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Medicines (Basel). 2017 Nov 13;4(4). pii: E82. doi: 10.3390/medicines4040082.

Ancient Food Habits Dictate that Food Can Be Medicine but Medicine Cannot Be "Food"!!

Author information

1
Retired Professor of Botany & Genetics, 24, Kaushalnagar, P.O. Misrod, Bhopal (MP) 462026, India. hitkishoreg@gmail.com.
2
Department of Biodiversity Conservation and management, ABVH University, Bhopal (MP) 462001, India. ramhitendra@gmail.com.

Abstract

Background: Extensive surveys of several population settlements in different parts of India-covering plains, mountains, valleys, river banks and deeper areas of forests at different altitudes-between 1968 and 2016 demonstrated that the basic vital need of hunger is being fulfilled since antiquity by plants in the wild. Methods: Based on collections, consultations with local population personnel and literature searches, this paper presents many plants that are commonly used as food and focuses on their products, which are rich in alkaloids, polysaccharides, steroids, terpenoids, flavonoids, aminoacids, fatty acids and antibiotics etc. These complex organic compounds are suitable for the production of drugs for many ailments/diseases, including the prevention of cancers. Results: There are more than 100 families including several hundred plant taxa from various plant groups like angiosperms, bryophytes, pteridophytes, gymnosperms and even fleshy fungi, which have offered essential food items to ever-growing human populations since antiquity. Phytochemicals functioning as antioxidants are exceedingly beneficial to the human body but excess consumption of these compounds, adding higher levels of antioxidants, may even be responsible for chronic diseases including aging, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, atherosclerosis, etc. These medicines can obviously be taken in small and prescribed quantities but can never be consumed as "food items."

KEYWORDS:

edible ferns; edible fruits; edible fruits in the wild; medicines are not food; pharmaceutical industry; phytochemicals; plants as ancient food; plants offer medicinal compounds; roots and leaves as food-therapy

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