Efforts on to standardize Ayurveda
The Ayurveda manufacturing industry, practitioners of Ayurveda medicine and academia across the country have started discussions to set standards for Ayurveda medicines produced in the country. The debates have been initiated by the ministry of Ayush, after questions were raised about the quality of Ayurveda medicines sold in the south Indian states. Regional discussions are being led by officials of Ayush and the central council for Ayurveda research, which also monitors the clinical trials in Ayurveda.
There already are standards under the Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia of India (API) and Ayurvedic Formulary of India (AFI). But when concerns were expressed about the standards followed by different companies they came forward claiming that they had used formulations based in classical texts.
“It was then the question of whether the standards mentioned in the API and AFI suited the commercial requirements came up,” said Ayurvedic Medicine Manufacturers Association of India (AMMOI) general secretary Dr D Ramanathan.
The confusion is also triggered by the different styles followed in North and South India. While North Indian Ayurvedic system has a lot of medicines in the forms of bhasmas (powders), Kerala and to some extent Karnataka have got more medications in the form of thailams (oil-based preparations). The oils used in the preparation of some medicines in Kerala is coconut oil while elsewhere it is sesame oil. This is enough to make a legal objection. Similarly, some medicinal plants have different names in different regions. For example, brahmi is the name given to centella asiatica, particularly in North India, and in Kerala, it is identified as muttilor or koda kan.
At a meeting held recently at the National Research Institute of Panchakarma at Cheruthurthy, industry and academia from the southern region covering Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka discussed problems faced by the industry regarding the pharmacopoeial standards, regulatory affairs and raw materials.
Most of the standardized formulations are based on laboratory level measures and there could be variations when it is manufactured commercially, manufacturers told the officials of Ayurvedic pharmacopoeial committee, who were present at the meeting.
Ayurvedic Medicine Manufacturers Association of India members said that pharmacopoeial standard operating procedures (SOP) were not practical in the case of bulk production.
“In case of preparation of thailams where the ingredients like ghee, milk plant extracts etc are used, charring happens if the boiling is done as prescribed in the API for 25 days. The above procedure can be carried out in industry under controlled temperature in one day without compromising the quality and with higher efficacy of the product and is also cost effective,” said an Ayurvedic medicine manufacturer.
Ayurveda medical association of India (AMAI) vice president Dr Manoj Kaloor said that it had become important to come up with standards as there were major issues when it comes to exporting to countries in Europe. “Their rules are very difficult. It would require a lot of investment, but having a common standard in the country would help the industry at least in its domestic market.”