA (2004) Anti-aging products and cosmeceuticals. Facial Plast Surg Clin North Am 12:363–372CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Griffin WJ, Lin GD (2000) Chemotaxonomy and geographical distribution of tropane alkaloids. Phytochemistry 53:623–637CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Guçlu-Ustundag O, Mazza G (2007) Saponins: properties, applications and processing. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 47:231–258CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Gurib-Fakim A (2006) Medicinal plants: traditions of yesterday and drugs of tomorrow. Mol Aspects Med 27(1):1–93CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Heinrich M (2016) Phytotherapy. Encyclopaedia Britannica IncGoogle Scholar
  28. Imai T, Nomura M, Fukushima K (2006) Evidence for involvement of the phenylpropanoid pathway in the biosynthesis of the norlignan agatharesinol. J Plant Physiol 163:483–487CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Ishida M, Hara M, Fukino N, Tomohiro Kakizaki T, Morimitsu Y (2014) Glucosinolate metabolism, functionality and breeding for the improvement of Brassicaceae vegetables. Breed Sci 64(1):48–59CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kumar S, Pandey AK (2013) Chemistry and Biological activities of flavonoids: an overview. Sci World J (162750): 16Google Scholar
  31. Lahlou M (2007) Screening of natural products for drug discovery. Expert Opin Drug Discov 2:697–705CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Langenheim J (2003) Plant resins: chemistry, evolution, ecology, and ethnobotany. Timber Press, Portland, p 586Google Scholar
  33. Liu SH, Lin TH, Chang KM (2013) The physical effects of aromatherapy in alleviating work-related stress on elementary school teachers in Taiwan. Evid Based Complement Altern Med. doi: 10.1155/2013/853809CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Lounasmaa M, Tamminen T (1993) The tropane alkaloids. In: Cordell GA (ed) The alkaloids, vol 44. Academic, New York, pp 1–114Google Scholar
  35. Maclean IM, Wilson RJ (2011) Recent ecological responses to climate change support predictions of high extinction risk. Proc Natl Acad Sci U.S.A. 108:12337–12342CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Martin JJ, Pitera DJ, Withers ST, Newmann JD, Keasling JD (2003) Engineering a mevalonate pathway in Escherichia coli for production of terpenoids. Nat Biotechnol 21:796–802CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Oerther SE (2011) Plant poisonings: common plants that contain cardiac glycosides. J Emerg Nurs 37(1):102–103CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Parvu M, Vlase L, Parvu AE, Rosca-casian O, Gheldiu AM, Parvu O (2015) Phenolic compounds and antifungal activity of Hedera helix L. (Ivy) flowers and fruits. Not Bot Horti Agrobo 43(1):53–58Google Scholar
  39. Patwardhan B (2005) Ethnopharmacology and drug discovery. J Ethnopharmacol 100:50–52CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Pimenov MG, Leonov MV (1993) The genera of the Umbel- liferae. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, UKGoogle Scholar
  41. Pollier J, Moses T, Goossens A (2011) Combinatorial biosynthesis in plants: a (p) review on its potential and future exploitation. Nat Prod Rep 28:1897–1916CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Sahu NP, Banerjee S, Mondal NB, Mandal D (2008) Steroidal saponins. Fortschritte der Chemie Organischer Naturstoffe/progress in the chemistry of organic natural products, vol 89. Springer, Vienna, pp 45–141CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Saleem M, Kim HJ, Ali MS, Lee YS (2005) An update on bioactive plant lignans. Nat Prod Rep 22(6):696–716CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Schmeller T, Wink M (1998) Utilization of alkaloids in modern medicine In: Roberts MF, Wink M (eds) Alkaloids-biochemistry, ecology and medicinal applications. Plenum Press, New York, pp: 435–459CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Sneader W (2005) Plant products analogues and compounds derived from them. In: Sneader W (ed), Drug discovery; a history. Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, pp 115–150Google Scholar
  46. Sneader, W (2005) Drug discovery: a history. WileyGoogle Scholar
  47. Amoah SKS, Sandjo LP, Kratz JM, Biavatti MW (2016) Rosmarinic acid-pharmaceutical and clinical aspects. Planta Med 82(5):388–406CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Sparg SG, Light ME, Staden J (2004) Biological activities and distribution of plant saponins. J Ethnopharmacol 94:219–243CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Sun HX, Xie Y, Ye YP (2009) Advances in saponin-based adjuvants. Vaccine 27:1787–1796CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Tabuti JRS, Dhillion SS, Lye KA (2003) Traditional medicine in Bulamogi County, Uganda. its practitioners, users & viability. J Ethnopharmacol 85:119–129CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Taiz L, Zeiger E, (2006) Plant physiology. Sinauer Associates Inc., Sunderland, Massachusetts, USA. [A general text of plant physiology]Google Scholar
  52. Tholl D (2015) Biosynthesis and biological functions of terpenoids in plants. Adv Biochem Eng Biotechnol 148:63–106Google Scholar
  53. Thomas CD, Cameron A, Green RE, Bakkenes M, Beaumont LJ, Collingham YC et al (2004) Extinction risk from climate change. Nature 427:145–148CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Thompson LU, Boucher BA, Liu Z, Cotterchio M, Kreiger N (2006) Phytoestrogen content of foods consumed in Canada, including isoflavones, lignans and coumestan. Nutr Cancer 54:184–201CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Unschuld PU (1986) Medicine in China: a history of Pharmaceutics. University of California PressGoogle Scholar
  56. Vetter J (2000) Plant cyanogenic glycosides. Toxicon 38:11–36CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. WHO (1998) General guidelines for methodologies on research and evaluation of traditional medicine. WHO/EDM/TRM/2000.1, Geneva, pp 128Google Scholar
  58. WHO (2002) Traditional medicine strategy 2014–2023.
  59. Worwood VA (2000) Aromatherapy for the healthy child: more than 300 natural, non-toxic, and fragrant essential oil blends. New World Library, NovatoGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mansour Ghorbanpour
    • 1
  • Javad Hadian
    • 2
  • Shahab Nikabadi
    • 3
  • Ajit Varma
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Medicinal Plants, Faculty of Agriculture and Natural ResourcesArak UniversityArakIran
  2. 2.Medicinal Plants and Drugs Research Institute, ShahidBeheshti UniversityTehranIran
  3. 3.School of Plant Biology, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural ScienceUniversity of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia
  4. 4.Amity Institute of Microbial Technology, Amity University Uttar PradeshNoidaIndia

Personalised recommendations