The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia of India

Modern Ayurveda

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In 1978, German Federal Health Agency (now called the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices) established an expert committee on herbal remedies (called Commission E). The Commission E is composed of 24 members, including physicians, pharmacists, non-medical practitioners, pharmacologists, toxicolo-gists, biostatisticians, and representatives of the pharmaceutical industry. Fifty percent are experts from clinical/therapeutic field. There are 13 full university professors on the Commission. The interdisciplinary nature of Commission E is unique in the world. The safety and efficacy of over 380 herbs have been assessed by the Commission.

Since 1995, the Commission E has not issued any new monographs. Data from studies published subsequent to the Commission E monographs is now used for the preparation of ESCOP (European Scientific Cooperative on Phytotherapy) monographs. Fully revised and updated 80 monographs have been published by ESCOP in its first bound edition in 2003. This is the culmination of 14 years work by the ESCOP Scientific Committee involving about 50 committee delegates from 15 European countries. Members of ESCOP include experts from Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom.

The World Health Organization (WHO) published Guidelines for the Assessment of Herbal Medicines in 1991. Subsequently, The WHO Monographs on Selected Medicinal Plants, Vol 1 was published in 1999 and Vol 2 in 2003. Vol. 3 is the latest addition. These volumes contain 28, 29 and 31 monographs respectively.

American Botanical Council, Austin, Texas 78714-4345, published The Complete German Commission E Monographs (1998) and Herbal Medicine—Expanded Commission E Monographs (2000).

First bound edition of ESCOP monographs has been published by ESCOP, Argyle House, Gandy Street, Exeter EX4 3LS, UK, in collaboration with George Thieme, Germany and Thieme, 333 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001, USA.

WHO monographs, published by The World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland, are available worldwide through its regional offices.

The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia of India, Part I, Vol. I was brought out in 1989, Vol. II in 1999, Vol. III in 2001 and Vol. IV in 2004. These volumes cover 80,78,100 and 68 single herbs, respectively

The working format of laying down the standard on single drugs of plant origin was prepared more or less on the pattern of Indian Pharmacopoeia (IP), British Pharmacopoeia (BP) and United States Pharmacopoeia (USP), but "properties and action" of the herbal drug are not evidence based. These are based on scriptural references and traditional applications of classical polyherbal formulation, and on the Ayurvedic concepts.

Following explanation has been given in Vol. I:

"Since the effort is to compile pharmacopoeial monographs of Ayurvedic drugs, the accent on classical attributes of respective drugs according to the doctrine of Rasa, Guna, Veerya, Vipaaka and Karma has not been lost sight of, though some of them appear to be abstract and subjective in the absence of an established experimental methods to qualify them." (Same explanation has been given in Vol. IV.)

Rasa, Guna, Veerya, Vipaaka and Karma, as well as therapeutic uses of the herbal drug have been given in Sanskrit (Roman script).

Non-Ayurvedic readers are advised to refer to the Second Revised English Edition of The Ayurvedic Formulary of India, Part I, 2003, for approximate English equivalents of diseases and technical terms mentioned in The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia of India. Therapeutic uses and important formulations in the Pharmacopoeia have been quoted from the recognized Ayurvedic classics (in Sanskrit).

The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia of India is a legal document and every licensed manufacturer of Ayurvedic medicines will have to comply with the standards prescribed in it.

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