International market scenario of traditional Indian herbal drugs – India declining….

Aneesh T. P., Mohamed Hisham, Sonal Sekhar M., Manjusree Madhu, Deepa T. V.


In the present article, an endeavor has been made to present an overview of the comparison of Indian traditional herbal medicine in the international market. This article intends to contribute to this knowledge by giving a survey of published data regarding the microbial contamination of herbal plants, by dealing with methodological aspects and by considering the influence of different commonly used pharmaceutical preparation techniques on the microbiological status of the products. It also highlights heavy metal poisoning of these herbal products and the need for India to follow the Good Agriculture Practice (GAP) guidelines. As herbal medicinal products are complex mixtures, which originate from biological sources, great efforts are necessary to guarantee a constant and adequate quality. By carefully selecting the plant material and a standardized manufacturing process, the pattern and concentration of constituents should be kept as constant as possible, as this is a prerequisite for reproducible therapeutic results. China has successfully overcome such difficulties by modernizing its traditional medicine profession with government-sponsored GAPs. The cultivation practices offer Standard Operating Procedures for use of fertilizers, irrigation systems and disease management allied with insects and pest
prevention and cure. GAPs also establish standards for noxious and harmful contaminants like heavy metals, pesticide residues and microbes in plants.
Key words: Ayurveda, traditional Indian medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, herbal products, microbial loading, heavy metal
poisoning, good agricultural practices, traditional drugs, complementary and alternative medicines

Full Text:



Kochhar SL. Tropical crops: A textbook of economy botany.

Macmillan Pub Ltd. London 1981;268–71.

Quality Control Guidelines for Medicinal Plant Materials. Geneva

World Health Organization Available from:

medicines/library/ trm/medicinalplants/qualitycontrolmeth.pdf.

[accessed on 2008 Aug 21].

Legal status of traditional medicine, complementary/alternative

medicine: A worldwide review. Geneva: World Health; 2001.

McGuffin M, Hobbs C, Upton R, Goldberg A. American herbal

products association’s botanical safety handbook, 1st ed. 1997. p. 7-8.

World Health Organization. Report of the inter-regional workshop

on intellectual property rights in the context of traditional

medicine, Bangkok, Thailand, Dec 6–8, 2000. Available from:

who-edutrm-2001-1.pdf. [accessed on 2008 Aug 24].

Pushpangadan. WHO guidelines on good agricultural collection

practices (GACP) for medicinal plants. Indian J Med Res 2004.

Gamma Irradiation allowed in traditional drugs, P.T. In: Datta

J, editor. Mumbai: Business Daily from The Hindu group of


Organization European Scientific Cooperative on Phytotherapy.

ESCOP monographs on the Medicinal Uses of Plant Drugs. 1st

edition, Fascicule 5.

The Pharmacopoeia of India. Controller of Publication,

Government of India, 1996.

Dubey NK, Kumar A, Singh P , Shukla R. Current science Microbial

contamination of raw materials: A major reason for the decline of

India’s share in the global herbal market. 2008;95:6-25.

Leung AY, Foster S. Encyclopedia of common natural ingredients

used in food, drugs and cosmetics. 2nd ed. New York: John Wiley

and Sons, Inc.; 1996. p. 25-8.

Dubey NK, Kumar R, Tripathi P. Global promotion of herbal

medicine: India's opportunity. Curr Sci 2004;86:37–41.

The Indian Herbal Pharmacopoeia Indian Drug Manufacturer's

Association; Mumbai: 2002.

Lad V. The human constitution ayurveda: The science of self-

healing. Wilmot Lotus Press; 1985. p. 26–36.

Ayurveda 101 and related medicines, FRONTLINE WORLD.

Available from:

india701/. [accessed on 2008 Sep 3].

Jiang Y, Wang Y, Yan X. Chinese pharmaceutical companies: An

emerging industry. Drug Discov Today 2000;6:610–2.

Cheng JT. Review: Drug therapy in Chinese traditional medicine.

J Clin Pharmacol 2000;40:445–50.

Gibert TF. Reflections on traditional Chinese medicine and its

pharmacopoeia. Ann Pharm Fr 1998;56:282–5.

China's new quality control, functional foods and nutraceuticals,

Available from: [accessed

on 2008 Sep 5].

Traditional Chinese medicines entering the global market,, 11/11/2008. Available from: http://www. [accessed on 2008 Sep 5].

The Status of Ayurvedic Medicine in the US, by Subhuti

Dharmananda Ayurvijnana 2001;7.

National Institutes of Health Consensus Panel. Acupuncture:

National Institutes of Health Consensus Development Statement.

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Web site. Available from:

puncture107html. [accessed on 2008 Sep 5].

Buckley L. Conference on traditional Chinese medicine marks shift

towards global market, raises concerns about social and ecological

impact. World Watch Institute; 2005.

Xinhua News Agency. Traditional Chinese medicine has broad

prospects in int'l market: experts. High Beam Research 2004.

Bryant S, Lozada C, Wahl M. Chinese herbal products. Ann Emerg

Med 2005;46:208.

Herborn JB. Phytochemical methods. 3rd ed. London: Chapman

and Hall Ltd; p. 135–203.

Singh J, Singh AK, Khanuja SP. Medicinal plants: India's

opportunities. Pharma Bioworld 2003;1:59–66.

Trease GE. Evans CW. A textbook of pharmacology. 13th ed.

London: ELBS Bailiere Tindall; 1985. p. 378–86.

Herbs could be tonic for medical trade, International Market News,

th May 2005. Ann Rev Med 2003;54:131-52.

Science Week. Available from:, http:// [accessed on 2008 Sep 7].

AYUSH Available from: [accessed on

Sep 15].

Rios JL, Recio MC. Medicinal plants and antimicrobial activity. J.

Ethnopharmacol 2005;100:80–4.

The archives of EnviroNews - Newsletter of ISEB India 2005;11:4.

Fabricant DS, Farnsworth NR. The value of plants used in

traditional medicine for drug discovery. Environ Health Perspect


De Smet PA. Herbal remedies. N Engl J Med 2002;347:2046–56.

Sharma DC. India raises standards for traditional drugs. Lancet


Indian Herbal Segment Booming. By Darlington Jose Hector, 14

January 2004, Times News Network, News Capsule.

Oxford Journals, Medicine, Evidence-based Complementary and

Alternative Medicine; p. 465-73.

Pandey MM, Rastogi S, Rawat Ajay KS. Indian herbal drug for

general healthcare: An overview. Int J Alter Med 2008;6:1.

Paul I, et al. Heavy metal poisoning from Ayurvedic traditional

medicines: An emerging problem? Int J Environ Health


Alternative Medicine Blog, From Cathy Wong, for;

Saper RB, Kales SN, Paquin J, Burns MJ, Eisenberg DM, Davis RB,

et al. Heavy metal content of ayurvedic herbal medicine products.

JAMA 2004;292:2868-73.

Ernst E. Heavy metals in traditional Indian remedies. Eur J Clin

Pharmacol 2002;57:891-96.

Ayurvedic herbal medicines and heavy metals, Bandolier.

Available from:

b132-6.html. [accessed on 2008 Oct 5].

Ernst E. Toxic heavy metals and undeclared drugs in Asian herbal

medicines. Trends Pharmacol Sci 2002;23:136–39.

Ayurvedic medicines laden with toxic heavy metals, 26 August

by Andy Coghlan, Newscientist Health. Available from:


rss20. [accessed on 2008 Oct 15].

NBJ's annual industry overview VII. Nutr Business J 2002;1-48.

Alternative Medicine and Heavy Metal Poisoning, Science Daily

(Oct. 26, 2008).

Analysis of Indian Medicinal Plants for Heavy Metal Toxicity,

Scribd. Available from:


[accessed on 2008 Oct 24].

Heavy Metal Toxicities Of Herbal Remedies Published in Journal

Watch (General) 2005.

Australian Adverse Drug Reactions Bulletin, Prepared by the

Adverse Drug Reactions Advisory Committee (ADRAC) and

the Adverse Drug Reactions Unit of the TGA, Traditional Indian

(Ayurvedic) and Chinese medicines associated with heavy metal

poisoning 2007;26:1.

Occupational and environmental medicine ISSN 1351-0711,

;56:282-3 (8 ref.), CAT.INIST. Available from: http://cat.inist.

fr/?aModele =afficheNandcpsidt=1714831. [accessed on 2008 Oct


Ernst E. Contamination of herbal medicines. Pharmaceut J


Garnier R, Poupon J. Lead poisoning from traditional Indian

medicines. Presse Med 2006;35:1177-80.



  • There are currently no refbacks.