Medicinal plants, Ayurveda and the Himalayas are intertwined in a very special manner and Nepal, right in the centre of the Himalayan region, has special significance. Medicinal plants are used in traditional rural remedies, Ayurveda medicines, Homoeopathic medicines, and many of them are also included in allopathic pharmacopeas.
The resource strained health services of Nepal, further complicated by an ever-unabated population growth, is said to serve only 15% of the 20 million population of the country giving only this small group access to modern health facilities. A large section of the population, mainly the rural people, still depends on primitive care such as traditional Ayurveda or herbal practitioners. The use of locally available medicinal plants in the health care system of Nepal is a necessity, not a luxury.
The conservation, protection, cultivation and utilisation of this resource is a prime need of the country, of which thousands of species are available most of which are only available in the Himalayan Zone. The demand for these herbs is high and they can be cultivated on a large scale, but rare species of medicinal plants also need to be preserved.
Medicinal plants are an important component of the vegetation of Nepal, and the distribution pattern of medicinal plants has been found to be approximately 49.2% in the tropical zone (up to 1,000 meters), 53.96% in the sub-tropical zone (1,000 – 2,000 m), 35.7% in the temperate zone (2,000 – 3,000 m), 18.9% in the sub-alpine zone (3,000 – 4,000 m), and 7.14% in the alpine zone (4,000 m upwards). There are about 1,400 kinds of medicinal plants utilized by Ayurveda and traditional healers in Nepal.
Some of the important and wellknown medicinal plants follow: Alpine & sub-alpine medicinal plants: Aconitum Spp., Picrorrhiza scrophularaeflora, Swertia multicaulis, Rheum emodi, Nardostachys jatamansi, Ephedra gerardiana, Cordyceps sinensis, Dactylorhiza hatagirea.
Tropical and sub-tropical medicinal plants: Terminalias, Cassia fistula, Cassia catechu, Aegles marmelos, Rauwolfia serpentina, Phyllanthus emblica, Ricinus recemosus, Acorus clams, Acacia concinnity, Butte monster.
Temperate zone medicinal plants: Valeriana wallichii, Berberis, Datura, Solanum, Rubia, Zanthoxylum armatum, Gaultheria fragrautissima, Dioscorea deltoidea, Curulligo orchoidies.
Some of the regions where medicinal plants are abundantly found are, the Terai region of Nawalparasi, Chitwan, Bardiya, Dhanusha, Mid-hilly Region of Makawanpur, Syanja, Kaski, Lamgjung, Dolakha, Parvat, Ilam, Ramechhap, Nuwakot, and the Himalayan region of Dolpa, Mugu, Humla, Jumla, Manang, Mustang and Solukhumbu.
The institutions manufacturing Ayurveda medicinal products include Singha Durbar Vaidhya Khana Vikas Samiti, Kathmandu; Gorkha Ayurveda Company, Gorkha; Arogya Bhavan, Kathmandu; Siddha Ayurveda Pharmacy, Butwal; Pashupati Ayurveda Bhavan, Sarlahi; and Classical Herbal Group, Kathmandu Nowhere does nature manifest herself so vividly in all her playfulness as she does in the world of orchids. In their flowering pattern orchids are capable of mimicking a part of man as well as the animal world, at times, making us laugh. Monkey Face, Swan Neck, Little Bull, and The Velvet Bee are among the few names they have been given for their peculiar looks.