Medicinal plant products have a long, positive tradition in many countries and cultures, especially in East and Southeast Asia.
Nonetheless, these products have been categorized for many years by Western allopathic medicine as 'dirty placebos.' Comprehensive efforts in research and development, however, have demonstrated that many plant extracts and natural substances are safe and effective medicines.
Indeed, in many instances, the conventional pharmaceutical companies rely on secondary plant products to provide model chemical structures in the development of new drugs.
During the past few years, improved analytical methods have enabled studies on traceablity and safety of natural products, enhancing the acceptance of these commodities.
Taking this aspect into account, the WHO Traditional Medicine Strategy 2002-2005, aimed to counter both general skepticism and uncritical enthusiasm for medicinal herbs in order to promote appropriate use of these plant materials for human welfare worldwide.
Similar issues related to benefits, safety, and efficacy can be associated with natural flavors and fragrances.
These actions have led to increased use of natural/herbal productions as nutraceuticals and food and feed additives.
For those interested in medicinal and aromatic plants, the challenges of today are the continued need for validated scientific data on quality, safety, and efficacy and the necessity for appropriate policies and legal frameworks to guide protection, trade, and applications of medicinal and aromatic plant materials.
A document written by ISHS/ICMAP, GA and EUROPAM, 'Guidelines on Good Agricultural and Collection Practices for Medicinal and Aromatic Plants,' addresses these challenges.
The topics discussed at WOCMAP III, along with the many other themes, including biodiversity and nature conservation, plant production and processing, phytochemistry and pharmacology, and economics and legal aspects, help establish the foundation upon which to build rational policies, enabling secondary plant products, under the 'metabolomics,' to experience a revival in mainstream research.
WOCMAP III in Chiang Mai in 2003, was the third great success of international conferences under the auspices of ICMAP, following similar conferences in Maastricht in 1992, and Mendoza in 1997. In each instance, these conferences have brought together more than 600 scientists and experts from all over the world to discuss medicinal and aromatic plants.
Chiang Mai was an appropriately selected, very prominent location as the 1988 Chiang Mai Declaration, 'Saving Lives by Saving Plants,' was written here.
A selected number of peer reviewed papers presented at WOCMAP III covering a wide range of topics are now published in six volumes of Acta Horticulturae.
- Volume 1 - Bioprospecting and Ethnopharmacology
- Volume 2 - Conservation, Cultivation, and Sustainable Use of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants
- Volume 3 - Perspectives in Natural Product Chemistry
- Volume 4 - Targeted Screening of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants, Economics and Law
- Volume 5 - Quality, Efficacy, Safety, Processing, and Trade in Medicinal and Aromatic Plants
- Volume 6 - Traditional Medicine and Nutraceuticals
ICMAP wants to express the sincerest thanks to all presenters, authors, reviewers, editors, and conveners of WOCMAP III, Chiang Mai 2003. The reader should gain a comprehensive understanding of current, worldwide medicinal and aromatic plant research in the papers presented in these volumes.
C.M. Franz, President, ICMAP
The papers contained in this volume of Acta Horticulturae report the Proceedings of WOCMAP III: The Third World Congress on Medicinal and Aromatic Plants.
Keynote speakers and authors of selected contributed oral and poster presentations were given the opportunity to submit a manuscript for publication.
These manuscripts were reviewed by the symposium Editors and other referees.
Only those papers judged suitable for publication following the authors consideration of reviewer suggestions appear in this volume of Acta Horticulturae.
The ISHS acknowledges and appreciates the contribution of all editors and reviewers.
They have made a significant contribution to improving the quality of this publication.
Lyle E. Craker and ZoŽ E. Gardner, ISHS Section Medicinal and Aromatic Plants