Recognizing Medicinal Plants

Medicinal plants are cultivated, their authenticity has generally well known. However, the sample, which was comes from wild plants or purchased from suppliers, medicinal plants are sometimes mixed with other herbs that are similar morphologic characteristics, whether intentionally or not, it can even be confused or a mistake with another plant. Errors in identifying medicinal plants could be due to morphological similarity or similar names. This often lead to things that are not desired
For example:
in central Europe, plants or Ramsons Bear's Garlic (Allium ursinum L.) was used as a vegetable, salad, spices or as ingredients for pesto in Lieu of basil. This plant stems and leaves are triangular-like Lily of theValley (Convallaria majalis), Meadow Saffron (Colchicum autumnale) or Autumn crocus (Crocus sativus). Because of the similarity of morphology of leaves, these plants are often misdiagnosed. Been reported several cases of poisoning kolkisina (toxic alkaloid contained in the Autumn or Meadow Saffron crocus) due to errors consume / take ramsons with Autumn crocus or Meadow Saffron.
Kolkisina poisoning can cause gastroenterocolitis, followed by failure of the functions of various organs of the body and if not immediately get help, can end in death.
Nephrotoxicity and renal failure cases have occurred in Belgian women who want to slimming her body. The women are taking various drugs given by a slimming clinic, such as serotonin is mixed with certain herbal medicines containing Stephania tetranda (Guang Fang Ji). When cases of kidney failure occurs, herbal medicine that is used is checked, it did not contain Stephania tetranda, but containing other plants, Aristolochia sp. (Han Fang Ji). Presumably Stephania tetranda (Guang Fang Ji) misdiagnosed / replaced with Aristochia sp. (Han Fang Ji), which have similar names. Aristolochia sp. aristolokat acid containing a toxic to the kidneys.

There are several methods to ensure the authenticity of a plant, including:
1. Organoleptic methods:
this way is squeezed and then smell and / or feel. This method has a high risk of error and only certain people who are skilled and experienced are able to do it with best result. Plants containing essential oils usually have a distinctive odor, while the alkaloid-containing plants generally have a bitter taste.
2. Methods morphology and anatomy of plants:
Examination of morphological features performed by naked eye or a magnifying glass (loupe), by observing the shape of leaves, stems, roots, rhizome, flower arrangement and etc.. Anatomical features using a microscope examination, performed on transverse or longitudinal slices of plant networks or the examination of pollen / plant parts that has been dried. How the examination was conducted to observe the shape of cells and networks (meristem networks, epidermal cork, parenchyma, klorenkim, sklerenkim, phloem and xylem), stone cells, trikomata, calcium oxalate crystals, and etc.. Plants generally have a characteristic morphology and anatomy-specific and can be used as an identity for these plants.
3. Chemical methods:
Based on the chemical reaction between the content of the plant with the reactant and observation forms / profile chromatogram chromatography, either by thin layer chromatography (TLC), gas chromatography (GC) or high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). Prints chromatogram medical plants are generally specific. Plants generally have a certain chemical content, so that with the observation profile chromatogram, compared with the standard, it can be known whether the plant is original or not. Panax quinquefolium (American Ginseng) has 29 kinds of saponin content (Ginsenosida) with 24 (R)-pseudoginsenosida F11 as specific content, while Panax ginseng (Chinese ginseng) has only 20 species Ginsenosida Ginsenosida with Rf as specific content.
4. Genetic Method:
by observing the characteristics of plant DNA. The techniques used include random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD), DNA fingerprinting using multi-loci probes, restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP), amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP), arbitrarily primed polymerase chain reaction (AP-PCR) and microsatellite marker technology.

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