Phytotherapy-Safety aspects

A. Shirwaikar, R. Verma, R. Lobo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Plants have been used since ancient times as medicines for the treatment of a range of diseases. In spite of the great advances observed in modern medicine in recent decades, plants still make an important contribution to health care. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), because of poverty and lack of access to modern medicine, about 65-80% of the world's population that are living in developing countries depend essentially on plants for primary health care. Phytotherapeutic agents are herbal preparations consisting of complex mixtures of one or more plants which contain active ingredients, plant parts or plant material in the crude or processed state. The data existing for most plants to guarantee their quality, efficacy and safety is insufficient. The concept that herbal drugs are safe and free from side effects is not always. Plants contain hundreds of constituents, some of which are very toxic namely the most cytotoxic anti-cancer plant-derived drugs is pyrrolidine alkaloids, etc. However, the adverse effects of phytotherapeutic agents are less as compared with synthetic drugs. Several regulatory models for herbal medicines are currently available including prescription drugs, over-the-counter substances, traditional medicines and dietary supplements. Harmonization and improvement in the processes of regulation is needed for safety aspects related to phytotherapy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-63
Number of pages9
JournalNatural Product Radiance
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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