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Lack of standardisation affecting medical plants
Anjali Marar | Sunday, 13 November 2016 AT 12:51 PM IST
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Pune: Lack of standardised practises in use of medicinal plants in herbal medicines has prevented Indian markets making any significant headway on the global platform. Despite being rich in biodiversity, there has not been any major breakthrough in drug development using herbal medicines so far.

This was informed by Neeraj Tandon, head of medicinal plants division of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), on the sidelines of the inaugural session of a two-day workshop on ‘standardisation of medicinal plants’ organised at MACS-Agharkar Research Institute (ARI) on Tuesday.

“Due to the many challenges involving availability and quality of medicinal plants, use of unstandardised proportions in making herbal drugs, etc, have resulted in India still not being a leader in this field,” Tandon said. The team that she is heading has so far developed monographs for about 484 medicinal plants, of which many of them have been mentioned and recognised by organisations working in this field in European Union and USA.

Another focused area of research using medicinal plants, which ICMR is currently focusing on, includes developing drugs for liver disorders, diabetes and lymphatic filariasis. “We have identified twelve potential plants each for liver disorders and diabetes and another six for lymphatic filariasis,” informed Tandon.

Another significant achievement, which ICMR has to its credit, is development of adjuvant drugs, which are often used in providing pain relief for cancer patients.

Some key challenges in finding medical plants in India:
- Presence of traces of heavy metals like arsenic in plants
- Difficulty in identification of plants from various regions of the country, which have varied periods of harvest
- Shortage in availability of plants
- Lack of trained manpower to correctly identify the plants, thus preventing its application in use as herbal drugs
- Lack of public testing and laboratory facilities
- Inexperience involved in disease evaluation of prescribed drug


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