http://www.bangkokpost.com/News/23Jan2006_news13.phpOriginally Posted by [bQuote[/b] ]
Medicinal herbs under threat
Several medicinal herbs used to treat major illnesses are facing extinction in Thailand, a survey has found, and the Public Health Ministry is stepping up its herbal plants conservation scheme. The latest herb put on the near-extinction list is mok bor wai, a rare Thai herb thought to contain substances that could be used to treat liver cancer and malaria, said Public Health Minister Phinij Jarusombat.
The minister and senior health officers yesterday visited a community forest in Nong Khai's Phon Phisai district which is said to be the last habitat of the herb in Thailand.
Scientists have found that mok bor wai (Drosera indica L.) contains flavonoids, a substance that eases inflammation.
The Brazilian species of the plant also has substances useful in treating cancer.
Specialists in Thai traditional medicine say mok bor wai can be used to treat dropsy _ swelling from excessive accumulation of fluid _ caused by liver cancer, which kills about 12,000 people a year in Thailand.
To provide better protection and sustainable use of Thai herbs such as mok bor wai and other traditional medical treatments the ministry has drafted a regulation on intellectual property rights protection of Thai traditional medicine.
Public health deputy permanent secretary Manit Theeratantikanon said the regulation, expected to be enacted this year, would provide intellectual property rights over traditional herbal medicine formulae, general knowledge of herbal medicine and individual prescriptions.
Although less than 5% of people use alternative medicine, the department expects this to increase from three million to 25 million within 10 years.