Cultivation, Collection and Processing of Herbal Drugs

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Chapter: Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry : Cultivation, Collection and Processing of Herbal Drugs

The crude drugs which reach the market and pharmaceutical industries will have passed through different stages that have some effect in the nature and amount of active constituents responsible for therapeutic activity. Those stages are to be concerned more in order to make a drug useful to the mankind by all means. This chapter concerns regarding such parameters which has some effect over plants.


Cultivation, Collection and Processing of Herbal Drugs

 

INTRODUCTION

 

The crude drugs which reach the market and pharmaceutical industries will have passed through different stages that have some effect in the nature and amount of active constituents responsible for therapeutic activity. Those stages are to be concerned more in order to make a drug useful to the mankind by all means. This chapter concerns regarding such parameters which has some effect over plants.

 

Cultivation produces improved quality of plants. It helps in selecting the species, varieties or hybrids that have the desired phytoconstituents due to the controlled environ-mental growth better plant product is obtained and makes the collection and processing steps easier when compared to wild sources. Cultivation results in obtaining plants with maximum secondary metabolites. It leads to industrialization in the country by the regular supply of plants. Serves as a useful tool for research purposes.

 

The advantages of cultivation may be briefly summarized as follows:

 

1. It ensures quality and purity of medicinal plants. Crude drugs derive theirutility from chemical contents in them. If uniformity is maintained in all operations during the process of cultivation, drugs of highest quality can be obtained. Cultivation of rhizomes demands an adequate quantity of fertilizers and proper irrigation. Systematic cultivation results in raising a crop with maximum content of volatile oil and other constituents. The examples of ginger, turmeric and liquorice can be cited to illustrate this point. If the cultivated plants are kept free of weeds, the contami-nation of crude drugs can be conveniently avoided.

 

2. Collection of crude drugs from cultivated plants gives a better yield and therapeutic quality. However, it is a skilled operation and requires some professional excellence, if the collection of crude drugs for market is done from cultivated plants by skilled and well-experienced personnel, the high yield and therapeutic quality of drugs can be maintained. For example, col-lection of latex from poppy capsules and oleo-resins from Pinus species, if done by experienced persons, can result in better yield of crude drugs. Preservation of green colour of senna leaves and minimizing the deterioration of cardiac glycosides in freshly collected leaves of digitalis can be achieved only by highly skilled labour.

 

3. Cultivation ensures regular supply of a crude drug. In other words, cultivation is a method of crop-planning. Planning a crop cultivation regularizes its supply and as a result the industries depending upon crude drugs do not face problem of shortage of raw material.

 

4. The cultivation of medicinal and aromatic plants also leads to industrialization to a greater extent. The cultivation of coffee and cocoa in Kerala has given rise to several cottage and small scale industries. The cultivation of cinchona in West Bengal has led to the establishment of the cinchona-alkaloid factory near Darjeeling. The government owned opium factory at Ghaziabad is an eloquent testimony to the significance of well planned cultivation of poppy.

 

5. Cultivation permits application of modern technological aspects such as mutation, polyploidy and hybridization.

 

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