One of the main streams of traditional medicine is herbal medicine; a wide range of medicinal plants and their individual parts are used for therapy. Though not scientifically validated, this traditional medicine practice is much popular in countries such as India, China and Sri Lanka and in many other countries in South, Southeast and Eastern Asia due mainly to its healing capabilities. More recently, scientists initiated the chemical analyses of these medicinal plants, obtaining invaluable results. The latest addition to such investigations is studies on effects of herbal extracts on different types of stem cells. An extensive summary of such reported studies is presented in this chapter, mainly categorizing these into proliferation stimulatory effects on stem cells and inhibitory effects on cancer stem cells (CSCs), where both properties are beneficial in cell therapy procedures. At present, standardizing the products and limited knowledge on the mechanisms of action and pathways of these have critically limited the use of herbal extracts in therapeutics. However, we believe that in the near future scientists would be focusing on herbal remedies to replace the use of synthetic stimulants and cancer drugs to overcome the disadvantages of these, such as toxicity, side effects and exorbitant costs.
Part of the book: Herbal Medicine