From the earliest times, herbs have been prized for their pain-relieving and healing abilities and today we still rely largely on the curative properties of plants. Over the centuries, societies around the world have developed their own traditions to make sense of medicinal plants and their uses. Some of those traditions and medicinal practices may seem strange and magical, others appear rational and sensible, but all of them are attempts to overcome illness and suffering with an aim to enhance the quality of life. Many of the thousands of plant species growing throughout the world have medicinal uses, containing active constituents that have a direct pharmacological action on the body. The brain is much complex organ of our body and hence no surprise that only a very few drugs are approved by regulatory authorities for treating multi-factorial ailments alike Alzheimer’s disease. The oriental system of medicine like “Ayurveda” which is as old as 5000 years, had classified selected plants under “medhya rasayanas”. In Sanskrit, “medhya” means intellect/cognition and “rasayana” means “rejuvenation”. These are used both in herbal and conventional medicine and offer benefits that pharmaceutical drugs lack, helping to combat illness and support the body's efforts to regain good health and intellect. In the present article, such well known medicinal plants of Indian origin are discussed which are used in various central nervous system (CNS) disorders since ancient times. The focus of this review is an Withania somnifera, Bacopa monniera, Centella asiatica, Convolvulus pluricaulis, Emblica officinalis and Ocimum sanctum reputed for their effectiveness in CNS disorders. The other blockbuster herbal drugs of non-Indian origin like Ginkgo biloba, St. John’s wort, Kava kava and Valerian are not discussed here as these herbs have already been extensively reviewed elsewhere for their effectiveness in many brain disorders. The focus of the present article is to keep abreast with the medicinal plants used in various CNS disorders.
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