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Controversial Drug Plants
Controversial Drug Plants
Description

About The Book

 

This book is an enumeration of commonly used medicinal plants of uncertain botanical identity. In ancient Sanskrit literature, drug plants are not described with scientific precision. So, the correct identification of these plants is difficult. With the increased public interest in the use of herbs to treat ailments, many spurious plants are being used in the manufacture of Ayurvedic medicines. Very often, this is due to ignorance. This book clearly identifies the plants, and differentiates between adulterants, substitutes and genuine plants. This compilation will be useful to manufacturers who wish to use the genuine drugs, to doctors and pharmacists, and to lay persons using Ayurvedic remedies. The book is enhanced by exquisitely detailed illustrations, which further facilitate easy identification.

 

About the Author

 

R Vasudevan Nair is a Professor of Botany, retired from Government Victoria College, Palakkad as Head of Department. He is now associated with Arya Vaidya Pharmacy, Coimbatore, as Taxonomist. He has identified several new species from local flora. He has a number of published research papers and four books to his credit and is a member of the Indian Association of Taxonomy. He has provided hundreds of illustrations of medicinal plants for books and other publications. Though a self-taught artist, he has won recognition for his nature paintings. His next book titled Herbal Home Remedies is also published by Universities Press.

 

Preface

 

Ayurveda, the ancient Indian system of health care and healing is gaining popularity, not only in India but even in countries where allopathy is the accepted and established system of medicine. Encouraged by the interest shown by people in rediscovered Ayurveda, its protagonists are promoting its globalization by all possible means. Several western countries are now for popularizing herbal medicine, if not Ayurveda itself. Herbal preparations of any kind now find a ready market all over the world.

 

The growing awareness that herbal medicines are generally harmless and safe is the driving force behind this sudden spurt of interest in Ayurveda. More and more people are becoming concious of the undesirable side-effects of synthetic medicines largely used in allopathy. Herbal medicines are comparatively mild and with few side-effects. They are prepared from plants and plant or animal produces. So they are akin to food from which the body is built up and hence their interaction with body systems is almost a natural process. That makes Ayurveda also a natural system of medicine.

 

Modern Ayurveda, however, is far from being a perfect system of medicine as claimed by some of its over-enthusiastic supporters. There are some serious defects and drawbacks, which unfortunately are ignored or played down by the champions of Ayurveda.

 

The therapeutic efficacy of medicines depends on the quality and purity of the ingredients used. Ayurvedic medicines will be effective only if they are prepared using genuine medicinal herbs. It is in this respect that modern Ayurveda shows its inadequacy and unscientific nature. There are a large number of commonlyused raw drugs, whose botanical identities are still controversial. Several taxonomically unrelated plants are often used as one and the same raw drug. Among the practitioners of Ayurveda, there is no consensus about the botanical identity of many raw drugs in common use.

 

Determining the botanical identity of the raw drugs mentioned in ancient Sanskrit texts is not at all easy. Unlike modern botany, there are no definite rules of nomenclature in Ayurveda. Plants are named according to the whim and fancy of different authors. As a result, each drug plant is known by several names. Moreover, the same synonyms may be given to more than one plant, causing confusion in identifying the genuine plant. This confusion is compounded by the lack of a technically precise description of the complete plant. So, equating them with modern taxonomic species is a difficult and tricky process, often prone to errors.

 

In the olden days, when Ayurveda was taught under the Gurukula system, the identification of medicinal plants might not have been a problem. Students lived with their Gurus, and actually saw the plants that were used. Perhaps for the same reason, the Guru might not have felt the necessity to record the distinguishing characters of each of the medicinal plants. Today, Ayurveda is taught in classrooms where students gain theoretical knowledge but get little visual experience and familiarity with drug plants. They learn the Sanskrit names of the plants, their properties and uses, but fail to recognize most of them by sight, except the very familiar ones.

 

Perhaps the founding fathers of Ayurveda named plants only on the basis of their medicinal property or some prominent characteristic. So, they might have given the same name to several plants with the same medicinal effect. We may assume that they were naming the drugs rather than the botanical species. For example, the name sahachara literally means a plant of luxuriant growth; it does not refer to anyone particular species. Daruharidra only means a weedy plant with a characteristic of turmeric, namely its colour. It could be Berberis, Mahonia, Cosoinium or Morinda umbellata. Such an assumption may be one solution for the nomenclatural confusion.

 

The lack of precision in identifying the plant source of raw drugs makes Ayurveda appear unscientific and unacceptable to many. Those who are trying to win global recognition for Ayurveda do not address this problem with the seriousness it demands. Any attempts for the standardization and quality controls of medicines will be an exercise in futility until the genuine drug plants are botanically identified beyond all doubt, and such plants alone are used to prepare the medicines.

 

This book is only an initial attempt to present the problem to those who want to see Ayurveda gaining its rightful place among the various systems of medicine now in vogue. The book does not cover all the drug plants of doubtful identity. A deeper search will reveal many more drug plants now in use whose identity is not scientifically determined.

 

Due to the existing uncertainty and confusion in nomenclature today, manufacturers are using different plants as one and the same raw drug in many cases. This causes qualitative differences in medicines produced by different pharmaceutical factories. This book is an attempt to draw the attention of those who are dealing with Ayurveda, be they practitioners. manufacturers or users, to the deplorable situation existing in the field of nomenclature of medicinal plants.

 

Introduction

 

The ancient indigenous system of medicine - Ayurveda - is being rediscovered in our own country, as a result of which its popularity is growing day by day. It is also increasingly gaining recognition in the West, the birthplace of Allopathy, as an alternative and safe system of medicine. This new awareness about the merits of Ayurveda has created a general interest in herbal products all over the world. Ayurvedic medicines are now manufactured in large factories on a commercial scale. In addition, various consumer items like cosmetics are also being produced on an industrial scale. As a result, the demand for herbal raw materials is increasing at such a rapid rate that the dwindling natural sources are not able to meet it. This situation is, thus, providing an opportunity for the use of unauthorized raw materials, deliberately or otherwise. At present, a large number of such spurious raw drugs are found in the market. Many manufacturers also use many of these spurious drugs, intentionally or otherwise.

 

Along with all its acclaimed merits, Ayurveda has its shortcomings too. In the present context, they are becoming more and more significant and assuming greater importance, as this is likely to lead to the further deterioration of manufactured medicines.

 

A very serious drawback of the Ayurvedic System at present is the difficulty in identifying the genuine medicinal herbs prescribed by the founders of the system. Their description of medicinal plants is more poetic than scientific and lacks precision, because the language they have used is not technical. Moreover, they did not follow a systematic and technical format for the description of plants. So, the interpretation of the description in Sanskrit is largely influenced by the views of the interpreter. This often leads to the erroneous identification of more than one plant as one and the same raw drug by different authors of modern times. There are a good number of such 'controversial drugs' is use today. To cite an example, ten taxonomically unrelated plant species are claimed to be the drug rasna, throwing any practitioner into utter confusion.

 

Unscientific nomenclature is another serious defect of Ayurveda. In modern botany, one species of plant will have only one valid name, which will be a binomial. This system of one binomial indicating only one particular species is a very precise method, precluding any possibility of confusion. In Ayurveda, there is no such technically precise and uniform system of nomenclature. Dozens of names may be found given to one and the same plant, each name indicative of one minor quality or property of the plant. The common mango tree is a good example; it is known by 56 names in Sanskrit. The loose, unscientific way in which ancient authors have named plants is the source of much confusion today, because the qualitative names are applicable to more than one plant. For example, a name like bahukantaka can indicate any spiny plant, just as swarnakshiri can be any plant with yellow latex or sap. A plant can be wrongly called peetapushpi just because it has yellow flowers. In addition, the same name is often found given as synonym of several plants. Names like vidari, nakuli, surasa, etc., are examples.

 

There are also cases of different species of plants having common medicinal properties, owing to the presence of same organic compounds. Then, all of them can be treated as one and the same drug. Darubaridra is a good example. Berberis, Mahonia and Coscinium all contain the substance berberis, which is the active principle in these plants. So, according to geographical availability, anyone of them may be used as darubaridra. But the situation is not so simple in all cases.

 

Taxonomically very divergent plants are not likely to be similar in their chemical composition. Naturally, there may be considerable difference in their medicinal properties. The use of such plants as a common drug can be accredited only after critical analytical and clinical studies. It is doubtful whether such research and verification are always carried out. At present, most manufacturers depend only on the name and not on the real botanical identity of the drug.

 

Over and above all this, is the confusion caused by the indiscriminate use of local names, at least in Keralam. It is not rare to find the same plant known by several local names in different regions and there are also several different plants known by the same name. Well-known medicinal plants like plaksha, sabachara, etc., are still not indisputably identified, because of the confusion created by local names. In short, the clear-cut identification of medicinal plants is a very difficult process even today, in spite of the claims of progress and development in Ayurveda.

 

Several plants in use today are substitutes for the genuine ones. Such substitution is necessitated by the unavailability or dire shortage of the genuine medicinal herbs. Finding acceptable substitutes is, in fact, a practical solution for the dearth of medicinal plants faced by manufacturers. The use of such plants is increasing day by day. Such substitutes are to be selected only after analytical and clinical studies, but today many plants are used without such studies. In this context, the enumeration of unauthorized drug plants in use is essential. This compilation is mostly concerned with medicinal plants used in Keralam, which is the main center where Ayurveda has survived and flourished through centuries, and from where it has been disseminated the world over.

 

Contents

 

Introduction

1

Abhaya

5

Agaruh

7

Agnimanta

8

Ahukarni

11

Akasavalli

13

Akshota

15

Amlavetasa

17

Amragandha

21

Arimeda

23

Arjuna

25

Asoka

29

Ativisha

31

Bala

33

Bhuchampaka

39

Buka (Vasuka)

40

Chitraka

43

Danti

45

Darbha

49

Devatram/Deodaru

50

Dravanti

52

Dugdhira

55

Ela

56

Elavalukam

56

Gajapippali

59

Gandirah

61

Gojihua

63

Gokshuru

65

Indivaram

69

Indravaruni Vishala

73

Ingudi

79

Jalavetasa

80

Kadurohini

83

Kakajamkha

85

Kakamaci

87

Kampillaka

91

Kantakari

94

Karaveera

95

Kareeram

97

Karimuthil

99

Karpuravalli

101

Kasamarda

102

Kiratatikta

105

Kokilaksha

107

Kunkumum

109

Kushta

111

Lakshmana

112

Lodhra

113

Lonika

115

Manjishta

117

Maruvaka

119

Mashaparni

121

Mayurasikha

123

Meshasringi and Meshasringa

125

Meshasringa

125

Meshasringi

127

Moorva

129

Mudgaparni

133

Munjataka

135

Musali

137

Nagakesara

138

Nandi Vriksha

141

Nirgundi

145

Padmacharini

147

Padmaka

151

Parpata

153

Parushakam

157

Pashanabheda

159

Pasugandha

163

Patola

165

Perelam

167

Plaksha

169

Prasarani

170

Priyangu

173

Prsniparni

175

Punarnava

178

Pushkara Moolam

181

Rasna

185

Sahachara

191

Salaparni

195

Sanapushpi

197

Sankhapushpi

198

Sarah

203

Saumya (Soma)

205

Shaileyam

209

Shariba

210

Shathi

213

Simsapa

215

Sprkka Alamoolam

217

Susavi

219

Svetapunarnava

220

Swarnakshiri

221

Tagara

223

Tanduliya

225

Tavakshiri

227

Tejapatra

229

Trayamana

231

Trivrit

233

Ubdinarikayium (Sea Coconut)

235

Upodika

237

Valakam

239

Vanaharidra

240

Vidari

243

Yashtimadhu

247

Bibliography

248

Index

249

 

Controversial Drug Plants

Item Code:
NAG611
Cover:
Paperback
Edition:
2004
ISBN:
9788173714696
Language:
English
Size:
7 inch X 4.5 inch
Pages:
270 (Throughout B/W Illustrations)
Other Details:
Weight of the Book:210 gms
Price:
$20.00
Discounted:
$16.00   Shipping Free
You Save:
$4.00 (20%)
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About The Book

 

This book is an enumeration of commonly used medicinal plants of uncertain botanical identity. In ancient Sanskrit literature, drug plants are not described with scientific precision. So, the correct identification of these plants is difficult. With the increased public interest in the use of herbs to treat ailments, many spurious plants are being used in the manufacture of Ayurvedic medicines. Very often, this is due to ignorance. This book clearly identifies the plants, and differentiates between adulterants, substitutes and genuine plants. This compilation will be useful to manufacturers who wish to use the genuine drugs, to doctors and pharmacists, and to lay persons using Ayurvedic remedies. The book is enhanced by exquisitely detailed illustrations, which further facilitate easy identification.

 

About the Author

 

R Vasudevan Nair is a Professor of Botany, retired from Government Victoria College, Palakkad as Head of Department. He is now associated with Arya Vaidya Pharmacy, Coimbatore, as Taxonomist. He has identified several new species from local flora. He has a number of published research papers and four books to his credit and is a member of the Indian Association of Taxonomy. He has provided hundreds of illustrations of medicinal plants for books and other publications. Though a self-taught artist, he has won recognition for his nature paintings. His next book titled Herbal Home Remedies is also published by Universities Press.

 

Preface

 

Ayurveda, the ancient Indian system of health care and healing is gaining popularity, not only in India but even in countries where allopathy is the accepted and established system of medicine. Encouraged by the interest shown by people in rediscovered Ayurveda, its protagonists are promoting its globalization by all possible means. Several western countries are now for popularizing herbal medicine, if not Ayurveda itself. Herbal preparations of any kind now find a ready market all over the world.

 

The growing awareness that herbal medicines are generally harmless and safe is the driving force behind this sudden spurt of interest in Ayurveda. More and more people are becoming concious of the undesirable side-effects of synthetic medicines largely used in allopathy. Herbal medicines are comparatively mild and with few side-effects. They are prepared from plants and plant or animal produces. So they are akin to food from which the body is built up and hence their interaction with body systems is almost a natural process. That makes Ayurveda also a natural system of medicine.

 

Modern Ayurveda, however, is far from being a perfect system of medicine as claimed by some of its over-enthusiastic supporters. There are some serious defects and drawbacks, which unfortunately are ignored or played down by the champions of Ayurveda.

 

The therapeutic efficacy of medicines depends on the quality and purity of the ingredients used. Ayurvedic medicines will be effective only if they are prepared using genuine medicinal herbs. It is in this respect that modern Ayurveda shows its inadequacy and unscientific nature. There are a large number of commonlyused raw drugs, whose botanical identities are still controversial. Several taxonomically unrelated plants are often used as one and the same raw drug. Among the practitioners of Ayurveda, there is no consensus about the botanical identity of many raw drugs in common use.

 

Determining the botanical identity of the raw drugs mentioned in ancient Sanskrit texts is not at all easy. Unlike modern botany, there are no definite rules of nomenclature in Ayurveda. Plants are named according to the whim and fancy of different authors. As a result, each drug plant is known by several names. Moreover, the same synonyms may be given to more than one plant, causing confusion in identifying the genuine plant. This confusion is compounded by the lack of a technically precise description of the complete plant. So, equating them with modern taxonomic species is a difficult and tricky process, often prone to errors.

 

In the olden days, when Ayurveda was taught under the Gurukula system, the identification of medicinal plants might not have been a problem. Students lived with their Gurus, and actually saw the plants that were used. Perhaps for the same reason, the Guru might not have felt the necessity to record the distinguishing characters of each of the medicinal plants. Today, Ayurveda is taught in classrooms where students gain theoretical knowledge but get little visual experience and familiarity with drug plants. They learn the Sanskrit names of the plants, their properties and uses, but fail to recognize most of them by sight, except the very familiar ones.

 

Perhaps the founding fathers of Ayurveda named plants only on the basis of their medicinal property or some prominent characteristic. So, they might have given the same name to several plants with the same medicinal effect. We may assume that they were naming the drugs rather than the botanical species. For example, the name sahachara literally means a plant of luxuriant growth; it does not refer to anyone particular species. Daruharidra only means a weedy plant with a characteristic of turmeric, namely its colour. It could be Berberis, Mahonia, Cosoinium or Morinda umbellata. Such an assumption may be one solution for the nomenclatural confusion.

 

The lack of precision in identifying the plant source of raw drugs makes Ayurveda appear unscientific and unacceptable to many. Those who are trying to win global recognition for Ayurveda do not address this problem with the seriousness it demands. Any attempts for the standardization and quality controls of medicines will be an exercise in futility until the genuine drug plants are botanically identified beyond all doubt, and such plants alone are used to prepare the medicines.

 

This book is only an initial attempt to present the problem to those who want to see Ayurveda gaining its rightful place among the various systems of medicine now in vogue. The book does not cover all the drug plants of doubtful identity. A deeper search will reveal many more drug plants now in use whose identity is not scientifically determined.

 

Due to the existing uncertainty and confusion in nomenclature today, manufacturers are using different plants as one and the same raw drug in many cases. This causes qualitative differences in medicines produced by different pharmaceutical factories. This book is an attempt to draw the attention of those who are dealing with Ayurveda, be they practitioners. manufacturers or users, to the deplorable situation existing in the field of nomenclature of medicinal plants.

 

Introduction

 

The ancient indigenous system of medicine - Ayurveda - is being rediscovered in our own country, as a result of which its popularity is growing day by day. It is also increasingly gaining recognition in the West, the birthplace of Allopathy, as an alternative and safe system of medicine. This new awareness about the merits of Ayurveda has created a general interest in herbal products all over the world. Ayurvedic medicines are now manufactured in large factories on a commercial scale. In addition, various consumer items like cosmetics are also being produced on an industrial scale. As a result, the demand for herbal raw materials is increasing at such a rapid rate that the dwindling natural sources are not able to meet it. This situation is, thus, providing an opportunity for the use of unauthorized raw materials, deliberately or otherwise. At present, a large number of such spurious raw drugs are found in the market. Many manufacturers also use many of these spurious drugs, intentionally or otherwise.

 

Along with all its acclaimed merits, Ayurveda has its shortcomings too. In the present context, they are becoming more and more significant and assuming greater importance, as this is likely to lead to the further deterioration of manufactured medicines.

 

A very serious drawback of the Ayurvedic System at present is the difficulty in identifying the genuine medicinal herbs prescribed by the founders of the system. Their description of medicinal plants is more poetic than scientific and lacks precision, because the language they have used is not technical. Moreover, they did not follow a systematic and technical format for the description of plants. So, the interpretation of the description in Sanskrit is largely influenced by the views of the interpreter. This often leads to the erroneous identification of more than one plant as one and the same raw drug by different authors of modern times. There are a good number of such 'controversial drugs' is use today. To cite an example, ten taxonomically unrelated plant species are claimed to be the drug rasna, throwing any practitioner into utter confusion.

 

Unscientific nomenclature is another serious defect of Ayurveda. In modern botany, one species of plant will have only one valid name, which will be a binomial. This system of one binomial indicating only one particular species is a very precise method, precluding any possibility of confusion. In Ayurveda, there is no such technically precise and uniform system of nomenclature. Dozens of names may be found given to one and the same plant, each name indicative of one minor quality or property of the plant. The common mango tree is a good example; it is known by 56 names in Sanskrit. The loose, unscientific way in which ancient authors have named plants is the source of much confusion today, because the qualitative names are applicable to more than one plant. For example, a name like bahukantaka can indicate any spiny plant, just as swarnakshiri can be any plant with yellow latex or sap. A plant can be wrongly called peetapushpi just because it has yellow flowers. In addition, the same name is often found given as synonym of several plants. Names like vidari, nakuli, surasa, etc., are examples.

 

There are also cases of different species of plants having common medicinal properties, owing to the presence of same organic compounds. Then, all of them can be treated as one and the same drug. Darubaridra is a good example. Berberis, Mahonia and Coscinium all contain the substance berberis, which is the active principle in these plants. So, according to geographical availability, anyone of them may be used as darubaridra. But the situation is not so simple in all cases.

 

Taxonomically very divergent plants are not likely to be similar in their chemical composition. Naturally, there may be considerable difference in their medicinal properties. The use of such plants as a common drug can be accredited only after critical analytical and clinical studies. It is doubtful whether such research and verification are always carried out. At present, most manufacturers depend only on the name and not on the real botanical identity of the drug.

 

Over and above all this, is the confusion caused by the indiscriminate use of local names, at least in Keralam. It is not rare to find the same plant known by several local names in different regions and there are also several different plants known by the same name. Well-known medicinal plants like plaksha, sabachara, etc., are still not indisputably identified, because of the confusion created by local names. In short, the clear-cut identification of medicinal plants is a very difficult process even today, in spite of the claims of progress and development in Ayurveda.

 

Several plants in use today are substitutes for the genuine ones. Such substitution is necessitated by the unavailability or dire shortage of the genuine medicinal herbs. Finding acceptable substitutes is, in fact, a practical solution for the dearth of medicinal plants faced by manufacturers. The use of such plants is increasing day by day. Such substitutes are to be selected only after analytical and clinical studies, but today many plants are used without such studies. In this context, the enumeration of unauthorized drug plants in use is essential. This compilation is mostly concerned with medicinal plants used in Keralam, which is the main center where Ayurveda has survived and flourished through centuries, and from where it has been disseminated the world over.

 

Contents

 

Introduction

1

Abhaya

5

Agaruh

7

Agnimanta

8

Ahukarni

11

Akasavalli

13

Akshota

15

Amlavetasa

17

Amragandha

21

Arimeda

23

Arjuna

25

Asoka

29

Ativisha

31

Bala

33

Bhuchampaka

39

Buka (Vasuka)

40

Chitraka

43

Danti

45

Darbha

49

Devatram/Deodaru

50

Dravanti

52

Dugdhira

55

Ela

56

Elavalukam

56

Gajapippali

59

Gandirah

61

Gojihua

63

Gokshuru

65

Indivaram

69

Indravaruni Vishala

73

Ingudi

79

Jalavetasa

80

Kadurohini

83

Kakajamkha

85

Kakamaci

87

Kampillaka

91

Kantakari

94

Karaveera

95

Kareeram

97

Karimuthil

99

Karpuravalli

101

Kasamarda

102

Kiratatikta

105

Kokilaksha

107

Kunkumum

109

Kushta

111

Lakshmana

112

Lodhra

113

Lonika

115

Manjishta

117

Maruvaka

119

Mashaparni

121

Mayurasikha

123

Meshasringi and Meshasringa

125

Meshasringa

125

Meshasringi

127

Moorva

129

Mudgaparni

133

Munjataka

135

Musali

137

Nagakesara

138

Nandi Vriksha

141

Nirgundi

145

Padmacharini

147

Padmaka

151

Parpata

153

Parushakam

157

Pashanabheda

159

Pasugandha

163

Patola

165

Perelam

167

Plaksha

169

Prasarani

170

Priyangu

173

Prsniparni

175

Punarnava

178

Pushkara Moolam

181

Rasna

185

Sahachara

191

Salaparni

195

Sanapushpi

197

Sankhapushpi

198

Sarah

203

Saumya (Soma)

205

Shaileyam

209

Shariba

210

Shathi

213

Simsapa

215

Sprkka Alamoolam

217

Susavi

219

Svetapunarnava

220

Swarnakshiri

221

Tagara

223

Tanduliya

225

Tavakshiri

227

Tejapatra

229

Trayamana

231

Trivrit

233

Ubdinarikayium (Sea Coconut)

235

Upodika

237

Valakam

239

Vanaharidra

240

Vidari

243

Yashtimadhu

247

Bibliography

248

Index

249

 

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Dravyaguna Vijnana: Knowledge of Animal Drugs and Foods in Ayurveda
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