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Year : 2011  |  Volume : 1  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 4-9


Date of Web Publication17-Sep-2011

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How to cite this article:
. Programme. Int J Nutr Pharmacol Neurol Dis 2011;1, Suppl S1:4-9

How to cite this URL:
. Programme. Int J Nutr Pharmacol Neurol Dis [serial online] 2011 [cited 2020 Jan 21];1, Suppl S1:4-9. Available from:

National Seminar on Future Prospective of  Natural Products and Food as Medicine

1 st and 2 nd April 2011
Registration : 09.30-10.00 am
Inauguration : 10.00-11.00 am

Welcome Address: : Dr. S.S. Rajendran
Professor and Head, Department of Zoology & Senate Member, Bharathidasan University

Introductory Address : Dr. G. Sridharan
Professor, Department of Zoology

Presidential Address : Professor R. Ambikapathy
Rajah Serfoji Govt. College,Thanjavur

Inaugural Address : Dr. P. Subramanian
Professor and Head, Dept. of Animal Science, Bharathidasan University, Tiruchriappalli - 24

Vote of Thanks : Dr. P. Krishnamoorthy
Assistant Professor of Zoology

   Natural products and Reproductive health Top

P. Subramanian

Department of Animal Science, Bharathidasan University,

Tiruchirappalli - 620 024 E-mail:

We are living in a plant-dominated world, and all the animals depend on organic materials, the plants, as food for their survival and growth. Of course, there exists some selectivity/preference among them in feeding. On the other hand, there are changes in our surrounding environment, and the organisms living around us may cause some diseases when our body becomes susceptible. The curative medicines also present in the nature, but we have to identify the right source in the right combination and dose to cure the disease. Thus, our ancestors, by practice, identified certain plants (vegetables, pulses and cereals) and animals as their food items, which helped better survival, health and propagation. At the same time, any insufficiency or excess nutriments also impair the normal health or cause diseases, leading to the adage in tamil, " ounave madurubthu and marundae ounavu," which denotes that our food should be sufficiently nutritive and limited like medicine and the medicine must be like a food and should be easily taken up by our body without causing much ill effect. Identically, they have identified some natural materials to cure or get rid of ailments. Thereby, while taking Siddha and Ayurvedic medicines, food regulations are strictly adopted to get a better effect of cure without any side-effects.

In this line, some traditionally known natural products (two herbs - Pedalium murex and Hybanthus enneaspermus; one animal - Etroplus maculatus and one mineral - sodium chloride) were tested for their ability to enhance the reproductive health (aphrodisiac property) in an animal model.

   Let Food Be Our Medicine Top

K. Jayaprakash

Department of Zoology, Chikkana Government College, Thiruppur

Our health status is continuously changing. Among our Indian population, 75% of those below 40 years of age are under various stresses. Thirty-six percent is developing risk to diseases that affect people of above 50 plus of age. Both poor nutrition and poverty are contributing negative impact on the quality of life and health.

Disorders of sleep, diabetic mellitus, hypertension, immuno diseases, stroke, cancer and heart attack are becoming common. Stress due to competitive pressures is also increasing among our student community. New life style results in the modification of food habits, which include consuming junk and fast foods. Health issues that are addressed by synthetic chemical drugs are quiet expensive. There is a fear of side-effects and total dependency of the drugs treated. Nutritional supplementation is therefore the solution for health and fitness.

Nutraceuticals, as against chemical pharmaceuticals, are food-based supplements that provide healthy living in this present world scenario. After automobiles and Information Technology, the revolution of neutraceutical is estimated to bring in the next trillion dollar industry (Economist: Paul Zane Pilzer, 2005). Nutraceuticals are neutrals that have no side-effects.
"Let Food Be Your Medicine": this concept was first introduced by the Father of Medicine, Greek Physician Hippocrates, before many centuries. The idea is to focus on prevention. The term "Nutraceutical" was coined by Stephen Defelice (1989). It is defined as a food or part of food or nutrient that provides health benefits, which include prevention and treatments.

The following are some of the examples of functional components derived from various routine food substances. These are discussed for their sources and their potential health benefits in this presentation. They are available in our market. For better health status, manipulating the food rich with these nutraceutical molecules is suggested. Diet includes these substances with regular exercise, and maintenance of body weight should maximize our health and reduce disease risks.

   Veggies and Bio-effective livelihood Top

V. Aldous. J. Huxley

Biotech Research Laboratory, Department of Zoology Thiru. Vi. Ka. Govt. Arts College, Tiruvarur - 613 003 E-mail:

Vegetarian food is good for health. It creates a disease-free situation in the human system. Complete immunity from disease can be obtained by taking fresh fruits and vegetables. Fruits build and rebuild body tissues. They tone up the body and prevent diseases. It is completely false to believe that for body building, one has to eat meat and other non-vegetarian animal proteins. Man can depend completely on plant proteins for a healthy and strong body. This review discusses the importance of vegetarian food, its requirement, food value and medicinal value.

   Medicinal plants and herbal utilization for human health Top

Annamalai Muthusamy

Division of Biotechnology, Manipal Life Sciences Centre, Manipal University, Planetarium Complex, Manipal - 576 104, Karnataka

Humans have relied directly on plants for food, clothing and shelter, all produced or manufactured from plant matrices (leaves, woods, fibers) and storage parts (fruits, tubers). Plants have also been utilized for additional purposes, namely as arrow and dart poisons for hunting, poisons for murder, hallucinogens used for ritualistic purposes, stimulants for endurance and hunger suppression, as well as inebriants and medicines. Medicinal plants play an indispensable role in human life in the history of nations and civilization to combat diseases since time immemorial. Medicinal plants are not only a major resource base for the traditional medicine and herbal industry but also provide livelihood and health security to a large segment of the Indian population. The rural folks and tribals in India even now depend largely on the surrounding plants/forests for their day-to-day needs. Medicinal plants are being looked upon not only as a source of health care but also as a source of income. In view of the innate Indian strengths, which include diverse ecosystems for the growth of medicinal plants, technical/farming capacity and strong manufacturing sector, the medicinal plants sector can provide a huge export opportunity after fulfilling domestic needs. India is one of the 12 mega biodiversity centers, having over 45,000 plant species (17,500 flowering plants, of which 5725 are endemic to India), 8000 of which are medicinal (Rao 2006). The florae of India is rich is biodiversity, being a subtropical country, and in Himalaya alone over 8000 angiosperms, 44 gymnosperms, 600 pteridophytes, 1737 bryophytes and 1159 lichens have been a source of medicine for millions of people in the country and elsewhere in the world. Medicinal plants are estimated to have medicinal usage in folk and documented systems of medicine, like Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and Homeopathy. The production of medicinal plants being labor-intensive generates increased employment opportunities for the farmers, particularly the rural masses/tribals, and enhances their incomes. Growing medicinal plants is much more remunerative as compared with growing cereals, horticulture crops, etc. Approximately 960 species of medicinal plants are estimated to be in trade, of which 178 species have annual consumption levels in excess of 100 metric tons (National Medicinal Plant Board, New Delhi). Plant secondary metabolites can be classified into several groups according to their chemical classes, such alkaloids, terpenoids and phenolics. Plants have formed the basis of sophisticated traditional medicine practices that have been used for thousands of years by people in China, India, and many other countries.

Biosynthesis and storage of plant secondary metabolites: Biosynthesis of plant secondary metabolites (PSM) is cell-, tissue- and organ- or development-specific in almost all higher plant species. In most cases, the pathways and, indeed, the genes involved in their synthesis are tightly regulated and may be linked to environmental, seasonal or external triggers. Cellular sites of synthesis are compartmentalised in the plant cell, with the majority of pathways being at least partially active in the cytoplasm. However, there is some evidence that compounds such as alkaloids, quinolizidines, caffeine and some terpenes are synthesised in the chloroplast. The biosynthesis of protoberberine occurs in cell vesicles and coniine, and some amines are synthesized in the mitochondria. The synthesis of lipophilic compounds is usually associated with the endoplasmic reticulum, as are many of the post-synthetic modifications such as hydroxylation. Although PSM are often detected throughout the plant, their initial site of synthesis is often restricted to a single organ such as roots, fruits or leaves. Thereafter, they can be transported around the plant via the phloem or xylem or by symplastic or apoplastic transport and stored in a number of different tissues. The site of storage often depends on the polarity of the compounds, with hydrophilic compounds such as alkaloids, glucosinolates and tannins being stored in vacuoles or idioblasts, while lipophilic compounds such as the terpene-based essential oils are stored in trichomes, glandular hairs, resin ducts, thylakoid membranes or on the cuticle. For some compounds that are present in the plant as defence barriers, e.g. alkaloids, flavonoids, cyanogenic glycosides and coumarins, storage may be in the epidermis itself.

Storage may be tissue- or cell-specific, with flowers, fruits and seeds being rich sources of many PSM, especially in annual plants. In perennial species, PSM are present in high levels in bulbs, roots, rhizomes and bark of the roots and stems.

Function of secondary metabolites: Plants, fungi, sessile animals and bacteria cannot run away when attacked by herbivores or predators; neither do they have an immune system against invading bacteria, fungi or viruses. Consequently, plants and other sessile organisms (e.g., marine animals) have developed biologically active secondary metabolites during evolution that help them to defend themselves against predators (insects, mollusks, vertebrates), microbes, viruses and other competing plants. In order to be effective, secondary metabolites must be present at the correct site, time and concentration. The biosynthesis of several secondary metabolites is constitutive, whereas in many plants it can be induced and enhanced by biological stress conditions, such as wounding or infection. This activation can be biochemical, e.g. through the hydrolysis of glycosides that are stored as "prodrugs" or via the activation of genes responsible for the synthesis, transport or storage of secondary metabolites. Plants also use secondary metabolites (such as volatile essential oils and colored flavonoids or tetraterpenes) to attract insects for pollination or other animals for seed dispersion. In this case, secondary metabolites serve as signal compounds. PSM may not be the end products of metabolism, but may have a regular rate of turnover. The concentration of some PSMs, such as quinolizidine alkaloids and some monoterpenes, have also been shown to vary in a diurnal fashion, suggesting an interplay between synthesis and turnover, and active transcription of the genes involved.

Mode of action: To cope up with various stress conditions, especially the biotic stress from herbivores, predators and microbes in both above and below ground, the role of secondary metabolites as defense substances must be able to interfere with molecular targets in the cells, tissues and organs of the organisms. The major types of molecular targets in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes include biomembranes, proteins, nucleic acids and enzymes. PSM also help the plants to protect from UV light.

Drug discovery from medicinal plants: Plants produce and accumulate a vast number of different natural products, also called secondary metabolites. Although tens of thousands of secondary metabolites have been chemically identified, still, the biological roles of most specialized compounds in the plants producing them are unknown. Many natural compounds are of commercial and industrial importance, imparting colors and scents to flowers, fruits and vegetables, and are also key ingredients in medicinals and nutraceuticals. Many studies have indicated that natural products accumulated in plants have clear ecological roles, such as protection against predation, protection against fungal and bacterial diseases or against adverse climatic conditions. Additionally, many natural products serve as signal molecules to attract pollinators and seed-dispersers, or mediate pathogenic, parasitic or symbiotic interactions. Current research in drug discovery from medicinal plants involves a multifaceted approach, combining botanical, phytochemical, biological and molecular techniques. Several natural product drugs of plant origin have either recently been introduced to the United States market, including arteether, galantamine, nitisinone and andtiotropium, or are currently involved in late-phase clinical trials. Although drug discovery from medicinal plants continues to provide an important source of new drug leads, numerous challenges are encountered, including the procurement of plant materials, the selection and implementation of appropriate high-throughput screening bioassays and the scale-up of active compounds.

Herbal utilization: The utilization of medicinal plants and its secondary metabolites in medicines has been in practice from the early days of mankind. The secondary metabolites used as crude extract, partially purified, have been used to treat different infections, health disorders and illness of the people. The natural medicines have been replaced by synthetic drugs during the past 100 years. The use of plant drugs for medical treatment is possible because plants have evolved bioactive metabolites directed against microbes and herbivores (see above). The utilization of such compounds for medicinal purposes is, therefore, only the other side of the coin. Cardiac glycosides, for example, are very poisonous as they inhibit Na+ , K+ -ATPase, a central target in animals.

Several secondary metabolites from plants are used medicinally as isolated compounds, including many alkaloids such as morphine (pain killer), codeine (antitussive), papaverine (phosphodiesterase inhibitor), ephedrine (stimulant), ajmaline (antiarrhythmic), quinidine (antiarrhythmic), quinine (antimalarial), paclitaxel (tumor therapy), vinblastine (tumor therapy), podophyllotoxin (tumor therapy), camptothecine (tumor therapy), reserpine (antihypertensive), galanthamine (acetylcholine esterase inhibitor; Alzheimer's disease), aconitine (pain killer), physostigmine (acetylcholine esterase inhibitor), atropine (spasmolytic; mydriatic), scopolamine (travel sickness), berberine (psoriasis), caffeine (stimulant), theophylline (antitussive), capsaicin (rheumatic pains), colchicines (gout), yohimbine (aphrodisiac) and pilocarpine (glaucoma). Other secondary metabolites include cardiac glycosides, genistein (tyrosine kinase inhibitor, phytoestrogen), khellin (angina pectoris), artemisinin (antimalarial), menthol (spasmolytic) and thymol (antiseptic). A wide range and variety of bioactive molecules has been synthesized by different groups of plants and stored in specific tissues/organs. We need to understand the physiology, biochemistry and ecology of plant secondary metabolism and its leads to design the methods and techniques for the breeding of plants for better protection against the enemies in both above and below ground. More importantly, understanding their molecular pharmacology represents a key to utilize natural phytochemicals in a rational way in medicine and agriculture (Wink 2007).

   Food as Medicine Top

Chellam Balasundaram

UGC Emeritus Fellow Department of Animal Science, Bharathidasan University, Tiruchirapalli Email:

Medical science continues making rapid progress in an unending fashion. But, all modern medicines treat only the symptoms and not the cause. The Indian medical system has paved the way for holistic health as a person with sound body and sound mind is qualified to go for the next stage of exploring one self. The ancient yogis concentrated and developed the siddha medical system. Many yogis extensively studied the herbs and their effects in the treatment of various diseases.

They developed the concept of "food is medicine," which defines that disorders can be healed by food itself. In this line, they documented the properties of various foods and their effect on health. It is to be reckoned that modern medicine accepts the fact that what we eat influences our mind. In India, food was classified as rajasic (stimulating), thomasic (that which promotes dullness) and sathvic (that which calms the mind).

The classification of various foods and their role in restoring and maintaining health will be discussed. The common food-based recipes to control obesity, diabetes and stress will be presented.

   Evaluation of Herbal Drugs Top

M. Jegadeesan

Department of Environmental and Herbal Science, Tamil University, Thanjavur - 613 010 E-mail:

Herbal drugs, or Phytomedicine, is emerging as a part and parcel of healthcare delivery system throughout the world. Since the World Health Organization had recommended Traditional Medicine to be included in the world healthcare methods to achieve health for all, herbal drugs and trade had poised to a greater height together with research and development in the field. New herbal drugs have been flooding the market, from cosmoceuticals, nutraceuticals to pharmaceuticals. Development and spread of herbal drugs bring with it the need for standardization and quality control, to vouch for their quality, efficacy and safety. Many countries have evolved their own standards of Phytomedicine, e.g. German E-Commission, European Commission, FDA (USA)  etc.

In India, standardization of herbal drugs has begun, although in a low profile. Scientific validation of Indian herbal drugs used in Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani has been carried out in a number of research laboratories, both in government and educational and research institutes. Although Indian Traditional Medicines stood the test of time, globalization and free trade necessitated herbal drugs to be evaluated by throughput screening methods to face global market and acceptability. The present lecture would discuss the methods of evaluation of herbal drugs from identification to manufacture, citing examples of some herbal single drugs and herbal formulations evaluated in our laboratory.

   Yogic Diet for Good Health and Long Life Top

A. Uthirapathy

Department of Physical Education, Thiru Vi Ka Government Arts College, Thiruvarur - 613 005, Tamilnadu, India

Yoga is the connection between body and mind. It focuses on the mental, emotional and physical well being of an individual. Yoga inspires individuals to embark upon a journey that brings a healthy, disease-free, long, contented and spiritual life ahead. Yoga is the only science that has laid great emphasis on food over centuries. In fact, there is a whole branch called Anna Yoga devoted to food for health and happiness. Yoga, over centuries, has developed a concept of balanced whole food, diet and an eating philosophy. These principles of good eating use powerful techniques that help in maintaining a strong and healthy body, a stress-free mind and a positive spirituality within this mixed-up world. Yoga diet philosophy does not believe in the calorie count of foods or the amount of vitamins, minerals or proteins we get from the food. Instead, stress is laid on the type of food and its quality. Yoga classifies food into three categories, similar to the classification of human beings. A balanced diet, therefore, according to yoga, is that diet that restores balance at all levels. Such diets could aid in a "holistic way of living."


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