Ayurveda is globally perceived as a holistic healthcare system with time tested principles and practices. The mainstay of Ayurveda is the wide variety of medicinal plants, which are obtained mainly from the wild. But, now our forests and natural habitats stand highly depleted and degraded and this exerts tremendous pressure on such herbal systems of medicine. Destruction of the forests resulted in the shrinkage of plant habitats and niches, which coupled with over exploitation and unscientific extraction of medicinal plants to meet the increasing demand, have driven many medicinal plants to the brink of extinction. The non availability of genuine herbs in required quantities leads to their substitution or adulteration by easily available and spurious alternatives. This tells upon the efficacy of drugs and ultimately erodes the credibility of the system in public minds.
It is in this background that AVS established the Centre for Medicinal Plants Research (CMPR) in 2003 to function as an Institute for Research, Education, Conservation and popularization of medicinal plants used in Ayurveda and other traditional systems of medicines. The Centre was inaugurated by His Excellency Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, the President of India on September 25, 2003 in the presence of Sri. A.K. Antony, the then Chief Minister of Kerala, the world renowned Agricultural Scientist Prof. M.S. Swaminathan and many other dignitaries.
The Centre has well equipped Botany, Pharmacognosy, Phytochemistry and Tissue Culture laboratories. A Pharmacology division will also be established soon. Extension activities through various public awareness programmes are carried out to popularize medicinal plant conservation, cultivation and sustainable utilisation. In its brief existence of ten years, the Centre has acquired state-of-the-art expertise and infrastructure enabling it to take up important research projects on its own as well as in collaboration with Governmental organisations and national laboratories. The efforts of CMPR have started yielding results, which have potential application for the growth of herbal science in general and Ayurveda in particular. An Advisory Committee chaired by Prof. M.S. Swaminathan overviews the programmes and progress of the Centre.