Book review: Healthy herbs

Quality of Standards of Indian Medicinal Plants, Volume 1, Published by ICMR, 2003 Rs 600

By Vibha Varshney
Published: Friday 31 October 2003

-- The herbal drug industry has a new tool to ensure that they are using the correct raw material. 'Quality Standards of Indian Medicinal Plants' provides biological, pharmacological, chemical and clinical information on 32 plants. This book is likely to ensure quality, safety and efficacy of the final product.

Lack of ways to check the authenticity of the raw material, especially if the material is in the dried form, is a major lacunae in producing quality drugs that are both acceptable and safe to the public. Checking the quality of the raw material is also imperative: the final product is usually a mixture of a large number of herbs, which makes it difficult to assess the quality of the final product.

Some of the information provided by the book includes the botanical names, part used, macroscopic and microscopic description of the plant-part used as drug and its diagnostic characters and its chromatographic finger print profile. It also lays down limits for foreign matter, total ash and acid insoluble ash. Colour plates showing the whole plant, part used and chromatograms are also helpful.

An attempt is also made to provide some information on important pharmacological properties, clinical studies and likely toxicity as reported in the scientific literature and Ayurvedic texts. And if the number of plants dealt with in this particular book -- 32 in all -- seems extremely meagre, there is hope in the fact that this is the first volume in a series.

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