Are those herbs in medicinal drugs original?
Jayashree Nandi | TNN
Bangalore: How sure are you that the chyawanprash that you take everyday to boost your immunity is made of traditional herbs and ingredients? Today, with almost everyone chanting the traditional medicine mantra, the demand for medicinal plants and herbs, in allopathic, cosmetics and ayurveda, has gone up drastically. Simultaneously, the concern over spurious ingredients or rampant smuggling of highly-endangered herbs has also increased.
However, thanks to a medicinal plant chemo diagnostic kit, now you can assess for yourself, whether the herbs are original. The Foundation for Revitalization of Local Health Traditions (FRLHT), with support from the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF), developed a kit and patented it last week. The kit authenticates the originality of the ingredients used. Many-a-time, endangered plants are pilfered from forests and this cannot be monitored with the naked eye. Even that can be scanned through this kit.
Considering India is one of the largest exporters of medicinal plant products, this can streamline and improve the management of these drugs. The main idea behind this project is to check the presence of spurious and sub-standard, raw drugs in the market that compromise on quality, safety and efficacy. Ninety per cent of the raw material or medicinal plants used or exported are smuggled from the wild, and only 10% are locally grown. The testing kit can be used to screen transport of endangered medicinal plants that are listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) list and the MoEF list.
“Sarpagandha or Rauwolfia Serpentina, for instance, is a very common example. It’s endangered because it was in great demand even for allopathic medicines for blood pressure. Locally, it’s a medicine for snakebites. When it’s smuggled from the wild, it can be checked at the forest checkpoints or even by the customs if it is being sent abroad. The kit is affordable and the technology is simple enough for even customs officials or plant gatherers to use,” said G Hariramamurthi, assistant director, FRLHT.
According to Hariramamurthi, often people aren’t able to trust traditional medicine completely because sometimes they turn out to be ineffective. “The drug will be ineffective if substitutes are used in place of original material. Due to increasing demand, adulteration in this sector is a major concern today. For instance in Dasamula rishtam, in most cases substitutes are being used,” he added.
India is the second leading country in the export of traditional medicine and medicinal plants.