Role of medicinal and aromatic plants in national economy?

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October 22, 2011 6:02AM

Aromatic (Aroma Producing) plants are those plants which produce a certain type of aroma. Their aroma is due to the presence of some kind of essential oil with chemical constituents that contain at least one benzene ring in the their chemical configuration .1

Volatile oil:

A substance of oily consistency and feel, derived from a plant and containing the principle to which the odor and taste of the plant are due (essential oil), in contrast to a fatty oil, a volatile oil evaporates when exposed to the air and thus is capable of distillation, it may also be obtained by expression or extraction, many volatile oils, identical to or closely resembling the natural oils identical to or closely resembling the natural oils can be made synthetically. Also known as ethereal oil.5

The essential oil industry was traditionally a cottage industry in India . Since 1974, a number of industrial companies have been established for large scale production of essential oils, oleo resins and perfume. The essential oils from plants being produced in India include ajowain oil, cedar wood oil, celery oil, citronella oil, davana oil, eucalyptus oil, geranium oil, lavender oil. lemon grass oil , mentha oil , palmarosa oil, patchaouli rose oil , sandal wood oil , turpentine oil and vetiver oil .The manufacture of turpentine oil , and resin from pine is a sizable and well established industry in India having 10,000 - 25000 tones annual production of the oil , α - pinine and δ-3 carene are the two vital components produced from the oil. α - Ionone from lemongrass oil for perfumery and β- ionone for vitamin A synthesis are produced in India . Before 1960, menthol was not produced in India but the introduction of Japanese mint, Mentha arvensis and subsequent improvements therefore enabled India to produces over 500 tones of menthol and now tops the world market in export of natural menthol 4

Although the production of major oils is highly organized, a number of developing countries have volatile oil rich flora not fully utilized or cultivated and the United Nation. Industrial Development Organization has taken steps to inform on the setting up of rural based small scale essential oil industries 3

Essential Oils

The chemical components of essential oils can be divided into two main categories, the hydrocarbon monoterpenes , diterpenes and sesquiterpenes , as well as some oxides , phenolices and sulphur and nitrogen containing material . Common terpenes include limonene which occurs in most citrus oils, and the antiseptic pine, found in pine and terpene oils. Important sesquterpenes include chamzulene and farnesene which occur in chamomile oil and which have been widely studied for anti inflammatory and bactericidal properties.

The extensive occurrence of ester in essential oil include linalyl acetate , which is a component bergamot and lavender , and geranyl acetate found in sweet marjoram .Other common ester are the bornyl, eugenyl and lavendulyl acetate. The characteristic fruity aromas of esters are claimed to have sedative and fungicidal properties.

Aldehydes are also clamed to have sedative properties, the most common being citralnellal and neral found in lemon sconted oils, citral also has antiseptic properties. Equally pungent to the aldehydes in many instances are the ketones such as jasmine and funchone found in jasmine and fennel oil, respectively. Ketones such as camphor, carnone , methone and pine comphone , found in many proprietary preparation are effective in upper respiratory tract complaints . However, some ketones are also among the more toxic components essential oils such they one found in pennyroyal and buchu.

The alcohol within essential oils is generally nontoxic. Commonly occurring terpene alcohols include citronellal found in rose, lemon and eucalyptus, also geramnial, bornenol , fornenesol , menthol , nerol and linalool occurring in rose wood and lavender . Alcohol has antiseptic and antiviral properties and in aromatherapy are claimed to have an uplifting quality

A wide range of oxides occur in essential oils including ascaridol , bisabolol and bisaleolone oxides and linalool oxide from hyssop . The most important oxide, however, is cineole . Also known as eucalyptus oil, it occurs extensively in other oils such as bey laurel, rosemary and cajuput. It is used medicinally for its expectorant properties. 3

Use of Essential oil

Indian Scenario

India is one of the few countries in the world having varied agro climatic zones suitable for the cultivation of a host of essential oil bearing plants. Due to increased awareness of health hazards associated with synthetic chemicals coupled with the increase coast of petroleum products, the use of essential oils have been gradually increasing. The consumers are showing increasing preference for natural material over the synthetic. During the last few years with the spurt in the production of essential oils it is emerging as a potential agro based industry in India. At present in India about 30b % of the fine chemical used annually in perfumes and flavors come from essential oils. The total consumption of perfumery and flavorings material in India is abut 3800 MT / annum valued at Rs 100 crores. Food, dental, Pharmaceutical flavors share is around 700 MT and te rest represents perfumery. The estimated production of perfumery raw material is around 500 tones / annum valued at Rs 400 crores. According to trade Development Authority of India the total production of fragrance excluding formulation for captive consumption by the user industry is about Rs 120 crores /annum. A number of essential oils form palmarosa , citronella ginger grass , basil , mint , lemon grass , eucalyptus cedar wood , lavender oil , davana oil , celery seed oil , fennel and other oils have been widely used in a variety of products in India . Out of these the essential oils currently being produced in India are oil of citronella , lemongrass , basil , mint , sandalwood , palmarosa , eucalyptus , cedar wood , vetiver and geranium Rose oil , lavender , davana oil , oil of khus and ginger grass are produced in small quantities . During last forty year the importance of developing essential oil bearing plants is being increasingly realized. With the introduction of Japanese mint and subsequent improvement there upon, India produces 5000 tones of menthol values Rs 100 crores and is one of the leading Menthol produced in India before 1960. Presently the areas under mint cultivation are estimated to the around 40000 hectares mainly in U.P., Punjab, Haryana and to some extent in Bihar and M.P. The expert of essential oils during the year 1991-92 ha been 53.6 crores as against to 40 crores during the year 1990-91 thereby registering an increases of 37 % over the last year. An amount of Rs 61 crores have been saved foreign exchange annually by means of production of certain oils of mint , aromatic grass , linalool , geranium , lavender and rose oil during 91-92. With the increase in production of above essential oil, it would be possible for the country to save more valuable foreign exchange in the coming years. 2

The magic items of expert are ginger oil., sandal wood oil , lemon grass oil , jasmine oil , tuberose concrete ad other essential oils . During the year 1991-92 export of sandalwood oil has registered a recorded figure of Rs 13 crores compound to Rs 6.2 crores during 1990-91. The major buyers of Indian essential oil being USSR , USA , France , UK , Netherlands, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Spain ,Morocco, Germany, Australia, Pakistan, Korea, Taiwan etc. Similarly, citronella oil production has reached 500 tons when it was totally imported 55 years ago. Also jasmine and tuberose concentrate from south India have created a marks in world marked. Thus an interesting scenario in the development of natural essential oil in India has enraged.2

World Scenario

India ranks 26th in import & 14 in respect of export in world in the trade of essential oil. USA, France, Germany are the top three countries in the world in the trade of essential oil. India hold around .7% of import & 1.1% of export .The values of export from India during 1991-92 to 4 major countries like USA, France ,Germany has been to the tune Of rupees 21.2 core with major share going to USA (rupees 8.2 crore) &France (Rs 7.39 crore)

The world trade in essential oil & its product is vast and the oil of major importance are aniseed, citronella, clove, geranium, lemon grass, peppermint oil, patchouli, sandalwood and vetiver, sand wood ,mint oil, lemongrass, palmorosa occupies prominent position in the world market.

Future demand

Approximately 90 % of the present requirement of essential oil in the country is met by the indigenous production and 10 % from import. In 1950 the production was hardly 75 80 tones, which has since resin to 8000 tones. This has been both vertical and horizontal growth in the production of essential oil. Peppermint and spearmint and other mint oil constitute 68% of total volume of production of essential oil in the country. Other important varieties which constitute of 28% of the total production are: basil oil, citronella oil, eucalypts oil, lemongrass, palmorosa, and sandalwood & vitever oil. The annual growth rate of pharmaceutical industry in terms of vol. & value is expected to be between 11-13 % in the next 5 years. The other important sector showing rapid expansion is the processed food industry particularly ice cream and confectionery items. Fragrance finds use in toiletries and personal care products. Volume wise toiletries constitute 90 % of all these products. The annual production of toiletries has been estimated by Toilet Makers Association from 3.5 lakhs tones In 1991 to 4.8 lakh tones in 1995 ., at an annual growth rate of 8 % . The requirement of essential oils by consumer industries under fragrances, flavour and aroma chemicals are 60 % 20% and 20% respectively. 2

The home demand for essential oils during the next five year, is given below keeping the base year 1991-92 =100 and consumption at 8100 tones. 2













The association of essential oils manufactures estimated growth in export value from Rs 50 corers in 1991-92 to Rs 125 corers in 1995-96. India ranks 14 th in world export trade, share being an average 0.6 -0.8 % of the total. These are an ample room for penetration into the foreign market especially to the newly developing countries of the middle and for east. Certain Indian varieties namely Sandalwood, lemongrass, palmarosa , davana , jasmine and all mint oils are becoming popular in these countries though there is a competition from other developing countries (namely China and Indonesia 0 and the synthetics oils that are manufactures in the European countries are much cheaper than the natural oils . India is the world leader in production of mint oils .2

Taking 191-92 as the base year = 100 and the average export of 793 tones, the estimated demand of essential oil for export and the total demand (domestic and export ) during 5 year are as under 2


Demand for export

(000 tones )

Total demands

(000 tones )
















The total west European market for flavor and fragrance is estimated to the 100000 tones in 1991 with flavor industry accounting for 40% & fragrance industry accounting for 60%. It's therefore presented that total consumption will touch 1, 15000 tones in 1996 at an annual growth of 3 % while the sale of flavors and fragrances in USA will reach US $ billion in 1995 with the annual growth rate of 7 %. The sale of essential oils are expected to reach US $ 435 millions in 1995 2

Indian expert earning from some selects essential oils during 1989-90


Quantity (tones )

Values ( Rs )



Jasmine / tuberose concentrate







Clove oil





















Foreign exchange saved from some essential oil during 1991-92


Quantity (tones)

Values ( Rs )

Bergamot mint

Citrenella oil java

Ceranium oil

Japanese mint oil

Linalol oil

Peppermint oil

Rose oil


















Export of major essential oil from India

Mentha aruensis and mint oil , Cedar wood oil , Clove oil, Eucalyptus oil, Tuberose concentrate , Palmarosa oil, Patchouli oil, Sandalwood oil, Lemongrass oil, Davana oil, Coriander oil, Dill oil, Spearmint oil, Rose oil, Mentha piperta , Jasmine concentrate, Jasmine oil

Import of major essential oil

Citranella oil, Geranium oil, Jasmine oil, Mentha aruensis , Mentha piperata , Vetiver oil, Cedarwood oil, Clove oil, Eucalyptus oil, Palmarosa oil, Patchouli oil, Sandalwood oil

Lemon grass oil, Davana oil, Anise oil, Caraway oil, Coriander oil, Spearmint oil, Lavender oil


1. Kokate C.K. , Pharamacognosy Nirali Prakashan

2. Handa S.S. and Kaul M.K. , Supplement to cultivation and utilization of aromatic plants , Regional Research lab council for Scientific and industrial Research

3. Trease and Evans , Pharamcognosy Saunders

4. Handa S.S. and Kaul M.K. , Supplement to cultivation and utilization of medicinal plants , Reginal Research lab Jammu Tawi



7. Varsheny S.C. Export of essential oil from India. Ind