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Year : 2011  |  Volume : 2  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 78-80  

Controversial ayurvedic herbs

Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Dr. Hari Singh Gour Vishwavidyalaya, Sagar, Madhya Pradesh, India

Date of Web Publication12-Jul-2011

Correspondence Address:
V K Dixit
Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Dr. Hari Singh Gour Vishwavidyalaya, Sagar, Madhya Pradesh
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2231-4040.82948

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How to cite this article:
Dixit V K. Controversial ayurvedic herbs. J Adv Pharm Technol Res 2011;2:78-80

How to cite this URL:
Dixit V K. Controversial ayurvedic herbs. J Adv Pharm Technol Res [serial online] 2011 [cited 2023 Jan 28];2:78-80. Available from: https://www.japtr.org/text.asp?2011/2/2/78/82948

"Sandigdha dravays" is a term used for medicinal plants having controversial botanicals as sources. The Ayurvedic and Sanskrit literature describes a herb with names, which do not precisely indicate the botanical source but many a times attribute to therapeutic utility of the plant. India is a country having a variety of languages and population dependent on different tribal and folklore medicine. The variation in the language sometimes is responsible for confusion in the nomenclature of different plants having similar name. Moreover, the descriptions of a plant in the ancient literature are found in verses having ample use of synonyms. These synonyms have caused controversy in the identification of plants and hence the correct source sometime is misleading with a fictious plant. It has become an important task to generate parameters of identification as well as differentiation among different plant sources having a similar name. Since herbal products are prepared using the extracts of plants known for a particular activity, the controversial source sometimes leads to inefficacious preparation. [1],[2]

Ambiguity in Ayurveda is reflected in the interpretation of names and description of drugs found in the books, such as Charaka Samhita and Sushruta Samhita, etc. Ayurvedic treatises were also hand written before the establishment of British rule, like the other books. Western scientists of the nineteenth century were divided in respect of the utility of ayurveda; some scholars were of the opinion that this old system of medicine is based on empiricism rather than science and no benefit can be derived from it, whereas there were a handful of dedicated workers who believed that ayurveda was permeated with the scientific spirit as it is built by the rationale of observation and experiment and of induction and deduction. Due to lack of scientific names in the original texts, under one name, different plants are known in different parts of the country as per the description, which makes the drug controversial. [3]

Plant-based medicines form a very important component of total medicines available for treating various human and veterinary diseases. The increased demand and reduced availability has reportedly led to even adulterations of many plant-based formulations. Hence, a need has been felt to study the market and other associated processes, such as market demand, supply, harvesting, processing, and end use, etc. This requires coordinated and focused research on these aspects of medicinal value of all the plants and their actual uses so that the medicinal value of all the plants can be scientifically verified along with the documentation of traditional knowledge. [4]

Groups of Drugs Used in Ayurveda

In Ayurveda, medicinal plants have been classified according to pharmacological action. Charaka has described drugs in groups for alleviating diseases. Arshoghana contains 10 drugs having beneficial effect in hemorrhoids; the name is derived from Sanskrit words ARSH (Blood loss) and GHNA (killer or remover). Another method adopted by Charaka is based on collection of three or more plants having identical properties in one group signifies as Gana (means group). [5] Based on the physical forms of the different botanical sources, drugs are grouped in different texts of Ayurveda and are classified as follows:

Brahatpanchmula: It is a combination of roots of five medicinal plants, including Bilva (Aegle marmelos), Agnimantha (Premna integrifolia), Shoynaka (Oroxylum indicum), Gambhari (Gmelina arborea), and Patla (Sterospermum suaveolens).

Dashmula: It is a combination of roots of ten medicinal plants, including Bilva (Aegle marmelos), Agnimantha (Premna integrifolia), Shoynaka (Oroxylum indicum), Gambhari (Gmelina arborea), Patla (Sterospermum suaveolens), Shalaparni (Desmodium gangeticum), Prishnaparni (Uraria picta), Brahati (Solanum indicum), Kantkari (Solanum xanthocarpum), and Gokshura (Tribulus terrestris).

Triphala: It is a combination of fruits of three medicinal plants, including Haritaki (Terminalia chebula), Vibithaka (Terminalia belerica), and Amalaki (Emblica officinalis).

Since the plant drugs are collected generally from wild sources sometimes by skilled but many a times by unskilled collectors and due to improper identification of correct species of plant/organ and collection methods lead to a state of confusion, and thus a controversy is cropped up [Table 1].
Table 1: List of some controversial drugs in Indian medicine[6-8]

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There is a huge surge in Ayurvedic plants and world over it has become a subject of intensive research for various aspects. There have also been substantial efforts to standardize the Ayurvedic crude drugs as well as finished Ayurvedic medicines. However, these initiatives would imperatively need establishing correct identity of the plant drug. The long history of safe usage of Ayurvedic medicines can be extrapolated only when the botanical identity of the plant going into those medicines is established and standardized. Hence proper nomenclature of all crude drugs and establishing their exact botanical origin is a must.

Current practice of Ayurvedic physician and Industry is to use one of the several alternative herbs that are considered equivalent to Ayurvedic plant drugs. Some amount of legal sanction exists for use of plants as one can use only plant drugs mentioned in one of the 56 authorized books by Drugs and Cosmetic Act, 1940 of India. Hence even though, one would use the alternative herbs, one would restrict to only those which are mentioned in the Ayurvedic authorized text books. However, for global acceptance as well as providing safe and effective Ayurvedic products, it would be required to identify which of the particular botanical entities is to be used to have regulatory compliance. Ayurvedic scholars, plant taxonomists, and regulators need to work together on this.[8]

   References Top

1.Sethiya NK, Nahata A, Mishra SH, Dixit VK. An Update on Shankhpushpi, a cognition boosting Ayurvedic medicine. Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Xue Bao 2009;7:1001-22.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Sethiya NK, Trivedi A, Patel MB, Mishra SH. Comparative pharmacognostical investigation on four ethanobotanicals traditionally used as Shankhpushpi in India. J Adv Pharm Tech Res 2010; 1:388-95.  Back to cited text no. 2
  Medknow Journal  
3.Wilson. On the medical and surgical sciences of the Hindua, Oriental Magazine, 1823, Works 3, 269-76, 380-93, London:; 1864.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Hashmi S, Ghouse AK. Analysis of Jadwar, a controversial Herbal Drug. Hamdard Med 1994;37:79-84.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Singh A. Contribution of dravyaguna to herbal materia medica. Ethnobotanical Leaflets. 2008;12:599-602.  Back to cited text no. 5
6.Vaidya BL. Some controversial drugs in Indian medicine. Chaukhambha Orientalia. Varanasi: 1982.  Back to cited text no. 6
7.Brain KR, Turner TD. In the practical evaluation of phytopharmaceuticals. Wright-Scientechnica, 1 st ed. Bristol: 1975.  Back to cited text no. 7
8.Kumar CD. Pharmacognosy can help minimize accidental misuse of herbal medicine. Curr Sci 2007;93:1356-8.  Back to cited text no. 8


  [Table 1]

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