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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Environmental awareness through education

Environmental Education; according to the Annual Report (2004-2005) of the Ministry of Environment and Forest, the Government of India; can be defined as ‘a process of recognizing values and clarifying concepts in order to develop skills and added tools necessary to understand and appreciate the interrelationships among man, his culture and his biophysical surroundings.’ Through this definition, it is clear that environmental education can play a most significant role in building Awareness about- the relation between modern development and environment; and the impact of developmental practices on the surrounding environment among masses, if imparted properly. It is the educations which can enable a person know about everything.

Some of the important merits of education are being listed below-

(i) Education enables a person to know about his rights and duties; 
(ii) It enables to know him about the impacts of his activities on environment; 
(iii) It makes him know about different processes going on in the natural environment and their importance in keeping up the natural balance; 
(iv) It is through education that a person becomes able to have the knowledge about the status of different natural resources, needs and modes of their conservation etc.;
(v) Education enables a person know about various processes of development and their impacts on environment;
(v)Education enables a person to understand the phenomenon of Globalization and its impact on environment, economy and the social equality.

 Public Awareness through Formal Education
The system of education in which education is carried out in accordance with some established or prescribed rules, is called as Formal Education System. In India, the formal education is the mandate of the Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD). However, the Ministry of Environment and Forests has been consulting and interacting with MHRD, National Council of Educational Research and Training- the apical body of shaping education in schools in India, and HRD- departments of different states to include the Environmental Education in the curricula at various levels.

I. Environmental Education in Schools Systems
A vast section of population is found in different schools and colleges. Minds of these people remain ready to learn and curious to know about what is happening and what is likely to happen around their surroundings. These people can be motivated through proper formal education to take actions for environment. In view of these facts the MHRD had also been interacting with the University Grant Commission (UGC) to take appropriate steps for the inclusion of environmental education at the University Levels.

After the directives issued by Hon’ble Supreme Court of India,  the MHRD as well as State Departments of HRD have included the environmental education as a separate and compulsory subject in the education curricula framed by NCERT, at all levels of formal education, that is at primary, Secondary, Senior Secondary and College levels.

II. Environmental Appreciation Courses
A course module has been prepared by Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) in India, under the direction of the Ministry of Human Resources Development for Environmental Appreciation Courses. The Environmental Appreciation Courses are conducted through the mode of Distant Education with the help of various study centers located across the country. In pursuance of the directives of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, the course module developed by IGNOU for appreciation courses is being used as compulsory component of its Undergraduate Courses also.

III. Environmental Concepts in Management and Business Studies
The Central Ministry of Human Resources Development, Government of India launched an initiative in the year 2002, through which it integrated the environmental concepts and issues in the syllabi of Management and Business Studies. Accordingly, the experts were assigned duties to examine the course content and to conduct workshops to sensitize the faculty of Management Colleges towards the issues of environment. A new curriculum was developed in a Curriculum Development Workshop in which a Resource Base for Teaching Materials was also developed by the experts. After it, an inventory of courses offered in India and other countries of the world was developed which was followed by the development of an inventory of the Resource Materials for the Management and other professional courses. 

Public Awareness through Non- Formal Education
The system of education in which education is carried out without any pre-established and prescribed rules and the body concerned with educating the public is free to design the course module, the activity schedule or the programme concerning environmental awareness, is called as Non- Formal Education.

The Non-Formal Environmental Education for building of Environmental Awareness is imparted through various means like- through Eco- clubs, Population Education Programmes, Environmental Campaigns, and through other means.

I. Public Awareness through Eco- Clubs
Public Awareness Programmes for conservation of environment can be done by students at school or Mohallah (residential colony) level also. For this, students can form eco- clubs of like minded, responsible and disciplined students. 

What is an Eco- club? An eco-club is a group of people who meet at regular intervals for planning, designing and implementing activities for generating awareness among masses and for identifying and solving ecological problems at the local levels.

At school level, students can form Eco- clubs by organizing students from different classes. Some Non- governmental organisations like WWF that are busy in generating environmental awareness since long, are running Nature –Clubs in some schools in different states of India and abroad. The National Council of Science and Technology Communications (NCSTC) is also generating Environmental Awareness through its various eco-clubs running across the country under different names.

The National Green Corps:  The Ministry of Environment and Forest started National Green Corps (NGC) Programme in the year 2001 – 02. The objective of this National Programme is to generate Environmental Awareness amongst school children through establishment of Eco-clubs in all the districts of different states and Union Territories of India. The programme is being implemented by different nodal agencies. The principal focus of the NGC Programme is the introduction of action oriented studies of the problems of environment on different levels and finding out easy solutions of these problems through students under the guidance and supervision of their teachers. Though a State Govt. / UTs is free to open any number of such eco-clubs in its districts, the Central  Government provides  financial assistance to 150 best performing  eco- clubs in each district.

The basic objectives of NGCs are –
(i) To provide Environmental Education opportunities to school children and to make them understand their local environment and Environmental Problems.

(ii) Stimulating awareness amongst school children through physical programmes of activities about the Environmental Conservation and Protection Issues.

(iii) Visualizing the role of children as agents of change and dissemination of environmental information among public.

(iv) To facilitate participation of school children in decision making in the areas of development and environment.

(v) To involve children in action based programmes designed by them for solving environmental problems at local levels.

II. Public Awareness through Population Education Programmes
Educating students about human population; relationships between economic, social, cultural and biological processes that influence a population; impacts of the growth of human population on these processes, and Reproductive Health of men and women - is called as population education. The science of population is called as Demography and one who is the expert of demography is called as a Demographer.

Importance of Population Education
The Population Education is a very important part of education which acts as a powerful agent of building awareness regarding development and environment. It encourages the learners to understand the impacts of population growth on environment in general and about the impact of population growth on natural resourced in particular. It teaches about the impact of population on civic amenities and spread of various types of general and Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) like Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).The population education incorporates Sex Education which is essential for good reproductive health, maintaining the size of the family and keeping away from STD.

Impact of Population Growth on Development and Environment
The growth of human population has great impacts on development. On the other hand development too, has great impacts on the growth of human population. Hence it is important to generate awareness about the impacts of development and population on each other and also about the collective impacts of both of these on the natural environment. This can be done through various population education Programmes conducted on different levels. It is through population education Programmes also that awareness regarding the impact of rapid growth of population on environment and development can be built.

How does the Growth of human population affect development? Well, the production which is essential for the economic development depends on Natural Resources and Human Resources. Human resources are the Active Resources that help in the exploitation and utilization of natural resources. The exploitation and utilization of natural resources finally lead to production and economic development. Thus, human resources have greater importance in the overall process of development.

When human population grows beyond a certain limit, the pressure on natural resources increases due to the fact that the production is to be raised to meet the demands of the increasing population. On the other hand, all the produce is finished in meeting the demands of the growing population and savings become zero or very less. This condition does not allow the formation of Capital and without capital there cannot be any production in future.

The economic development too, has great impacts on the growth of population. The per capita increase in income of people leads to the rise in their living standards. When the living standards of people rise, they start realizing the need and importance of keeping smaller families. This thought encourages them to control the birth rate and the further growth of population is stabilized.

III. Public Awareness through Awareness Campaigns
A series of planned activities that are intended to achieve a particular social, commercial or political aim- is called as a campaign.

Campaigns in environmental context are intended to generate awareness regarding the urgent needs of the conservation of environment and its resources as well as to take up appropriate steps through different activities for the recovery of the lost health of environment of a particular area or locality. Environmental Awareness Campaigns are very important for generating awareness regarding the actual status of various resources of the natural environment, the impacts of ongoing processes of development on these resources and the effective measures to be taken up for  the recovery of that which has been lost during the course of development.

The environmental campaigns are usually conducted by government agencies or by non- government bodies by making provisions of funding and by ensuring the participation of the public.

National Environmental Awareness Campaign
The Multi-media Campaign launched during the mid-1986 by the Ministry for Environment and Forest, Government of India, for the generation of environmental awareness with active components for the recovery of the lost health of environment is called as National Environmental Awareness Campaign.

The National Environmental Awareness Campaign is a large scale programme of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, which was started during mid-1986. It is organized every year on a particular theme decided by the ministry. This campaign is designed to disseminate environmental messages to a wide range of target groups utilizing conventional and non- conventional methods of communication.

(i) Financial Assistance and Institutions that carry on Awareness Campaigns

Under the NEAC nominal financial assistance is provided to registered NGOs , schools, colleges, universities, research institutions, women and youth organizations, army units, state governments’ departments etc. through Nodal Agencies. These institutions organize awareness activities fixes by the ministry for a particular year.

Presently, the campaign is implemented through 29 regional resource agencies (RRAs) for specific states or region of the country. These agencies are responsible for the physical monitoring of activities of different organizations. In the year 1986 the number of participating organizations was 115 which increased up to 7588 in 2004. Up to 2005 the number of participating organizations rose up to 9566.The RRAs help the ministry in the conduction, supervision and monitoring of the NEAC Campaign across the country.

(ii) Activities done under the NEAC Campaign
The institutions that receive financial assistance for conducting Programmes under the NEAC, disseminate information through various types of activities. Most of these activities are seminars, workshops, training programmes, camps, pad- yatras, rallies, public meetings, exhibitions, competitions, folk dances, and songs, street theaters, puppet shows, distribution of EE -resource materials etc. Activities- like tree plantation, waste management, cleaning of water sources etc.,   are also done during the campaign.

IV. Public Awareness through Other Programmes

(i) Publication and Distribution of Resource Materials: This programme has been designed to prepare resource materials for the utilization in various Environmental Education and awareness programmes. The expertise available with professional societies, voluntary organizations, institutions etc. is utilized for printing and publication of the resource materials.

(ii) GLOBE: It is an International Science and Education Programme which was started in 1995 by USA. In expanded form, it is known as Global Learning and Observation to Benefit the Environment. This programme is being conducted in 108 countries including India. This global programme facilitates the worldwide research through a worldwide research team formed by students, teachers and scientists.

The students of GLOBE carry out important researches and learn about scientific protocols. They perform environmental activities already taught to them in theory classes. This programme helps students to perform activities based on text book- contents and assists them in gaining complete knowledge of environment.

(iii) Green Olympiad: It is a written Quiz Programme conducted by Tata Energy Research Institute (TERI) New Delhi (India), on the Global Level. The number of participants in this global programme for students is increasing gradually. About 70,000 school children appeared in the quiz from India, Russia, and UAE during 2005. A televised quiz programme named TERRA QUIZ was telecast on the national channel of Doordarshan also. Thus, this programme is very important for sensitizing children about environmental issues.

(iv) Seminars, Symposia and Workshops: The Ministry of Environment and Forests provides financial assistance to universities, NGOs, voluntary Organizations (VOs) and other institutions for the organization of seminars, symposia, workshops and conferences etc. and for publication of their proceedings. These programmes provide platforms to scientists and researchers to share knowledge on the environmental issues. This facilitates the transfer of knowledge to people.

(v) Awareness through Print and Electronic Media: Positive changes in attitudes and behaviors of public are necessary for a sustainable development and balanced environment. For this, people should be made aware of different issues of environment and government programmes through print and electronic media. The governments conduct many different programmes on radios and television for the mass awareness regarding developmental and environmental issues. Some organizations prepare films on different issues of environment. These films generate Environmental Awareness in big ways. Some of the important films made for generating Environmental Awareness are-Ozy Ozone (an animation film); Ecotoons (a cartoon film by WWF), Listen, the Nature is crying here( a film made by the children of a school of Himachal Pradesh), Navo Jamano Navi Harifai(an animation film produced by the Gujrat State Energy Development Agency), Waste Not Want Not, I care for the Environment, Littering, Cloth Bags are in, Plastic Bags are Out, Cans Add to Garbage, Garbage- Our Problem, and Clean up Kodagu  etc.

(vi) Media Action Plan: The Ministry of Environment and Forests has formulated a Media Action Plan which comprises a number of activities.

(vii) Environmental Information System (ENVIS): The Central Ministry of Environment and Forests has started an Environmental Information System which is responsible for the collection, collation, storage, retrieval, and dissemination of environmental Information to decision makers, research scholars The ENVIS has a network of 78 subject- specific and state- centers located across the country. Academicians, policy planners, environmental scientists etc. can receive information for their work from these centers. The networking of all these ENVIS centers have been made through a portal at URL http://www.envis.nic.in

 Sponsoring of ‘Bhoomi’- a weekly Environmental Magazine on Doordarshan,

 Launching Awareness Campaign on selected environmental themes through different private      T V channels,

 Launching of a 15 minute programme entitled ‘Yeh Gulistan Hamara’ in twelve languages on All India Radio,

 Supporting ‘Vatavaran Film Festival’ on Wildlife,

 The Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, has signed a Memorandum of Agreements with the Public Service Broadcasting Trust (PSBT) for the production of 13 films per year on Environmental Issues and their telecast on Doordarshan,

 The Ministry sponsors tours of national and international journalists to sensitize them on Ecology and Wildlife,

 An annual vacation programme on Environmental Resources named as ‘Vacation Programme on Natural Resources,

 For building awareness regarding environment and development among high school students, the Ministry has developed association with the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and Environment (A Tree).

 Various awareness programmes are being conducted by Tata Energy Research Institute in many different ways. Some of the important awareness programmes conducted by the institute are- Educational Trips, Enviro Club, SWISS (Sensitization on Water Issues for School Children), EduGreen, YEARN (Youth for Ethical Action and Respect for Nature), CAMPS (Community Adoption and Monitoring Programme for Schools) etc.

Key Words : Environmental Awareness,Programmes, campaigns, Eco- clubs

Sunday, November 28, 2010

What is the World Health Organisation, and what are its core functions?

Image : Logo WHO

WHO or the World Health Organisation is the directing and coordinating authority for health within the United Nations system. It is responsible for providing leadership on global health matters, shaping the health research agenda, setting norms and standards, articulating evidence-based policy options, providing technical support to countries and monitoring and assessing health trends.

In the 21st century, health is a shared responsibility, involving equitable access to essential care and collective defence against transnational threats.

Important Functions of the World Health Organisation
(i).  providing leadership on matters critical to health and engaging in partnerships where joint action is needed;
(ii). shaping the research agenda and stimulating the generation, translation and dissemination of valuable knowledge;
(iii). setting norms and standards and promoting and monitoring their implementation;
articulating ethical and evidence-based policy options;
(iv). providing technical support, catalysing change, and building sustainable institutional capacity; and
(v). monitoring the health situation and assessing health trends.

The above mentioned core  functions are set out in the 11th General Programme of Work, which provides the framework for organization-wide programme of work, budget, resources and results. Entitled "Engaging for health", it covers the 10-year period from 2006 to 2015.
WHO operates in an increasingly complex and rapidly changing landscape. The boundaries of public health action have become blurred, extending into other sectors that influence health opportunities and outcomes. WHO responds to these challenges using a six-point agenda. The six points address two health objectives, two strategic needs, and two operational approaches. The overall performance of WHO will be measured by the impact of its work on women's health and health in Africa.
A.  Promoting development
During the past decade, health has achieved unprecedented prominence as a key driver of socioeconomic progress, and more resources than ever are being invested in health. Yet poverty continues to contribute to poor health, and poor health anchors large populations in poverty.
Health development is directed by the ethical principle of equity: Access to life-saving or health-promoting interventions should not be denied for unfair reasons, including those with economic or social roots. Commitment to this principle ensures that WHO activities aimed at health development give priority to health outcomes in poor, disadvantaged or vulnerable groups. Attainment of the health-related Millennium Development Goals, preventing and treating chronic diseases and addressing the neglected tropical diseases are the cornerstones of the health and development agenda of the World Health Organisation.
B. Fostering health security
Shared vulnerability to health security threats demands collective action. One of the greatest threats to international health security arises from outbreaks of emerging and epidemic-prone diseases. Such outbreaks are occurring in increasing numbers, fuelled by such factors as rapid urbanization, environmental mismanagement, the way food is produced and traded, and the way antibiotics are used and misused. The world's ability to defend itself collectively against outbreaks has been strengthened since June 2007, when the revised International Health Regulations came into force.
C.  Strengthening health systems
For health improvement to operate as a poverty-reduction strategy, health services must reach poor and underserved populations. Health systems in many parts of the world are unable to do so, making the strengthening of health systems a high priority for WHO. Areas being addressed include the provision of adequate numbers of appropriately trained staff, sufficient financing, suitable systems for collecting vital statistics, and access to appropriate technology including essential drugs.
D. Harnessing research, information and evidence
Evidence provides the foundation for setting priorities, defining strategies, and measuring results. WHO generates authoritative health information, in consultation with leading experts, to set norms and standards, articulate evidence-based policy options and monitor the evolving global heath situation.
E.  Enhancing partnerships
WHO carries out its work with the support and collaboration of many partners, including UN agencies and other international organizations, donors, civil society and the private sector. WHO uses the strategic power of evidence to encourage partners implementing programmes within countries to align their activities with best technical guidelines and practices, as well as with the priorities established by countries.
F. Improving performance
WHO participates in ongoing reforms aimed at improving its efficiency and effectiveness, both at the international level and within countries. WHO aims to ensure that its strongest asset - its staff - works in an environment that is motivating and rewarding. WHO plans its budget and activities through results-based management, with clear expected results to measure performance at country, regional and international levels.
-       Courtesy WHO

Key Words : WHO, core functions, U.N.

Kanghi- the Abutilon in the wild

Here are different poses of Kanghi plant which is taxonomically known as Abutilon sp.

Kanghi is a wild medicinal plant. Its botanical name is Abutilon indicum. It belongs to the family Malvaceae. Indian mallow or Abutilon is its common name. In Hindi it is locally known as Kanghi. It is found in sub-Himalayan tract and on hills up to a height of 1,200m and in hotter parts of India. It grows in many countries of the world. A list of its names in different languages is given here as under.

It is sweet in taste, cooling, digestive, laxative, expectorant, diuretic, astringent, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anthelmintic, demulcent and aphrodisiac. It is useful in gout, tuberculosis, ulcers, bleeding disorders, and worms. Decoction used in toothache and tender gums. Demulcents of leaves are locally applied to boils and ulcers. Roots are prescribed in fever, chest affection and urethrities.

List of common names in different languages -
Common Names in Arabic: hawk el ghanam
Common Names in Bosnian: Njemacka loza
Common Names in Chinese: Bai ma, Qing ma, Tang ma
Common Names in Croatian: Duga konoplja, Duga konopljika, Krstati sljez, Mracnjak, Veliki sljez
Common Names in Danish: Abutilonhamp, Kinajute
Common Names in Dutch: Abutilonhennep, Chinese jute
Common Names in English: Abutilon hemp, Abutilon-Hemp, American jute, American velvet leaf, Butter Print, Butterprint, Butterprint velvetleaf, Butterweed, Buttonweed, China Jute, China-Jute, Chingma jute, Chingma lantern, Cotton weed, Flower of an hour, Indian hemp, Indian Mallow, Indian-Mallow, Kingma jute, Pie maker, Swamp Chinese lantern, Tientsin-Jute, Velvet Leaf, Velvet-Leaf, Velvetleaf, Velvetleaf (Or Butterprint), Velvetleaf Indian Mallow, Velvetweed, Wild cotton
Common Names in French: Abutilon ordinaire, Chanvre d´abutilon, Fausse guimauve, Guimauve jaune, Jute de Chine, Jute de Manchourie, Jute de Tien-Tsin
Common Names in German: Abutilonhanf, Bastardeibish, Chinajute, Chinesische Jute, Chinesischer Hanf, Samtpappel, Tien-Tsin Jute
Common Names in Italian: Abutilo ordinario, Canapa d´abutilon, Canapa d´abutilone, Juta di Cina, Juta di Tien-Tsin, Malva gialla tessile
Common Names in Japanese: Hinaha giri, Ichibi, Kiri asa, Kiri-Asa, Kusa giri
Common Names in Portuguese: Cnhamo de abutilon, Falsa-Juta, Juta da China, Juta de Tien-Tsin
Common Names in Romanian: Pristolnic, Teişor
Common Names in Russian: канатник теофраста, Kanatnik Teofrasta
Common Names in Serbian: Lipica, eludarka, uti slez
Common Names in Slovenian: Barunovec, Podslnecnk Theofrastov, Rumeni slez
Common Names in Spanish: C��amo de abutiln, Malva blanca, Malva de terciopelo, Malva grande, Yute de China, Yute de Ching-Ma, Yute de King-Ma, Yute de la China, Yute de Tien-Tsin
Common Names in Swedish: Lindmalva
Common Names in Turkish:Hind keneviri, Manurya keneviri

Image 1

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Key Words : Kanghi, Abutilon indicum, medicinal plant

Peperomia pellucida, an Amazing Wild Medicinal Herb

I have been seeing an amazing plant during July to December months every year since last five years – growing and completing its life cycle in a wonderful habitat. The habitat is wonderful because in my opinion no other plant except this one can grow in it. How can a plant grow in conditions almost unfavorable for life – a vertical, smooth and cemented surface, not at all ready to allow even a single drop of rain water that may flow through to it, to rest a while? Only a very thin layer of dust can escape out of air to settle down at this smallest area compared to the minimum area thought to be needed by a plant to grow and develop in it.The plant under study grows at the same place every year – not more than two or three in number. First, the plant appears like mini translucent architecture attached to the vertical surface of the wall just above the upper margin of the gate of an open school lavatory. Sun rays for a very short period do visit the area but the wall does not seem porous enough to withhold a little water. It is a mystery. But the plant grows well. It might have been able to reach to the great length, had it been able to inhabit a proper place. But, I see it becomes a little greener during its flowering and fruiting period.
 In the initial phase which lasted for many years, I just kept on observing it and wondering on every aspect of its life. At last I posted it on my site with a request to identify it. But no one did ever respond. Finally, I myself became able to identify it through long and tiresome research. Now after passing through long processes of identification, survey and research on different aspects of the plant I have become able to know that it is Peperomia pellucida, a medicinal herb of great values.

Image 1: Peperomia pellucida growing solitary on a vertical plastered wall

Image 2: Peperomia pellucida in the wild

Image 3: Peperomia pellucida in the wild, showing fruits and Infl.

Peperomia pellucida the plant of immense medicinal value, is variously known in different Indian and other languages. Its names in Sanskrit are Toyakandha and Varshabhoo. In Malayalam it is known as Mashitandu chedi. In Philippines it is known as Ulasiman-bato, Olasiman-ihalas, and Tangontagon. it is known as càng cua (Vietnam); pak krasang (Thailand); suna kosho (Japan); rangu-rangu, ketumpangan ortumpang angin (Bahasa/Malay).

Peperomias are Herbs of tropical and subtropical regions. Most of them occur in Central and Northern South America. Fewer species are known from Africa, Asia, and Oceania. Different endemic species are known from the islands of the Indian Ocean, the Pacific, and the Caribbean. It has been reported that Peperomia is native to tropical America and Asia. It is well represented and naturalized in India too.

Although a lot of them grow as epiphytes in rainforest habitats, others are succulents found in the high Andes. It can be found in lightly shaded and damp areas such as nooks, walls, yards, and even on roofs. Peperomia is the largest genus of the family of the Piperaceae. 

The Plant
Now, two types of Peperomias are seen in my area – P. obtusifolia and P. pellucida. It belongs to the family Peperomiaceae. Some researchers have reported that there are following types of Peperomias –
(i).Cupid Peperomias (P. scandens variegate)
(ii).Creeping Peperomias (P. prostrata)
(iii).Watermelon Peperomias (P. arqueir)
(IV).Baby rubber plant (P. clusifolia)
(v).Desert privet (P. magnoliafolia variegate)
Peperomias can grow anywhere in filtered light conditions. The plant grown just anywhere may be contaminated by aerial and soil pollutant like human and animal excrement. It is reported that unfinished concrete block fences that often remain damp are favourite habitats of this herb. It can be used for brewing and healing purposes after being ensured that it is free from contaminants.

The plant has a threadlike but angular trailing stem. Those growing in rich habitats do have fleshy and stout stems. Its leaves are blunt, heart shaped and in good habitats it grows as a long shrubby looking creeping cover or as an epiphyte. The elongated stems look like a vine with leaves rising 6 to 9 cm above the surface. Both leaves and stems have shiny waxy surfaces.

The foliage of the plant looks ornamental. It has been reported to be a tropical perennial. It usually does not exceed 12” in height. Flowers are tiny and unnoticeable and grow in the form of a cord like spike. Inflorescence consists of compact, erect spikes of minute creamy white flowers.
Some of Peperomias are epiphytes growing on rotten logs. These have thick angular stems and fleshy leaves. Most Peperomias have tiny flowers which are packed in a characteristic greenish or brown conical spike like an inverted catkin. A few species have more attractive flowers such as white scented clusters of spikes produced by P. fraseri from Ecuador.

Some species are popular house plants. A variety of cultivars of Peperomia caperata with attractively marked foliage are widely available through horticultural trade, and varieties of compact Peperomias can sometimes be found among selection of plants intended for bottle gardens.

Fruits remain tiny, dot like smooth, and oval. These develop partially embedded in the spike with their hooked beaks protruding outside.

Peperomias have long profile in succulent society of plants. However, several species are succulent and form tubers. P. campylotrapa is a deciduous tuber forming plant found in the cooler regions of Mexico. After flowering, the aerial growth dies away and the tuber can survive long periods of drought. P. macrorhiza which is found in Peru and P. monticola which is found in Mexico form a large group and can be of interest for plant collectors. About 1000 species of Peperomias have so far been described mainly from South America. About 17 of these are reported to be found in Africa, and similar or less number has been reported from Asia.

Rotting, ring spots manifested as distorted foliage with chlorotic or necrotic rings that are found on the leaves. This disease can be caused by cucumber mosaic virus and the only treatment is to destroy the infected parts. Many Peperomias can be propagated by leaves, or tip cutting, although the variegated and succulent species grow mainly by tip cuttings.

Image 4: Peperomia fraseri- erect inflorescence. A horticultural variety

Image 5: Peperomia hoffmanii a horticultural variety

Image 6 : Peperomia sp. a horticultural variety

Image 7: Peperomia caperata variegata - a Horticultural variety

Traditional and Ethno- herbological Uses of the Plant
Ayurveda recommends the whole Peperomia plant as medicinal. It is described in Ayurveda as – Rasa – Katu and Madhur; Guna- Lakhu, rooksha, Teekshna; and Virya- Ushna. The plant is described to passify vitiated cough, pitta, constipation, kidney diseases, urinary retention, disuria, urinary tract infections, emaciation, edema and general weakness.

Through a detailed study of various aspects of the plant, it has been found that it has a long and rich history of medicinal applications across American and Asian countries. Ethno-botanical studies of the plant reveal that the whole plant has been in medicinal use since long. It is crushed and mixed with water to form a mixture, heated and administered orally to cure hemorrhage. In Bolivia, a decoction of root has been used for the treatment of fevers. The extract of the aerial part of the plant has been reported to be applied to cure wounds. Mufioz et al. (2000) have studied natural bioactive compounds in the extract of Peperomia in Bolivia through multidisciplinary approach. They have evaluated and found that the plant extract if administered orally for a certain period can cure malaria. Khan and Omoloso have studied anti bacterial activities of P. pellucida and they have confirmed that the plant extract has anti-microbial properties.

P. pellucida has been used for curing various types of ailments in the past. Still it is used for the treatment of abdominal pain, acne, boils, colic, gout, head ache, renal disorders, rheumatic pain, breast cancer, impotence, mental disorders, and even small pox. It has also been eaten raw or cooked to eat for the treatment of rheumatic pain. Aziba et al. have studied the analgesic activity of the extract of upper or the aerial part of the plant. The plant has been in use to lower cholesterol level in blood in the Northeastern Brazil. On the other hand it has been in use to treat protein urea and other urinary disorders. In the region of Amazon, it is in use as cough suppressant, diuretic and for the treatment of cardiac arrhythmia. Dos Santos et al. (2004) have studied the oil extracted from different species of Peperomia in Brazilian Atlantic forests. Fatima et al. have studied the anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of Peperomias. Thus, the ethno- botanical practices popular in different parts of the world have already been tested and confirmed by various researchers from time to time.

Infusion and decoction of leaves and stems of fresh plant are eaten as salad for the treatment of gout and arthritis. Various studies have confirmed the traditional knowledge that the extract of the plant is analgesic, anti-inflammatory, depressant of Central Nervous System, antipyretic, and anti-bacterial.

Chemical compounds isolated from Peperomia pellucida
Seeds of Peperomia pellucida yield an essential oil. This oil has been reported to contain as many as 71 chemical compounds. Major chemical constituents of the essential oil are sesquiterpenes.A number of chemical compounds have been isolated by different workers from time to time. Some major categories of compounds isolated from the plant body of different species of Peperomia are Flavonoides like acacetin, apigenin, isovitexin, and Pellucidatin; Phytosterols like campesterol and stgmasterol; essential oils like hydrozylated sesquiterpene; carotol etc. The plant has also been reported to contain peperomines that are reported to have cytotoxic or anti-cancer properties. Besides these, the plant extract also contains Arylpropanoides like apiols having anti-fungal activities.

Medicinal Values of Peperomia pellucida
Oral administration of the extract of Peperomia pellucida in rats has been confirmed (Arrigoni et al.2001, de Fatima et al.2004,) to interfere with the synthesis of Prostaglandin, thus acting as an anti-inflammatory agent.

Oral administration of the extract of P. pellucida in rats has been confirmed to cause analgesic activity (Aziba et al. 2001). Aziba et al. have worked on analgesic activity of Peperomia pellucida aerial parts in mice.

The extract of whole plant of Peperomia pellucida has been reported to check the growth of Chloroquine- resistant Plasmodium falciparum Indo- strain by 95%. It has also been reported that this type of extract causes total lyses of Leismania braziliensis, L.; L. donovani; and L. amazonensis (Munoz et al., Chan-Bacab et al. 2001).

Xu S et al. have studied the bioactive compounds from P. pellucida and have reported that the crude extract of the plant cause cytotoxicity against the cancer cell lines HL-60, MCF-7 and HeLa.

Persons hyper sensitive to the plant may feel asthma like conditions due to strong mustard like odor of the plant.

Crude methanolic extracts of P. pellucida has been reported to show broad spectrum anti-microbial activity. Bojo et al. (1994) studied the anti-bacterial activity of the extract of P. pellucida using disc diffusion methods. Similar studies by Khan et al. (2002) also document similar results for the anti-microbial activity of P. pellucida extract against numerous species of bacteria including Bacillus subtilis, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus auren.

The chloroform extract from dried leaves of P. pellucida have been reported by Ragasa et al. (1998) to have antifungal activity against Trichophyton metagrophytes.

From the foregoing accounts it is evident that the plant Peperomia has immense medicinal values that demand further researches towards the development of safe and suitable medications for the treatment of pains, inflammations, stomach problems and even cancers. Suitable and safe medications can be prepared to treat bacterial and those caused by protozoa like malaria and other fevers. For this the plant should be grown on commercial basis and conserved in the wild.

In the current age of environmental pollution and habitat destruction herbs of immense medicinal values are being unknowingly destroyed by human activities. More extensive surveys of floras of different area, listing and investigations followed by repeated researches are essential to conserve the property hidden in the biodiversity of the world.

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Key Words : Peperomia, wild, medicinal