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Aromatic & Medicinal Plants

The valley of Kashmir is very rich in high value and high altitude aromatic and medicinal plants. More than 50 % of plant species described in British pharmacopoeia are reported to grow in Kashmir Valley. Near 570 plant species are reported to be of medicinal importance. Kashmir valley has a great potential for establishing pharmaceutical and essential oil industry based on these high value plant species. Prominent among the aroma bearing plants are Lavender, Rose, Clarysage, Peppermint, Rosemary, Artemisia annua, Tagetes minuta and Geranium oils. The essential oils derived from these plants form the backbone of perfumery, cosmetic industry. These oils rank among the top ten essential oils used in aromatherapy throughout the world.

Lavender Oil 
Lavender oil (Lavendula angustifolia syn. Lavendula officinalis), growing in highlands of Kashmir, is steam distilled from flowering tops. Cherished and keenly sought for perfumery, skincare and hair care. Promotes calmness, reduces inflammation/fights infection and promotes skin healing. Lavender oil helps in wound healing, reduces pain and supports healthy tissue growth. In the relief of headaches especially migraine, fainting and dizziness. Lavender oil is second to none. A balancing oil that stimulates, energizes and much more. Other value added products of lavender are lavender water, lavender concrete and absolute. Recently Lavender Park has been established in Pahalgam by Regional Research Laboratory- Srinagar. 

Single Plant of Lavender Rose (Rosa damascena).
The Rose is not as a symbol of beauty, love and purity but is one of the oldest and most valuable sources of rose oil, rose concrete, rose absolute and rose water. They are highly expensive materials for perfumery, flavour and cosmetic industries due to their characteristics rose odour with a distinctive floral tonality 
The Rose (Damask Rose) is not only a symbol of beauty, love and purity but one of the best materials for production of high quality rose oil, rose concrete, rose attar and rose water. Low content of oil in rose petals and highly fragrant intensive rose oil commands a very high price. It has anti depressant, antiseptic, antiviral, laxative and tonic properties. A wonderful skin toner especially for dry, sensitive or aging skin. It has a calming effect for grief, resentment anger and depression.

Clarysage Oil 

Clarysage oil obtained by steam distillation of fresh flowering tops. A short growing season, lower in essential oil yield but the quality is splendid. A sweet herbaceous, tenacious oil with ambergris undertones. Building block for many fragrance compositions. High in esters which are quite useful for calming and balancing nervous system. It is anti-depressant, soothing. A powerful muscle relaxant, antiseptic, anti bacterial, aids in the regeneration of skin cells wrinkles and an aphrodisiac. 

Rosemary (Rosemarinus Officinalis Linn) is an evergreen woody herb with a characteristic herbaceous, woody and balsamic aroma. The plant has several medicinal properties like carminative, stomachic, spasmodic and well known antioxidant properties. Leaves have a special use in culinary purpose. Rosemary oil has an inspiring and regenerating effect on hair and stimulates the brain. Excellent antiseptic and antimicrobial action. Quite useful in rheumatism and brain. 

Artemisia Annua Oil 
Artemisia annua oil commonly known as wormwood is obtained from the steam distillation of aerial parts of the plant. A sweet, fragrant oil with wormwood aroma. Essential oil is reported to have antibacterial and antioxidant properties. Artemisinin isolated from the plant is used for drug resistant malaria.

Quality profile: – Product analyzed by gas Chromatography and GC-Mass as per international standards. Main constituents are Artemisia ketone (46.07 to 52.9%), 1-8 cineole (8.4 to 10.98), α-pinene (5.2 to 7.5%), camphene (1 to 2%), camphor (6.0 to 8%), Pinocarvone (1 to3%), Artemisia alcohol (3 to 4%), cis-p-menth-2 enol ( 1 to 2%), α-Copaene (0.5 to 1.2%), Carophyllene (0.8 to 2%), β-selinene (0.2 to 1.0%),carophyllene oxide (0.4 to 4.3%). 

Geranium oil has a delightful fragrance resembling that of rose. Indispensable in perfumery, cosmetics and aromatherapy. A balancing oil for the mind and body. effective for menopausal problems, nerve tonic and relaxing. One of the best skin care oils, useful for congested oily and dry skin. It has antiseptic, antifungal and antimicrobial properties.

Marigold (Tagetus minuta) 
It is native to South America and has spread throughout the world. South Africa, Nigeria, India, Kenya, Brazil, France, Argentina are the main Tagetus oil producing countries. In India it grows in Western Himalayas between altitudes of 1000-2500m. In India Himachal Pradesh, J&K State and Hilly areas of U.P are the main growing areas. The oil is a valuable commercial product largely used in blending high grade perfumes. The herb is also used as stomachic, carminative, diuretic and diaphoretic. Major Constituents reported from the steam distilled oil cultivated in IIIM farms at Pulwama are (Z) β ocimene(38.72 %), dihydo tagetone (9.07 %) (Z) tagetone (7 %), (Z) ocimenone (7 %) and (E ) ocimenone (13%) and minor acyclic monoterpenes like 3 ,7- dimethyloct-1-en-6-one and 3,7-dimethyl-5-hydroxyoct-1-en-6-one and 3,7-dimethyl oct-1, 7-dien-6-one. Concentrations of these constitutes vary with the maturity of the plant. The oil gets easily polymerized within 4 to 5 months of its distillation due to these acyclic ketones and should be stored in amber colored bottles. They should be filled upto brim and protected from the heat and light. The oil is used in the treatment of foot diseases. The oil also exhibits bronchodilatory, tranquilising. Hypertensive, spasmolytic and anti inflammatory activities.

Peppermint (Mentha piperita) 
Mints have played an important part in human society for a long period. There are 30 species of mint and all species of the Genus Mentha are aromatic. Total world production of peppermint oil is 4000 tons and India’s share is 300 tons only. Peppermint oil is largely used as a flavouring agent for confectionary and liquors as well as for both pastes and mouth washes. It is also used in easing intestinal irritation. The oil has pleasant cooling properties and muscle relaxing properties. Peppermint extracts have shown to have antiviral activity. The oil is traditionally used in connection with arthritis, asthma, bad breath, bronchitis, fatigue, fevers, headaches, nausea and travel sickness. Major constituents reported from Kashmir oil are α-pinene (1.4%), β-pinene (1.8%), limonene (2.5%), 1,8-cineole (7.5%), menthone (18.0%), menthol (40.0%) and menthyl acetate (3,.6%). 

Melissa officinalis
It is a medicinal plant with a long history in traditional medicine. It has well known antioxidant properties due to the presence of rosmarinic acid and other polyphenols. It also contains an essential oil but extremely in low yields. Major constituents of oil are geranial,β-carophyllene, copaene, citronellal and germacrene-D.

Echinacea angustifolia
(Family- Asteraecae) commonly known as purple cone flower has along tradition in the adjuvant therapy of infections and chronic inflammations. It is said to stimulate unspecific ally the immune system. It is also used to combat cough, cold, flu and sore throat. Active constituents are polysaccharides, flavonoids, caffeic acid derivations, polyacetylens and alkamides. It is among the best selling medicinal herb in the world and has a excellent cost benefit ratio.

Inula racemosa
Inula racemosa commonly known as poshkar mool. Its roots   find use in ISM for cardiac, asthma, cough, pulmonary infections and skin diseases and as adulterant for saussurea costus roots. Roots contain sesquiterpenes, alantolactone iosalantolactone alantolides, β–sitosterol, daucosterol. Isoalantolactene, the major lactone reported to have antifungal properties against human pathogenic fungi.

Dioscorea  deltoidea
Dioscorea deltoidea
 is the richest and purest   source of diosgenin.  It forms the back bone of steroidal industry.   Diosgenin is used as an intermediate in the synthesis of life Saving drugs, corticosteroids, sex hormones and oral contraceptives.  Present requirement of   diosgenin in the world is nearly 3000 tones while India requires 150 tones annually. The total production of diosgenin in India is only 30 tones and rest is being met by imports.  

Pyrethrum (chrysanthemum cinerariaefolium)
Pyrethrum is one of the safest insecticides known. It has a very low mammalian toxicity and is rapidly metabolized. It possesses instaneous “knock down effect”. The active constituents’ namely total pyrethrins are extracted from pyrethrum flowers for production of pyrethrum extract. About 70% of world production finds its way into fly sprays and insecticidal aerosols, anti mosquito creams, 20% is used in mosquito repellent coils and the balance in other formulations.

Podophyllum hexandrum
Podophyllum hexandrum Royle, commonly known as May apple belonging to the family Berberidaceae is an endangered medicinal plant, which grows in the northern Himalayan region at an altitude of 3500-4000 metres. The stem grows 30–40 cm tall, with palmately lobed umbrella-like leaves up to 20-40 cm diameter. Podophyllotoxin drawn from the rhizome of Podophyllum hexandrum and has been used in dermatological infections like condylomata accuminata. Podophyllotoxin and its chemical derivatives, teniposide and etoposide are widely used as potent chemotherapeutic agents for a variety of tumours including small cell carcinoma, testicular cancer and malignant lymphoma.

Belladonna leaf and root and their various preparations are used in pharmaceutical industry. According to an estimate about 100 tons of dry belladonna leaves are required by the country. Earlier requirements of the industry were met by natural resources which have dwindled substantially. It is also the raw material for production of tropane alkaloids like atropine and hyosymine for pharmaceutical industry besides its use in ISM.

Reference Dr. Sami Shawl