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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2023  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 5  |  Page : 92-94

World Herbal Encyclopedia

Department of Applied and Allied Sciences, University of Patanjali, Haridwar, Uttarakhand, India

Date of Submission17-Apr-2023
Date of Acceptance18-Apr-2023
Date of Web Publication28-Apr-2023

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Acharya Balkrishna
Department of Applied and Allied Sciences, University of Patanjali, Haridwar, WX3X+G26, Panchayanpur, Uttarakhand 249405
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jras.jras_107_23

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How to cite this article:
Balkrishna A. World Herbal Encyclopedia. J Res Ayurvedic Sci 2023;7, Suppl S1:92-4

How to cite this URL:
Balkrishna A. World Herbal Encyclopedia. J Res Ayurvedic Sci [serial online] 2023 [cited 2023 Jun 8];7, Suppl S1:92-4. Available from: http://www.jrasccras.com/text.asp?2023/7/5/92/374503

Hon’ble PM in 8th episode (28-June-2015) of MKB stated that- “The world wants to know about the values, the rituals and the heritage of India. It is our responsibility that without any artificiality we share our legacy and introduce ourselves to the world. We can only do this when we ourselves are proud of our traditions.”[1]

The field of herbalism dates back to the origin of medicinal and nutritional usages of plants among human as well as animal species. Several ancient traditional medicinal systems like African, Chinese, Indian and Japanese, etc. exhibit traces of plant preservation and creative expressions through their social, cultural, educational or historical events. Many tribal and indigenous communities have worshipped plants giving them a linkage to spiritual awareness and superior forces, thus preserving important and even endangered species as part of their natural heritage.

The first known-colored illustrations of plants so far were created by a physician called Crateuas, which were probably embodied in De Materia Medica. Several copies of such works continued to exist for around 800 years, which then slowly transgressed into mythological depictions of plants distorting their scientific features and realistic importance [2]. In absence of a legitimate source of plant identification, the need for herbarium and scientific research database had arisen for their preservation and to create a reliable database for the scientific community. The compilation of herbal encyclopedias was started to provide complete information about medicinal history of the World, plant, their origin, scientific components, and their human benefits. The current inconsistency in the taxonomical system has made it tiresome to identify plants with a single name throughout the world. The World Herbal Encyclopedia project aims to resolve this issue by introducing the morphological identification of medicinal plants using their ‘Vedic names’ along with their original botanical illustrations.[3]

  Medicinal History of the World Top

Historical and philosophical prospects of traditional medicinal systems of world were unleashed to determine the era, to which it belongs and to depict their fundamental concepts regarding constituents, nature and characteristics of man. Worldwide 9 medicinal systems and more than 900 healing practices were observed belonging to ancient eras of more than 15000 years. Transmission of medicinal information via silk and sea routes were also decoded along with the history of travelers in ancient & classical times[4].

  World Herbal Encyclopedia Top

The vision of the World Herbal Encyclopedia was conceptualized to address the current need for a centralized database of medicinal plants used all over the world for therapeutic purposes. Around 50,000 medicinal plants have been selected from different plant-based medicinal systems across the globe based on their high medicinal utility and geographical distribution.

The World Herbal Encyclopedia series is composed of 111 volumes, out of which the initial five volumes describe the history of plant-based medicinal systems practised in different communities or ethnicities of the world. The rest of the volumes till number in this series are arranged alphabetically starting from Genus ‘Algae’ to last Genus‘Angiosperms; covering all major plant species that have been recognized globally for their medicinal benefits. This documentation includes more than 7500 Genera of plants, 2.5 Lakh vernacular names in more than 2000 languages of the world. It is an authentic documentation of more than 3 lakh Folk formulations and 962 healing practices of the world. All scientific information is authenticated by more than 6 lakh references. It includes 35,000 handmade paintings and 30,000 line drawings of medicinal plants. It also includes Patanjali Research Foundation Herbarium which covers around 30,000 medicinal plants and is accredited by Index Herbarium, New York Botanical Garden [4].

  Vedic Taxonomy- An Effective and Scientific Solution: Top

The brand new ‘Vedic nomenclature’ has been designed with the help of several expert botanists, Sanskrit translators, and Ayurveda dignitaries, etc. keeping the base of ancient and scientific Sanskrit language along with the principles of Latin-based binomial nomenclature. This Vedic nomenclature has been used in the World Herbal Encyclopedia. The main features of this system are highlighted as follows:

  • Under Vedic nomenclature, the primary attention is given to the external and physical features of plants like root, stem, leaf, flower, fruit and other organs, for the plant naming process so that they could easily be identified by correlating their names to the external features[6],[ 7],[ 8].

  • To keep the plant names as shortest as possible, the features have been modified into their shortest forms which have been clarified through the concept of etymology, resulting in quite a short and meaningful plant name.

  • These plant names have been curated in such a meaningful way that makes their easy identification possible just by observing them in their natural habitat without the help of any laboratory-based equipment.

  • This nomenclature also used the genders that are similar to the Latin-based binominal method. For this, in genera’s names, One word’s name (ekpadanaam) will present its own gender and in a compound word’s name (sanyuktapadanaam), gender will be decided according to the ending word. In the name of species, genders have been determined in the manner of genera’s name. In this, the name of species is used as an adjective, due to Which the same term or name of the species has been used in the three genders at different places according to the genera.

  • In Vedic plant nomenclature, suffix-words have been used in the name of Genera as an indicative mark to know separately 6 classes of plant kingdom Angiosperm etc. If the given name contains the mark itself, it has not been repeated, such as in the terms of Nalika, Andadhrik and tvak etc. These above-mentioned terms already hold the indicative mark ‘ ka & k’ (का& क) of the angiosperm - group, hence there is no need to rewrite them here[5].

  • Currently, the upper plant kingdom of popular plant nomenclature has around 17, 000 genera and around 3,60,000 species but the total count of their names or words exceeds 13,00,000 in number. If they are calculated on the basis of unique names, then the number of their names exceeds 2,10,000. ‘Vedic Nomenclature’ uses a systematic terminology database to create around 17,000 genera names and 5,000 species names for the development of a scientific method of plant nomenclature.

    If in the future, any new plant genera are discovered, then new terminologies can be developed based on their physical features, however, for new species, the old terminologies can be used for naming plants [6].

    Thus, Vedic Taxonomy is a well-designed scientific method for plant nomenclature using the above-mentioned rules and principles, which provides easy access to different plant groups with the help of systematically allotted ‘Vedic Plant Names’. Based on this methodology, the nomenclature for genera and species can easily be memorized using sufficient and summarized meaningful terminologies as per their usage rules. We are hopeful that this nomenclature pattern shall be greatly useful for easy plant identification without using any laboratory or scientific equipment. This shall benefit botanists and research scholars along with plant enthusiasts significantly by simplifying the logic of plant identification, nomenclature and memorization[5],[9].

    Speaking on the occasion of the release of first volume of the World Herbal Encyclopedia, the Hon’ble Prime Minister expressed confidence that India will not ignore or forget the heritage that Indians have been historically proud of. He added that the innovative spirit of our ancestors must be kept alive.

    This World Herbal Encyclopaedia will enhance the knowledge of students, research workers and scholars who are curious regarding the medicinal plants and their uses. It is the most elaborative and authentic treatise in the world. This book will prove to be a blessing for forest dwellers, rural and urban mass, doctors and for all the communities of the society.

    Financial support and sponsorship


    Conflicts of interest

    There are no conflicts of interest.

      References Top

    English Rendering of Prime Minister’s ‘Mann ki Baat’ address on All India Radio, 28 June 2015, Available on: https://pib.gov.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=124295 [Last accessed on 11 Apr 2023].  Back to cited text no. 1
    Dioscorides, P (2011). De Materia Medica. Olms-Weidmann, New York: USA.  Back to cited text no. 2
    Kumar, A, Arya, V, Mishra, S, & Gautam, A. K (2022). Acharya Balkrishna: Dhanwantari of Modern Era, Father of Evidence-Based Ayurveda Revolution with a Multifaceted Research Perspective. Medicinal Plants-International Journal of Phytomedicines and Related Industries, 14(3), 345-354.  Back to cited text no. 3
    Balkrishna, A (2022). World Herbal Encyclopedia. DivyaPrakashan, Haridwar: India.  Back to cited text no. 4
    Balkrishna, A (2022). Vaidika-Pādapa-Vargikī. Haridwar, India: DivyaPrakashan.  Back to cited text no. 5
    Balkrishna, A (2022). Saumitreya-Saṃhitā. Haridwar, India: DivyaPrakashan.  Back to cited text no. 6
    Balkrishna, A (2022). Saumitreya-Mahodadhiḥ. Haridwar, India: DivyaPrakashan.  Back to cited text no. 7
    Balkrishna, A (2022). Saumitreya-Mahodadhiḥ Nighaṇṭuḥ. Haridwar, India: DivyaPrakashan.  Back to cited text no. 8
    Balkrishna, A (2022). Saumitreya-Nirvacana-Kośaḥ. Haridwar, India: DivyaPrakashan.  Back to cited text no. 9


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