Medicinal plants: the Cuban experience Heilpflanzen: die kubanische Erfahrung Plantas medicinales:  la experiencia cubana

Medicinal plants: the Cuban experience

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Medicinal plants: the Cuban experience

Recognized as one of the most profound knowledge on the therapeutic use of medicinal plants in Cuba, Dr. Francisco Morón has deployed for years various research confirmed as one of the most authoritative voices on this issue in our country.

1 .- What is the early history of the therapeutic use of herbal medicine in Cuba institutional form?

There is no reference to a specific date, no doubt from the beginning of the colonial era in the late fifteenth century, it was an essential part of the European medicine of that era. Then, as globally, the development of chemical synthesis from the second half of the nineteenth century and the emergence of the pharmaceutical industry gradually replaced that plants and herbal medicines by synthetic or semisynthetic drugs flooding the market.

2 .- To what extent is valid the relationship between medicine and the herbal traditions?

It aims to present traditional herbal medicine and other resources outside the popular medicine. The rapid development of new chemical drugs has been very positive for human and animal health, but the abandonment of herbal medicines, supported by the interests of big pharmaceutical industry, was a big mistake by the medical community. This massively avoided using herbal remedies used by ancient physicians, using “safer and with greater effect” medicines, the large majority are far from having such attributes tested. Viewed dialectically, medicine of the twentieth century denied its development resources on herbal medicines that preceded it since its origin.

3 .- How to develop and expand the study and inventory of medicinal plants in Cuba?

There are three fundamental ways:

  • Ethnobotanical Surveys and identifying the species, its indications and use them to solve health problems are an important way.
  • The permanent and systematic botanists with the Cuban flora have led to the identification of species, endemic or with therapeutic potential.
  • Another important element is the information from surveys conducted in other countries for strengthening the use of a species, where coincides with ours, or incorporate new applications if they are validated.

4 .- What are the effects from the development of drugs from substances of vegetable origin and household use of medicinal plants?

Herbal medicines preparation provides the highest quality in the therapeutic use when the plants were collected, among other things can prevent errors in identifying the species you want to use. It can also facilitate the administration compared to the plant in its traditional manner.

5 .- Are there drugs in Cuba from medicinal plants with anticancer properties demonstrated?

There is none in which so far has been proven scientifically this property. In the case of diseases like cancer, should be tested at least it improves survival in patients with new therapeutic procedures for taking interest. Such studies require rigorous and costly preclinical research, and then in clinical trials exceed or equal the best performance in treatment protocol for the disease known so far.

6 .- In what direction is advancing research on the use of medicinal plants? 

This research is a multidisciplinary and multisectoral nature since it was organized National Medicinal Plants Research, which began in 1991 and has had continuity in the Program Branch of Natural and Traditional Medicine (MTN) MINSAP since 1997.

In short, let's say we have progressed to develop herbal medicines for the health system, which involves studies on pharmaceutical, chemical, pharmacological, toxicological, botanical, biological agriculture and finally clinical trials. The goal is to test the efficacy of herbal medicines and place in the health system.

It is worth noting that no clinical trial published in the worldwide scientific literature proves the effectiveness of any herbal medicine or other proceeding of the MTN. Most are clinical studies in humans showing effects of some medications or procedures in MTN and if there are several similar studies have been conducted meta analysis, in general, have not tested or refused the search efficiency. Is it a weakness? Yes, but is not limited to herbal medicines or the MTN, many widely used synthetic drugs and medical procedures that are proven effective, according to the requirements of these ongoing investigations. This is the greatest challenge and direction of medical research today.

7 .- What is your opinion on the future employment of medicinal plants for therapeutic purposes on an industrial scale?

The production of herbal medicines at medium or large industrial has a future of serious threats in the international context. One is that herbal medicines can and should be registered, like any medicine, but most procedures do not constitute patentable IP, which is a disincentive to the pharmaceutical industry as they lose the exclusivity and high earnings that a synthetic drug provides.

People produce and sell a lot of "herbal medicines" that have adulterations of the plant material and even unreported active chemical. This creates distrust among consumers, physicians, health systems and, worse, have produced serious adverse effects. The Food and Drugs Administration (FDA), the governmental regulatory agency of the United States for food, cosmetics and medicines, often take action against producers for the reasons mentioned above.

In summary, the cheaters, the intrusion of work and unscrupulous activity in the global context are the main threats to herbal medicines and MTN.

In Cuba, there is a remarkable harmony between the needs of the health care system and pharmaceutical producers, which fully guarantee that the medicines are intended to solve health problems and not be a commodity. This provides optimum conditions for industrial production of herbal medicines.

Source: Infomed - Health for Life

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1 Reviews “Medicinal plants: the Cuban experience”

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on 07/03/2014
There are many products claiming being natural and that is not the case but this happens only in places like non-developed countries since the bodies that control medicines are taken serious measures to avoid the sell of such bad products, now the consumer can rely a little bit more than in the previous years

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