esearchers, scientists, and professors throughout the world are gradually advancing their research in traditional herbal medicine to develop herbal based products. Many traditional herbs of Nepal have been shown to have medicinal, cosmetic, cultural, and nutritional values among different ethnic communities.
Utilization of Traditional Herbs
The extracts, oils, resins, ash, or plant parts are used to prepare the medicine, supplement and cosmetic formulations due to several associated properties for various ailments of the skin, hair, stomach, liver and dental care as well as overall appearance. Modern therapeutic medicine is historically based on indigenous therapies and ethnopharmacological uses, which have become recognized tools in the search for new sources of pharmaceuticals.
Commercialization and Collaboration
Numerous drugs have been introduced to international markets through validation of traditional medicines. To accomplish this target; the researchers, scientists, academicians, industry professionals, students, and stakeholders are working on value-addition ideas for revenue collection. It is realised to explore and scientifically validate herbal Nepalese medicinal plants for commercialization.
Prof Rajendra Gyawali’s Contributions
Among the many researchers in Nepal, Prof Rajendra Gyawali is one of the researcher who has been working in this field at the Kathmandu University, Department of Pharmacy. There is an established research laboratory to analyze the traditional medicinal herbs for their healing properties and product development. His team is working to uncover the science behind this ancient herbal wisdom and already researched more than 300 Nepalese medicinal plants out of more than 2000 medicinal and aromatic plants of Nepal.
The Importance of Innovation
Evidences from his findings provide a benchmark to assess the quality of herbal medicines. “Innovation is very essential in academia. Without innovation, no institutions can significantly contribute to the national economy” Prof Gyawali says.
Anticancer Research Findings
Scholars are important wellsprings of innovative ideas in commercializing innovations both along patenting and new venture channels. Since the last 15 years, Prof Gyawali’s research team has been working on lab-based pre-clinical experiments mainly anticancer herbs, with mixed results. Some findings had proved that the citrus family leaves and fruits work for anticancer activity, and they hoped for clinical trials in the future.
Impactful Research on Mango Peel
A research work on mango peel has had a major impact on the scientific community and already cited by more than 100s of other scientific works throughout the world. Mango peel is useful for the human cervical carcinoma and find out its detail mechanism on how cancer cell dies during the treatment with mango peel extract. His team also investigated that citrus peel has anticancer property against human gastric adenocarcinoma and prostate carcinoma through the mechanism of down-regulating the cancer-causing proteins.
Exploration of Other Medicinal Plants
For the first time in Nepal, another investigation was conducted on Nepalese bael leaf (Baelpatra) against the colon, lung, and ovarian cancers. Nepalese bael leaf was strong and efficiently reached different organs confirming its possible application as a therapeutic agent or adjuvant agent in chemotherapy. His anticancer research was also extended to labiatae family members of Nepal, which exhibited good property against breast cancer cells.
Ayurvedic Wisdom and Drug Discovery
The utilization of Ayurvedic wisdom for new drug discovery also brings the need for a paradigm shift in the herbal sector development in Nepal. The integrated approach would lead to enhancing the quality of locally available herbal materials and can be coupled with the national economy. A multidisciplinary team of Prof Gyawali with a diverse group of professionals is working together on Nepalese medicinal plants. Prof Gyawali’s research team has a blended understanding of botany, pharmacognosy, phytochemistry, ethnopharmacology, biotechnology, and pharmaceutical sciences.
Challenges and Future Directions
He is working on Nepalese traditional herbs to bring classical knowledge to the laboratory, and translate into herbal tablet, capsule, ointment, cream, syrup, drink products etc with therapeutic strategies. Research is also evaluating the antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, wound healing, anti-anxiety, anti-cancer, and anti-diabetic, etc activities both in-vivo and in-vitro models. Currently, Nepalese researchers are facing major challenges on the promotion of herbal products in chemo-profiling, safety evaluations, quality control, and regulatory guidelines.
The Future of Herbal Medicines in Nepal
A key advantage of the scientific evaluation of herbal medicines having accumulative ethnopharmacological knowledge can help to confirm their traditional therapeutic uses. Recent scientific advances, technological advancements, and research trends clearly indicate that Nepalese herbal medicines and natural products will remain one of the most important sources of alternative medicine and new drug entities in the future.
Awards and Recognitions
Highly skilled, experienced, and renowned scientists and researchers from around the country are working on Nepalese herbs and herbal products, and more. Prof Gyawali has contributed to the development of new herbal formulations which could be beneficial to minimize the possible threat of cancer disease. For this invention, he was awarded the “Science Award-2015” by Nepal Academy of Science and Technology.
Prof Gyawali’s Vision
Similarly, he also awarded with the Third World Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS) award for the year 2008 in biology for his another finding on sterilization of Nepalese medicinal plants by using gamma-irradiation technique. Acorus calamus, Asparagus racemosus, Bergenia ciliata, Centella asiatica, Dipsacus mitis, Swertia chirata, Terminalia chebula and Woodfordia fruticisa are confirmed as a good source for terpenoids, much-wanted aromatic chemicals in perfume, flavor, and pharmaceutical industries during his PhD work.
His finding significantly contributed that the gamma-irradiation technology at 10 kGy dose on licorice is useful for the herbal sterilization for long-term storage. “We will work together to develop pathways to successful business models, developing benefit sharing and intellectual property arrangements that recognize traditional knowledge” Prof Gyawali says.
A long-term aim of his research team is to develop herbal-based economic opportunities for rural communities. As medicinal herbs are often less expensive than pharmaceuticals, it has also provided the opportunity in certain circumstances for more affordable therapy,” Gyawali said. Prof Gyawali is one of the renowned researchers in the field of pharmacognosy, phytochemistry, and biotechnology focusing on local herb-based traditional medicines.